Norman King: King William I (William the Conqueror)

King William I (William the Conqueror)

1066 William the illegitimate son of Duke Robert the Devil of Normandy invades England and defeats King Harold II, the last Saxon King at the “Battle of Hastings” claiming the English throne which had been bequeathed to him by Edward the Confessor.

On the 25th December William the Conqueror, King William I was crowned King of England.

1067 William suppresses a Saxon revolt in the south.  He drives out Anglo-Saxon lords, and gives their lands to his Norman Earls.  It was the beginning of a systematic transfer of lands, from Saxon to Norman.

1068 William faced with a revolt in the north of the country, led by Edwin and Morcar, creates an area of mass starvation.  Norman soldiers burn every house, barn, crops and kills all livestock.

1069 Swen Estrithson and his armies land in the Humber and joins up with Northern English Earls, taking the Norman Garrison at York.  William replies by taking York back.

1070 Howard the Wake leads a Saxon revolt against Norman invaders. 

William plundered monasteries, which held Saxon’s wealth.  To him England was no more than a resource to be exploited.

1071 William put an end to Saxon England in the East, by defeating Hereward the Wake.

1072 William’s Norman army heads North crossing the border into Scotland and insists Malcolm III should pay homage to him.

1073 William puts down a rebellion in Maine, France.

1078 The Tower of London construction begins, and the building has many stories to tell in its lifetime.

1079 William’s eldest son, Robert heads a rebellion in Normandy against his father, but is defeated at the “Battle of Gerbero.”  William spares his life … for Robert would inherit Normandy in 1087.

Winchester Cathedral is built.

1086 The Domesday Book, listing England’s manors or shires and the value of the country.

William informs the Pope, that England owes no allegiance to the Church of Rome.

1087 William dies in battle at the French city of Mantes; his horse stumbles amongst the ruins, and he is unhorsed.  He was buried at the Abbey Church of St.Etienne, Caen.

William leaves Normandy to his son Robert, and England to William II – Rufus.

England’s Norman Queens…

Matilda of Flanders

Matilda of Flanders, was born in 1031 to parents Baldwin V the Count of Flanders and Adele of France, daughter of Robert II of France and Constance of Arles.  Matilda’s mother Adele was a religious woman, later known as “Adele the Holy,”  who oversaw her  daughter’s education.

Matilda’s early years were spent in Lille, Northern France.  She fell in love with Brihtric an English Ambassador to Flanders, but he rebuffed her advances.  Some years later she acted as Regent for William I of England.  She confiscated Brihtric’s lands, and had him thrown in prison, where he died.  (A scorned woman got her revenge).

Duke William of Normandy sent his representatives to the Court of the Count of Flanders, asking for the hand of Matilda in marriage.  His request was denied by Matilda, she would not marry the illegitimate son of “Robert the Devil.”

A furious William, rode to Bruges, pulled her from her horse as she was on her way to church and threw her to the ground.  Another account states he entered her room at her father’s court, threw her to the floor and hit her.  Where after Matilda is reported as saying: “No other man will marry me, but William.”

In 1049 Pope Leo IX condemned their proposed marriage as incestuous and the couple were excommunicated.  Duke William of Normandy and Matilda of Flanders were married at Notre Dame in 1051/52.  In 1059 William was reconciled with the papacy, and so it was William and Matilda founded two churches as penance for defiance of a papal ban.

The union of marriage between William and Matilda was successful, for they had ten children: Robert – Richard – Cecilia    Adeliza – William II – Matilda – Constance – Adela – Adele and   Henry I.

Of those who survived into adulthood:

Adele would become the mother of King Stephen of England, who reigned from 1135-1154.

Constance would marry Alan IV the Duke of Brittany. 

William II would become King William II of England and reigned from 1087-1100. 

Henry I would become King of England and reigned from 1100-1135. 

Richard died in a hunting accident in the New Forest, where he was gored to death by a stag. 

Agatha married Alfonso VI, King of Galicia – y – Leon, Spain. 

Cecilia entered the church, and became Abbess of Holy Trinity.

In 1066, William launched an invasion on England, and Matilda commissioned “The Mora” a flagship for her husband’s crossing of the English Channel.  Matilda remained in Normandy as Regent and William presented her with crown jewels upon his return.  On the 11th May, Matilda was crowned Queen of England in 1068 at Westminster Abbey.

When illness struck down his beloved wife; Matilda, William rushed to Normandy to be at her side.  In November 1083, Matilda died at Caen, and William her husband heard her final confession.  She was buried in the Choir of the Holy Trinity “I’Abbaye aux Dames” in Caen, Normandy.

Her final bequests: She left money to the poor, and her royal Sceptre and Crown to Holy Trinity Abbey.

Birth Name: Edith and Marriage Name: Matilda

Edith of Scotland was born at Dumferline in 1080.  Her father was Malcolm III King of the Scots, her mother Margaret Atheling, daughter of Edward Atheling of the ancient Saxon House of Wessex.  At the christening of Edith, Robert Curthose, son of William the Conqueror was her godfather, and Queen Matilda of Flanders, William’s wife, her godmother.

Edith was educated at Romsey and Wilton Abbey, where she was trained in English, French and Latin, languages to help her in later life.

In 1068, Edgar Atheling joined forces with Earls Edwin and Morcat against William’s rule… This proved a bad move in the long term, as they were forced to flee their lands, for fear of their lives.

Storms drove their ships towards the Scottish coast, and they were welcomed by the court of King Malcolm of Canmore.  This Saxon princess, that graced his court, and the prospect of an alliance with an Ancient Anglo-Saxon royal house was a tempting thought.  By the end of 1070, they were married.

Edith had been betrothed to Alan Rufus, Lord of Richmond in 1093.  A row erupted between her father and William Rufus, and the then King of England on Cumbria and Lothian boundaries.

William Rufus, drove the Scots to the north of Solway, then invited the Scottish King for talks at Gloucester.

Malcolm III King of the Scots was insulted by the English King who refused to receive him.  This insult led to Malcolm III riding with his Scottish Army on the lands of Northumbria.

On the 13th November 1093, Malcolm III was struck in the eye by a lance, while accepting the keys in surrender of Castle Alnwick.  He died as did his son Edward.

Donald Base Malcolm’s brother seized the throne of Scotland.

Within three day’s Queen Margaret had died and Edith was now an orphan.

In August of 1100, William Rufus died, and the English throne was seized by brother Henry: King Henry I.

Henry made no secret of it, he wished to marry Edith, for he had been attracted to her from a distance.  Henry needed a bride with an ancient Saxon blood line, which would increase his popularity.

This Scottish princess had grown up in a convent, and questions were asked whether she had taken her vows as a Nun.  Edith testified she had been at the Abbey for educational purposes, and the Archbishop of Anselm confirmed she was not a Nun and approved the marriage of Edith and Henry.

On the 11th November 1100 Edith and Henry were married at Westminster Abbey by Archbishop Anselm of Canterbury Cathedral.  She was given a Norman name; Queen Matilda of England.

Their marriage proved a success, as relations with Scotland improved, and she became his Regent during his periods of absence.

Was it what she learnt at the Abbey or the saintly attitude she gleamed from her mother, she devoted herself to doing good causes, even washing the feet of the poor … as Jesus did.

Her husband Henry I was an active adulterer and believed to have fathered twenty children from a string of mistresses.

Queen Matilda died on the 1st May 1118 at Westminster Palace and was buried at Westminster Abbey.

Queen Adeliza of Louvain

Adeliza of Louvain also known as Adelicia was born around 1103, she being the daughter of Godfrey. Count of Louvain and his wife Ida of Namur.

King Henry I of England’s only legitimate son and heir; William of Atheling drowned in the sinking of the White Ship on the 25th November 1120.  Henry, a devastated Henry, sought a male heir, and as such took a new wife.

On the 24th January 1121 Henry I married Adeliza at Windsor and she was crowned Queen of England on the 25th January.

Adeliza played a minor political role as Queen of England.  It is said she was present when Henry announced that his legitimate daughter; Matilda would be his heir.

On the 1st December 1135, Adeliza was widowed when King Henry I died.  His throne was usurped by his nephew Stephen of Bios, even though Henry’s choice of heir was his daughter; Matilda.

Adeliza retired to the Benedictine convent of Wilton Abbey near Salisbury, and attended the dedication of Henry’s tomb at Reading Abbey.  She then retired from court, taking up residence at Arundel Castle in Sussex.  She founded a leper hospital dedicated to Saint Giles at Fugglestone, St.Peter in Wiltshire.  On Henry’s 1st anniversary of his death, Adeliza gave the manor of Aston to the Abbey of Reading, and endowed them with land, to provide for the convent.  A few years later gifted them a church.

In 1138, Adeliza married William d’Aubigny, 1st Earl of Arundel, son of William d’Aubigny and Maud le Bigod.  The D’Aubigny’s were royal stewards.  Adeliza and William resided at Adeliza’s castle of Arundel and had seven children: Alice – William – Olivia – Reynor – Geoffrey – Henry – and Agatha d’Aubigny.  Descendants of Adeliza and William include Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, Queen’s of Henry VIII.

England was plunged into Civil War when Matilda was appointed heir of King Henry I, challenged her cousin Stephen for the English throne, which by right was hers.

Adeliza supported Matilda and William her husband supported Stephen.

In 1150 Adeliza retired to the monastery of Affligem in Flanders, and she died there on the 24th March 1151.  Her burial site is unknown but it is believed she was buried at the monastery of Affligem in Flanders or Reading Abbey with her first husband; King Henry I of England.

Queen Matilda of Boulogne

Matilda of Boulogne was born in 1105, to parents Eustace III, Count of Boulogne and Mary of Scotland, the daughter of King Malcolm III of Scotland and Saint Margaret, and a descendant of the Saxon House of Wessex.  Matilda followed in her mother’s footsteps and was educated at the convents of Romsey and Wilton in England.

King Henry I of England negotiated the marriage of Matilda of Boulogne with his nephew Stephen of Blois, Count of Mortain in 1125.

In 1125, Matilda’s father Eustace III, the Count of Boulogne retired to the monastery at Cluny and Matilda became the Countess of Boulogne.

King Henry I of England gifted Stephen and Matilda a London residence.  Matilda gave birth to five children:

  • Eustace IV the Count of Boulogne, who married Constance of France.
  • Baldwin of Boulogne, who died during infancy.
  • William of Blois, Count of Mortain and Boulogne and Earl of Surrey who married Isabel de Warenne.
  • Matilda of Boulogne who married Waleran de Beaumont 1st Earl of Worcester.
  • Mary I, Countess of Boulogne who married Mathew of Alsace.

On the 1st December 1135, King Henry I of England died.  Stephen had taken an oath previously, that Henry’s daughter the Empress Matilda would be Henry’s heir to the English throne… Stephen broke his oath…

Stephen crossed the English Channel upon hearing of Henry’s death and seized the English throne without spilling blood.  He was crowned King Stephen of England on the 22nd December 1135 at Westminster Abbey.  Matilda, Stephens wife was crowned Queen of England on the 22nd March 1136 at Westminster Abbey.

Queen Matilda was a keen supporter of the Knights Templar, and founded Cressing Temple in 1137 and Temple Cowley in 1139, and had close ties with the Holy Trinity Priory at Aldgate.

Civil War broke out between Stephen and Empress Matilda, for the English throne.  Matilda supported her husband Stephen in so many, to retain his position as King of England.  When Empress Matilda’s forces invaded England in 1138, Queen Matilda called upon troops from Boulogne and Flanders, and attacked and captured Dover Castle.  From there she headed north at her husband’s request, securing a treaty with her uncle King David I of Scotland, which was signed on the 9th April 1139… She had achieved Scottish support.

Family issues saw Queen Matilda leave England and Stephen and attend the French Court.  It is here she negotiated a marriage between her son Eustace IV, the Count of Boulogne and Constance of France, the sister of King Louis VI of France.  The young couple were married in 1140.

Matilda was in the south of England when news reached her, that Stephen had been captured by Empress Matilda at the Battle of Lincoln in the February of 1141.

Queen Matilda was forced to take refuge in the Tower of London.  Her pleas to Empress Matilda for the release of her husband were rejected time and time again.

Empress Matilda, had reached London, and was preparing to be crowned Queen of England, as her father had so willed.  She alienated her new subjects, that she was driven out of the capital, and would never wear the crown upon her head.

Empress Matilda had much support in the country… Queen Matilda had to resort to political tactics to persuade supporters of Empress Matilda to change sides, and follow her.

The Earl of Warrene captured the Earl of Gloucester, and so it was each side held an important person, and an exchange was on the cards.  Stephen was released in exchange for the Earl of Gloucester.

Prison had affected Stephen, and Queen Matilda had to take the lead role in the Civil War.  When Robert of Gloucester, Empress Matilda’s chief supporter died in 1147, the war ended and peace prevailed, and the Empress Matilda returned to Anjou.

Stephen and Matilda founded a monastery at Faversham, it was their way of giving thanks that the war was over and peace prevailed.

In the May of 1152, Queen Matilda died of fever at Hedingham Castle in Essex, and was buried at Feversham Abbey.  Her son Eustace died in the August of 1153 and was also buried at Faversham Abbey alongside his mother.  On the 25th October 1154, Stephen King of England died, and was buried alongside his wife Matilda and son Eustace at Faversham Abbey.

The English throne passed to Henry Plantagenet, the Count of Anjou, Duke of Normandy and son of Empress Matilda according to the treaty of Wallingford.

Anglo-Saxon King: Edward the Confessor…

Edward the Confessor

Edward, the son of King Ethelred II and Emma of Normandy, was a direct descendant of King Alfred the Great.  Edward was educated at an English monastery, and when the Danes invaded, his mother Emma fled to Normandy with her children, and it was here Edward developed strong ties with Normans.

With the death of King Ethelred II in 1016, Emma returned to England and married the new Danish King: Cnut the Great.  The son of Emma and Cnut; Hardecnut succeeded his father as King and then proceeded to bring back his half-brother; Edward from Normandy to England in 1041.

Hardecnut, King of England died in 1042 and was succeeded by his half-brother Edward, who was crowned Edward the Confessor at Canterbury Cathedral on Easter Sunday.

Edward, King of England from 1042-1066, kept the kingdom in a state of relative peace.  However the latter years of his reign were plagued by who would be successor.

Edward, famous for his piety, was canonized in 1161.

His most lasting contribution to English history, was the building project that turned the Benedictine Abbey in Westminster into the great religious and political centre of the kingdom; Westminster Abbey. 

Edward, may have been King, but he found it difficult to assert his own authority over the earls of his kingdom, especially one Godwin of Essex.  He who had been chief adviser to King Cnut, who had been rewarded with large expanses of land and much wealth.  Godwin’s influence across Edward’s kingdom, increased further when Godwin demanded that Edward marry his daughter; Edith.  Edward, needed Godwin’s military support and was forced into agreeing to this marriage.  Edith was the main pawn in Godwin’s game to rule England.

Edward appointed the Norman, Robert of Jumieges as the new Archbishop of Canterbury in 1051, and straight away this caused a rift with Godwin. 

When Godwin failed to support Edward’s brother-in-law in a dispute with the citizens of Dover, Edward banished him, and promised William the Duke of Normandy, that he would be his heir, to the English throne.  In 1052 Godwin returned to England, and with support from the earls of Mercia and Northumbria, forced Edward to name Stigand as Archbishop of Canterbury instead of Robert of Jumieges.  Edward withdrew to concentrate on the building of Westminster Abbey.

Shortly before his death in 1066, he changed his successor to the English throne, from William, the Duke of Normandy, to Godwin’s son Harold.  As news reached William that Edward had died and the English throne had passed to Harold, William of Normandy invaded England, to claim what was rightfully his in the Battle of Hastings.

Edward’s death in 1066 precipitated the Norman Conquest that ended Anglo-Saxon rule and ushered in a new period of English history; The Dark Ages.

Ancient Egypt: The First Pyramid

King Djoser’s Stepped Pyramid

If one travels back to the lands of Ancient Egypt; when King Djoser ruled at the beginning of the Third Dynasty (2667-2648) BC.  He is remembered for building the first ever pyramid, a stepped pyramid.

This step styled pyramid was built from limestone, placing one layer on top of each other, each one smaller than the last, creating a pyramid of six steps.

The ground upon which the pyramid stands on is rectangular in shape, measuring 1,785 by 909 feet.  Fourteen false doorways are set into its walls, and its true entrance is on the south-eastern side.  Once through the door, you find a small vestibule and corridor of two rows of twenty fluted columns.  This corridor leads to eight pairs of columns, connected by limestone blocks, holding up its roof.  Beyond that lies the Great Courtyard in front of the stepped pyramid.

The six steps of the pyramids tower soar some two hundred feet into the heavens, and covers a shaft leading to the king’s burial chamber, his sarcophagus, his final resting place and a network of rooms and tunnels.  According to Egyptian beliefs, the preservation of the body, was a fundamental part, where one would pass from death to the afterlife.  The process was called mummification, which involved the removal of organs, and placing them in canopic jars.  The body would be washed, its internal cavities packed with resin and linen, and then wrapped in fine linen bandages.  Facial features were often restored by the painting of moulded plaster; a funeral mask.  Eleven shafts and chambers were built to the east, possibly for the burial of his royal women.

On the south side of the Great Courtyard is the Southern Tomb, which would house the King’s internal organs; Liver – Lungs – Stomach – Intestines, in canopic jars.

Imhotep, architect of Djoser’s step pyramid became a legend, for its construction, often referred to as a Great Wise Man of his time…

Egypt’s Lifeblood… Egypt’s Birth…

The world’s longest river, flowing some 4,100 miles out into the Mediterranean Sea is the Nile in Egypt.  It being Egypt’s life blood, according to the ancient Egyptians.

The River Nile flowed from two separate sources: the White Nile from equatorial Africa and the Blue Nile from the Abyssinian highlands.  The Nile played its part in the creation of Egypt, a process which started around five million years ago, when the river flowed into Egypt.

The desert would make its own geographical frontiers, Nile dwellers benefited, providing safety and isolation to develop their own approach to life.

In the beginning were the pre-dynastic times, when Neolithic hunter-gatherers settled on the banks of the Nile.  On an annual basis rich black silt was washed up, which was used to fertilise their crops.

“Khemet” the Black Land, became its name, with “Dehsret” the Red Land surrounded them.

The Egyptian civilization began around 6,000 BC when settlements started appearing on the banks of the River Nile.

Neolithic hunter-gatherers settled along the banks of the River Nile as the Sahara dried out, bringing with it, rich black alluvial silt, which was used to fertilise the fields.  Silt gave name to their country “Khemet” the Black Land and it was surrounded by the aridity of the Red Land “Dehsret.”

From independent beginnings they organised themselves, firstly we had villages, then communities, then small provinces and by 3500 BC two large kingdoms had emerged; The Two Lands of Upper and Lower Egypt.

UPPER EGYPT: The White Land with its capital city Nehken (Hieraconpolis) near Edfu.  The kingdom’s deities were the hawk-headed Horus and the vulture goddess Nehkbet, and the king wore a tall white crown.

LOWER EGYPT:  The Red Land with its capital City Pe (Buto).  Here the king wore a red crown, and the cobra-goddess Edjo was worshipped, along with the composite animal god of Set.

Around 3100 BC these two kingdoms were united.  The Double Crown equalled the two kingdoms, consisting of the red and white crowns with two protective goddesses.

The Nile Delta became the meeting point for trade, immigration and technology from the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe.  Whilst the former lands of Lower Egypt had little contact with the outside world, retaining its original culture and traditions.

Narmer, also known as Menes united the two lands.  Horus of Behdet, national god of Upper Egypt, triumphed over Set of Ombus, his rival in the Delta becoming the God of the two lands.

Narmer went on to establish a new capital at Memphis and inaugurated the First Dynasty (3050-2890 BC).  This period of Egyptian history saw the Pharaoh as absolute ruler of his people, a god himself as head of state, and the early embodiment of Horus.

From the beginning of time, Egyptians were a religious and superstitious race, and the supernatural side was interwoven with the real, in most aspects of everyday life.  State deities became incorporated with governmental structure, and the agricultural population coped with everyday hazards of life, through magic, charms and folklore.  They would appeal to their gods, associated with each hazard, to intercede on their behalf, such as the Nile, sowing, harvests, childbirth just to name a few.

As villages grew in size to become towns then cities, so their gods grew in stature likewise, reflecting the growth of their country.

Other features of these early dynasties, was their obsession with the correct procedure for attaining life after death.  The King’s the Pharaoh’s of these dynasties were responsible for the construction of stepped tombs at Neqada, Abydos, Saqqara and Helouam.  Along with the legendary Imhoteps stepped pyramid, the earliest known stone building of its size.

The year 2575 BC ushered in the 4th Dynasty and with it the golden age of pyramids of the Old Kingdom.  As art and architecture made major advances in their fields of development.

Egyptians believed that only the Pharaoh’s could receive everlasting life, and his subject’s contribution would be in his service whilst alive in this world, and his journey to the next world.  Thus construction of royal pyramids became the focus for their society.

Come the 6th Dynasty the Old Kingdom was crumbling before their eyes, by the limitations they themselves had set.  Too many resources were used, on the construction of Pyramids; these huge pharaonic funeral structures.

Priesthoods and governors became wealthy and powerful in a very short time at the expense of their pharaohs, until the country collapsed, returning to its provincial beginnings.

The First Intermediate period of Egyptian history witnessed the splintering of the Two Lands as foreigners entered the Nile Delta.  A time when there was a high turnover of Pharaohs as the country fell apart.

This was a time when religious beliefs and customs were taking place.

Osiris rose to prominence at a time when the god-king had become discredited, and its people sought personal eternity.

9th and 10th Dynasties witnessed a Hierakliopolitan resurgence, which was overwhelmed by the Theban line, who made it their purpose, to reunite the country, leading to the Middle Kingdom.

Montu, the Theban God of War became a dominant force, before succumbing to the likes of the 12th Dynasty; Amun.  A period of expansion, immigration and trade came into being.  Campaigns took place, calling for important gold routes to remain open, and more contact with outsiders as they entered the Delta.  The country entered a state of reorganisation, and the ancient irrigation system was repaired to its former glory.

The 12th Dynasty pharaohs attempted to reduce local nobility power, establishing dominance of Thebes.  Amun, the main pharaonic god, accepted the fact that the people supported other cults too:  Ptah at Memphis, Hathor at Dendera, Min at Coptos, Re-Atum at Heliopolis, Sobek in the Faiyum and Osiris at Abydos.  An increased democratisation of the After Life existed, possibly the result of increased appeal of Osiris.

At death, one would be judged in the presence of Osiris by fourty-two Assessor Gods.  One’s heart was placed on scales, opposite at Ma’at’s feather of truth and justice.  Passing the test, guaranteed one, eternal life with Osiris.

The Second Intermediate period came about through weal rulers.  Dynasties competed against each other, leading to confusion and opening the gates, letting in to the Delta, the Hyksos from the Middle East.  Their leaders were appointed Pharaohs, adopting local gods and traditions.  Their main Royal God was Set.

17th Dynasty at Thebes, led to rebellion and expelling of foreigners, as the stage was set for the Ancient Egyptian civilization and the “New Kingdom 1570-1085 BC.  Egypt’s isolation was no more, they had become part of the Ancient Mediterranean World.  Trade played a major part in establishing borders of Egyptian control.

18th Dynasty Pharaohs expanded their country, building an empire, conquering Palestine and the Euphrates in Syria, securing the Delta to the east and west with fortifications.  They expanded southwards securing control of Nubian gold mines.  Egypt was proving they be a mighty power coming face to face with competition from Libyans, Hittites, Sea People and other tribes.

Egypt, an empire of 2,000 years of history, had become the world’s wealthiest country.  Her capital was Thebes, and the air-god “Amun” combined with the sun-god “Amun-Re.”  Magnificent temple complexes at Karnak were considered to be the most powerful religious and political centre in the empire.  Through time the priesthood had the influence to control Egypt’s royal line of succession, turning it into an ecclesiastical state.

Tombs of Egypt’s pharaohs were hidden in pyramids in the “Valley of the Kings,” cut into rock, but not free from damage.  They were robbed of high end artefacts and desecrated.  Their descendants, their followers were buried close by in their own necropolis (cemetery).

18th and 19th Dynasties experienced much construction across the land.  Some pharaohs with much wealth to their name ordered the construction of monuments and buildings, many of which would bear their name.  Successful pharaohs gave large amounts of their wealth to Amun-Re.  As his priesthood became rich and influential, these Pharaohs regretted their actions and sought to bring it to an end.

By the 20th Dynasty much land had passed to the temples, mostly to Amun at Karnak, giving them almost complete control of Upper Egypt.  Priesthood became hereditary and independent of the Pharaoh, which led to the creation of their own Dynasty.  Conspiracies and jostling for positions took place with the royal line, which saw the royal line weaken, and dissatisfaction and unrest spread across the land.

Finally it came to pass, the throne fell to a high-priest, and Lower Egypt defected and Nubia broke away.  Come the 21st Dynasty, it was ruled from Tanis in the Nile Delta, with only the odd acknowledgement from Thebes.

22nd Dynasty rule came from Bubastis in the Delta, and prosperity was healthy in the beginning, but went into decline during the 24th and 25th Dynasties.  Both Pharaoh and priesthood suffered badly at this time, and the cause could have been that the Pharoahs of Amun at Thebe were able to marry off their daughters to Amun.  These daughters became divine wives, and not permitted to marry any mere mortal.

At the start of the 25th Dynasty all the signs were there for a prosperous period, but their hopes were dashed, by the by the newly-emergent Assyrian power which was expanding eastwards.  The Assyrians captured Memphis in 671 BC driving the Pharaoh south and by 650 BC the Assyrians were in control.

26th Dynasty Pharaohs cast aside Assyrian domination which had commenced in 668 BC.   Over the next three centuries, Greek mercenaries were used in military campaigns.  So much so, that the Egyptian authorities gave the city of Naucratis to these Greek mercenaries.

Assyrian power waned, Babylonian’s and Medes stepped in to fill the vacuum as Egypt made an alliance with Palestinian states to balance the latest threat.  In 539 BC Babylon was overthrown by the Persians who conquered Babylon and invaded Egypt.  After the siege and fall of Memphis around 520 BC, the pharaoh was put to death and Egypt became a Satrapy (Provincial Governor or Subordinate Ruler) of the Persian Empire.

Egypt under the protection and rule of Persia, appeared very one sided, for these Persians took from the Egyptians and returned nothing.  Egyptians found it hard to swallow the rule of these Persian’s and had no alternative but to seek assistance from Greece, in the form of mercenaries.  However, the city-state of Athens who supplied military aid, had a peace treaty with Persia since 449 BC, thus peace and freedom was short lived, which lasted till 343 BC, until the Persians imposed their rule once again.  They retained power until 332 BC, when Alexander the Great swept their empire away.

Alexander the Great, captured Egypt without blood being spilt, and was seen as its saviour by the people.  His intention was to bind Egypt with his own Empire, but he died in 323 BC before it could be put into action.

With Alexander’s death, Egypt fell to his General; Ptolemy, who founded a dynasty which would last 250 years.  Ptolemic Pharaohs took on Egyptian traditions of royal brother and sister marriages.

Restoration and construction of temples in the old ways, and the creation of the hybrid Greco-Egyptian God: Serapis a combination of elements of Osiris, Zeus, Helios and Aesculapius.

Under Ptolemic Pharaohs rule, Greeks spread out across the country from Alexandria and Naucratis, colonising fertile Faiyum, an oasis containing a lake fed by Bahr Yusef, a branch of the Nile, that comes from the main river to the west.

With the abolition of the Old Egyptian aristocracy, it paved the way for the creation of Greek nobility.

Cleopatra, Queen of the East attempted to protect her country; Egypt from Roman domination… Roman rule.  First she became the mistress of Julius Caesar and after his death Marc Antony.  She and Marc Antony tried to take on the might of Rome, and failed, which led to her suicide. 

Romans accepted and adopted the titles of Pharaoh and Divine Son, for it gave them the legitimacy they desired to rule.  Romans succumbed to Christianity in 311 BC, when Constantine the first Christian Emperor issued the “Edit of Tolerance,” which stated Christianity was the state religion across the country.  Pagans and heretics of the old order were persecuted, the old gods and temples attacked, the old faiths destroyed.

It took until AD 540 to eradicate the old religions…

Anglo-Saxon and Normans

Normans and Anglo-Saxons each were Scandinavian immigrant’s who had settled in another’s land, and taken over from its ruling aristocracy.  English and Norman basic social structures were similar.

Land was the defining currency, for both societies.  The Lord owned the land which was parcelled out amongst his followers in return for service.  They in turn would settle upon the land as minor lords, surrounded by a retinue of warriors, their reward for service would be parcels of land.

Success in battle generated more land and treasures, which was shared around.  If a lord wasn’t generous enough, his followers would desert him, seeking a better lord.  The lord led his warriors; and the warrior fought for his lord; both would be serviced by non-fighting tenant farmers.

Basic building block of the system is known as the hearth.  The lord owned a hearth-hall upon his land, where he would house his retinue warriors.  Tenant farmers brought produce to the hearth-hall, feeding and maintaining the retinue.  In return, the lord would provide security for all who resided on his land… lack of security defined a bad lordship.

Best described in the Saxon poem entitled; Beowulf.  Beowulf is drawn into the hearth of King Hrothgar by his generosity.  Beowulf rids Hrothgar of monsters threatening the hearth and receives a generous reward.  Beowulf dies trying to win a treasure from a dragon threatening his lands.

In 10th century Anglo-Saxon England, in pre-Norman England had become one of the most organised states in Western Europe.  The land was divided into shires, controlled by the King upon which taxation was levied, and collected in coinage from the burhs.  This appeared to be a Roman based system.

The Normans were immigrants from France.  The land of Normandy granted to their founder; Rollo in AD911.

Anglo-Saxon and Norman systems differed much.  The Norman system, had seen the creation of mounted warriors focussed on war, whilst Anglo-Saxons were managed by many a farmer.

Prior to the Battle of Hastings in 1066, Normans introduced cases to be tried in front of a Jury.  Saxon cases would rely on oaths of a lord and peer to vouch for one’s innocence.  Later this would be changed to “Trial by Battle” or “Trial by Combat.”

Origin of the Normans

So where did the Norman’s originate from and become a major force upon the lands of England?

According to history; Viking sea-raiders came in their longship’s from Scandinavia, creating a state of fear as they attacked the lands of Western Europe… They plundered; they killed and took captives to sell into a life of slavery.

Vikings under their leader Hrolf, pillaged the lands of North-Eastern France, around the area of the Seine River in 911.  The threat they imposed led to King Charles of the Franks, negotiating a treaty at St.Clair-sur-Epte in 911.  Effectively giving the lands bound by the rivers Brestle, Epte, Avre and Dives, by 924 they received Bayeux, Exmes and Sees, and in 933 the Cotenin and Avranchin, making up the lands of Normandy.

These Viking’s had come from the land’s of the north.  Two generation on and their lifestyle had changed.  They had taken under their wing so to speak, the language, religion, laws, customs and politics of the Franks.  They were referred to as the Northmen of Normandy, only later to be known as Normans.

Their desire for conquest, led Normans to pursue military goals abroad.  Normans went to Spain to fight the Moors; to Byzantium to fight the Turks; to Sicily in 1061 to fight the Saracens; and England in 1066.

The Norman Duke, William I, friend of Edward the Confessor, the Saxon English King who reigned from 1042-1066, and who supposedly promised the throne to William upon his death.

William I had no choice in his eyes, when Harold II claimed the English throne, which had been promised to him.  So these two armies met to decide who should be the rightful King of England.  The Norman style of fighting against the Anglo-Saxons… there was no real contest as William I… William the Conqueror became King of England in 1066.  It was a brutal time, as thousand’s were slaughtered in battle, and more died through famine and disease.

Norman England added to Norman France created a powerful and rich territory across Europe.

The last ruling Norman Monarch, should not have been King Stephen, for he stole it from Queen Matilda, the rightful heir of King Henry I; her father.  At that time England was a male dominated society, which would not crown a woman as the outright successor.  Matilda, was her father’s daughter, if she wasn’t going to reign, made sure her son Henry II; leader of the Plantagenet Dynasty would be the next King of England.

The legacy left by the Norman’s has to be its Churches, Cathedrals and Castles, many of which were built out of stone, that stretched across this land of ours:

Durham Cathedral – Winchester Cathedral

The Nave of Norwich Cathedral (1094-1145)

The West Front of Southwell Minster, Nottinghamshire (1108)

The Nave of Rochester Cathedral built by Gundulf (1080)

Tower of London – Windsor Castle

Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Cambridge.  Built by the Knight’s Templar, a monastic order founded in 1115 to protect pilgrims on the road to Jerusalem.

William I ran England using the “Feudal System” where the King owned everything.  So that meant he rented everything to his Barons, and they provided him with as army when required.  These Baron’s leased out land to farmer’s etc, and so the Domesday Book of 1086 was produced, creating an inventory of the country…

The Bayeux Tapestry was instigated by William’s half brother; Odo and produced by Queen Matilda.  It provides one with a visual record of events in 1066.

The New Forest, which to-day is a National Park, was formerly lands located to the North-East of Southampton and commandeered by William I, as his exclusive hunting grounds.

Anglo-Saxon Monarchy

Anglo-Saxon Sword

With the Roman’s departure early in the 5th century, Britain came under attack from Angles, Saxons and Jutes of northern Germany.  Over the next 200 years or more, these invaders pushed the native Britons from England.  The next development in Britain’s future, saw the country split into seven independent warring kingdoms.  Out of which, emerged Egbert as King of all England in 829.

EGBERT 827–839
Egbert; Britains first monarch to establish rule across all of Anglo-Saxon England. After returning from exile at the court of Charlemagne in 802, he regained his kingdom of Wessex. Following his conquest of Mercia in 827, he controlled all of England south of the Humber. After further victories in Northumberland and North Wales, he is recognised by the title Bretwalda, “ruler of the British”. In 838 defeated a combined force of Danes and Cornish at Hingston Down in Cornwall. He is buried at Winchester in Hampshire.

King of Wessex, son of Egbert and father of Alfred the Great. In 851 defeated a Danish army at the “Battle of Oakley,” His son Althelstan fought and beat the Danes at sea off the coast of Kent, in what is believed to be the first naval battle. Athelwulf travelled to Rome with his son Alfred to see the Pope in 855.

Aethelbald son of  Aethelwulf was born around 834. Crowned at Kingston-upon-Thames in southwest London, after forcing his father to abdicate upon his return from pilgrimage to Rome. Following his fathers death in 858, he married his widowed stepmother Judith, but under pressure from the church the marriage was annulled after only a year. He is buried at Sherbourne Abbey in Dorset.

Became King following the death of his brother Aethelbald. Shortly after his succession a Danish army landed and sacked Winchester before being defeated by the Saxons. In 865 the Viking Great Heathen Army landed in East Anglia and swept across England. He is buried at Sherborne Abbey.

Aethelred successor to his brother Aethelbert. His reign was one long struggle as the Danes occupied York in 866, establishing the Viking kingdom of Yorvik. When the Danish Army moved south Wessex itself was threatened, and so together with his brother Alfred, they fought several battles with the Vikings at Reading, Ashdown and Basing. Aethelred was injured at the “Battle at Meretun” and died of his wounds shortly after at Witchampton in Dorset, where he was buried.

Alfred was born at Wantage in Berkshire around 849, son of Aethelwulf .Alfred was well educated and is said to have visited Rome on two occasions. With major victories at Edington, Rochester and London, Alfred established Saxon Christian rule over Wessex, and then most of England. To secure his hard won boundaries Alfred founded a permanent army and an embryonic Royal Navy. To secure his place in history, he began the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles.

EDWARD (The Elder) 899-924
Edward succeeded his father; Alfred the Great. Edward retook southeast England and the Midlands from the Danes, united the kingdoms of Wessex and Mercia. In 923, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles record that Constantine II of Scotland recognised Edward as “father and lord”. The following year, Edward is killed in a battle against the Welsh near Chester. His body is returned to Winchester for burial.

Successor to his father; Edward the Elder, extends the boundaries of his kingdom at the “Battle of Brunanburh” in 937, defeating a combined army of Scots, Celts, Danes and Vikings, claiming the title of King of all Britain. The battle saw for the first time individual Anglo-Saxon kingdoms being brought together to create a single and unified England. Athelstan is buried in Malmesbury, Wiltshire.

EDMUND 939-946
Successor to his half-bother; Athelastan becoming king at the tender age of 18, having already fought alongside him at the “Batlle of Brunanburh.” He re-established Anglo-Saxon control over northern England, which had fallen back under Scandanavian rule following the death of Athelstan. Edmund was stabbed by a robber in his royal hall at Pucklechurch near Bath.

EADRED 946-955
Successor to Edmund, son of Edward the Elder by his third marriage to Eadgifu.  He defeated Norsemen, expelling the last Scandanavian King of York, Eric Bloodaxe, in 954.  Eadred died in his early 30s, leaving no heir, at Frome in Somerset. He is buried in Winchester.

EADWIG 955-959
Successor to Eadred, was Eadwig son of Edmund I, who was aged 16 when he was crowned king at Kingston-upon-Thames in southeast London aged 16.   Eadwig died in Gloucester when he was just 20, the circumstances of his death are not recorded.

EDGAR 959-975
Successor to Eadwig, youngest son of Edmund I, Edgar had been in dispute with his brother concerning succession to the throne for some years. Following Eadwig’s mysterious death, Edgar recalled Dunstan from exile, making him Archbishop of Canterbury as well as his personal advisor. Following his carefully planned (by Dunstan) coronation in Bath in 973, Edgar marched his army to Chester, to be met by six kings of Britain. The kings, including the King of Scots, King of Strathclyde and various princes of Wales, are said to have signalled their allegience to Edgar by rowing him in his state barge accross the River Dee.

Eldest son of Edgar, Edward was crowned king when aged just 12. Claims to the throne were contested by supporters of his much younger half-brother Aethelred. The resulting dispute between rival factions within the church and nobility took England close to civil war.  Edward’s reign lasted two and a half years, being murdered at Corfe Castle by Aethelred followers.  The title ‘martyr’ was a consequence of him being seen as a victim of his stepmother’s ambitions for her own son Aethelred.

Aethelred was unable to organise resistance against the Danes, earning him the nickname ‘unready’. He became king aged 10, fled to Normandy in 1013 when Sweyn Forkbeard, King of the Danes invaded England.  Sweyn was pronounced King of England on Christmas Day 1013 and made his capital at Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, only to die just five weeks later.  Aethelred returned in 1014 after Sweyn’s death. The remainder of Aethelred’s reign was one of a constant state of war with Sweyn’s son Canute.

Edmund son of Aethelred II, led the resistance forces to Canute’s invasion of England from 1015. Following the death of his father, he was chosen king by the good folk of London. The Witan (the king’s council) however elected Canute. Following his defeat at the Battle of Assandun, Aethelred made a pact with Canute to divide the kingdom between them. Edmund died later that year, probably assassinated.

Canute; king of all England following Edmund II’s death. The son of Sweyn Forkbeard, he ruled well and gained favour with his English subjects. In 1017, Canute married Emma of Normandy, the widow of Aethelred II and divided England into the four earldoms of East Anglia, Mercia, Northumbria and Wessex, inspired by his pilgrimage to Rome in 1027.

HAROLD I 1035-1040
Harold (Harold Harefoot), illegitimate son of Canute, claimed the English crown on the death of his father whilst his half-brother Harthacanute, the rightful heir, was in Denmark fighting to protect his Danish kingdom. Harold died three years into his reign, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.   Harthacanute had his body dug up, beheaded, and thrown into the Thames.

The son of Cnut the Great and Emma of Normandy, sailed to England with his mother, accompanied by a fleet of 62 warships, and was immediately accepted as king. Perhaps to appease his mother, the year before he died Harthacanute invited his half-brother Edward, Emma’s son from her first marriage to Aethelred the Unready, back from exile in Normandy. Harthacanute died at a wedding whilst toasting the health of the bride; he was aged just 24 and was the last Danish king to rule England

Following the death of Harthacanute, Edward restored rule in the House of Wessex to the English throne. Presided over the rebuilding of Westminster Abbey, leaving the running of the country to Earl Godwin and his son Harold.  Edward died eight days after the building work on Westminster Abbey had finished. With no natural successor, England was faced with a power struggle for control of the throne.

Despite having no royal bloodline, Harold Godwin was elected king by the Witan (a council of high ranking nobles and religious leaders), following the death of Edward the Confessor. This did not  meet with the approval of one William, Duke of Normandy, who claimed Edward had promised the throne to him several years earlier.

Harold defeated an invading Norwegian army at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire, marched south to confronting William of Normandy who had landed his forces in Sussex. The death of Harold at the Battle Of Hastings meant the end of the English Anglo-Saxon kings and the beginning of the Normans.

Danish Monarchy

King Canute

At the age of twenty-three Canute (Cnut) became the first Danish King of England in 1016, alongside his duties as King of Denmark in 1018 and Norway in 1028.  He made it known, to his subjects England was his home.

Under his rule, England was divided into four powerful Earldoms; Wessex, Mercia, West Anglia and Northumbria in 1017.

He married the widow of Aethelred; Emma in 1017 making her his Queen.

In 1018 the King and his counselors met at Oxford, to draw up laws governing the conduct of Englishmen and Danishmen alike.  Cnut promised to dispense justice, in the protection of his people’s rights, as laid down in Christian teachings.

His army travelled north to Scotland, it was a mighty show of force, compelling King Malcolm of Scotland to accept him as ruler of England, rather than make war.

In 1027 King Cnut travelled to Rome visiting holy shrines and attended Conrad II’s coronation as the Holy Roman Emperor.

In 1027, King Cnut went to Scotland where upon King Malcolm bowed in his presence as did Maelbeth and Iehmarc.

Upon his return to England, he gave the port of Sandwich to Christchurch in Canterbury and the taxes there of.  When the tide is at its highest, as a ship floats close to land.  A sailor standing on the ship’s deck with small axe in hand, would throw it, and taxes based upoon the throw would be paid to the monastery.

In 1028 King Cnut’s forces of some fifty ships sailed to Norway, where upon they drove King Olaf from his land, and secured a claim upon it.

In 1035 King Cnut of England died, and was buried at the Old Minster in Winchester.

Harold I also known as Harold Harefoot, in recognition of his speed and skill as a hunter.  Harold was the illegitimate son of Cnut and Elgiva.  Harold Harefoot was appointed regent to rule jointly with Cnut’s wife and the Early Godwin of Wessex.

With Harthacanute the rightful heir to the English throne in Denmark, Harold Harefoot was assisted by Earl Godwin in his bid for the crown, and Harold became King in 1037.

Harold died in 1040, just weeks before Harthacanute was due to invade England with an army of Danes.

Harold was buried in the Old Minster in Winchester.  Harthacanute replied by digging up his body, beheading him and tossed into the River Thames.

Harthacanute became King of England in 1040, and with no heir invited his half-brother Edward, Emma’s son by marriage to Aethelred back from exile in Normandy in 1041.  Harthacanute died in 1042 whilst toasting the health of a bride at her marriage…  So ended Danish rule in England.

Windsor Monarchy (1917 +)

When George V became King in 1910, the family name was Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, which was the family name of his father, Edward VII, and his grandfather Prince Albert.  For the first seven years of his reign, he kept this German surname, but in 1917, in recognition of anti-German feelings, by his people, he changed the family name to Windsor.  It was a symbolic and popular gesture by a King who took his role seriously.

George V adhered strictly to the constitution and knew both his rights and his responsibilities.

When he succeeded he was immediately plunged into a major constitutional crisis over the powers of the House of Lords.  The Prime Minister asked the King to create additional new peers to vote through a bill to reform the Lords, but George objected in which his position was being abused.  He felt it was the monarch’s duty to keep out of party politics, and politicians to avoid dragging him in.

Further controversy amongst the Royal’s would shock the Royal Family and Parliament alike.  Edward VIII the son of George V decided to abdicate his position as King of England, rather than give up the woman he loved.  His brother George VI restored honour to the family, becoming a much loved king, and sharing the dangers of the Second World War with his people.

King George V

Born:          3rd June 1865

Died:          20th January 1936

Reigned:   1910-1936

Parents:     King Edward VII and Alexandra of Denmark

Married:    Mary of Teck

Children:   George VI – Edward VIII – Mary – John – Henry,  Duke of Gloucester – George Duke of Kent

Buried:       Windsor

King George V: George Frederick Ernest Albert was born on the 3rd June 1865 at Marlborough House in London, to parents Edward VII and Alexandra of Denmark.

At the age of twelve joined the Royal Navy, and served until 1892, when his elder brother Albert, the Duke of Clarence died, and he became heir to the English throne.

His father Edward VII, died in 1910, and he ascended to the post of King George V of England at his coronation on the 22nd June 1911, at Westminster Abbey.

In 1917, anti-German feelings by the British People, and the slaughter of British soldiers during the war, by German forces, made it essential to drop the family name.  So it was, the family name of Saxe-Coburg Gotha was replaced with Windsor.

With the fall of the Romanov dynasty, George’s cousin, Tsarina Alexandra wife of Tsar Nicholas II, were executed along with their children by revolutionaries at Ekaterinburg.  There was much critism, why he didn’t rescue them … his reply being, it could incite a British revolution.

In 1922, the Monarchy of Greece was overthrown, and George V sent in HMS Calypso to rescue them, which included the one-year old Philip, now the Duke of Edinburgh.

In 1932, he started the Royal tradition; the Christmas broadcast to the people.

On the 20th January 1936, King George V dies of pleurisy at Sandringham and is buried at Windsor Castle.

King Edward VIII & Wallis Simpson

Born:          23rd June 1894

Died:          28th May 1972

Reigned:   1936 – Abdicated

Parents:     King George V and Mary of Teck

Married:    Wallis Simpson

Children:   None

Buried:       Frogmore

King Edward VIII: On the 23rd June 1894, Edward Albert Christian George was born at White Lodge in Richmond, to parents King George V and Queen Mary.

He became a celebrity playboy about town, and had several affairs with married women, and high on the list was; Mrs Wallis Simpson.

On the 20th January 1936, King George V died, and Edward ascended to the English throne.  In 1936, Mrs Wallis Simpson obtained a divorce from her second husband, it was clear to see, Edward wanted to be husband number three.

In November of 1936, the uncrowned Edward sent shock waves through Parliament and family.  The two were very much in love, and Edward had to choose Wallis Simpson or the English throne.  She a divorced woman would have been an unacceptable Queen.  On the 11th December 1936, Edward abdicated, which meant any children he might have, were excluded from succession to the English throne. 

King George VI

Born:          14th December 1895

Died:          6th February 1952

Reigned:   1936-1952

Parents:     King George V and Mary of Teck

Married:    Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon

Children:   Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret

Buried:       Windsor

King George VI: Albert Frederick Arthur George was born on the 14th December 1895 at Sandringham, to parents George V and Mary of Teck.  In World War One, he served as a young naval officer, in the “Battle of Jutland.”

In the December of 1936, following the death of his father; King George V and the surprise abdication by his brother, he became King George VI of England at his coronation on the 12th May 1937, held at Westminster Abbey.

In 1940 King George VI instituted the George Cross and George Medal for acts of bravery by citizens.  In 1942 the George Cross was awarded to Malta, in recognition of their heroism and resistance to the enemy siege.

In 1939, King George visited France and the British Expeditionary Force, North Africa in 1943 after the victory of El Alamein.  In 1944 visited the army on the beaches of Normandy, ten days after D-Day.

On the 8th May 1945, a day which will be remembered VE (Victory in Europe) Day.  The war, the King and his duty to his people had created a bond between them.

Britain had overcome the hardships of the post-war years, but the strain incurred by the Second World War had taken their toll on the King.  On the 6th February 1952, King George VI died in his sleep, at Sandringham.  He laid in state at Westminster Hall.  The funeral was held at St.George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, where he is buried.

Queen Elizabeth II

Born:          21st April 1926


Reigned:   1952-

Parents:     King George VI and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon

Married:    Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

Children:   Prince Charles, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward and Princess Anne

Queen Elizabeth II: Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was born on the 21st April 1926, to parents George VI and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon at Bruton Street, London.

In 1947, Philip Mountbatten became a British subject, converted from Greek Orthodox to Anglican and renounced any claims to the Greek crown.  On the 9th July 1947, Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten were officially engaged and married on the 20th November at Westminster Abbey. 

With the death of her father; King George VI Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth II of England at her coronation on the 2nd June 1953, and Prince Philip her consort.

The Queen’s political powers these days are largely of a ceremonial nature, however she holds powers which can be used to expedite situations.