Britain’s ‘lost’ monarchs

Posted: January 31, 2014 in Uncategorised

A conversation on facebook about Edward VI got us thinking about other ‘lost’ monarchs. These are kings or queens who died young, or heirs to the throne that never made it. I’m going to try and come up with a list. All contributions appreciated!

Edgar Ætheling, briefly Harold Godwinsson’s heir after the battle of Hastings, before the English decided it was pointless (thank so chris y for this!)
William Adelin, son of Henry I – drowned in the wreck of the White Ship
Henry the Young King, son of Henry II (thanks Jayne Smith for the reminder!)
Arthur of Brittany, grandson of Henry II (thanks to Esther!)
Three sons of Edward I who died in childhood, John, Henry and Alfonso (thanks to Celia Parker)
Edward, the Black Prince
Edward of Lancaster
Edward V
Edward of Middleham, son of Richard III (suggested by Celia Parker. I’m still on the edge with this Edward, as he had two barriers in his path. The first (an early death) rendered the second (his father’s defeat at Bosworth) moot.)
Prince Arthur
Lady Jane Grey
Edward VI
Prince Henry, son of James VI
James Stuart, the Old Pretender, son of James VII
Prince William, son of Queen Anne (I have not included Anne’s many children who survived birth but not childhood, nor have I included any of her sister, Mary II’s, children)
Crown Prince Frederick, son of George II
Princess Charlotte, daughter of George IV

I shall have to delve into the history of Scotland to complete this list. And I’m not sure whether to include Richard III, or if a two year reign is too long for him to be considered ‘lost’.

  1. jayne smith says:

    How about the Young King , Henry , son of Henry II. He was made King as well wasn’t he in his father’s life time ?

  2. Dallis Edwards says:

    Wasnt Henry VIII bastard son Henry Fitzroy in line to be king?

  3. carolynmcash says:

    Henry II was the father. Henry, the Young King, was his son but he predeceased Henry II, so Richard I inherited the throne in 1189.

  4. Esther says:

    Would Arthur qualify as a “lost monarch”? (Not Arthur, Henry VII’s oldest, but Arthur, grandson of Henry II through his third son Geoffrey, who was considered rightful heir to Richard I since Geoffrey was older than John. John, BTW is supposed to have had Arthur murdered)

  5. Joan Byford says:

    Arbella Stuart

    • anevillfeast says:

      Hi Joan! That’s an interesting idea. I might need a little convincing before moving her from a ‘potential heirs’ holding box to ‘lost monarchs’, though. Please feel free to convince!

  6. Celia Parker says:

    3 sons of Edward I: John, Henry and Alphonse, all older brothers of Edward II. I think Alphonse (or Alfonso) survived to about 10, dying in in 1283, the others died earlier, aged 5 or 6. I don’t really think Richard III counts- he had a good run for his money considering he was never in line for the throne in the first place, but his son Edward, who was prince of Wales for a few months should qualify.

    • anevillfeast says:

      Thanks, Celia. I knew there were children of Edward I who didn’t survive, but I wasn’t sure of their ages. I didn’t include Edward of Middleham because I wasn’t sure he quite fit the brief, but I can rectify that. I mean, I’ve included the Old Pretender, whose situation was potentially similar to Edward’s (except he didn’t die in childhood), in that, had Edward survived his father, he’d have been swept aside (possibly literally) by Henry Tudor.
      There are others, like Arabella Stuart suggested above, and the elderly German princess who was, briefly, in contention after Queen Anne, but as candidates rather than heirs, I thought them a little too distant. Queen Anne had a number of children who survived birth but not childhood. I included here only the son who lived the longest. I’ve always felt very sad for Anne and Mary.

  7. chris y says:

    Edgar Ætheling, the son of Edward the Exile, was actually proclaimed king by the Witanagemot after the death of Harold Godwinesson at the battle of Hastings. He was 15 at the time. After a month or so the adult English aristocracy who were actually in control realised that they had no chance of mounting a realistic resistance to William, so they took the boy to the Norman camp to make his submission. Following a long and eventful an eventful life, he died some time after 1125, possibly in Scotland, where his sister had been queen..

  8. chris y says:

    And I do think Richard III has to count as an authentic king, because the Parliament of 1484, when it wasn’t worrying about royal legitimacy, was an important reforming Parliament which enacted things that still affect us.

    • anevillfeast says:

      Oh, I’m not disputing Richard III was king, just whether he qualifies as a ‘lost’ king, given his two and a bit year reign. I think that’s a little too long to add him to the list.

  9. chris y says:

    And, oh yes, Edward VIII.

    “Hark the herald angels sing / Mrs Simpson’s pinched our king!”

    And a good thing too, on balance.

    • anevillfeast says:

      After a longish conversation with my husband, I made the decision that Edward VIII doesn’t belong on this list. HIs abdication was his own choice. He may have felt he was backed into a corner, but I don’t see him so much ‘lost’ as walking away.


    you all for get that KING RCHARD III AND ANN had one other son he was at the battle field the night before the battle his name was RICHARD IV

  11. Dawn Likha says:

    Reblogged this on A Passion for History and commented:
    Oh yes — this certainly sounds fascinating and interesting! I know most of the people mentioned but there were a couple whom I didn’t know about, so thank you for ‘educating’ me on this! 🙂
    BTW, would you consider Empress Matilda? Technically she was never queen as she wasn’t crowned though she got close to it, and instead it was her son Henry (the future Henry II) who became king.

    • anevillfeast says:

      I missed this comment when it was posted! Sorry, Dawn.
      Matilda’s certainly an interesting case. I’m not sure she fits this list for similar reasons to Richard III – she outlived the previous king and gave it a red hot go!

      • Dawn Likha says:

        It’s perfectly fine and no problem about it. 🙂

        Oh, I understand. In my opinion she would still be a ‘lost’ monarch, but yeah, I understand your points.

        About Sophia of the Palatinate, Electress of Hanover — from what I remember reading about her like in Anne Somerset’s biography of Queen Anne, “Queen Anne: The Politics of Passion”, I’m quite sure she was considered Anne’s heir, especially following the passing of the Bill in 1689 but more importantly and specifically, the Act of Settlement 1701, which apparently clearly states that the throne would pass on to the Protestant Sophia and her descendants following the deaths of William and Anne if they passed away with no further legitimate issue. During Anne’s reign, Sophia was repeatedly confirmed, both in law and unofficially, as Anne’s heir especially in the face of rumors that Anne wished to install her Catholic half-brother (even though she was known to have disliked him or at least didn’t believe he was the true child of her father and stepmother) as the next monarch, but not enough to quell the suspicions of many of the Whigs and Sophia and her family that Anne preferred James Francis Edward Stuart to her distant Hanoverian relatives. So I think that unlike Arbella Stuart, who really was just a candidate for the throne and in no way officially an heir, Sophia can be considered a ‘lost’ monarch, though it’s all up to you in the end whether to include her or not as it depends on what criteria you use in evaluating ‘lost’ monarchs. (Unless there’s evidence/proof that Sophia was never officially declared an heir to Anne?)

  12. What about william the conquer ‘ s eldest son Robert curthose? I once read that as children his younger brothers william and Henry dumped a bed pan of feces on him and they got in a fight. He tattled to the king, who instead of punishing the other two, found the prank funny and told him not to be such a crybaby. The brothers fought all their lives and he fought with his father and tried to take the throne. It resulted in being stripped from the line of succession for England , however he could still be Duke of normandy. And yet his brother Henry was able to take that away later on too. Although he didn’t die young… He lost the kingdom over not getting over a brotherly prank.

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