Eight English kings since the Norman Conquest have been called Edward (and at least three before), though only two of these have ruled over the United Kingdom, hence Scotland has only shared two of these - although she has also had one of her own, Edward Balliol. The first English Edward after the Conquest (Edward I, 1272 - 1307) tried hard to subjugate both neighbouring countries, and was successful in Wales: the occupation of Scotland that he effected was ended under his son, Edward II, by Robert I ('Robert the Bruce'). (For a note on the adjective Edwardian, see the AWE article - or a good dictionary.)
There has also been one King of Scotland called Edward - Edward Balliol, who is not always recognized as rightful King.
The English kings called Edward are: (the Scots Edward Balliol is at the end of the list)
Edward the Elder
- The Edward nicknamed the Elder (870s?-924), was king of the Anglo-Saxons. He was the eldest son of Alfred the Great (848/9-899), and succeeded him, despite a rebellion by Æthelwold, in 899. He enlarged the kingdom he had inherited, but not, it seems, enough to call himself 'King of England'. He remained 'king of the Anglo-Saxons': "Although the north had in some sense submitted to Edward, it seems unlikely that he had any direct control beyond the Humber" (ODNB). He married (1) Ecgwynn (893); (2) Aelffaed, c.902; and 3) Edgiva of Kent (905).
Edward 'the Martyr'
The first of the pre-Conquest kings of England was born c. 962, the eldest son of Edgar (943/4-975). He succeeded his father at the age of about 13.
- He was more a figurehead for powerful nobles than a genuine claimant. He was murdered by retainers of his step-mother Ælfthryth at the age of 16, in 978. His canonization, as 'Saint and Martyr', seems to have been by popular acclaim - led by his half-brother Æthelred who succeeded him as Æthelred II (known as Ethelred the Unready), ruling from 978 to 1016.
Edward 'the Confessor'
The most famous pre-Conquest King Edward, called the Confessor, was born 1003, 1004 or 1005; crowned 1043; married Edith of Wessex 1045; died 1066.
- A Saxon king (his name was usually spelled Eadward), and therefore a warrior. A pious man by the standards of the age, he was canonized as a Saint in 1161. (The title Confessor means that he was "One who avows his religion in the face of danger, and adheres to it under persecution and torture, but does not suffer martyrdom; spec[ifically] one who has been recognized by the church in this character" (OED, 2.a.).) Edward was "recognized by the church in this character" by Pope Alexander III in 1160.
- A great warrior, who had learnt much from his experiences commanding royalist forces in the (second) Barons' War between his father and Simon de Montfort. In his own reign, he fought in France, subjugated Wales, and occupied Scotland, where he was known as 'Langshanks'. Known in English history as 'the lawgiver', as active in passing new statutes and making great steps in the pacification and efficient government of England. Married to Eleanor of Castile, to commemorate whose death he erected Charing Cross in London, along with 11 others. He died on the Solway Firth, preparing to invade Scotland again. His own tomb in Westminster Abbey is inscribed Malleus Scottorum, Latin for 'Hammer of the Scots'.
Nicknamed 'of Caernarvon', after his birhplace: born 1284; succeeded his father Edward I 1307; married Isabella of France 1308; died 1327
- It has been said since the sixteenth century that he was the first (English) Prince of Wales, having been presented to the Welsh people, who objected to their anglophone governors, as 'a prince who can speak no English' in his first year, as a public relations coup by his father. This is almost certainly untrue: he was 16. Lost Scotland. Extravagant private life. His reign was marred by his favouritism for such as Piers Gaveston, possibly homosexual in nature, which led to his deposition and murder, in which his wife, Isabella 'the she-wolf of France' was active. The ODNB says that "it is possible that the complexity of the political and administrative problems involved in governing England was becoming such as to exceed the capacity of any king, other than the most able, to control", and that the violent struggles of king and nobles were "the real lesson of the reign". He is the subject of an eponymous play by Christopher Marlowe.
Born 1312, succeeded his father Edward II in 1327; married Philippa of Hainault 1328; died 1377.
- Perhaps the greatest Plantagenet king; certainly the longest-lived. He began the 'Hundred Years War' with France, and won many notable victories. England domestically was largely peaceful during his reign. Married Philippa of Hainault, with whom his children included Edward Prince of Wales ('the Black Prince'), a notable warrior who died before his father, in 1376; John 'of Gaunt', the Duke of Lancaster and Edmund 'of Langley', Duke of York,. Lancaster's son became Henry IV, and the quarrels of his grandson Henry VI with Langley's grandson, Richard Duke of York,, led to the 'Wars of the Roses'.
Born 1442; crowned 1461; married Elizabeth Woodville 1464; succeeded Henry VI 1471; died 1483.
- Edward succeeded to the Yorkist claim to the English throne when his father, Richard Duke of York, was killed at the battle of Wakefield in 1460. He was declared king by Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick ((1428-1471), nicknamed 'the Kingmaker') in 1461, and confirmed his power by defeating Henry VI at the Battle of Towton in the same year. By marrying Elizabeth Woodville in secret, he alienated Warwick, and was deposed by the latter's rebellion in 1469, when Henry VI resumed the throne. After his forces' defeat at the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471, Henry died - probably killed, in captivity; and Edward resumed the throne till his death in 1483.
Born 1470; succeeded his father, Edward IV, in 1483; deposed by Richard III in 1483.
- Edward VI was the great Protestant Reformer of England. While his father 'broke with Rome', his leaving the Roman Catholic church was essentially political and personal. Edward, a fine scholar and thinker, was apparently committed to Protestant doctrines, though his death at the age of 15 makes it impossible to know much.
Born 1841; married Alexandra of Denmark 1863; succeeded his mother Queen Victoria 1901; died in 1910.
- Edward VII was Prince of Wales (as Albert Edward) for longer than any other - just under 60 years. In this time, he reacted against the 'Victorian' values of his mother's court: he played cards for money, raced horses, maintained a series of mistresses, visited the 'scandalous' city of Paris, and enjoyed socializing, with an abundance of food and drink, as he continued to do while on the throne.
Born 1894 to the Duke of York who eventually became George V; succeeded his father in 1936; abdicated later that year, to become the Duke of Windsor, marrying "the woman I love", Mrs Wallis Simpson, in 1937. Succeeded by his younger brother, George VI, becoming Duke of Windsor. Died 1972.
- Edward VIII is the only English monarch to have abdicated in recent times. (In mediaeval times, others were forced to resign the throne after various wars and rebellions, and were often murdered afterwards.) Edward found a conflict between the duties of the king and the love of Wallis Simpson, whom the Establishment rejected as a divorced woman. The resulting abdication crisis ended with the accession of Edward's brother as George VI. After his abdication, he took the title of His Royal Highness Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor: Mrs Simpson, now the Duchess of Windsor, was never recognized as HRH. He visited Germany, and appears to have hoped that Germany's victory in the war might restore him to the throne. Until the fall of France in 1940, the Duke's wartime service was attached to the UK Military Mission in Paris; after that, he became Governor of the Bahamas. The Windsors were largely ignored by his family until his niece, Elizabeth II, visited them in Paris in 1972. When he died later that year, he was buried in the Royal Burial Ground at Frogmore, Windsor.
Born in or after 1281; never married; took the throne by force during the minority of David II and after the death of the Regent, in 1332, and held it intermittently till 1338; sold his 'claim' to Edward II of England 1356; died 1363.
- Edward Balliol was the son of John Balliol, the 'Competitor' judged to be rightful King of Scotland by Edward I of England in 1292, and resigned in 1296. Edward Balliol was an opportunist, who invaded as soon as he knew of the death of Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray (d. 1332), Regent for David II, infant son of Robert the Bruce. He defeated and killed the new Regent, Donald Earl of Mar (c.1302-1332) at the Battle of Dupplin. He was driven out at Christmas that year, but re-instated after the crushing English victory at Halidon Hill, in return for which he did homage to Edward III and ceded much territory to England. His government was never secure, and after 1338 he never returned to 'his' kingdom.