Here are a couple more fun facts from the AllThatsInteresting website:
- “The Royal Family’s reign spans 37 generations and 1209 years."
- “All of the monarchs are descendants of King Alfred the Great, who reigned in 871. Some of those included Henry VIII (who founded the Church of England and beheaded two of his six wives), and Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen, under whose rule England prospered in the Golden Age.”
While it’s true that King Alfred, the ancestor of all those monarchs, ruled in the late ninth century, he is not counted in ADDucation’s list. That’s because Alfred ruled the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex, a region located in what is now southern England.
Alfred became king after the death of his brother, Aethelred, who reigned from 865-71. Their grandfather, Ecgberht, became king in 802. Alfred’s father and two older brothers also reigned throughout this century.
None of these rulers count in England’s list of monarchs because England did not exist during their lifetimes.
Except as a dream and a hope for Alfred and his descendants:
- his son, Edward;
- his daughter, Aethelflaed; and
- Edward’s son, Aethelstan, who historians acknowledge as the first of England’s monarchs
King Alfred the Great (848/849-899) ~ during his rule, he battled Danish invaders to expand his domain. But he was much more than a warrior king.
William of Malmesbury, a twelfth-century chronicler, wrote that Edward was “‘much inferior to his father in the cultivation of letters,’ but ‘incomparably more glorious in the power of his rule.’ Other medieval chroniclers expressed similar views, and he was generally seen as inferior in book learning, but superior in military success” (Wiki-Edward).
Aethelflaed (c. 870-918) ~ known as the Lady of the Mercians, Edward’s sister ruled Mercia (now the English Midlands) during the last seven years of her life.
She was described as “a powerful accession to [Edward's] party, the delight of his subjects, the dread of his enemies, a woman of enlarged soul” by William of Malmesbury (Wiki-Aethelflaed).
Aethelstan (c. 894-939) is often overshadowed by the deeds of his grandfather, but modern historians consider him to be one of the greatest Anglo-Saxon kings. Following in Alfred’s footsteps, he also made advances in education and legal codes.
William of Malmesbury wrote of Athelstan that “no one more just or more learned ever governed the kingdom” (Wiki-Aethelstan).
Your Turn ~ I hope you enjoyed this peek into England's ancient history. Which of these monarchs do you find most intriguing?
Johnnie writes award-winning stories in multiple genres. A fan of classic movies, stacks of books, and road trips, she shares a life of quiet adventure with Griff, her happy-go-lucky collie, and Rugby, her raccoon-treeing papillon. Visit her at johnnie-alexander.com.
Photos (public domain)
- "Eighteenth-century portrait of Alfred by Samuel Woodford"
- “Portrait miniature from a thirteenth-century genealogical scroll depicting Edward”
- "Æthelflæd as depicted in the cartulary of Abingdon Abbey"
- "Athelstan from All Souls College Chapel" (stained glass)
Sources (accessed July 5-7, 2023)
ADDucation.Info ~ This website reports that Charles is the 52nd king of England, but their list of kings doesn’t include the queens. The list of queens includes six names.
AllThatsInteresting.com ~ https://allthatsinteresting.com/lineage-british-royal-family
William of Marlmesbury Quotes
- Edward ~ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_the_Elder
- Aethelflaed ~ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Æthelflæd
- Aethelstan ~ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Æthelstan; footnote 147: Lapidge, Michael (1993). Anglo-Latin Literature 900–1066. London, UK: The Hambledon Press.