The Middle Ages

The Middle Ages represent a time in England where there was little progress in the arts or in culture. What progress was made was slowed by the Boubonic Plague and the Norman Invasion.


The following is a list of Kings of England during this era:

1307-1327 ~ King Edward II

More resembled his grandfather (Henry III) than his father (Edward I). He preferred to live as a rustic on his play farm than rule the kingdom. Left the governing to a few of his favorite barons which led to corruption and discontentment. He was overthrown by his wife and her lover and murdered in the dungeons of Berkeley Castle by a red hot poker being inserted into a body cavity. (Chaucer had it right . . .)

1327-1377 ~ King Edward III

Took control under the tutelage of his mother and her lover after his father’s murder. He re-opened the war with Scotland and France (because defeat of Scotland was impossible while France supported them). This helped to start the 100 Years War. He died of senile dementia and was succeeded by his grandson.

1377-1399 ~ King Richard II

Assumed the throne at 10 years old during a time of economic, social, and political unrest leading to the Peasant’s revolt (1381). When Richard put down the revolt, and became a tyrannical king, ruling England by fear. He died in prison at Pontefract Castle either by smothering or starvation.

1399-1413 ~ King Henry IV

Landed in Ravenspur while Richard II was in Ireland and rapidly convinced England to rise against Richard II. He declared himself king in English as the heir of Henry III and by right of conquest. A weak ruler, his reign led to the creation of robber-barons and was characterized by civil unrest. He passed the throne onto his eldest son.

1413-1422 ~ King Henry V

Despite a difficult relationship with his father, he was crowned King of England. He revived the 100 Years War by invading France and beating them at Agincourt. He was popular for his military prowess and his concern for the poor of England. He died of dysentery while in France.

1422-1461 & 1470-1471 ~ King Henry VI

Incompetent and mentally unstable. During his reign, England lost almost all holdings in France. War broke out between the houses of York and Lancaster leading to the War of the Roses, thusly named because both house crests had roses on them. He was deposed by Edward IV in 1460, regained the throne, and was put to death after his final defeat.

1461-1470 & 1471-1483 ~ King Edward IV

Son of Richard, Duke of York, he defeated Henry VI in the War of the Roses. He ruled while Henry VI’s was deposed and again after having him put to death in the Tower of London.

1483-1483 ~ King Edward V

Was crowned king at age 12 but was deposed by his uncle Richard III, Duke of Gloucester. He was confined with his brother in the Tower of London. Both he and his brother died that year.

1483-1485 ~ King Richard III

Gained control of his nephew Edward V and had himself proclaimed king. Suspicion of giving the order to kill Edward V and his brother undermined the popularity of this otherwise capable ruler. He was killed by Henry Tutor during the battle of Bosworth Field in 1485 thus ushering in the Tutor Dynasty.

1066-1087 ~ William I (William the Conqueror)

Norman King won the Battle of Hastings and was crowned King of England. Died when he fell from his horse while besieging the French city of Nantes.

1087-1100 ~ William II (Rufus)

His court was known for brutality and licentiousness. He enjoyed hunting more than ruling. Killed by a stray arrow fired by Walter Tyrell during a hunt.

1100-1135 ~ Henry I

Excellent royal administrator. Lost his only son in a naval tragedy in 1120. Ruled with an iron fist and built many stone castles. Died of food poisoning. Dies without a male heir.

1135-1141 ~ King Stephen

Promised to support Henry I’s daughter Matilda, but broke his oath and assumed kingship. He was determined “to be soft” by the English people. England and Normandy slipped into a Civil War in 1136.

1141-1142 ~ Empress Matilda

Only legitimate daughter of Henry I, she was promised the crown by her father. Imprisoned Stephen, but her brutal reign angered the English people and they released King Stephen.

1142-1154 ~ King Stephen

Reinstated as King of a smaller England (only Sothern and Western England). His sons Eustace and William were passed over for heir in favor of Matilda’s son.

1154-1189 ~ King Henry II

Seized every castle in England and destroyed many private castles. First English King to add Ireland to the kingdom. He ruled powerfully with his only serious challenge as the murder of Thomas á Becket, Arch-Bishop of Canterbury and the subsequent rebellion of his sons in 1173-1174. He was hounded to his death at Chinon by his eldest surviving son.

1189-1199 ~ King Richard I (Richard the Lionheart)

Third son of Henry II (oldest surviving heir). More interested in the fighting in the Crusades than in being King of England. England was ruled by a series of Justiciars during Lionheart’s rein. Richard I only returned to England once in 1194 to put down the rebellion of Prince John, his brother. (Think Robin Hood)

1199-1216 ~ King John (Lackland or Softsword)

Youngest son of Henry II, he enjoyed sitting in judgment on his people. This lead to the baron uprising and the Magna Carta. Although John had a bad reputation, he is credited with expanding literacy through England. (Yes, he is the King John from Robin Hood) He died of dysentery after losing all his treasure in the Wash. As the tide rose faster than he expected, his baggage train was engulfed.

1216-1272 ~ King Henry III

He became king at age 7. Henry III introduced glass to many of the castle halls and chambers. During his reign, the barons set up an elected government which limited Henry III’s powers. Several years later, with the help of some barons that did not want to have to govern; Henry III regained the monarch’s powers. This led to the Barons’ War which lasted for three years. By the time of the Barons’ War, Henry III’s eldest son was governing the country

1272-1307 ~ King Edward I (The Hammer of the Scots)

Began his rule while on a crusade, leaving the kingdom to be ruled by regency after his father’s death until he returned from the crusades two years later. Conquered Wales which was lost by his father, but that victory cost too much. He levied heavy, unjust taxes and attacked Scotland. Abandoned by some of his most loyal barons, Edward I died crossing the border into Scotland one last time.