Royal Ancestors from
England Scotland and Ireland

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Royal Ancestors from England, Scotland and Ireland


There have been kings and chieftains in Britain for at least three thousand years, and probably much longer than that.  It is unfortunate that we do not know any of their names until the time of the Roman invasion.  Because of that, it is easy to believe that there have only been kings since Julius Cesar.

Britain has been occupied by man since the end of the last Ice Age, but it was not until the New Stone Age, in about 300 BC, that a social structure began to emerge that brought with it the need for more powerful and organized leaders.  These leaders were little more than tribal chieftains, but they were imbued by their subjects with something close to godhead.  The connection between kings and religion emerged very early in the development of kingship.

The Romans established their own communities based largely upon the former British tribes.  Although they brought in their own Roman administrators for these towns, they also married into the local nobility and it is probable that descendants of the former tribal chiefs served as senior government officials within a Roman community.

By 388 Britain was n longer a part of the Roman Empire.  Britain like the rest of the Roman frontier, was coming under increasing threat from the Germanic tribes who, in 410, crossed the Rhine and invaded the Empire.

The release of Roman authority resulted in the spread of warfare across Britain.  For the most part it was a clash between tribes who sought to defend and maintain the Roman status quo.  But there was internal fighting between the tribes who sought to gain power over the old tribal territories.  The period between 410 and 450 saw an almost complete breakdown of the social order.  Famine and pestilence swept across Britain.

During this forty years certain chiefs had become war leaders to defend their lands and conquer enemies.  These were regarded as kings by their countrymen though they did not have quite the mystical status in the pre-Roman era.  The period of 450 to 550 is aptly called the age of Arthur.  Whoever this king was, he symbolized the oppressive nature of the period.

By the late fifth century and early sixth century a pattern was emerging as the kingdoms gradually settled down.  The Celtic chiefs had ruled a tribe rather than land but by the start of the sixth century the surviving Celtic rulers did establish territories for themselves.

The transition from squabbling tribe into kingdom is far from clear cut, but it is evident that through the chaos a few strong British kingdoms emerged.  These were mostly in the north and west, because the Saxon raids and settlements came from the east.  The kingdoms we know are those that survived the initial Saxon invasions and were documented in the battles that followed as the Saxons and Angles drove westward.

The Picts are a complicated people to assess.  They were Celtic, like the other tribes, but seem to owe their origins to an earlier Irish immigration around the third century BC.  The Picts had established an inheritance based on matrilinear succession.  The Picts were really an amalgamation of tribes.

One Iris settlement changed the name of Pictland.  This was Dál Riata, a kingdom settled by the Irish of Dál Riata in Northern Ireland who came across to Argyll and Kintyre and established a stronghold at Dunadd.

Another major northern British kingdom was Rheged.  Its borders evidently changed considerably depending upon the strength of its ruler.

The major surviving kingdoms were in Wales.  Although the Romans had infiltrated southern Wales they never conquered north Wales and it is certain that kings of the Ordovices continued to rule there.

Deheubarth did not emerge until the tenth century.  Two other Welsh kingdoms existed in the fifth century: Powys and Gwent.  Powys in eastern Wales formed the border between Wales and England.  Gwent is the old kingdom of the Silures, and there are many ancient records which suggest that the Silurian ruling family continued to survive throughout Roman occupation.

These and other smaller kingdoms held out against Saxon and Angles who began to settle Britain from the middle of the fifth century.  Traditionally the first settlers were the Jutes in Kent under Hengest invited to Britain by Vortigern to help in the battle against the Picts.  The remaining Saxons and Angles had to fight to gain their territory.  The British of the south may have learned by the early sixth century that the only way to survive was to join with the Saxons.

Around 500, the Celts under Arthur established a bridgehead in central Britain which for a generation or two held the Saxons at bay, but by 550 the latter were on the move again and under stronger leaders with firmly established settlements down the east coast.  Between 550 and 600 the balance began to shift in southern and central Britain away from the Celtic kingdoms to the Saxons.

Kent was the first important kingdom in Saxon England and because of its position of power and authority it was able to influence the other kingdoms.  The East Anglian kingdom emerged at about the same time, in the 580s, and soon established itself.  The East Anglian kingdom crept close to the former kingdoms of the Iceni and remained ferociously independent for over three hundred years.  The distant relatives of the East Anglian kings migrated westward grouping to call themselves the Middle Angles who established the kingdom of Mercia.  The word Mercia means borderland and is the same as the Welsh word Marches.  The North Angles were called Northumbrians.  The Northumbrians had tenaciously clung to the east coast of northern Britain for over a century.

During the seventh century, the English kingdoms of Mercia and Northumbria dominated central and northern England, whilst Wessex and Kent struggled to hold on to their power in the south.  Northumbrian power was broken in 685 with the death of Egfrith.  Thereafter the kingdom was ruled by weaker kings.

By the 850s the Vikings were settled along the eastern Irish coast at Dublin and Waterford.  From there, in the short space of twenty years, they conquered the Hebrides and the Isle of Man by the year 855, Diera in 866, East Anglia in 869, the Orkneys by874 and throughout the 870s encroached further into England.

The same process that had unified England was working in Scotland, through more haphazardly.  The Celtic rule of partible succession meant that kings divided their land amongst their sons so that the work of any king to establish a stronger and larger kingdom was immediately undone when it was subdivided amongst his successors.  This rule weakened the Welsh kingdoms more than the Scottish, but it had its effect in the British kingdom of Strathclyde, which had few strong kings.

The Scots of Dál Riata had been growing in power, but then fell foul of an interdynastic struggle between the ruling families.  For a period at the start of the eighth century this in-fighting weakened the Scots and allowed the Picts to take control.  The Picts remained the dominant force for the next few generations and the Dál Riata dynasty began to get the upper hand.

The Welsh kingdoms also suffered from the rule of partible succession and from there being too many children of Welsh kings.  The whole history of Wales from 500 to 1200 is one of constant fighting between brothers, cousins, uncles, nephews and any other relative  who got in the way.  Wales was not really a country of discrete kingdoms.  It was a country where the internal boundaries changed with every passing king.  The major struggles for power were between Gwynedd in the north and Deheubarth in the south, with Powys and Gwent occasionally getting in the way.

Although Scotland (or Alba as it was then known) may have appeared to be one kingdom with the arrival of Malcolm III, it was still divided.  The authority of the Scottish kings effectively covered the lowlands and the Borders plus much of the eastern seaboard.  Orkney, Shetland, and the Western Isles, as far south as the Isle of Man, were still answerable to the king of Norway whilst the Highlands on the mainland where the people were Gaelic speaking, regarded themselves as independent.  It was only by 1493 that Scotland became the whole kingdom we would recognize today.

Although the Normans had dominated Wales and Scotland by the late thirteenth century, they still regarded their heartland as Normandy and France rather than England.  England was a rich country, the revenues from which allowed the kings to finance their campaigns in France.  The English kings retained the title “King of France” from 1431 until 1801.

The War of the Roses between the descendants of Edward III represented by the dynasties of York and Lancaster, divided England between 1455 and 1487 and led to the succession of Henry Tudor, as Henry VII.  Tudor was of Welsh descent and one might argue that the Welsh at last claimed the English throne, defeating the last of the Plantagenets (the direct descendants of the Normans).  The Act of Union of 1536 formally absorbed Wales into the English administrative and legal system.  Another far-reaching event happened in 1503 when the two royal families of Scotland and England were united by marriage.

The history, and the Heineman royal ancestors toed to the Plataganet family, follows the remarkable ascent of an island, once divided among hundreds of petty chieftains, to a united kingdom whose monarch had authority over a fifth of the globe.  The biographies of the British royal ancestors that follow are annotated from Mike Ashley’s, British Kings and Queens: The Complete Biographical Encyclopedia of the Kings and Queens of Britain.

Emerging Post-Roman Kingdoms

Northern Britain (Yorkshire to the Clyde)
As Britain emerged from the Roman Empire it fell to the leading noblemen and generals to maintain law and order.  A number of leaders began to establish themselves in various corners of Britain.  The first were along the northern frontier, where Coel the Old carved out a kingdom ruled by “the Men of the North.”  Their domain stretched from the northernmost Roman wall down to what is now Yorkshire.  After Coel’s death his kingdom was split between his descendants and the rapidly subdivided, weakening the realm.  The kingdoms were gradually reduced by the Saxons, although the British kingdom of Strathclyde survived much loner.

Ruler/Ancestor Born Reign Died
Coel Hen The Old   410-430 430
Ceneu   450-470 470
Gurgust   480-500 500
Merchiaun Gul   510-540 540
Elidyr   540-560  
Llwarch Hen   560-595 640

Southern Britain (England south of Yorkshire)
Southern Britain, the part that romantic legend has called Loegres, must also have been divided into its former tribal status after Roman departure, but it was less evident than in the north where defenses were strongest against the Picts, Irish and Saxons.  Southern Britain retained, to a degree, the heart of the former Roman administration and it is possible to se that there was an attempt, at least for a while, to maintain a more cohesive administration amongst the southern tribes probably based at the heart of the wealthiest Roman centers around Cirencester and Gloucester, where the tribes of Dobunni, Silures and Cornovii mingled.  It was probably from here that the primary leaders of southern Britain emerged in what would later be the British kingdoms of Gwent, Powys and the Gewisse, and it was from here that the high kings, during the immediate post-Roman period before the kingdoms began to establish themselves.  The Welsh Triads identify the first high kings as Owain, though his existence is not otherwise recorded.  The dates used are those most commonly associated with the rulers, but are in themselves dubious. 

Ruler/Ancestor Born Reign Died
Vortigern (Vitalinus)   425-466 466

Demetia and Dyfed                       
The kingdom of Dyfed, in the far south-west of Wales, was originally the tribal territory of the Demetae, and the kingdom was first known as Demetia.  When Roman authority waned it was settled by the Irish, who traced their descent from Artchorp in the fourth century, who was descended from the Irish High Kings.  Details of the kings and their reigns are sparse.  The Demetian rulers are distantly related to the Scottish settlers of Dál Riata.

Welsh Kingdoms – Demetia and Dyfed

Ruler/Ancestor Born Reign Died
Eochaid   400  
Corath   420s  
Aed   450s  
Tryffin I Farfog "The Bearded"   480s  
Aircol Lawhir "Longhand"   500  
Gwrthefyr (Vortepor)   515-540  
Pedr   570s  
Anthwyr   590s  
Nowy   610s  

Venedotia and Gwynedd              
Gwynedd covered the territory of the Ordovices, but the kingdom established by Cunedda brought together migratory British from elsewhere in Britain.  The territory was originally known as Venedotia, a name which mutated into Gwynedd over the next two centuries.  The heart of Gwynedd was originally at Deganwy, but shifted to Anglesey and at one time included the Isle of Man.  It became the most powerful kingdom in Wales.

Welsh Kingdom - Gwynedd

Ruler/Ancestor Born Reign Died
Cunedda   450-460s  
Einion   470-480s  
Cadwallon Lawhir "Longhand"   500-534 534
Maelgwn Hir "The Tall" 497 520-549 549
Rhun Hir 520 549-580s  
Beli   580s-599 599
Iago   599-613 613
Cadfan   615-620 625

Edwin of Northumbria overran Gwynedd between 620 and 627

Ruler/Ancestor Born Reign Died
Cadwallon 590 620-634 634
Cadwaladr   655-682 682
Idwal   682-720 720
Rhodri Molwynog   720-754 754
Cynan   798-816 816
Merfyn Frych   825-844 844

Powys and the Marches               
The kingdom of Powys was carved out of the lands of the Cornovii and Decangii in eastern and north-eastern Wales.  At the height of its power, during the late sixth century, its boundaries stretched beyond the curren border of Wales into Cheshire, Stropshire and Herfordshire, the territory known today as the Marches.  It struggled to retain its independence since it was under threat from the might of Gwynedd to the west and the encroachment of the Mercians to the east.  The identity of its early rulers is uncertain because there was almost certainly several tribes along the borders of Wales with no single dominant ruler.

Welsh Kingdom – Powys

Ruler/Ancestor Born Reign Died
Cyngen   550s  
Brochfael Ysgythrog   570s  
Cynan Garwyn   600  
Eiludd ap Cynan   615-?  

Northern Powys (Chester, Clwyd)

Ruler/Ancestor Born Reign Died
Beli ap Eiludd   630s  
Gwylog ap Beli   700s  
Elisedd ap Gwylog   725-?  
Brochfael ap Elisedd   760s  
Cadell ap Brochfael   ?-808 808

Gwerthrynion – Builth                    
This small kingdom was in the center of Wales bounded by Powys, Ceredigion and Brycheiniog.  Like Powys, it developed from lands once ruled by Vortigern in the mid fifth century.  The name is derived from Vortigern’s real name, Gwrtheyrn.  The extent to which it remained an autonomous kingdom is not clear.  It may at various stages have been subject to Powys, Brycheiniog, Gwent, and Gwynedd.  After Vortigern, it was ruled by is son Pascent.

Minor Welsh Kingdoms

Ruler/Ancestor Born Reign Died
Pascent   640s  

The Dál Riata Scots                      
The original “Scots” were Irish who came from the Dál Riata homeland in northern Ireland and settled in Argyll.  They gradually took over most of Argyll, Galloway and the southern Hebrides until the Viking invasions pushed them inland to conquer the kingdom of the Picts.  The Scots developed a genealogy taking their pedigree back to 330 BC, based on their Irish ancestry.  Listed here are the Dál Riata Scottish Kings.

Scotland – Dál Riata

Ruler/Ancestor Born Reign Died
Fergus "The Great" 440 498-501 501
Domgart   501-507 507
Gabhrán   538-558 558
Eochaid Buide 538 608-629 629
Domnall Brecc   629-642 642
Domgart II   660-673 673
Eochaid II   697 697
Eochaid III   726-733 733
Aed Find "The Fair"   750-778 778
Eochaid IV "The Poisonous"   781  
Alpin   834 834

With the death of Eoganan in 839, Kenneth MacAlpin united the Picts and the Scots and the infant kingdom of Scotland (at first known as Alba) emerged.

West Saxons (Gewisse and Wessex)       
It was not until the late seventh century that Wessex began to take on a unified shape.  The West Saxons were a number of tribes who conquered territory across the south of Britain.  The main concentration was in Wiltshire and Hampshire, but there was another core of settlers along the Berkshire Downs.  There was considerable rivalry first with the British and then the Mercians for territory in Glouchestershire and the Severn Valley.  Later the West Saxons began to push further west into Somerset and Dorset.  With territory fragmented and covering such a spread of ground there would have been several kings at any one time, not necessarily related, though later genealogists sought to contain them in a single family tree.  In fact the West Saxons were a confederacy of tribes and adopted the name Gewise, which means confederate but which originally related to a British tribe or tribes in the area known as Ergyng or Archenffield.  It was not until the reign of Ine that these tribes became united.  Under Egbert they would become the dominant kingdom, and the West Saxon dynasty became the rulers of England.

Anglo Saxon Kingdom - Wessex

Ruler/Ancestor Born Reign Died
Cerdic   538-554 554
Cynric   554-581 581
Caewlin   581-588 589
Cutha   570-580  
Egbert 771 802-839 839
Athelwolf 795 839-855 858
Athelred I 837 865-871 871
Alfred "The Great" 849 871-899 899

By the time of Alfred the West Saxons had imposed their authority over the rest of England, but the nation had again become riven by the Danish invasions and the fight for Britain began.

Deheubarth came into existence in 920 when Hywel Dda combined the former kingdoms of Dyfed and Seisyllwg.  Occasionally rulers of Deheubarth gained control over Gwynedd and vice versa.  The Normans conquered Deheubarth in 1093, though descendants of the ruling family were allowed to hold authority over Cantref Mawr “The Great Cantref” and Ystrad Tywi and from this base the former kingdom of Deheubarth briefly re-emreged in the twelfth century under Maredudd ap Grufydd and the Lord Rhys.  Thereafter Norman control was re-exerted and Deheubarth ceased to exist as a kingdom after 1234.

Later Welsh Kingdoms

Ruler/Ancestor Born Reign Died
Hywel Dda "The Good" 882 920-950 aft. 950

Hywel’s death Gwynedd regained its independence.  Hywel’s three sons split the kingdom of Deheubarth but after Rhodri died in 953 and Edwin in 954, Owain was able to reconsolidate them.

Ruler/Ancestor Born Reign Died
Owain ap Hywel   954-986 988
Maredudd ab Owain   986-999 999
Rhys ap Tewdwr   1078-1093 1093

The Kingdom of Gwynedd           
Gwynedd was always the primary kingdom of Wales, even though it had moments when it was dominated by rulers from the south.  It had several great rulers during its early years but the first to earn the title of “The Great” was Rhodri ap Merfyn who by 871 had inherited Powys and Seisyllwg, in addition to Gwynedd, and was effectively ruler of all northern and western Wales.

Ruler/Ancestor Born Reign Died
Rhodri Mawr "The Great"   844-878 878

Rhodri succeeded to the kingdom of Powys in 855 and Seisllwg in 871, becoming king of all North Wales.

Ruler/Ancestor Born Reign Died
Anarawd ap Rhodri   879-916 916
Idwal Foel "The Bald"   916-942 942

Idwal submitted to Edward the Elder of England from 918-937.  Gwynedd was ruled by Hywel Dda of Deheubarth from 942-950,

Ruler/Ancestor Born Reign Died
Iago ap Idwal ap Meurig   1023-1039 1039
Grufydd ap Cynan 1055 1081-1137 1137
Owain Gwynedd 1100 1137-1170 1170

Upon Owain’s death his lands were divided between his sons.

Ruler/Ancestor Born Reign Died
Llwelyn "The Great" 1173 1195-1240 1240

Medieval Powys                            
For over two hundred years Powys formed part of the kingdom of Gwynedd.  It was re-established as a separate kingdom by the sons of Bleddyn ap Cynfyn soon after 1075 and although it was later divided into Northern and Southern Powys, it remained independent for two centuries until eventually possessed by England.

Ruler/Ancestor Born Reign Died
Maredudd ap Bleddyn   1116-1132 1132
Madog ap Maredudd   1132-1160 1160

After Madog’s death, the kingdom was divided into North and South.

In 848 Kenneth macAlpin united the kingdoms of the Picts and the Scots which later became known  as Scotland.  At this stage the kingdom was centered at Forteviot in southern Scotland and Kenneth and his successors held little authority over the highlands which were still dominated by the Cenél Loarn and the Picts who later emerged as the separate kingdom of Moray.  Further north the Vikings settled in Orkney and their authority spilled over into Caithness.  It was centuries before Scotland became united.  Only in 1265 did Norway cede the sovereignty of the Western Isles and Man to Scotland and, though the earldom of Orkney passed into the hands of a Scottish family it remained Norwegian territory for another two centuries.  It was ironic, therefore, that at the time that Scotland began to feel it had control over its affairs, Alexander III should die with only an infant successor and her death left the country with a succession crisis.  The country fell into the hands of the English King Edward I.

Scotland 500-1200

Ruler/Ancestor Born Reign Died
Kenneth macAlpin I   840-858 858
Constantine I   863-877 877

After 878 the kingdom of the Picts, Dál Riata and Strathclyde were united under one monarch, the first to be honored as King of Scotland.

Ruler/Ancestor Born Reign Died
Donald II   889-900 900
Malcolm I   943-954 954
Kenneth II   971-995 995
Malcolm II 954 1005-1034 1034
Duncan 1001 1034-1040 1040
Malcolm III Canmore 1031 1058-1093 1093
David I "The Saint" 1084 1124-1153 1153
William I "The Lion" 1143 1165-1214 1214

Western Isles (Hebrides and the Isle of Man)
The Hebrides and the Isle of Man formed a kingdom known as the Western Isles to the Scots and the Southern Isles (or Sundreys) to the Norse.  Identifying sovereignty over them is complicated.  The islands were occupied by both the Irish and British during the various waves of invasion around the first century BC and AD.  Legend attributes names to four early Celtic rulers of Man who may have some basis in fact – Dalboeth, Elathan, Alldh or Athas, and Manannan.  Manannan’s name is most closely associated with the island.  During the fifth century Man came under the control of the rulers of Rheged.  It was conquered by Edwin of Northumbria in 620, but its rulership remained with the descendants of Llywarch Hen until it passed briefly to Wales and was then conquered by the Danes.

Kingdoms of Man and the Isles

Ruler/Ancestor Born Reign Died
Llywarch Hen   560-595  

Man was conquered by Baetan mac Cairill of Ireland in 577 and then by Aedan mac Gabhran of Dál Riata in 582.  It may have remained under Scottish domination until conquered by Edwin of Northumbria in 620.

Ruler/Ancestor Born Reign Died
Diwig   600s  
Gwyr   630s  
Tegid   670s  
Sandde   730s  
Gwriad   800s  

Gwriad’s son, Merfyn Frych, became king of Gwynedd and Man in 825, but Man soon slipped out of his hands.  By the 830’s, the Western Isles were being settled by Vikings and the Hiberno-Norse Gael-Gaedhil.

The English and Normans (900-1284)
Although Alfred the Great held the Danes at bay and stopped a total conquest of England, they were granted land in East Anglia and Danish settlements rapidly grew.  A foothold had been established.  Danish and Norse raids continued and they were eventually victorious in 1013 when the English capitulated to Swein Forkbeard.  After his death his son Canute became one of the great rulers of northern Europe.  Even though Canute’s sons were unable to sustain the scale of his empire, it was not the last England saw of the Northmen.  Another branch of the ancient royal family, related to the earls of Orkney, had settled in Normandy, and their leader, William the Bastard, conquered England in 1066.  The Northmen were ultimately victorious and drove the Saxons into serfdom.  It was this generation of Northmen, William’s sons and grandsons, that not only conquered England but dominated Wales and Scotland.  Although Scotland was not quite conquered, Edward I died believing it was within his grasp, just like Wales, which he had dominated and absorbed into England in 1284.  By the reign of Edward I Britain was fast becoming a united kingdom with the English king recognized as the sovereign lord.

Ruler/Ancestor Born Reign Died
Edward "The Elder 871 899-924 924
Edmund I 921 939-946 946
Edgar "The Peaceful" 943 959-975 975
Athelred II 896 978-1013 1016

In 1013 the Dunelaw submitted to Swein, king of Denmark.

Ruler/Ancestor Born Reign Died
Athelred II 968 1014-1016 1016
Edmund II "Ironside" 989 1016 1016
Edward 1004 104201966 1066
Harold II 1022 1066 1066

William of Normandy gained the throne of England by conquest.  The Saxon royal family was overthrown and a new regime was imposed which changed England forever.

Ruler/Ancestor Born Reign Died
William "The Conqueror" 1027 1066-1087 1087
Henry I 1068 1100-1135 1135
Stephen 1097 1135-1154 1154

THE HOUSE OF ANJOU (Plantagenet)

Ruler/Ancestor Born Reign Died
Henry II 1133 1154-1189 1189
John Lackland 1167 1199-1216 1216
Henry III 1207 1216-1272 1272

England and Great Britain from Edward I
Civil war split England three times between the Norman Conquest in 1066 and the death of Henry III.  With Edward I came the first strong king able to unite England and institute what became known as the Model Parliament in 1295.  Edward also conquered Wales and sought to do the same for Scotland, but found it harder to subdue the Scottish nation and died before the kingdoms were united.  It would not be until 1603, with the death of Elizabeth I, that Scotland and England were ruled by the same monarch, and not until the Act of Union in 1707 that the United Kingdom was officially created.

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