Kingdom of England


July 5, 2022

The Kingdom of England existed from the collapse of the Heptarchy in the early Middle Ages until 1707. It was succeeded by the Kingdom of Great Britain, formed by the merger of the Kingdoms of England and Scotland.


Traditionally, King Egbert of Wessex is listed first in the king lists of England, as he was the first of the House of Kings of Wessex to establish at least temporary supremacy over the Anglo-Saxon heptarchy in the British Isles. Offa of Mercia (king from 757 to 796) was the first Anglo-Saxon to call himself "King of England" (774). Alfred the Great later achieved recognition as King of England, but the Danelaw, ruled by King Guthrum, did not recognize him as patron. Following the example of Charlemagne, Alfred had numerous monasteries founded. By creating new schools, he promoted the cultural and spiritual life of his empire. At the age of 36 he learned Latin himself and began to invite numerous scholars from the Frankish kingdom to England. These and Anglo-Saxon jurists began under his reign to transcribe the common law into a code called the Domboc. English national consciousness also made itself felt under him for the first time. Alfred's successors created an administrative system in which sheriffs were crown officials at the head of a county, a shire, with several counties grouped together into an earldom, under the authority of an earl. July 12, 927 is considered the historical founding day of the English Kingdom, when, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the historians William of Malmsbury and John of Worcester, the kings Æthelstan, Constantine II, Eógan I, Howell the Good and Ealdred I. met at Eamont Bridge in present-day Cumbria. The kings here recognized the supremacy of Æthelstan. King Æthelstan was able to drive the Cornwallers out of Exeter in 936 and drew a line on the outskirts of his kingdom of Wessex, on the River Tamar. He called himself Rex totius Britanniae (King of All Britain), but could only bring Wales and Scotland under loose suzerainty. On the other hand, he conquered Northumbria permanently. After 930 his charters were produced by a single chancery in Winchester, suggesting some sort of capital of his kingdom. From the time of his reign one can speak of the Kingdom of England. (cf. Origin of England) William I the Conqueror led the invasion of Britain in 1066, defeating his rival Harold II at the Battle of Hastings. He then subdued the Anglo-Saxon kingdom and founded the Anglo-Norman Empire. He had the Domesday Book created and the Tower of London built. The English kings of the High Middle Ages reached far into France (cf. Angevin Empire). From the late 12th century, the English kings gradually conquered the Isle of Ireland and Wales. In the early 13th century, the Angevin Empire collapsed, and the House of Plantagenet gradually transformed into an all-English dynasty. The nobility of Norman origin integrated into the Anglo-Saxon population and now gradually assumed an independent English national consciousness. The Act of Union, the Acts incorporating Wales 1535-1542, finally ended the Welsh Marches' special status and brought Wales under English law. In 1541 the Kingdom of Ireland was founded, which was linked to England in a personal union. From 1603 there was also a personal union with Scotland under James I. The Commonwealth of England as a republic (1649–1659) under Oliver Cromwell remained a brief episode. The merger of the kingdoms of England and Scotland by the Act of Union 1707 created a real union under the name