plantagenet kings list

From Plantagenet to Tudor: A Comprehensive List of Plantagenet Kings

Welcome to a journey through English history. The Plantagenet dynasty, which spanned over three centuries, left an indelible mark on the country’s politics, culture, and society. From William the Conqueror to Richard III, the Plantagenet kings shaped the course of English history, expanding their territories, advancing their power, and facing numerous challenges along the way.

In this article, we’ll provide a comprehensive list of all Plantagenet kings and explore their reigns, accomplishments, and legacy. We’ll also delve into the Tudor dynasty, which succeeded the Plantagenets, and examine the interplay between the two dynasties.

Key Takeaways

  • The Plantagenet dynasty ruled England for over three centuries, shaping its history and culture.
  • We’ll provide a complete list of all Plantagenet kings and explore their reigns and accomplishments.
  • The Tudor dynasty succeeded the Plantagenets and built upon their legacy, creating a new era in English history.

The Beginnings of the Plantagenet Dynasty

The Plantagenet dynasty traces its roots back to the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. William the Conqueror, the first Norman king of England, laid the foundation for what would become one of the most powerful and enduring medieval dynasties.

However, the Plantagenet dynasty did not officially begin until the accession of Henry II in 1154. Henry II was born in France and inherited vast territories there from his father, Geoffrey Plantagenet. With his ascension to the English throne, Henry II became the first official Plantagenet king.

Under Henry II’s reign, the Plantagenet dynasty began to assert its dominance and establish the Angevin Empire, which included vast territories in France as well as England and parts of Ireland. Henry II instituted important legal reforms, such as the development of the common law legal system, which set a precedent for future monarchs and had a lasting impact on English law.

Henry II and the Angevin Empire

Henry II’s reign was marked by his ambition to consolidate his power and expand the Angevin Empire. He married Eleanor of Aquitaine, the former queen of France, which further expanded his territories in France. However, Henry’s ambitions were not without opposition. He faced numerous rebellions and conflicts with his own sons, who resented his attempts to divide the Angevin Empire among them.

Despite these challenges, Henry II left a lasting legacy. He is remembered as one of England’s greatest medieval kings, and his legal and administrative reforms laid the foundation for the English monarchy that would follow.

Henry II was succeeded by his son, Richard I, who would go on to earn the nickname “Lionheart” for his military prowess and reputation as a chivalrous leader. Richard I continued the expansion of the Angevin Empire through his military campaigns in France, but his reign was marked by his absence from England for much of his tenure, as he spent much of his time on Crusade in the Holy Land.

Richard I was succeeded by his brother, John, whose reign was marked by his struggles with the Church and his barons, who were resentful of his attempts to increase taxes and exert greater control over their lands. John’s reign saw the signing of the Magna Carta, a document that would become one of the most significant legal texts in English history and a symbol of the people’s power to limit the authority of their rulers.

Despite the challenges faced by the early Plantagenet kings, the dynasty continued to strengthen and extend its influence over England and France. In the following sections, we will explore the reigns of the Plantagenet kings in greater detail, from Edwardian Plantagenets to the Lancastrian and Yorkist kings, and their lasting impact on English history.

Kings of the Angevin Empire

Richard I, also known as Richard the Lionheart, was the second Plantagenet king and the son of Henry II. His reign was marked by his military campaigns in the Third Crusade, where he gained a reputation as a fearless warrior. Richard also expanded his territories in France as part of the Angevin Empire, although he spent little time in England during his reign.

John, Richard’s younger brother, inherited the throne after Richard’s death in 1199. His reign was tumultuous, marked by conflict with the Pope, the loss of the Angevin territories in France, and the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215. Despite these challenges, John was able to consolidate his power in England and lay the groundwork for the development of the English common law.

“Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

The Angevin Empire continued to expand under the reigns of both Richard I and John. However, their militaristic pursuits led to the neglect of domestic affairs and a strained relationship with the English aristocracy. Nonetheless, the reigns of Richard I and John remain important chapters in the Plantagenet dynasty’s history, showcasing the ambition and struggles that marked the early years of the dynasty.

Edwardian Plantagenets

The reigns of Edward IEdward II, and Edward III are collectively known as the Edwardian Plantagenets. These kings shaped the course of English history through their military campaigns, political struggles, and their impact on the growth and stability of the Plantagenet dynasty.

Edward I, also known as Edward Longshanks, was a formidable warrior and leader. He fought in the Crusades and conquered Wales, earning him the nickname “Hammer of the Scots.” His reign was marked by the establishment of Parliament as a legislative body and the issuance of the Model Parliament of 1295.

Edward II faced significant challenges during his reign, including rebellions by his barons and the Scots. He was unpopular, and eventually deposed by his own wife and her lover. Edward II’s reign accelerated the decline of the Plantagenet dynasty, as it exposed the weaknesses of the English monarchy.

Edward III was one of the most successful Plantagenet kings. His reign was marked by significant military victories, including the Battle of Crécy and the Battle of Poitiers, which established English dominance in the Hundred Years’ War against France. Edward III also made significant contributions to English law, such as establishing the Court of Common Pleas.

Edwardian Plantagenets

“Edward III was one of the most successful Plantagenet kings. His military campaigns and contributions to English law cemented his place in history.”

The reigns of the Edwardian Plantagenets were a pivotal time in English history. They helped to establish England as a major European power, and laid the groundwork for the Wars of the Roses which would eventually bring an end to the Plantagenet dynasty. Despite their eventual downfall, the Edwardian Plantagenets left a lasting impact on English politics, culture, and society.

The Lancastrian Kings

The Lancastrian kings, including Henry IVHenry V, and Henry VI, faced numerous challenges during their reigns. Henry IV, the first Lancastrian king, claimed the throne through an armed revolt against Richard II but faced multiple rebellions during his reignHenry V is known for his successful military campaigns in France, which led to the English victory at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. However, his premature death at age 36 left his successor, Henry VI, with a difficult task of maintaining control over England and continuing the war in France.

Henry VI’s reign was marked by political turmoil and military defeats, including the loss of England’s territories in France. These struggles led to the Wars of the Roses, a series of civil wars between the House of Lancaster and the House of York. The Lancastrian kings were ultimately defeated in the Wars of the Roses, marking the end of the Plantagenet dynasty.

The legacy of the Lancastrian kings is mixed. While Henry V’s military successes brought glory to England, the reign of Henry VI saw the country plunged into chaos. The Wars of the Roses that followed resulted in significant loss of life, weakening England’s economy and society.

Yorkist Kings

The Yorkist kings, including Edward IVEdward V, and Richard III, were central figures in the Wars of the Roses, a series of battles between the House of Lancaster and the House of York.

Edward IV, the first Yorkist king, was known for his military prowess and diplomatic skills. During his reign, he successfully defended his claim to the throne and restored stability to England. However, his reign was not without controversy, including the execution of his brother and the imprisonment of his own wife.

Edward V, Edward IV’s eldest son, inherited the throne at a young age but was deposed by his uncle, Richard III, who declared himself king. Richard III, the last Yorkist king, has been a controversial figure in history, with some portraying him as a ruthless tyrant and others as a misunderstood ruler.

Despite their ultimate failure to secure the Yorkist claim to the throne, the Yorkist kings left a lasting impact on English history. Their reigns marked a period of significant upheaval and political change, paving the way for the rise of the Tudor dynasty and the beginning of a new era in English monarchy.

The Plantagenet Legacy

The Plantagenet dynasty left a significant legacy on English history and culture, paving the way for the Tudor dynasty and shaping the course of monarchy for centuries to come.

The Plantagenet kings brought stability and prosperity to England through their advancements in trade, military campaigns, and governance. They established a strong central government, expanded the territory of England, and improved the administration of justice.

“The Plantagenets left behind a legacy of strong rulership, military conquests, and political stability that would shape English history for generations to come.”

The Plantagenet legacy is also evident in the art, literature, and architecture of England. Their patronage of the arts fostered a flourishing of Gothic architecture, illuminated manuscripts, and literature such as Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales which remain cultural treasures even today.

The rise of the Tudor dynasty, initiated by Henry VII’s victory in the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, marked an end to the Plantagenet era. Yet the Tudors continued many Plantagenet traditions, such as their emphasis on strong royal authority and their promotion of the arts and literature.

The Plantagenet legacy endures to this day, making the dynasty a lasting and important presence in English history. Understanding their impact on the Tudor dynasty is crucial to understanding the evolution of English monarchy and its influence on the world.

Plantagenet Kings List

Here is a comprehensive list of all Plantagenet kings in chronological order, including their reign dates, notable achievements, and any significant historical events that occurred during their rule:

Plantagenet King Reign Dates Notable Achievements
Henry II 1154-1189 Established the Angevin Empire and strengthened the power of the monarchy
Richard I 1189-1199 Successful in the Third Crusade and expanded the Angevin Empire
John 1199-1216 Lost the Angevin Empire and faced rebellion from his barons, leading to the signing of the Magna Carta
Henry III 1216-1272 Built Westminster Abbey and faced rebellion from his barons, leading to the Second Barons’ War
Edward I 1272-1307 Conquered Wales and strengthened the power of Parliament
Edward II 1307-1327 Incompetent rule led to his overthrow by his queen and her lover
Edward III 1327-1377 Victorious in the Hundred Years’ War and established the Order of the Garter
Richard II 1377-1399 Faced rebellion from his nobles and was eventually deposed by Henry Bolingbroke (Henry IV)
Henry IV 1399-1413 Won the crown through rebellion and faced numerous uprisings during his reign
Henry V 1413-1422 Victorious in the Hundred Years’ War, including the Battle of Agincourt
Henry VI 1422-1461, 1470-1471 Faced political instability and the beginning of the Wars of the Roses
Edward IV 1461-1470, 1471-1483 Successful in the Wars of the Roses and strengthened the power of the monarchy
Edward V 1483 Reigned for only a few months before being deposed by his uncle, Richard III
Richard III 1483-1485 Defeated by Henry Tudor (Henry VII) in the Battle of Bosworth, marking the end of the Plantagenet dynasty

The Plantagenet dynasty had a significant impact on English history, culture, and governance. Understanding their reigns, dynastic influence, and lasting legacy is important in recognizing the historical context of the Tudor dynasty that followed.

Henry II: The First Plantagenet King

Henry II was the first official Plantagenet king and one of the most significant figures of the medieval period. He ascended to the throne in 1154 and ruled until his death in 1189.

During his reign, Henry II established the Angevin Empire, which included England, parts of Ireland, and territories in France. He also enacted major legal reforms and introduced the concept of a common law system.

One of Henry II’s most prominent achievements was his successful military campaigns. He conquered Wales and Ireland and also defeated a rebellion by his own son, Prince Henry. Additionally, he waged war against the Scots and ultimately forced King William the Lion to recognize English sovereignty over Scotland.

Henry II’s legacy extends beyond his military and political accomplishments. He is also remembered for his patronage of the arts and for his relationship with Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury. The two were once close friends, but their relationship soured when Becket opposed Henry’s attempts to extend royal authority over the Church. In 1170, Becket was murdered by four of Henry’s knights, an event that shocked Europe and led to Becket’s canonization as a saint.

Overall, Henry II played a crucial role in the establishment and expansion of the Plantagenet dynasty. His reign was marked by military victories, legal reforms, and significant cultural contributions. His legacy continues to be felt in English history and beyond.

Wars of the Roses: The Decline of the Plantagenets

The Wars of the Roses were a series of brutal conflicts that marked the ultimate decline of the Plantagenet dynasty. Lasting from 1455 to 1487, the Wars of the Roses took their name from the symbols representing the two rival factions: the white rose of York and the red rose of Lancaster. The conflict was driven by the question of who had the right to rule England, with both sides claiming a legitimate claim to the throne. This bitter feud would result in the deaths of thousands of people and ultimately lead to the end of the Plantagenet dynasty.

The wars began in 1455 when the Duke of York, Richard Plantagenet, challenged the Lancastrian King Henry VI for the throne. Over the next thirty years, the two factions engaged in a series of battles, with neither side emerging as the clear victor. Along the way, many of the most powerful and influential members of both houses were killed, including Richard III, who was famously killed in battle at Bosworth Field in 1485.

The conflict ended with the ascension of Henry VII, the first Tudor King, in 1485. Henry Tudor had a weak claim to the throne, but he was able to win the support of many former Yorkist supporters and secure the throne through a combination of military force and political strategy. With his victory at the Battle of Bosworth Field, Henry ended the Wars of the Roses and ushered in a new era of English history.

The Wars of the Roses had a significant impact on the Plantagenet dynasty. The numerous battles and political intrigues weakened the Plantagenet hold on the English throne, paving the way for the rise of the Tudors. Additionally, many of the country’s most powerful families were destroyed during the conflict, leading to a period of relative stability under the Tudor monarchs.

The Rise of the Tudor Dynasty

The Tudor dynasty emerged as the ruling power in England following the end of the Plantagenet line in the Wars of the Roses. Henry VII, the first Tudor king, came to the throne in 1485 after defeating Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field.

Henry VII’s reign brought newfound stability to England after a period of unrest and political turmoil. He worked to strengthen the monarchy, establishing the Court of Star Chamber to enforce justice and the Council Learned in Law to advise the king on legal matters.

Henry VII’s son, Henry VIII, is perhaps the most well-known Tudor king for his six marriages and the English Reformation. During his reign, he broke away from the Catholic Church and established the Church of England, with himself as its Supreme Head.

The Tudor dynasty continued with Edward VI, who ruled for only six years before his untimely death, and then with his half-sister Mary I, who sought to restore Catholicism in England and earned the nickname “Bloody Mary” for her persecution of Protestants.

Elizabeth I, the final Tudor monarch, is often considered one of England’s greatest rulers. Her reign saw a flourishing of English culture, including the works of William Shakespeare and the exploration of the New World by Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh.

The Tudors also made significant contributions to English law and governance, with the establishment of the Court of High Commission and the Privy Council, among other institutions.

The rise of the Tudor dynasty marked a new era in English history, with their reigns spanning from 1485 to 1603. Their legacy continues to be felt today, with many of their achievements and institutions still in place in modern England.


The Plantagenet dynasty played a significant role in shaping English history and culture, and their legacy is still felt today. From the Norman Conquest to the Wars of the Roses, Plantagenet kings left their mark in various ways.

Exploring the list of Plantagenet kings and their reigns provides a better understanding of the Tudor dynasty that succeeded them. Henry VII’s ascension to the throne marked the beginning of a new era, but it would not have been possible without the influence of the Plantagenets.

Keep Exploring Plantagenet History

As we’ve seen, the Plantagenet dynasty is an essential piece of English history. By learning more about these kings and their contributions, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the Tudor era and beyond. So continue your research, and keep discovering all the fascinating aspects of Plantagenet history.


Q: What is the significance of the Plantagenet dynasty?

A: The Plantagenet dynasty played a crucial role in English history, spanning from the 12th to the 15th century. They were known for their military achievements, political conflicts, and their enduring legacy, which directly impacted the subsequent Tudor dynasty.

Q: Who were the key figures in the Plantagenet dynasty?

A: The Plantagenet dynasty was established by Henry II, who became the first official Plantagenet king. Other notable figures include Richard I, John, Edward IEdward II, Edward III, Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VI, Edward IV, Edward V, and Richard III.

Q: What is the significance of the Wars of the Roses?

A: The Wars of the Roses marked a major turning point for the Plantagenet dynasty. This series of civil wars between the Houses of Lancaster and York ultimately led to the fall of the Plantagenets and the rise of the Tudor dynasty.

Q: How many Plantagenet kings were there?

A: There were a total of fifteen Plantagenet kings who ruled England. The list includes Henry II, Richard I, John, Henry III, Edward I, Edward II, Edward III, Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VI, Edward IV, Edward V, Richard III, and Henry VII.

Q: What is the Plantagenet legacy?

A: The Plantagenet dynasty left a lasting legacy on English history. Their reigns brought about significant political, social, and cultural changes. Their influence can be seen in the establishment of the Angevin Empire, the growth of English law, and the impact on subsequent monarchies, including the Tudor dynasty.