British tribes


Prior to the Romans, England was known as part of the island of Britain, which was then largely ruled by Celts. After the Romans left England, Celtic kings ruled in tribal areas and fought each other, although there were a few kings accepted by more Britons. These Celtic kings were largely displaced by the invading Angles and Saxons. Some of the earlier Celtic kings, were titled king of the Britons, or of Britain. Sadly, there are few sources and the list below is selectively-based on Geoffrey of Monmouth's highly suspect Historia Regum Britanniae, written in c1139. Additional sources include: Gildas, Nennius, Bede, Julius Caesar, archeological evidence, and uncovered coins.

The term 'Bretwalda' comes from the Anglo-Saxon Bretanwealda, "Lord of Britain" — referring to a Saxon king's claim to overlordship of the Britons and subordinate kings. Bretwaldas were kings in their own right and had authority over other kings. History records the Venerable Bede as using the term in a list, which he compiled of local kings who had overlordship of wide areas of England. Bede's list is below with the addition of two who ruled after he wrote.

Britain To England

Alfred used the title rex Anglorum Saxonum or rex Angul-Saxonum. The consensus appears to be that the Angles and Saxons, which were different tribes, or nations, coalesced c400-500. The Angli Saxones named their kings with descriptive epithets. The later Normans introduced the French style of numbering their kings, which had been copied from the Romans.

Wales was an independent nation until conquered by the Normans in 1282, by Edward I. King Offa had built a 240 km barrier-dyke to bound the kingdom (now a county), of Powys, which he had conquered. The Welsh persisted in fighting each other as often as the English and this impacted on their later status. Wales was regarded by the English as a mere principality and absorbed into England, unlike the later Scotland and Ireland. Wales was united with England in 1536 and continues to share a legal identity with England to a large degree as the joint entity of England and Wales.

Beginning with Edward III, several English kings claimed the French throne, however their claims were judged to be spurious, since they were based on a female line. The French bought off Edward III and later noted that French heredity claims were judged on Salic law, which stipulated exclusive male descent..

Although several English kings were only titled 'Lord' of Ireland, from John onwards English monarchs were also kings of Ireland. (The title was 'Lord of Ireland until Edward VI). James Stuart initiated the simutaneous status as kings of England and Scotland, and Anne regularised this with an Act of Union in 1707, which was passed by both parliaments. The new title was king of Great Britain and Ireland. In 1801, another Act of Union integrated Ireland and the term United Kingdom was created.

To Queen Victoria

My direct Canadian focus on English monarchs ceases in 1867 with the formal creation of the British North America Act, although I have followed the appointment of governors general of Canada elsewhere up to Vanier, the first native Canadian. Canada's continuing interest in British monarchs continues in the form of the Head of State of Canada. Queen Elizabeth II has no political authority or power in Canada and the incumbent governor general deputises as required. Canada's indirect relationship to the British monarch is continued via membership in the British Commonwealth, which serves as an international lobby forum for it's members.

Celtic and Roman Kings of the Britons

c58-c38BC CASSIVELAUNUS, also king of the Catuvellauni
c20BC-c9BC TASCIOVANUS, also king of the Catuvellauni and Trinovantes
c9BC-c41AD CUNOBELIN, also king of the Catuvellauni
c137-c186 LUCIUS, Saint, also king of the Brigantians
c306-c309 COEL, also king of the Brigantians
c330-c348 OCTAVIUS (Eudaf Hen), also king of the Gewissei
c348-c362 MAGNUS Maximus, also Roman Emperor of the West
c362-c375 CARADOCUS, also duke, perhaps king of Cornwall
c437-c480 VORTIGERN, also king of the Gewissei of Kent
c479-c501 AMBROSIUS Aurelianus
c615-c625 CADFAN ap Iago, also king of Gwynedd
c625-c634 CADWALLON ap Cadfan, also king of Gwynedd
655-c664 CADWALADR, also king of Gwynedd

Angle and Saxon Bretwaldas

477–c514 ÆLLE, also king of Sussex
560–591 CEAWIN, also king of of Wessex
591–616 ETHELBERT, Saint, also king of of Kent
616–627 RAEDWALD, also king of of East Anglia, controlled Northumbria, called Rex Anglorum
627–632 EDWIN, also king of of Deira
633–641 OSWALD,Saint, also king of of Bernicia
641–670 OSWIU, also king of Northumbria
c735–757 ÆTHELBALD, also king of Mercia, controlled East Anglia, Northumbria, Wessex, and Kent
757-796 OFFA, also king of Mercia, Kent, controlled Wessex, called Rex Anglorum by Charlemagne and Pope Adrian I


802-839 EGBERT, of Wessex and Engla Land
865-871 ÆTHELRED
871-899 ALFRED, the Great, called Rex Anglorum by Simeon of Durham
899-924 EDWARD, the Elder
924-939 ÆTHELSTAN, first king of all England
939-946 EDMUND
946-955 EADRED
955-959 EADWIG
959-975 EDGAR, the Peaceful
975-978 EDWARD, Saint, the Martyr
978-1013, 1014-1016 ÆTHELRED, the Unready
1016 EDMUND Ironside


1013-1014 SWEYN Forkbeard, also King of Denmark, and Norway
1016-1035 CNUT, the Great, also King of Denmark, and Norway
1037-1040 HARALD Harefoot
1040-1042 HARTHACNUT, also King of Denmark


1042-1066 EDWARD, Saint, the Confessor
1066 HAROLD Godwineson
1066 EDGAR the Aetheling


1066-1087 WILLIAM I, The Conqueror, of Normandy
1087-1100 WILLIAM II, Rufus (the Red)
1100-1136 HENRY I, Beauclerc
1136-1154 STEPHEN of Blois, (disputed with MATILDA)


1141 MATILDA, the Empress
1154-1189 HENRY II, Curtmantel Plantagenet
1189-1199 RICHARD I, the Lion-Heart
1199-1216 JOHN, Lackland
1216-1272 HENRY III
1272-1307 EDWARD I, Longshanks
1307-1327 EDWARD II, of Caernarfon
1327-1377 EDWARD III
1377-1399 RICHARD II


1399-1413 HENRY IV, of Bolingbroke
1413-1422 HENRY V
1422-1461 HENRY VI, also King of France


1461-1483 EDWARD IV
1483 EDWARD V (uncrowned, but probably murdered in the Tower)
1483-1485 RICHARD III (probably murdered the 'Princes in the Tower')


1485-1509 HENRY VII, Tudor
1509-1547 HENRY VIII, also King of Ireland
1547-1553 EDWARD VI, also King of Ireland
1553 JANE, also Queen of Ireland
1553-1558 MARY I, also Queen of Ireland
1558-1603 ELIZABETH I, also Queen of Ireland


1603-1625 JAMES I, also James VI of Scotland and King of Ireland
1625-1649 CHARLES I of England and Scotland, (executed), also King of Scotland and Ireland

Commonwealth 1642-1660 Civil War, Oliver Cromwell, Richard Cromwell

1660-1685 CHARLES II, also of Scotland and King of Ireland
1685-1689 JAMES II, also James VII of Scotland and King of Ireland, (fled to France)
1689-1702 WILLIAM III also William II of Scotland, and MARY II (Mary died 1694), also King & Queen of Scotland and Ireland
1702-1714 ANNE, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland


1714-1727 GEORGE I, King of Great Britain and Ireland
1727-1760 GEORGE II, King of Great Britain and Ireland
1760-1820 GEORGE III, King of Great Britain and Ireland
1720-1830 GEORGE IV, King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
1830-1837 WILLIAM IV, King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
1837-1901 VICTORIA, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and Empress of India

Queen Victoria granted Canada sovereignty by the British North America Act in 1867

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