Friday, July 14, 2023

England's Royal Roots

We rose early in the morning on the day of King Charles’ coronation, plopped plastic crowns atop our heads, and gathered around the television to watch the historic ceremony and enjoy the festivities.

Charles III, according to, is the country’s 58th monarch. He became king upon the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, who celebrated her Platinum Jubilee only a few months before her death. She reigned for 70 years, six years longer than her great-great grandmother, Queen Victoria, who reigned for almost 64 years.


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. 

Alfred dreamed of a united country, where Saxons and Danish lived in peace with one another. 

During a period of unrest and shifting boundaries, he recognized the value of keeping a written chronicle of events, the benefits of education (including literacy), and the importance of a fair legal system. He is the only English monarch to be called "the Great."

Edward (c. 874-924) ~ after defeating his cousin in battle, who tried to claim the throne upon Alfred’s death, Edward was crowned 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

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. ~

William of Marlmesbury Quotes



  1. Thank you for posting today. I would say that your list is pretty impressive overall and each ruler had their particular strengths. I find the description of Athelflaed as a "woman of enlarged soul" very interesting.

    1. Hi, Connie! So glad to hear from you. This ancient history fascinates me, and i totally agree about that quote. I'd like to learn more about her. Thanks for writing!