Roman Britain: Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrians Wall

Julius Caesar’s invasion force landed on Britain’s south-coast in 55 BC, and found it inhabited by Celtic tribes.  In 56 BC Caesar returned to Britain, and came face to face with the Catevellauni, whom he defeated in battle.  Caesar set up treaties and alliances before withdrawing his forces, and so the Roman occupation of Britain had begun.

In AD43, Emperor Claudius sent Aulus Plautius with a force of some 24,000 Roman soldiers to Britain, with orders to establish a military presence.  By AD79 England and Wales were under Roman control.

Emperor Vespasian believed Scotland should also become part of the Roman Empire, but they resisted the Romans.

Julius Agricola, Governor of Britain was faced with a formidable task.  By AD81 he had subdued southern Scottish tribal clans of Selgovae, Novantae and Votadini.  Roman forces headed northwards, intent on provoking the Caledonians into battle against hardened Roman warriors.  They met at Mons Graupius, where Romans were victorious, as 10,000 Caledonians were slain in battle, at the cost of only 360 Romans.  The following day, surviving clansmen fled into the hills, remaining resistant to Roman rule.

Hadrian became Emperor of the Roman Empire in AD117, and under his orders, the Roman Empire no longer expanded.  In AD122 upon his visit to Britain in, ordered the construction of a wall from the North Sea to the Irish Sea; Solway Firth in the West to the River Tyne in the East.  If he couldn’t rule or control these Scottish barbarians, he built a wall; “Hadrian’s Wall” some 73 miles in length, 10 feet in width, and 15 feet in height, across open country, keeping them out of Britain.

The Roman’s built mile castles (small forts) which housed garrisons of some sixty men, every mile with towers every third of a mile.  Sixteen larger forts, holding 500-1,000 soldiers were built along the length of the wall, with large gates on the walls north face, and a wide ditch, with six foot high earth banks on the south side of the wall…

This massive structure, stretching across northern Britain was constructed by legionaries, taking six years to complete.

Much of the wall remains to this day, despite parts being used for road building and houses over the centuries.  This wall is nearly 1900 years old, a testament of Roman construction.

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Roman Occupation of Britain

Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar

Britain did not enter the Roman world until Julius Caesar arrived in 55/54BC, landing at Deal and unopposed by British forces, yet it was temporary, for they didn’t stay… the time was not right for a full blown invasion of this land.

Roman Warrior

Roman Warrior

In the early part of AD43, an army consisting of four legions under the leadership of Aulus Plautius set foot on British soil at Richborough, Kent, the first step of an invasion by Rome.  They fought the British at the River Medway and defeated them after a two-day hard fought battle.

The Roman emperor Claudius arrives, to lead his Roman forces, against the British armies and captured Camulodunum (Colchester), home to the Catuvellauni tribe.  Roman forces outfought the British forces in the South-East, which led to many Kings submitting to Roman rule.

Aulus Plautius commander of the invasion was appointed by Emperor Claudius as the first Roman governor of Britain.

The next phase of the conquest, saw General Vespasian take his Augusta Legion into Dorset, capturing hill forts and subduing rebel armies; south of the Humber River to the Severn Estuary.

Aulus Plautius returns home to Rome in AD47, to receive a heroes welcome, whilst Publius Ostorius Scapula becomes the second Roman governor of Britain.

The Iceni tribe, located in East Anglia had become allies with Rome, so the need to conqueror did not exist.  In the summer of AD47, they revolted against Scapula, when they were ordered to surrender their weapons… this minor revolt was quelled quickly.

In AD49 the Roman colony is founded at Camulodunum (Colchester) and became the Roman capital of Britain.

In AD51, the Caratacus, the British resistance leader against the Romans, and King of Catuvellauni, fled west to the Ordovices tribes and fought an effective guerrilla war until his capture.  He was sent to Italy to live out the remainder of his days.

With Caratacus who had led guerrilla forces against the Romans, now in the hands of the Romans, one would think that would see an end to these attacks.  How wrong they were, for the Silures tribe in South Wales and Gloucestershire fought on.  With the death of Governor Publius Ostorius Scapula in AD52, and Aulus Didius Gallus appointed as the new Governor, the conflict slowly fizzled out.  All that changed in AD58, when Quintus Veranius Nepos, a new breed of Roman Governor took up office, who crushed the Silures, and went on to create a network of roads, forts and garrisons.

An Arch Druid


The Druids were the priest-scholars of ancient Britain, and were known to clash with the Romans; for they resisted Roman Rule.  In AD61, Roman Governor Gaius Suetonius Paulinus subdued the island of Mona (Anglesey), but his plans were cut short by the revolt of the Iceni, under the leadership of Queen Boudicca.

The Roman army defeated Queen Boudicca and her army in AD 61, at the Battle of Watling Street, but not before they had burnt to the ground, with no survivors; Camulodunum (Colchester), Londinum (London) and Verulamium (St.Albans).  Boudicca died shortly after the battle, and was buried by her people, in a way befitting their Queen.

In June of AD68, Emperor Nero of Rome died; this led to mutiny’s across the empire, and as far flung as Britain.

Cartimandua; Queen of the Brigantes tribe and a strong Roman ally ruled with a strong arm assisted by her consort Ventius.  Caratacus, the guerrilla leader had been apprehended and handed over to the Romans by Cartimandua in AD51.  In AD69 Venutius staged a revolt against Cartimandua, whilst the Romans were in the midst of a civil war, and the attempt was successful and Cartimandua had nowhere to run to, except to her Roman allies.

General Vespasian a former legion commander had gone on to found the Flavian Dynasty in AD69… now the first emperor of this new order.  Britain had experienced little in the way of rebel revolts, since the death of Boudicca in AD61.  New conquests commenced in AD71, when Quintus Petlius Cerialis defeated Venutius, the rebel leader of the Brigantes tribe.  By AD74, the Roman army had reached Carlisle, where the last in a series of garrison forts had been built.

The new Roman Governor of Britain in AD74, was Sextus Julius Frontinus.  It took three years to defeat the Silures in South-East Wales and the Ordovices in Northern-Wales, thus completing a conquest of Western-Britain.  These new territories under Roman Rule saw auxiliary forts built… by the summer of AD78.  If any uprising were to take place, one legion at Caerleon and one at Chester, could respond to any conflicts, quickly suppressing it, before it got out of control.

In the autumn of AD78, the Ordovices tribe revolted, as a new governor took up his appointment.  So it was that Governor Gnaeus Julius Agricola showed no mercy, and crushed these rebel forces.  From there he invaded the island of Mona (Anglesey), destroying the last major druid centre.

Governor Gnaeus Julius Agricola, saw the completion of Verulamium (St.Albans) civic centre in AD79.  It comprised of a square forum, colonnaded shops, temples, making it the largest Roman town in Britain.  By AD80, he had encouraged native British aristocrats to learn Latin, wear the toga.  By the latter part of the first century Ad, southern parts of Britain consisted of Roman styled towns and villas.  It was as though you were in Rome, not Britain.

Governor Gnaeus Julius Agricola, having advanced into Scotland faced the Caledonian tribes in AD84 at Mons Graupius in the Scottish Highlands, and defeated them in battle…

With pressure mounting in other parts of the Roman Empire, they were forced into abandoning the Inchtuthill fortress in Tayside, Scotland in AD87.  By AD100 Roman troops had withdrawn from all parts of Scotland.  A new frontier was established between Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Carlisle on the Solway, it comprised of roads, forts and signal stations.

Hadrians Wall

Hadrian’s Wall

In the summer of AD122, Emperor Hadrian called for the construction of a seventy-three mile long stone wall, creating a barrier; the Roman Empire’s outer limit, and it was called “Hadrian’s Wall.”  He envisaged Britain, part of the Roman Empire, south of the wall, separating them from the barbarians north of the wall.

Antonines Wall

Antonine’s Wall

Following the completion of Hadrian’s Wall in AD142, the “Antonine Wall” was built from the Firth to the Clyde; thirty-seven miles of earth and timber, under the direction of Quintus Lollius Urbicus the then Governor of Britain.

In AD155, much of Verulamium (St.Albans) was destroyed by fire.

Hadrian’s Wall and Antonine Wall were both built to subdue rebel fighters and barbarians in the Northern parts of Britain and Scotland.  In AD163 the Romans retreated from Antonine’s Wall to Hadrian’s Wall.  Then in AD182 saw frequent attacks by raiders from the north along Hadrian’s Wall, and these skirmishes continued for many years.

Local towns in the vicinity of Hadrian’s Wall needed protection from these rebel fighters, and built earth and timber defences around their towns.

Changes took place within the Roman Empire when Clodius Albinius in Britain, Septimus Severus in Pannonia and Pescennius Niger in Syria, emerged as main contenders for the Emperor’s Throne.  Albinus joined with Severus in the civil war of AD192, and Severus had killed Niger, making it a two horse race.  Clodius Albinus invaded Gaul, and by autumn of AD196 declared himself as the new Emperor.

Decimus Clodius Albinus did battle with Septimius Severus at the “Battle of Lugdunum” (Lyons) where he was killed in a long and drawn out bloody battle.  Thus Septimius Severus became the sole claimant to the Emperor’s Throne in AD197.

With Clodius Albinus Governor of Britain dead, Emperor Septimius dispatched troops to rebuild northern defences and quell local tribes.  So it was in AD209 Emperor Severus led his legionnaires to subdue these Caledonian tribes, but they were clever, and avoided direct pitched battles with the Romans in favour of guerrilla warfare tactics.  Eventually peace treaties were signed and Severus retreated south, satisfied job done.  No sooner had one tribe been quelled, another popped his head up, to take their place; the Maeatae tribe revolted… the Romans faced a losing battle.

Emperor Septimus Severus, created two provinces, from the land up to Hadrian’s Wall in AD211; Britannia Superior had its capital at Londinium (London) and Britannia Inferior had its capital at Eboracum (York).

No matter how much he tried, Septimus Severus failed to crush these Caledonian tribes, and in AD211/212 he died at Eboracum (York).  His two sons Caracalla and Geta abandoned further offensives into Scotland, and returned to Rome, pressing home their right to become Emperor.

Parts of London had been protected since the early part of the 3rd century, and signs on the horizon spelt trouble.  So work began in AD255 running a wall along the River Thames making London virtually impregnable from land and water attacks.

Postumus; recognised by Britain, Gaul and Spain, the Gallic Empire, declared himself Emperor in Ad259 whilst defending the Western parts of the Empire from barbarians.  He was murdered in AD268 by his own soldiers.

The Gallic Empire, covered Britain, Gaul and Spain and had separated themselves from Rome, since AD259 when Postumus openly declared himself as Emperor.  In AD274, the third Gallic Emperor; Tetricus surrendered his provinces to Aurelan the Roman Emperor after being defeated at Gaul.

In AD287, Carausius took Britain and Gaul, in response to being accused of corruption by Emperor Maximian.  He minted his own coins, a first step in his eyes in accepting Roman Emperors Diocletian and Maximian.  Forces loyal to Rome defeated Carausius, and he was assassinated in AD293 by Allectus.

Allectus began constructing a series of coastal defences “Saxon Shore Forts” and the construction of a palace in Londinium (London).

At that time the Roman Empire was ruled by four Emperor’s known as the “Tetrarchy.”  Maximian one of the chosen four, sent Constantius Chlorus to reclaim Britain for the Roman Empire.  Constantius defeated Allectus near Silchester, and divided Britain into four provinces; Maxima Caesariensis, Britannia Prima, Flavia Caesariensis and Britannia Secunda.

In the autumn of AD306, Roman Emperor Constantius died in Northern-Britain and his son Constantine was hailed as the new Emperor.

Following Civil War within the Empire, Constantine defeated Maxentius at the “Battle of Milvan Bridge” in AD312, and restored rule of a single Emperor in the west and disbanding the Tetrarchy System.

Constantine legalised Christianity and Paganism.  Christianity was first introduced into the lands of Scotland around AD205, and spread through, Britain, Wales and Southern-Ireland by the 5th century.

Barbarian raiders launched an attack on Roman Britain in AD367, from Scotland, Western Isles, Ireland and Anglo-Saxons from Germany, overwhelming coastal defences.  This event allowed these invaders to plunder at will, with little opposition, for these Romans had not expected such an organised attack.

Theodosins was sent to Britain to regain control of Britain, which he undertook in AD369, driving out these barbarians and restoring order.

Magnus Maximus Governor of Britain, went on to defeat Emperor Gratian of Gaul, Britain and Spain.  Then drove Emperor Valentinian from Africa and Italy to be hailed by his army in Britain as Roman Emperor.  He secured his position in Rome for five years before being defeated and executed by Emperor Theodosius I, in AD383/388.

In AD400 Roman troops were recalled to Italy to defend their country against possible invasion by “Alaric the Goth.”  This left Britain with only a token force… no match for barbarian raiders.

The Rhine frontier had been breached, and Italy was in trouble, they had stretched their forces too far across the Roman Empire.

General Constantine III was proclaimed Emperor by Britain’s garrisons, and he crossed the continent only to be defeated by the armies loyal to Theodosius.

Britain had been left to fight off raids by Saxons, with little help from the Romans and bin AD409 the Romans left Britain.  With incursions attacking Britain, a plea was sent to Rome begging for help against these raiders from the seas and Scotland.

Emperor Honorius, refused help, ending the Roman occupation of Britain.

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England: Norman & Plantagenet’s

Norman - Plantagenets

The year 1066 became a turning point in English history.  William I (William the Conqueror), and his sons gave England new leadership.

Norman feudalism became the basis for redistributing the land among the conquerors, giving England a French aristocracy and a new social and political structure.

England turned away from Scandinavia toward France, an orientation that was to last for 400 years.  William was a hard ruler, punishing England.  His power and efficiency can be seen in the Doomsday Survey, a census for tax purposes, and in the Salisbury Oath of allegiance, which he demanded of all tenants.

He appointed Lanfranc, an Italian clergyman, as the new Archbishop of Canterbury and promoted church reform, with the creation of separate church courts, whilst still retaining royal control.

When William died in 1087, he gave England to his son, William II (Rufus), Normandy to his son, Robert.  Henry, his third son, left with no lands eventually got both England in 1100, when William II died in a hunting accident, and Normandy in 1106 by conquest.  Henry I used his feudal court and household to organize the government.  The exchequer, the royal treasury, was established at this time.

Henry wanted his daughter, Matilda (1102-67), to succeed him, but in 1135 his nephew, Stephen of Blois, seized the throne.  The years 1135-54 were marked by civil war and strife.  The royal government Henry had built fell apart, and the feudal barons asserted their independence.  The church, playing one side against the other, extended its authority.

Matilda’s son, Henry Plantagenet, the Count of Anjou, became King Henry II by right of succession, in 1154.  The Angevins, especially Henry II and his sons, Richard and John, expanded royal authority.  Henry ended the anarchy of Stephen’s reign, banishing mercenaries and destroying private castles.  He strengthened the government created by Henry I.  Most important, he developed the common law, administered by royal courts and applicable to all of England.  It encroached on the feudal courts’ jurisdiction over land and created the grand jury.  Its success demonstrated its efficiency and the growing power of the king.  Henry attempted to reduce the jurisdiction of church courts, especially over clergy accused of crimes, but was opposed by Thomas a Becket, his former chancellor, whom he had made Archbishop of Canterbury.  His anger at Becket’s intransigence led ultimately to Thomas Becket’s martyrdom in 1170.

Henry’s empire included more than half of France and lordship over Ireland and Scotland.  His skill at governing, however, did not include the ability to placate his sons, who rebelled against him several times, backed by the kings of France and by their mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine.

King Richard I

King Richard I

Richard I, the Lion-Hearted, was in England only briefly.  He was busy fighting in the Crusades and later for the land lost in France during his absence, especially while he was a captive in Germany.  Even during Richard’s absence, the government built by Henry II continued to function, collecting taxes to support his wars and to pay his ransom.  John, who inherited the resentment against Angevin rule aroused by his father and brother, added to his troubles by his own excesses.  In 1204 he lost Normandy.  In 1213, after a long fight with Pope Innocent III over the naming of Stephen Langton as archbishop of Canterbury, John capitulated and acknowledged England to be a papal fief.  All this precipitated a quarrel with his barons over his general high handedness and their refusal to follow him into war in Normandy. The barons, led by Langton, forced John in 1215 to accept the Magna Charta (q.v.).

John died in 1216, and the barons accepted his nine-year-old son as King Henry III.  They assumed control of the government and confirmed the Magna Charta in 1225, as did Henry when he came of age two years later.  Thus began the tradition of royal confirmation of the Magna Charta and the idea that it was the fundamental statement of English law and of limited government. England prospered in the 12th and 13th centuries.  Land under cultivation increased; sheep raising and the sale of wool became important.  London and other towns became vital centres of trade and wealth, and by royal charters they acquired the right to local self-government.  The universities of Oxford and Cambridge were established.

The monasteries, especially those of the Cistercians, led the rural expansion and became wealthy in the process.  More than a dozen cathedrals were built, along with abbeys and parish churches, all attesting to the wealth of England and of its church.

Franciscans and Dominicans, arrived in England, improving the quality of preaching and becoming the leading scholars in the universities.

Henry III was not an able king, however.  He quarrelled with the barons, who thought that they, rather than his favourites, should have the major offices.  In 1258 the Provisions of Oxford attempted to give control of the government to a committee of barons.  Civil war broke out in 1264, and the baronial leader Simon de Montfort came briefly to power.  Montfort, however, was killed in the Battle of Evesham in 1265, and power returned to Henry and his able son, Edward.

king edward I

King Edward I

Edward I restored royal control and made several reforms. He limited the barons’ right to hold their own courts of law; he curtailed the vassals’ right to dispose of land to the detriment of their feudal lords; and he gave English common law the direction it was to take for centuries to come.  Most important, he used and developed Parliament, essentially the king’s feudal council, with a new name and an enlarged membership.  The Model Parliament of 1295, following Montfort’s pattern of 1265, consisted of great barons, bishops and abbots, and representatives of counties and towns. In 1297, to get money for his wars, Edward accepted the Confirmation of Charters, agreeing that taxes must have the common assent of the whole realm.  This was soon taken to mean assent in Parliament. In the following century, Parliament divided into two houses, Lords and Commons, and made good its claim to control taxation and to participate in the making of statutes. Edward conquered northwest Wales, ending the rule of its native princes.  He built stone castles, adopted the Welsh longbow as an English weapon, and named his oldest son the Prince of Wales.  He intervened in Scottish affairs, even claiming the Scottish throne. Having fought the Scots often but with little effect, Edward died in 1307 without having subdued the northern kingdom. His son, Edward II, gave up the campaign.  In 1314, at the Battle of Bannockburn, King Robert Bruce made good Scotland’s claim to independence.  One cost of the war was the long-lasting enmity of Scotland, backed by its alliance with France.

King Edward II

King Edward II

Edward II was a weak king, partly influenced by favourites and partly dominated by the ordinances of 1311 that gave the barons the ruling power.  Although he freed himself of baronial rule in 1322, he was forced to abdicate in 1327.  His son, Edward III, got on well with the barons by keeping them busy in France, where England continued to hold extensive territory.  In 1337 he initiated the Hundred Years’ War to vindicate his claim to the French throne.  The English had some initial success at Crécy (1346) and Poitiers (1356), where they used the English longbow with deadly effect against the French.  By 1396, England had lost all its previous gains.  The expense of the war repeatedly forced Edward to go to Parliament for taxes, enabling it to bargain for concessions and to establish its rights and privileges.

The Black Death struck England in 1349, reducing the population by as much as a third.  The Statute of Laborers (1351) tried to freeze wages and prevent serfs and workers from taking advantage of the resulting labour shortage.  The Peasants’ Revolt in 1381 reflected the continuing unrest.  It was a time of economic and social change.

The moves by the popes from Rome to Avignon in France (1309-76) and the Great Schism (1378-1417), in which rival popes opposed one another, caused a loss of English respect for the papacy.  Statutes of Provisors (1351, 1390) limited the pope’s ability to appoint to church offices in England, and the Statutes of Praemunire (1353, 1393) prevented church courts from enforcing such appointments.  John Wycliffe, an Oxford professor, criticized corruption in the church and had ideas similar to those of the later Protestant reformers.  In 1382 he was removed by an ecclesiastical court to the country parish at Lutterworth, and his ideas were declared heretical. His followers, the Lollards, were persecuted but not stamped out.

King Richard II

King Richard II

Richard II, the grandson of Edward III, began his reign when he was ten years old, with rival factions fighting for control of his government.  As an adult he governed moderately until 1397, when he became involved in a struggle with the leading nobles. In 1399 his cousin, Henry Bolingbroke, duke of Lancaster, forced him to abdicate and became king in his place as Henry IV.

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Prince Albert

Prince Albert

Prince Albert

Prince Albert was born on the 26th August 1819 at Schloss Rosenau, Coburg, Germany.  His father was Francis Emanuel, Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and his mother the Duchess Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Attenburg.  His family was linked with many of Europe’s leading monarch’s, so much so, that his godparents were; The Dowager Duchess of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, The Emperor of Austria, The Dukes of Gotha ans Saxe-Teschen and The Count Emanuel Mensdoroff-Pouilly.

The young prince studied languages and the arts, often described by those who knew him, that he be intelligent with an air of influence in his mannerism.  What else would one expect, from he who would one day leave his mark in Europe’s History?

In 1840 Albert and Victoria were married and in August of the same year Parliament passed the “Regency Act” designating him a Regent, should Victoria die before her first-born reaches the age of eighteen.

During her lifetime there were a number of unsuccessful assassination attempts on her life; Edward Oxford in 1840 was judged insane, and in May 1842 John Francis made two attempts, for which he was sentenced to death, but was later commuted to life in prison.

In 1843 Prince Albert became President of the Society of Arts.

In 1844 with Albert at the helm, he brought the royal household finances under control, enabling them to purchase Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.

It was Albert’s influence on Victoria which would see his wife take a greater interest in social welfare of this land.  This led to the 1847 Factory Act prohibiting women and children working long hours in factories.

Prince Albert’s early years were more as a husband, who looked after household affairs, leaving her to run the country.  All that changed after the death of Lord Melbourne in 1848, and Albert stepped up to be the Queen’s private secretary… later referred to as a King, but without the title.

In 1851 he was the mastermind behind the Great Exhibition held at Crystal Palace showing off our achievements to the world.  Profits received from the venture, saw the building of the Royal Albert Hall and museums in the South Kensington area in London.

In 1882 Albert stepped forward to modernise the army, after the death of the Duke of Wellington.  In the same year he acquired the freehold of Balmoral Castle, one much loved by Queen Victoria and our present Queen.

In 1854 Britain and France declared war on Russia: “The Crimean War”.   The conflict dragged on, as each of their soldiers were ill-equipped for such a war.  Eventually both sides ceased fire with the signing of the “Treaty of Paris” in 1856.

In 1857 Albert was honoured for his works, when he became “Prince Consort”.

In the autumn of 1861, Albert stepped in to avert a diplomatic row which was brewing between England and the United states.  It is believed he averted a war between the two countries.

Sadly on the 14th December 1861, Albert was struck down and died of typhoid fever and was buried at the Frogmore Mausoleum at Windor.  A monument was erected in his name, and stands in the grounds of Kensington Gardens.

Prince Albert will always be remembered for his deeds in advancing the country out of slums and progressing into a scientific future.

For in 1833, he promoted in speeches for the abolition of slavery, which was abolished throughout the British Empire.

Educational reforms in schools and universities, and he became Chancellor of Cambridge University in 1847.

His biggest achievement has to be the Great Exhibition of Crystal Palace in 1851, one that will always be remembered.

Queen Victoria’s life was torn apart when her beloved Albert died, for the Queen’s grief was overwhelming, and she went into mourning for many years.  For the remaining years of her life she always wore black.

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Queen Victoria’s Children

Queen Victoria's Family

Queen Victoria’s Family

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were to have nine children between 1840 and 1957, and most were married into other Royal Families across Europe, creating descendants all the way back to Queen Victoria herself.

Victoria, Princess Royal (1840-1901) married Frederick III Emperor of Germany and King of Prussia.

Edward VII (1841-1910) married Princess Alexandra, daughter of Christian IX King of Denmark.

Alice (1843-1878) married Louis IV, Grand Duke of Hesse.

Alfred Duke of Edinburgh and of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha(1844-1900) married Grand Duchess Marie daughter of Alexander II, Emperor of Russia.

Helena (1846-1923) married Christian of Schleswig-Holstein.

Louise (1848-1939) married John Campbell the 9th Duke of Argyll.

Arthur, Duke of Connaught (1850-1942) married Princess Louise of Prussia.

Leopold, Duke of Albany (1853-1884) married Helen of Waldeck – Pyrmont.

Princess Beatrice (1857-1944) married Henry of Battenburg.

When Europe was split apart by the First World War (1914-1918), it would see descendants of Victoria and Albert take up arms against each other.

Personal tragedy was to strike Queen Victoria down in 1861, when Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Prince consort and her devoted partner for 21 years died, ripping her heart out, and sending her into mourning for many years.  From that day forth she only ever wore black.

If we look at the history timeline through the ages:

Queen Victoria’s son Edward VII (1841-1910) married Princess Alexandra of Denmark (1844-1925).

One of their five children, became George V (1865-1936) married Mary of Tech (1867-1953).

One of their six children, became Edward VIII King of England in 1936, as the eldest child, a time honoured custom, and chose to abdicate to marry Wallis Simpson.

So the next in line stepped forward, George VI (1895-1952) and married Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (1900- 2002).

One of their two children, became Queen Elizabeth II our current Queen.

Queen Victoria’s daughter Alice (1843-1878) married Louis IV of Hesse (1837-1892)

One of their two children Victoria of Hesse (1863-1950) marries Louis of Battenburg, 1st Marquess of Milford Haven (1854-1921).

One of their three children, Alice of Battenburg (1885-1967) marries Andrew of Greece (1882-1944).

Their only child is Philip Duke of Edinburgh who married Elizabeth II our current Queen.

As we can see both are descendants of Queen Victoria, and the timeline ever expands with each new birth.

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Queen Victoria’s Early Years

Queen Victoria

Young Victoria

Victoire Marie Louise, was born on the 17th August 1786, to parents Francis and Augusta of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld.  She grew up to marry the Duke of Kent in Ehrenburg Castle, Germany, followed by a second marriage ceremony held at Kew Palace in London.

A prophecy told to the Duke by a gypsy, whilst he was in Gibraltar, some years earlier told of a daughter he would have, one that would grow up to be a great Queen.

At this time he could not consider such a suggestion, for he knew any child he had and their right to succession would be based on his older brothers children, before his own.  It is more than likely he considered the suggestion, for no knew what the future held, or did they!

On the 24th May 1819 at Kensington Palace the young Victoria made her first sounds as she entered this world.  She was to be the only child of Edward, the duke of Kent and the fourth son of King George III.  Her father died on 23rd January 1820 and her grandfather died on the 29th January 1820.

With the newly crowned King George IV, Frederick Duke of York, and William IV had no legitimate heirs between them.  Victoria rose in line to become; Queen Victoria of England.

The child was christened Alexandrina Victoria at Kensington Palace on the 24th June 1819, by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London.

After the Death of Edward, Duke of Kent, the Duchess of Kent, and her daughter resided at apartments in Kensington Palace.

Victoria showed she had a flare for drawing and painting, and was educated at home by her governess Louise Lehzen, the daughter of a Lutheran pastor.

Her mother the Duchess hired the services of John Conroy to run the household, and it has been suggested he may have been her lover, but there is no official evidence to the fact, and the two of them ran Victoria’s life for her.  They chose who she could meet with, making her highly dependent upon them.

On the 15th July 1830, King George IV died, and William IV became the new king aged 64.  He made no secret of the fact, that he distrusted the Duchess of Kent.  He knew she and John Conroy had designs on creating a “Regency” and the Duchess would act as a Regent, much like the situation between George III and his son George IV.  This could only happen if King William IV died before Victoria reached the age of 18.

Alexandrina Victoria was 18 on the 24th May 1837 and King William IV died on the 20th June 1837, and went to his grave, knowing Victoria would become Queen and foiled the Duchess from creating a Regency.

Even though Victoria was Queen, law stated she had to live within her mother’s household.  The young Queen had her moved to remote apartments within Kensington Palace, and banned John Conroy from her presence.  Yet, he still remained part of her mother’s household.

Victoria was tormented by her presence, and marriage was the only way she could be free of her mother.  So on the 10th February 1840, she married Prince Albert in the Chapel Royal of St.James Palace in London.

Within days the Duchess of Kent was moved from the palace to Ingestre House in Belgrave Square, and later was given Clarence and Frogmore House.

Victoria’s important political adviser in her early years was Lord Melbourne, as well as her companion, a position which was taken over by Prince Albert her husband.

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Victoria: 19th Century Monarch

Queen Victoria

Alexandrina Victoria

19th century England was to see a new Monarch on the English Throne, who would rule her empire for sixty-three years.  She would become the longest reigning monarch, and the last of the “House of Hanover.”

Alexandrina Victoria was born on the 24th May 1819 at Kensington Palace in London.  Her father was Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strasthearn, and he was the fourth son of King George III who reigned from (1760-1820), and her German mother Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld.

Victoria was christened on the 24th June 1819 in the Cupola Room at Kensington Palace by the Archbishop of Canterbury; Charles Manners-Sutton in a private ceremony.  She was baptised Alexandrina after Emperor Alexander I of Russia, one of her godparents and Victoria after her mother.

Her early years were met with tragedy when her father Prince Edward the Duke of Kent died on the 23rd January 1820. And six days later her grandfather, King George III died on the 29th January 1820.

At the time of her birth Victoria was fifth in succession to the English throne.  Her father Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent died in 1820, having three older brothers who themselves were in line to the throne.

In the year 1811, King George III’s mental illness made him unfit to rule in the latter years of his life, and his eldest son became Prince Regent, and in 1820 he became King George IV upon his father’s death.

He married the Princess Caroline of Brunswick in 1795, and she only gave him one child which died at birth.  He tried unsuccessfully to divorce her on the grounds of adultery, but shortly after his appointment to King of England, she died in 1821, leaving no heirs to the English throne.

Technically he was a bigamist at the time, for he had secretly married Mrs Fitzherbert a Roman Catholic in 1785.

He had actually broken the Royal Marriages Act of 1772, which still stands to this day.  Any member of the Royal Family under the age of 25 requires the reigning monarch’s approval, and over 25 approvals by the Privy Council.

He died at Windsor Castle on the 15th July 1830 aged 67, and was buried in St.George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.

Frederick, the Duke of York and Albany died in 1827, one of King George III’s other sons, with King George dying in 1830, made William IV our next King, with Victoria being his successor.

William IV received the title; “Duke of Clarence” and from 1791-1811 set up home with his mistress Dorothy Bland an Irish actress, and they had ten children, all who bore the surname “Fitzclarence.”

With the death of his brother, ascended to the English Throne: King William IV of England, aged 64 and was crowned on 8th September 1831 at Westminster Abbey.

In 1811 William IV married Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen, eager to produce legitimate heirs to the English Throne, but that was not to be, they had four children of which none lived past infancy.

On the 20th June 1837 King William IV died and was buried at St.George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, and Alexandrina Victoria barely 18 years old had become Queen Victoria from that day forth.  Her official Coronation took place on the 28th June 1838, and the people flocked into the streets to see their new Queen.

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