Wednesday, 30 September 2009

These are a few of my favourite Kings

With apologies to Julie Andrews & Sound of Music fans. I've been remiss in waiting so long to provide with a few of my favourite Kings.

In date order -

Alfred the Great (871)
More a Monk than a warrior, he led at a time when the Anglo Saxon Kingdom of Wessex was reduced to a small rabble trapped in a marsh in Somerset. From this low point, he managed to fight & negotiate his way to becoming the first true King of a united England. Alfred alone is responsible (in my view) for preserving the Anglo Saxon culture & language which was about to be lost forever at the hands of the Danes.

William the Conqueror (1066)
William gets on the list because the mention of his name is the only legitimate reason in our house for the children to say the word 'bastard!' William the Bastard (to give him his full French title) spent his whole life being reminded of his dubious origins, until Harold gave him the swift opportunity for a change of surname.

Henry VIII (1509)
An arrogant monster, terrible mood swings, changed his mind like he changed his wives/religion/weight (delete as approprite). By the end of his life, the gangrene in his thigh smelled so bad that courtiers standing downwind would gag into their puffy tudor sleeves! And yet this contradiction of a monarch genuinely believed he was God's voice to the world & oversaw the break from Rome which allowed England to hear the gospel.

Edward VI (1547)
Unlike his Father, Edward really had caught the reformation bug. Unfortunately, that wasn't the only bug this sickly boy-king caught. Had he lived a few years longer his English Book of Common Prayer with Cranmer, & other reforms would have led to a true church of England rather than the compromise that his sister Elizabeth allowed to evolve.

Charles I (1625)
Lost his head with dignity after the Civil Wars, having spent his whole life with his royal head up his royal....well, in the sand maybe! He took the divine right of Kings to the extreme & realised too late that the people didn't agree.

Oliver Cromwell (1649)
Never King, but Lord Protector of the new Commonwealth for just a few short years. In spite of his reputation, Cromwells freedom of religion act & his social reforms amongst the masses have only been surpassed in the last century in more progressive societies. Had he lived another 10 years we would never have returned to the monarchy.

William III (1689)
William of Orange drove his own Father-in-law James from the throne when he arrived with his Dutch troops. Christmas round the family table was never the same after this! James fled in the night & bleated for a few years from exile in France, but the danger of a return to Catholicism was now finally over.
William never really liked it here, preferring to spend as much time back in the Netherlands as possible. It's ironic that a Dutchman was the last 'true' king of England, giving away powers to Parliament that reduced the monarchy & set their rule within ever tightening boundaries.

Feel free to add to the list!

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