King Charles III: How the British Royal Family Rule

We may associate the Royal Family with strict protocols and tight lips, but King Charles III and the House of Windsor can trace their lineage through centuries of bloody wars and brutal power struggles. until 1066, when the bastard son of a duke and the grandson of a tanner took the throne.

William the Conqueror was crowned on Christmas Day, 956 years ago at Westminster Abbey. Known as “William the Bastard” in his day, his father was Duke Robert I of Normandy and his mother, Herleve, was the daughter of a tanner, according to the Royal website.

Born around 1028, he became heir to the principality upon the death of his father in 1035 and was knighted at the age of 15 by King Henry I of France – an ally who attempted to invade Normandy a decade later. that failed.

“The history of the British monarchy is a bit like Game of Thrones, just real,” Graham Broad, associate professor of history and dean of the department at King’s University College at Western University, said in a telephone interview. phone on Friday.

“The defenders of the monarchy, their core argument is that it promotes stability, but for centuries in medieval England, in medieval Europe, the reality was that war was hardly stop on questions of dynastic lineage, dynastic succession… Monarchs unable to provide a male heir always feel precarious and vulnerable.”

According to Daniel Woolf, author and professor of history at Queen’s University, since the Middle Ages, or the late Viking Age, European nations have taken inheritance and succession very seriously. England was particularly serious about this, and when it was “set aside” – as in 1399 when Richard II was demoted by his cousin, who became Henry IV – things turned extreme. bad.

“That deposition essentially ended 100 years of almost the same struggle as Game of Thrones – what we now call the Flower Wars,” Woolf said in a phone interview on Friday. pink”.

Even marriages are no guarantee of peace. For example, Edward II, who reigned from 1307 to 1327, “had very few qualities to make a successful medieval king”, according to his biography on the Royal website. His wife, Isabella of France, led an invasion against him in 1326. Within a year, he was murdered after being forced to pass the crown on to his son.

“Marriage throughout the Middle Ages until the 19th century was part of diplomatic alliances and agreements,” says Woolf.

“There are so many royal marriages in Europe that it would be difficult to find anyone who is not actually descended, at least in part, from a whole host of celebrities from a thousand years ago. before.”

Stability finally came after England became a constitutional monarchy following the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

“Only once in the last 350 years has an English king overturned part of the law, and that was more than 300 years ago,” says Broad.

“So at this point you really have a stable dynastic succession because nobody is going to go to war anymore for a puppet position.”

Today’s monarchists argue that knowing who will be the next monarch for decades to come through a succession system will promote stability, he added.


To trace the genealogy of King Charles III back almost a thousand years is a complex and complex exercise involving royal houses, cadet branches of other houses, beheading, conquest, and of course, marriage and union.

“That’s about 34 generations – depending on how you count them, but you can really trace a straight line from William the Conqueror to Charles III,” says Woolf.

“Have all sorts of jumps and change them throughout the process, as you can imagine.”

The Windsors became reigning royalty when King Edward VII ascended the throne in 1901. They are descendants of the Hanoverians, who came to power in 1714. The House of Hanover, of German origin, succeeded the Stuarts, who ruled Scotland for many centuries until 1603 when James VI of Scotland became King of England and Ireland as James I.

James I succeeded Elizabeth I, famously the Virgin Queen. She was the last member of the House of Tudor, the ruling royal family in 16th century England.

“When Elizabeth I died, that line became extinct. So it basically went to Elizabeth’s cousin who was the King of Scotland. Mr. Woolf explained.

Henry VII can be traced back to 14th century Edward III, who in turn descended from Henry II in the 12th century. Henry II was the great-grandson of William the Conqueror.

William survived his childhood and was known for his military successes.

“A lot of people tried to get rid of him because it was rough as a child and heir to the principality,” said Woolf.

His online royal biography describes him as “a very experienced and ruthless military commander, ruler, and administrator who unified Normandy and inspired external fear and respect.” his duchy.”

William spent more than half a year preparing for his invasion of England, sending a force of about 7,000 men across the English Channel via some 600 ships. He claimed that Edward the Confessor, a distant cousin, had promised him the throne, and that Harold II, the last crowned Anglo-Saxon king of England, was the usurper.

With the support of Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV and the approval of the Pope, William and his invading army landed in England in 1066. This was a close battle that William eventually fought. won after Harold and his two brothers were killed.

Broad said: “This has created a change in who all British monarchs will go on.

“But it also created a link between the thrones of France and England which, for centuries to come, would be a source of great tension and even a protracted period of war because ultimately the kings of He will come to reclaim the throne of France. “

It also took centuries before the British were willing to admit that William the Conqueror’s invasion was actually a conquest, Woolf added.

“They mistakenly believe that William actually has legal rights… It’s actually a pretty complicated and neat story. But if the Battle of Hastings had gone the other way, there might have been no Norman conquest and we might all still be speaking Old English. “

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