Kingdom of England

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Kingdom of England
Image:Flag of England.svg Image:H4-E1 Arms.png
(National Flag) (Royal Arms of England, as used 1413-1603)
Royal motto: Dieu et mon droit
(French: God and my right)
Image:Location of the Kingdom of England1.PNG
Capital Winchester, then London from 11th century.
York de facto capital circa 1300. Oxford royalist capital 16421645
Official language English (de facto, until 1066)
French (de jure, 1066 - 15th century)
English (de facto, gradually replaced French from late 13th century)
Government Monarchy (with constitutional elements introduced especially in the late 17th and early 18th centuries)
Head of State King/Queen of England
Parliament Parliament of England
Establishment Unification by Athelstan, 927
Dissolution Acts of Union 1707
(March 26, 1707)
First monarch Athelstan of England
Last monarch Anne of England
Preceding states Anglo-Saxon kingdoms
Succeeding state Kingdom of Great Britain
This article is about the historical state called the Kingdom of England (927-1707). For the main article about the modern country (United Kingdom), see England.

The Kingdom of England was a state located in western Europe, in the southern part of the island of Great Britain, consisting of the modern day home nations of England and Wales and the modern legal entity of England and Wales. The chief royal residence was originally located at Winchester, in Hampshire, but London and Gloucester were accorded almost equal status - especially London, which had become the de facto capital by the beginning of the 12th century. London served as the capital of the kingdom until its merger with Scotland in 1707 (see Acts of Union 1707) and continues to remain the chief city of England. The city has also served as the capital of both the Kingdom of Great Britain (17071801) and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (18011922). Today it remains the capital of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the "United Kingdom").

The present monarch of the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth II, is the modern successor to the Kings and Queens of England. The title of Queen (and King) of England has however been out of use since 1707 and is legally incorrect when applied to her in popular use. Elizabeth can trace her descent from the Kings of Wessex from the 1st millennium.

[edit] History

Main article: History of England

The Kingdom of England has no specific founding date. The Kingdom can trace its origins to the Heptarchy, the rule of what would later become England by seven minor Kingdoms: East Anglia, Essex, Kent, Mercia, Northumbria, Sussex, and Wessex.

The Kings of Wessex became increasingly dominant over the other kingdoms of England during the 9th century. Alfred the Great (reigned 871899) was the first King of Wessex to style himself "King of England". His son Edward the Elder (reigned 899924) exceeded the military achievements of his father by establishing his rule over the Danelaw. The death of his sister Ethelfleda in 918, resulted in his usurping the rule of Mercia from his niece Aelfwynn in 919. In 927 the last kingdom of early mediaeval England, Northumbria, fell to the King of Wessex Athelstan, a son of Edward the Elder. Athelstan was the first to reign over a united England. He was not the first de jure King of England, but certainly the first de facto one.

England has remained in political unity ever since. However the Kingdom was subject to invasions by the Vikings of Denmark during the late 10th century. In response Ethelred II of England ordered the slaughter of all Danish people present in England during 1002. This only managed to attract the attention and hostility of Sweyn I of Denmark and Norway. Sweyn staged four full scale invasions of England for the remainder of his life. Sweyn was proclaimed King of England in opposition to Ethelred II in 1013. He died on February 2, 1014. His son Canute the Great continued the war. Ethelred II died on April 23, 1016. His son Edmund II of England was soon defeated by Canute. Canute agreed to co-rule with Edmund II but the latter died on November 30 1016, leaving England united under Danish rule. Danish rule continued until the death of Harthacanute on June 8, 1042. He was a son of Canute and Emma of Normandy, widow of Ethelred II. Harthacanute had no heirs of his own and was succeeded by his half-brother Edward the Confessor. The Kingdom of England was independent again.

Peace only lasted until the death of childless Edward on January 4/January 5, 1066 . His brother-in-law was crowned Harold II of England. His cousin William the Bastard , Duke of Normandy immediately claimed the throne for himself. William launched an invasion of England and landed in Sussex on September 28, 1066. Harold II and his army were in York following their victory in the Battle of Stamford Bridge (September 25, 1066). They had to march across England to reach their new opponents. The armies of Harold II and William finally faced each other in the Battle of Hastings (October 14, 1066). Harold fell and William remained the victor. William was then able to conquer England with little further opposition. He was not however planning to absorb the Kingdom to the Duchy of Normandy. As a Duke, William still owed allegiance to Philip I of France. The independent Kingdom of England would allow him to rule without interference. He was crowned King of England on December 25, 1066.

The Kingdom of England and the Duchy of Normandy would remain in personal union until 1204. King John of England, a fourth-generation descendant of William I, lost the continental area of the Duchy to Philip II of France during that year. The remnants of the Duchy remained in the rule of John and his descendants. They are known as the Channel Islands.

John still held both the titles and land of the Duke of Aquitaine. His grandson Edward I of England defeated Llywelyn the Last and effectively conquered Wales in 1282. He created the title Prince of Wales for his eldest son Edward II in 1301.

Edward II was father to Edward III of England, whose claim to the throne of France resulted in the Hundred Years' War (13371453). The end of the war found England defeated and retaining only a single city of France: Calais.

The Kingdom had little time to recover before entering the Wars of the Roses (14551487). The "Wars" was actually a civil war over possession of the throne between the House of Lancaster and the House of York. They were actually descendants of Edward III and closely related. The end of the wars found the throne held by a female line descendant of the House of Lancaster married to the eldest daughter of the House of York. Henry VII of England and his Queen consort Elizabeth of York were the founders of the Tudor dynasty which ruled the Kingdom from 1485 to 1603.

Parliamentary Union of England and Scotland 1707, a 1925 painting by Walter Thomas Monnington depicting the official presentation of the law that formed the Kingdom of Great Britain.

Meanwhile, Wales retained the distinct legal and administrative system that had been established by Edward I in the late 13th century. The second Tudor monarch, Henry VIII of England, merged Wales into England under the Laws in Wales Acts 1535-1542. Wales ceased to be a personal fiefdom of the king of England but was annexed to England and was representated in the English Parliament.

During Henry VIII's reign in 1541 the Irish Parliament proclaimed him King of Ireland, thus bringing the kingdom of Ireland into personal union with the kingdom of England.

During the reign of Mary I of England, eldest daughter of Henry VIII, Calais was captured by Francis, Duke of Guise on January 7, 1558. The House of Tudor ended with the death of its last monarch, Elizabeth I of England, on March 24, 1603. Her heir was James VI of Scotland who ascended the throne of England as James I. The two British Kingdoms remained independent states under a personal union until 1707.

In 1707, the Act of Union merged both Kingdoms and created the Kingdom of Great Britain (17071801). Queen Anne was the last Queen of England, and the first monarch of the new kingdom. Both the English and Scottish Parliaments were merged into the Parliament of Great Britain located in Westminster, London. At this point, England ceased to exist as a separate political entity and has since had no national government. Legally, however, the jurisdiction continued to operate as England and Wales (just as Scotland continued to have its own laws and law courts) and this continued also after the Act of Union of 1800 which created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

[edit] Commonwealth and Protectorate

Coat of Arms of the Commonwealth

England was a monarchy for the entirety of its political existence since its creation about 927 up to the 1707 Act of Union, except for the eleven years of English Interregnum (1649 to 1660) that followed the English Civil War.

The rule of executed King Charles I of England was replaced by that of a republic known as Commonwealth of England (16491653). The most prominent general of the republic, Oliver Cromwell, managed to extend its rule to Ireland and Scotland.

The victorious general eventually turned against the republic, and established a new form of government known as The Protectorate, with himself as Lord Protector until his death on September 3, 1658. He was succeeded by his son Richard Cromwell. However, anarchy eventually developed, as Richard proved unable to maintain his rule. He resigned his title and retired into obscurity. The Commonwealth was re-established but proved unstable. The exiled claimant Charles II of England was recalled to the throne in 1660 in the English Restoration.

[edit] See also

Preceded by:
The Heptarchy
c. 500 – c. 927
Kingdom of England
c. 9271707
Succeeded by:
Kingdom of Great Britain
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