Castle Learning Center Medieval Kings
Castles of Britain

Medieval Kings

William I (1066-1087)
William "the Conqueror" arrived in England with 12,000 troops for the purpose of invasion. He succeeded and was crowned king. William built more than 40 castles in Britain.
Born: Falaise Castle, Normandy, 1027/8, illegitimate son of Robert of Normandy and Arlette of Conteville. Married: Matilda of Flanders, Cathedral of Notre Dame d'Eu, Normandy, 1050/52, 10 children. Acceded: 25 December 1066. Crowned: Westminster Abbey, 25 December 1066. Died: Rouen, Normandy, 9 September 1087, aged 59/60. Fell from his horse while besieging the French city of Nantes.

William II (1087-1100)
The king loved hunting more than ruling. He was killed by a stray arrow during a hunt. His court was infamous for wearing bright and outrageous costumes.
Born: Normandy, 1056/60, third son of William I and Matilda of Flanders. Acceded: 9 September 1087. Crowned: Westminster Abbey, 26 September 1087. Died: New Forest, Hampshire, 2 August 1100, aged 40/44. Killed by an arrow fired by Walter Tyrell.

Henry I (1100-1135)
Many new stone castles were built by him, or with permission from him. The great tower was the focal point of most of the castles. He introduced a new spirit of co-operation between the Normans and Anglo-Saxon people.
Born: Selby, Yorkshire, September 1068, fourth son of William I and Matilda of Flanders. Married: Edith of Scotland, 11 November 1100, 4 children. Adela of Louvain, 29 January 1121. Acceded: 2 August 1100. Crowned: Westminster Abbey, 5 August 1100. Died: Rouen, Normandy, 1/2 December 1135, aged 67. Died of food poisoning.

Stephen (1135-54)
Hundreds of private castles were built during his reign, and a breakdown of royal authority occurred.
Born: Blois, France, 1096/7, son of Stephen, Count of Blois and Adela of Flanders. Married: Matelda of Boulonge, 1125, 5 children. Acceded: 22 December 1135. Crowned: Westminster Abbey, 26 December 1135. Died: Dover, Kent, 25 October 1154, aged 57/58.

Henry II (1154-1189)
Henry found that royal castles were outnumbered by baronial castles 5 to 1 and seized every castle in England. Many private castles were destroyed during his reign.
Born: Le Mans, Anjou, 5 March 1133, son of Geoffrey Plantagenet and Matilda. Married: Eleanor of Aquitaine, Bordeaux Cathedral, 18 May 1152, 8 children. Acceded: 19 December 1154. Crowned: Westminster Abbey, 19 December 1154. Died: Chinon Castle, France, 6 July 1189, aged 56.

Richard I (1189-1199)
Much too busy with the crusades to worry about ruling England. He brought new castle design techniques to the kingdom, and introduced the round tower.
Born: Beaumont Palace, Oxford, 8 September 1157, third son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Married: Berengaria of Navarre, Chapel of St George, Limassol, Cyprus, 12 May 1191. Acceded: 2 September 1189. Crowned: Westminster Abbey, 2 September 1189. Died: Chalus, France, 6 April 1199. Mortally wounded.

John (1199-1216)
Spent a lot of money building and strengthening castles. A lot of moated manors were built during his reign.
Born: Beaumont Palace, Oxford, 24 December 1166, fourth son of Henry II and Elenor. Married: Isabella of Gloucester, 29 August 1189, no children. Isabella of Angouleme, 24 August 1200, 5 children. Acceded: 27 May 1199. Crowned: Westminster Abbey, 27 May 1199. Died: Newark Castle, Lincolnshire, 18 October 1216, aged 49.

Henry III (1216-1272)
Introduced glass in many castle halls and other chambers. He was the master of nearly 60 castles during his reign and introduced advance design and improvement for castle gatehouses.
Born: Winchester, 1 October 1207, first son of John and Isabella. Married: Eleanor of Provence, 14 January 1236, 9 children. Acceded: 28 October 1216. Crowned: Gloucester Cathedral, 28 October 1216. Died: Palace of Westminster, 16 November 1272.

Edward I (1272-1307)
"The king who built castles." His reign marked the climax of castle building in Britain. Mighty stone fortresses were built in Wales, and many more throughout the kingdom were strengthened.
Born: Westminster, 17/18 June 1239, son of Henry III and Eleanor of Provence. Married: Eleanor of Castile, Burgos, Spain, October 1254, 16 children. Margaret of France, Canterbury, 8/10 September 1299, three children. Acceded: 20 November 1272. Crowned: Westminster Abbey, 19 August 1274. Died: Burgh-on-Sands, Cumbria, 7 July 1307, aged 68.

Edward II (1307-1327)
Many improvements were made to the castles during his reign. He was murdered at Berkeley Castle in 1327, by a red hot poker being inserted into a body cavity.
Born: Caernarfon Castle, 25 April 1284, fourth son of Edward I and Eleanor of Castile. Married: Isabella of France, Boulogne, France, 25/28 January 1308, 4 children. Acceded: 8 July 1307. Crowned: Westminster Abbey, 24/25 April 1308. Deposed: 25 January 1327. Died: Berkeley Castle, 21 September 1327, aged 43. Murdered.

Edward III (1327-1377)
The king was in a state of panic over the fear of a French invasion. Great expenditures occurred for strengthening castles and town defences. Many owners of private houses were granted licences to crenellate.
Born: Windsor Castle, 13 November 1312, son of Edward II and Isabella of France. Married: Philippa of Hainault, York, 24 January 1328, 13 children. Acceded: 25 January 1327. Crowned: Westminster Abbey, 1 February, 1327 Died: Surrey, 21 June 1377, aged 64. Senile Dementia.

Richard II (1377-1399)
He reigned in conflict with Parliament. They executed some of his associates in 1388, and he executed some of the opposing barons in 1397. Much too busy executing people to contribute to castle building. Imprisoned in Pontefract Castle, where he died mysteriously.
Born: Bordeaux, France, 6 January 1367, son of Edward the Black Prince and Joan of Kent.Married: Ann of Bohemia, Westminster, 14/20/22 January 1382. Isabella of France, France, 4 November, 1396. Acceded: 22 June 1377. Crowned: Westminster Abbey, 16 July 1377. Deposed: 19 August 1399. Died: Pontefract Castle, 6 January or 14 February 1400, aged 33. Imprisoned.

Henry IV (1399-1413)
A very weak ruler. This led to great turmoil and the creation of robber-barons. Corruption was wide spread.
Born: 3 April 1367, son of John of Gaunt and Blanche of Lancaster. Married: Mary de Bohun, 1380/81, 7 children. Joan of Navarre, 7 February, 1403. Acceded: September 1399. Crowned: Westminster Abbey, 13 October 1399. Died: Westminster, London, 20 March 1413, aged 56.

Henry V (1413-1422)
The eldest son of Henry IV. Revived the Hundred Years' War by invading France, defeating the French at Agincourt. A popular king for his military prowess and his interest in the poor.
Born: Monmouth Castle, 9 August or 16 September 1387, son of Henry IV and Mary de Bohun. Married: Catherine of France, Troyes, France, 2/3 June 1420, 1 son. Acceded: 21 March 1413. Crowned: Westminster Abbey, 9 April 1413. Died: Vincennes Castle, France, 1 September 1422, aged 34 or 35. Dysentery.

Henry VI (1422-1461) (1470-1471)
Incompetent and mentally unstable and during his reign all English possessions in France, except Calais, were lost. Warfare broke out between the Yorkist and Lancastrian factions. Deposed by Edward IV in 1460.
Born: Windsor Castle, 6 December 1421, son of Henry V and Catherine of France. Married: Margaret of Anjou, Tichfield Abbey, Hants, 23 April 1445, 1 son. Acceded: 1 September 1422. Crowned: Westminster Abbey, 5/6 November 1429. Deposed: 4 March, 1461. Restored: 30 October, 1470. Deposed: 11 April 1471. Died: Tower of London, 27 May 1471, aged 49. Murdered.

Edward IV (1461-1470)
Son of Richard, Duke of York. He defeated Henry VI in the Wars of the Roses to become king. Henry was restored to the throne in 1470. Defeated Henry VI at Tewkesbury in 1471, and this time Henry was put to death.
Born: Rouen France, 28 April 1442, first son of Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, and Cecily Neville. Married: Elizabeth Woodville, 1 May 1464, 10 children. Acceded: 4 March 1461. Crowned: Westminster Abbey, 28 June 1461. Died: Westminster, 9 April 1483, aged 40.

Edward V (1483-1483)
Son of Edward IV. Acceded to the throne at the age of 12, but was deposed by his uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester and confined with his brother to the Tower of London. Both died there in the same year.
Born: Westminster Abbey, 1/2/4 November 1470, son of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. Acceded: 9 April 1483. Deposed: 25 June 1483 Died: September 1483, aged 12. Murdered at the Tower of London?

Richard III (1483-1485)
He gained control of his nephew Edward V and had himself proclaimed king. Edward and his brother were murdered, probably on Richard's orders. He was a capable ruler, but the suspicion that he had murdered Edward V and his brother undermined his popularity. In 1485 Henry Tudor defeated and killed Richard at the battle of Bosworth Field.
Born: Fotheringhay Castle, Northants, 2 October, 1452, third son of Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, and Cecily Neville. Married: Anne Neville, Westminster Abbey, 12 July 1472, 1 son. Acceded: 26 June 1483. Crowned: Westminster Abbey, 6 July 1483. Died: Bosworth Field, Leicestershire, 22 August 1485, aged 32.

Henry VII (1485-1509)
Gained the throne by defeating Richard III at Bosworth Field in 1485. He increased royal power and the prosperity of the country during his reign. Also called Henry Tudor because he inaugurated the Tudor dynasty.
Born: Pembroke Castle, Wales, 28 January 1457, son of Edward Tudor and Margaret Beaufort. Married: Elizabeth of York, Westminster, 18 January 1486, 8 children. Acceded: 22 August 1485. Crowned: Westminster Abbey, 30 October 1485. Died: Richmond Palace, Surrey, 21 April 1509, aged 52.

Henry VIII (1509-1547)
The king built many coastal forts to guard against an invasion scare during 1538-43. Many historians compare his castle building programme to that of Edward I.
Born: Greenwich, 28 June 1491, second son of Henry VII and Elizabeth. Married: Catherine of Aragon, 1509, 1 daughter. Anne Boleyn, 1533, 1 Daughter. Jane Seymour, 1536, 1 son. Anne of Cleves, 1540. Catherine Howard, 1540. Catherine Parr, 1543 Acceded: 22 April 1509. Crowned: Westminster Abbey, 24 June 1509. Died: Whitehall, 28 January 1547, aged 55.