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#otd in Royal History - 1-31 May

On this day in royal history - Month of May blog cover

Jump to Part Two (10-20 May)

Part Three (21-31 May)

1 May

Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville wedding

1 May 1464

Edward IV secretly married Elizabeth Woodville

King Edward IV's marriage to the widowed Elizabeth Woodville took place secretly &, though the date is not accepted as exactly accurate, it is traditionally said to have taken place (with only the bride's mother & two ladies in attendance) at her family home in Northamptonshire on 1 May 1464, just over three years after he had taken the English throne after leading the Yorkists in an overwhelming victory over the Lancastrians at the Battle of Towton. Elizabeth Woodville was crowned queen on 26 May 1465, the Sunday after Ascension Day.

Edward IV (28 April 1442 – 9 April 1483) was King of England from 4 March 1461 to 3 October 1470, then again from 11 April 1471 until his death in 1483. He was a central figure in the Wars of the Roses, a series of civil wars in England fought between the Yorkist & Lancastrian factions between 1455 & 1487.

His marriage to Elizabeth Woodville in 1464 led to conflict with his chief advisor, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, known as the "Kingmaker". In 1470, a revolt led by Warwick & Edward's brother George, Duke of Clarence, briefly re-installed Henry VI. Edward fled to Flanders, where he gathered support & invaded England in March 1471; after victories at the battles of Barnet & Tewkesbury, he resumed the throne. Shortly afterwards, Henry VI was found dead in the Tower of London. Despite a continuing threat from Henry Tudor, later Henry VII, the last Lancastrian claimant, Edward reigned in relative peace for the next twelve years. When he died suddenly in April 1483, Edward IV was succeeded by his minor son Edward V, but Edward IV's brother Richard III soon seized the throne.

Edward had ten children by Elizabeth Woodville, seven of whom survived him.

Collectable Solar Powered Pal - King Charles III

NEW Collectable Solar Powered Pal - King Charles III


1 May 1517

The Evil May Day Riots in London.

Evil May Day Riots in London

King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon


Act of Union 1707
Pictured is the pre-1801 Union Flag (of Great Britain), the Royal Arms of Great Britain, & Queen Anne, who was the monarch in 1707.

1 May 1707

The Acts of Union

The Kingdom of Great Britain, officially Great Britain was a sovereign state in western Europe from 1 May 1707 to 31 December 1800.

The state came into being following the Treaty of Union in 1706, ratified by the Acts of Union 1707, which united the kingdoms of England & Scotland to form a single kingdom encompassing the whole island of Great Britain & its outlying islands. It did not include Ireland, which remained a separate realm within the British Empire.

The unitary state was governed by a single parliament & government, based at Westminster. The former kingdoms had been in personal union since James VI, King of Scots, became King of England & King of Ireland in 1603 following the death of Queen Elizabeth I, bringing about a "Union of the Crowns". Also, after the accession of George I to the throne of Great Britain in 1714, the kingdom was in personal union with the Electorate of Hanover. The early years of the unified kingdom were marked by Jacobite risings which ended with defeat for the Stuart cause at Culloden in 1746. Later, in 1763, victory in the Seven Years' War led to the dominance of the British Empire, which was to be the foremost global power for over a century & later grew to become the largest empire in history.

On 1 January 1801, the kingdoms of Great Britain & Ireland merged to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland. In 1922, five-sixths of Ireland seceded from the United Kingdom, & the state was renamed the "United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland" – its formal name at present.


Other 1 May history;

  • 1118 – Matilda of Scotland died b. 1080). She was the Queen of England & Duchess of Normandy as the first wife of King Henry I.

  • 1328 – Wars of Scottish Independence end: By the Treaty of Edinburgh–Northampton, England recognises Scotland as an independent state.

  • 1850 – Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn was born (d. 1942)

  • 1876 - Queen Victoria adopts the title of Empress of India.

  • 1920 – Princess Margaret of Connaught died (b. 1882)


2 May

Near contemporary painting of Anne Boleyn at Hever Castle, c. 1550
Near contemporary painting of Anne Boleyn at Hever Castle, c. 1550

2 May 1536

Anne Boleyn, Queen of England, was arrested & taken to the Tower of London

At dawn on 2nd May 1536, Sir Henry Norris, Henry VIII’s Groom of the Stool & good friend, was taken to the Tower of London. Musician Mark Smeaton had also been taken there, & the Imperial Ambassador, Eustace Chapuys, wrote to Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor on 2nd May telling him that George Boleyn, Lord Rochford & brother of Queen Anne Boleyn, was also in the Tower.

Anne Boleyn was watching a game of real tennis when she was disturbed by a messenger telling her that the King had ordered her to present herself to his Privy Council. Anne left the tennis match & presented herself in the council chamber in front of a royal commission consisting of the Duke of Norfolk (her uncle), Sir William Fitzwilliam & Sir William Paulet. There she was informed that she was being accused of committing adultery with three different men, & that Smeaton & Norris had confessed.

Anne was then taken to her apartments until the tide of the Thames turned & then, at two o’clock in the afternoon, she was escorted by barge to the Tower of London. It is likely that Anne may have entered through The Court Gate in The Byward Tower rather than The Traitor's Gate, according to historian & author of The Life & Death of Anne Boleyn, Eric Ives. In the Tower, she collapsed, demanding to know the location of her father & "swete broder", as well as the charges against her.

Anne Boleyn in the Tower by Édouard Cibot (1799–1877)
Anne Boleyn in the Tower by Édouard Cibot (1799–1877)

Anne was tried before a jury of peers, which included Henry Percy, her former betrothed, & her own uncle, Thomas Howard & found guilty on 15 May. She was beheaded four days later. Personally I view the charges against her, which included adultery, incest, & witchcraft, as almost farcical. Henry married Jane Seymour less than three weeks after Anne's execution!


Other 2 May history;

  • 1194 – King Richard I of England gives Portsmouth its first Royal Charter.

  • 1568 – Mary, Queen of Scots, escapes from Loch Leven Castle.

  • 1816 – Marriage of Léopold of Saxe-Coburg & Princess Charlotte of Wales.


3 May

Matilda of Boulogne, Queen of England

3 May 1152

Matilda of Boulogne, Queen of England died

Matilda I (or Maud) (born around 1105 in Boulogne, France, the daughter of Eustace III, Count of Boulogne, & his wife Mary, daughter of King Malcolm III of Scotland & Saint Margaret of Scotland.) was suo jure Countess of Boulogne. She was also queen consort of England as the wife of King Stephen, married in 1125.

Matilda was also first cousin of her husband's rival, Empress Matilda. Through her maternal grandmother, Matilda was descended from the pre-Conquest English kings. Matilda was a supporter of the Knights Templar. She founded Cressing Temple in Essex in 1137 & Temple Cowley in Oxford in 1139. Like her predecessor, Matilda of Scotland, she had a close relationship with the Holy Trinity Priory at Aldgate. She took the prior as her confessor & two of her children were buried there.

In the civil war that followed, known as the Anarchy, Matilda proved to be her husband's strongest supporter. When England was invaded in 1138, she called troops from Boulogne & its ally Flanders, & besieged Dover Castle with success & then went north to Durham, where she made a treaty with David I of Scotland in 1139. After Stephen was captured at the Battle of Lincoln in 1141, she rallied the king's partisans, & raised an army with the help of William of Ypres. While the Empress Matilda waited in London to prepare her coronation, Matilda and Stephen's brother Henry of Blois had her chased out of the city. The Empress Matilda went on to besiege Henry of Blois at Winchester. Matilda of Boulogne then commanded her army to attack the besiegers. There was a rout in which the Empress's half-brother, Robert of Gloucester, was captured. The two Matilda's then agreed to exchange prisoners & Stephen ruled as king again. Under the agreement that settled the civil war, her children did not inherit the throne.

Matilda died of a fever at Hedingham Castle, Essex, England, & is buried at Faversham Abbey, which she & her husband founded.


Margaret of York, Duchess of Burgundy

3 May 1446

Margaret of York was born at Fotheringhay Castle

Also by marriage known as Margaret of Burgundy—was Duchess of Burgundy as the 3rd wife of Charles the Bold. She was a daughter of Richard, 3rd Duke of York, & Cecily Neville, & the sister of kings Edward IV & Richard III.

On 27 June 1468, she met Charles the Bold for the first time, & the pair were privately married between 5am & 6am on 3 July, in the house of a wealthy merchant of Damme. Although the marriage produced no children, Margaret proved a valuable asset to Burgundy. A good looking woman, but (rarely for the hyperbole of her age) never described as beautiful, Margaret had fine features, & was, at almost 6 feet, very tall, a feature accentuated by her slimness, & her straight & upright bearing. Her eyes were grey, & her mouth was small; her smile allowed her to demonstrate her wry humour, her wit, & her graciousness. In appearance, she was utterly unlike the dark & burly Duke Charles the Bold, who was shorter than her: when they met for the first time, she was forced to bend in order to receive his kiss. But her intelligence was keen, & her will strong; she made a worthy bride for the Duke in nature.

With her husband's family, she got on excellently: she became a mother-figure to her step-daughter, Mary, who shared Margaret's interests in reading, riding, hunting, & falconry; her mother-in-law, Isabella of Portugal, said of Margaret that she was "well pleased with the sight of this lovely lady, & pleased with her manners & virtues". A capable ruler, she proved a masterful Duchess; she was a Yorkist in sympathies, but she was before that the Duchess of Burgundy. She bore no male heir to succeed to Burgundy, but she preserved it from ruin; to her actions can be ascribed the survival of the Burgundian state, She died aged 57 on 23 November 1503.


Other 3 May history;

  • 1415 – Cecily Neville, Duchess of York was born (d. 1495). She was the wife of Richard, Duke of York (1411–1460), & the mother of two kings of England - Edward IV & Richard III.

  • 1783 - Prince Octavius of Great Britain, the thirteenth child & eighth son of King George III & his queen consort, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. died (b.1779).

  • 1870 – Princess Helena Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein was born (d. 1948). She was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria.

Royal British Legion - The Poppy Shop banner.


4 May

4 May 1471

Wars of the Roses: The Battle of Tewkesbury: Edward IV defeats a Lancastrian Army & kills Edward, Prince of Wales

The Battle of Tewkesbury, which took place on 4 May 1471, was one of the decisive battles of the Wars of the Roses. The Yorkists numbered 5,000 & were outnumbered by the 6,000 Lancastrians. The forces loyal to the House of Lancaster were completely defeated by those of the rival House of York under their monarch, King Edward IV.

Early on the 4th May 1471, before the battle of Tewkesbury began, Edward IV sent a group of 200 horsemen to a nearby wood 'in caace his sayd enemyes had layed any bushement (ambush) in that wood', instructing them that 'yf they saw none suche… to employ themselfe in the best wyse as they cowlde;'

This they most certainly did, charging into the flank of the Duke of Somerset's division as it reeled from its struggle with the Yorkist army's centre - '... cam & brake on, all at ones, upon the Duke of Somerset, & his vawarde, aside-hand, unadvised, whereof they, seinge the Kynge gave them ynoughe to doo afore them, were gretly dismaid & abashed, & so toke them to flight into the parke, & into the medowe that was nere, & into lanes, and dykes, where they best hopyd to escape the dangar; of whom, netheles, many were distressed, taken & slayne;' (from The Arrivall, Edward IV's official account of the events of 1471)

Edward's vanguard was commanded by his youngest brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester (later King Richard III). Although he was only 18 years old, Richard was already an experienced commander & had led a division at the Battle of Barnet. Edward himself commanded the main battle, in which the Duke of Clarence (Edward's brother) was also stationed. Edward was 29 years old & at the height of his prowess as a soldier.

The Lancastrians were led by Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, a prominent supporter of King Henry VI. Edward, Prince of Wales was present with the centre of his army. At 17 Prince Edward was no stranger to battlefields, having been given by his mother the task of condemning to death Yorkist prisoners taken at the Second Battle of St Albans, but he lacked experience of actual command. The Lancastrian heir to the throne, Edward, Prince of Wales, & many prominent Lancastrian nobles were killed during the battle. Many of the other Lancastrian nobles & knights sought sanctuary in Tewkesbury Abbey. King Edward attended prayers in the Abbey shortly after the battle. He granted permission for the Prince of Wales & others slain in the battle to be buried within the Abbey or elsewhere in the town without being quartered as traitors as was customary.

Two days after the battle, Somerset & other leaders were dragged out of the Abbey & ordered by the Duke of Gloucester & the Duke of Norfolk to be put to death after perfunctory trials. The Abbey was not officially a sanctuary, though it is doubtful whether this would have deterred Edward even if it had been. It had to be reconsecrated a month after the battle, following the violence done within its precincts. A few days later Margaret of Anjou, Queen consort to Henry VI sent word to Edward from her refuge that she was "at his commandment".

The Lancastrian king, Henry VI, who was a prisoner in the Tower of London, died or was murdered shortly after the battle. Tewkesbury restored political stability to England until the death of Edward IV in 1483.


Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales

4 May 1471

The heir to the throne Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales died in battle.

Edward of Westminster (b.13 October 1453), also known as Edward of Lancaster, was the only son of King Henry VI of England & Margaret of Anjou.

He was born at the Palace of Westminster. At the time of his birth, there was strife between Henry's supporters & those of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, who had a claim to the throne & challenged the authority of Henry's officers of state. Henry was suffering from mental illness. In 1460, King Henry was captured by the supporters of the Duke of York at the Battle of Northampton & taken to London. Queen Margaret & Edward had meanwhile fled through Cheshire. By Margaret's later account, she induced outlaws & pillagers to aid her by pledging them to recognise the seven-year-old Edward as rightful heir to the crown. They subsequently reached safety in Wales & journeyed to Scotland, where Margaret raised support, while the Duke of York's enemies gathered in the north of England.

During the second Battle of St Albans, two Yorkist knights, were captured. The day after the battle, Margaret asked Edward what death the two knights should suffer. Edward readily replied that their heads should be cut off. In 1467 the ambassador of the Duchy of Milan to the court of France wrote that Edward "already talks of nothing but cutting off heads or making war, as if he had everything in his hands or was the god of battle or the peaceful occupant of that throne."

After several years in exile, Margaret took the best opportunity that presented itself & allied herself with the renegade Earl of Warwick. Prince Edward was married to Anne Neville, Warwick's younger daughter, in December 1470, though there is some doubt as to whether the marriage was ever consummated. On the same day Margaret & Edward landed in England (14 April), Edward IV defeated & killed Warwick at the Battle of Barnet. With little real hope of success, the inexperienced prince & his mother led the remnant of their forces to meet Edward IV in the Battle of Tewkesbury. They were defeated & Edward was killed, making him the only heir apparent to the English throne ever to die in battle. Edward's body is buried at Tewkesbury Abbey. His widow, Anne Neville, married the Duke of Gloucester, to whom she had been betrothed before & who eventually succeeded as King Richard III in 1483.


Other 4 May history;

  • 1913 – Princess Katherine of Greece and Denmark was born (d. 2007). She was the third daughter & youngest child of King Constantine I of Greece & Sophia of Prussia.

  • 1979 - Margaret Thatcher becomes UK's first woman prime minister; she becomes the longest-serving PM of the 20th century.


5 May

Elizabeth of Rhuddlan

5 May 1316

Elizabeth of Rhuddlan died

Elizabeth of Rhuddlan (Born 7 August 1282 at Rhuddlan Castle in Wales) was the eighth & youngest daughter of King Edward I & Queen Eleanor of Castile.

On 8 January 1297 Elizabeth married John, Count of Holland at Ipswich. In attendance at the marriage were Elizabeth's sister Margaret, her father, Edward I of England, her brother Edward, & Humphrey de Bohun. After the wedding Elizabeth was expected to go to Holland with her husband, but did not wish to go, leaving her husband to go alone. It is recorded that while in Ipswich the King, in some outburst, threw his daughter's coronet into the fire: a great ruby and a great emerald were supplied by Adam the Goldsmith for stones lost as a result.

️After some time travelling England, it was decided Elizabeth should follow her husband. Her father accompanied her, travelling through the Southern Netherlands between Antwerp, Mechelen, Leuven and Brussels, before ending up in Ghent. There they remained for a few months, spending Christmas with her two sisters Eleanor & Margaret. On 10 November 1299, John died of dysentery, though there were rumours of his murder. No children had been born from the marriage.

On her return trip to England, Elizabeth went through Brabant to see her sister Margaret. On 14 November 1302 Elizabeth was married to Humphrey de Bohun, 4th Earl of Hereford, 3rd of Essex, also Constable of England, at Westminster Abbey. They had eleven children, six sons & five daughters

During Christmas 1315, Elizabeth, who was pregnant with her eleventh child, was visited by her sister-in-law, Queen Isabella of France. On 5 May 1316 she went into labour, giving birth to her daughter Isabella. Both Elizabeth & her daughter Isabella died shortly after the birth aged just 33.. Elizabeth was interred at Walden Abbey, Essex, together with her infant daughter & other members of the de Bohun family.


Other 5 May history;

  • 1215 - Rebel barons renounce allegiance to King John.

  • 1640 - Charles Stuart, Duke of Cambridge died (b.1660). He was the first of four sons & eight children born from the marriage between the Duke of York (later King James II of England & VII of Scotland) & his first wife, Anne Hyde.

  • 1640 – King Charles I of England dissolves the Short Parliament.


6 May

King Edward VII

6 May 1910

King Edward VII died

Edward generally smoked twenty cigarettes & twelve cigars a day. In 1907, an ulcer, a type of cancer affecting the skin next to his nose, was cured with radium. Towards the end of his life he suffered from bronchitis. He suffered a momentary loss of consciousness during a state visit to Berlin in February 1909. In March 1910, he was staying at Biarritz in France when he collapsed. He remained there to convalesce. The King's continued ill health was unreported & he attracted criticism for staying in France while political tensions were so high.

On 27 April he returned to Buckingham Palace, still suffering from severe bronchitis. Alexandra returned from visiting her brother, King George I of Greece, in Corfu on 5 May. The following day, the King suffered several heart attacks, but refused to go to bed saying, "No, I shall not give in; I shall go on; I shall work to the end." Between moments of faintness, his son the Prince of Wales (later King George V) told him that his horse, 'Witch of the Air', had won at Kempton Park that afternoon. The King replied, "Yes, I have heard of it. I am very glad": his final words. At 11:30 p.m. he lost consciousness for the last time & was put to bed. He died 15 minutes later.

Edward VII was buried at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, on 20 May 1910. As Barbara Tuchman noted in The Guns of August, his funeral marked "the greatest assemblage of royalty & rank ever gathered in one place &, of its kind, the last".


6 May 1960

Princess Margaret married the photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones

The ceremony was the first royal wedding to be broadcast on television, & attracted viewing figures of 300 million worldwide. Despite the public enthusiasm, most foreign royal families of Europe disapproved a king's daughter marrying a photographer. Queen Ingrid of Denmark was the only foreign royal to attend the wedding.

Margaret's wedding dress was designed by Norman Hartnell, & worn with the Poltimore tiara. The Princess had eight young bridesmaids, led by her niece, Princess Anne. The other bridesmaids were her goddaughter, Marilyn Wills, daughter of her cousin Jean Elphinstone & Major John Lycett Wills; Annabel Rhodes, daughter of her cousin Margaret Elphinstone & Denys Rhodes; Lady Virginia Fitzroy, daughter of Hugh Fitzroy, Earl of Euston; Sarah Lowther, daughter of Sir John Lowther; Catherine Vesey, daughter of Viscount de Vesci; & Lady Rose Nevill, daughter of the Marquess of Abergavenny. The Duke of Edinburgh escorted the bride & the best man was Dr Roger Gilliatt.

The honeymoon was spent aboard the royal yacht Britannia on a six-week Caribbean cruise. As a wedding present, Colin Tennant gave her a plot of land on his private Caribbean island, Mustique. The newly-weds moved into rooms in Kensington Palace.

In 1961, the Princess's husband was created Earl of Snowdon, whereupon she became formally styled HRH The Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon. The couple had two children (both born by Caesarean section at Margaret's request): David, Viscount Linley, born 3 November 1961, & Lady Sarah, born 1 May 1964.

The marriage widened Princess Margaret's social circle beyond the Court & aristocracy to include show business celebrities and bohemians, & was seen at the time as reflecting the breakdown of class barriers. The Snowdons experimented with the styles & fashions of the 1960s. For more about Princess Margaret Visit my Princess Margaret Blog

Ma’am Darling: : The hilarious, bestselling royal biography


6 May 2019

Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor was born

Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor was born at the Portland Hospital in London. Archie is the son of Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, & Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. He is a grandson of King Charles III & is sixth in the line of succession to the British throne.


Other 6 May history;

  • 1536 - Henry VIII orders bibles to be printed in English.

  • 1659 – English Restoration: A faction of the British Army removes Richard Cromwell as Lord Protector of the Commonwealth & reinstalls the Rump Parliament.

  • 1890 - Lady Rose Constance Bowes-Lyon was born (d.1967). She was the third daughter of the 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne by his wife, Cecilia Cavendish-Bentinck, & an elder sister of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother therefore a maternal aunt of Queen Elizabeth II.

  • 1910 - George V accession.

  • 1994 – Elizabeth II & French President François Mitterrand officiate at the opening of the Channel Tunnel.


7 May

King James VI & I

7 May 1625

The Funeral of King James VI & I

James's funeral, a magnificent but disorderly affair, took place on 7 May. Bishop John Williams of Lincoln preached the sermon, observing, "King Solomon died in Peace, when he had lived about sixty years ... & so you know did King James".

James was buried in Westminster Abbey. The position of the tomb was lost for many years. In the 19th century, following an excavation of many of the vaults beneath the floor, the lead coffin was found in the Henry VII vault. The king had died at Theobalds House on 27 March 1625 during a violent attack of dysentery. In early 1625, James had been plagued by severe attacks of arthritis, gout & fainting fits, & in March had fell seriously ill with tertian ague & then suffered a stroke.


Other 7 May history;

  • 1718 - Mary of Modena died (b.1658). She was Queen of England, Scotland, & Ireland as the second wife of James II & VII (1633–1701).

  • 1767 - Princess Frederica Charlotte of Prussia was born (d.1820). She She was the eldest daughter of King Frederick William II of Prussia & the wife of Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany, second son of King George III of the United Kingdom.

  • 1818 - Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge (son of George III) married Princess Augusta of Hesse - Kassel.


8 May

8 May 1945

Victory in Europe Day (VE Day)

Victory in Europe Day, generally known as V-E Day, VE Day or simply V Day, was the public holiday celebrated on 8 May 1945 to mark the formal acceptance by the Allies of World War II of Nazi Germany's unconditional surrender of its armed forces. The formal surrender of the German forces occupying the Channel Islands did not occur until the following day, 9 May 1945. It thus marked the end of World War II in Europe..

Upon the defeat of Germany, celebrations erupted throughout the western world. From Moscow to Los Angeles, people celebrated.

In the United Kingdom, more than one million people celebrated in the streets to mark the end of the European part of the war. In London, crowds massed in Trafalgar Square & up the Mall to Buckingham Palace.

Crowds gather outside Buckingham Palace, 8 May 1945

Crowds shouted "We want the King!" in front of Buckingham Palace during the Victory in Europe Day celebrations. The King invited Churchill to appear with the royal family on the balcony to public acclaim. King George VI & Queen Elizabeth, Princess Elizabeth & Princess Margaret accompanied by Prime Minister Winston Churchill, then appeared on the balcony of the palace before the cheering crowds.

The Royal Family with Sir Winston Churchill at Buckingham Palace on VE Day, 1945. Princess Elizabeth, Queen Elizabeth, Churchill, King George VI, Princess Margaret

The Royal Family with Sir Winston Churchill at Buckingham Palace on VE Day, 1945. Princess Elizabeth, Queen Elizabeth, Churchill, King George VI, Princess Margaret

Princesses Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) & Margaret mingled anonymously with the celebratory crowds in the streets of London. Elizabeth later said in a rare interview, "We asked my parents if we could go out & see for ourselves. I remember we were terrified of being recognised . I remember lines of unknown people linking arms & walking down Whitehall, all of us just swept along on a tide of happiness & relief."


Other 8 May history;

  • 1360 – Treaty of Brétigny drafted between King Edward III of England & King John II of France (the Good).

  • 1429 – Joan of Arc lifts the Siege of Orléans, turning the tide of the Hundred Years' War.

  • 1491 - Prince Arthur (eldest son of Henry VII & Elizabeth of York( made Knight of the Garter.


9 May

9 May 729

Osric of Northumbria died

Osric was king of Northumbria from the death of Coenred in 718 until his death on 9 May 729. Symeon of Durham calls him a son of Aldfrith of Northumbria, which would make him a brother, or perhaps a half-brother, of Osred. Alternatively, he may have been a son of King Eahlfrith of Deira, & thus a first cousin of Osred.

Bede reports little of Osric's reign, but records that comets were seen at his death, a sign of ill omen. William of Malmesbury praises Osric for his decision to adopt Ceolwulf, brother of Coenred, as his heir.

Map of the British Isles claiming to be circa 802.AD.
Map of the British Isles claiming to be circa 802.AD.

The Anglo-Saxon World Paperback book – Illustrated


Other 9 May history;

  • 1386 – England & Portugal formally ratify their alliance with the signing of the Treaty of Windsor, making it the oldest diplomatic alliance in the world which is still in force.

  • 1671 - Thomas Blood attempts to steal the Crown jewels.


10 May

Alfred the Great, king of the Anglo-Saxons
Alfred the Great

6 & 12 May 878

The Battle of Edington

At the Battle of Edington, an army of the kingdom of Wessex under Alfred the Great defeated the Great Heathen Army led by the Dane Guthrum on a date between 6 & 12 May 878, resulting in the Treaty of Wedmore later the same year.

"Fighting ferociously, forming a dense shield-wall against the whole army of the Pagans, and striving long & last he [Alfred] gained the victory. He overthrew the Pagans with great slaughter, & smiting the fugitives, he pursued them as far as the fortress." — Smyth 2002, pp. 26–27.

The primary reason for Alfred's victory was probably the relative size of the two armies. The men of even one shire could be a formidable fighting force, as those of Devon proved in the same year, defeating an army under Ubbe Ragnarsson at the Battle of Cynwit. In addition, in 875 Guthrum had lost the support of other Danish lords, including Ivar the Boneless & Ubba. Further Danish forces had settled on the land before Guthrum attacked Wessex: in East Anglia, & in Mercia between the treaty at Exeter & the attack on Chippenham; many others were lost in a storm off Swanage in 876–877, with 120 ships wrecked. Internal disunity was threatening to tear the Danes apart, & they needed time to reorganize. Fortunately for Wessex, they did not use the time available effectively.

Three weeks after the battle, Guthrum was baptised at Aller in Somerset with Alfred as his sponsor. It is possible that the enforced conversion was an attempt by Alfred to lock Guthrum into a Christian code of ethics, hoping it would ensure the Danes' compliance with any treaties agreed to. The converted Guthrum took the baptismal name of Athelstan. Under the terms of the Treaty of Wedmore, the converted Guthrum was required to leave Wessex & return to East Anglia. Consequently, in 879 the Viking army left Chippenham & made its way to Cirencester (in the kingdom of Mercia) & remained there for a year. The following year the army went to East Anglia, where it settled.

Memorial to the Battle of Ethandun erected in 2000 near the hillfort of Bratton Castle.
Memorial to the Battle of Ethandun erected in 2000 near the hillfort of Bratton Castle.


Charles Beauclerk, 1st Duke of St Albans, illegitimate son of Charles II
Charles Beauclerk, 1st Duke of St Albans, by Godfrey Kneller

10 May 1726

Charles Beauclerk, 1st Duke of St Albans died (b. 1670)

Charles Beauclerk was an illegitimate son of King Charles II of England by his mistress Nell Gwyn.

On 21 December 1676, a warrant was passed for "a grant to Charles Beauclerc, the King's natural son, & to the heirs male of his body, of the dignities of Baron of Heddington, co. Oxford, & Earl of Burford in the same county, with remainder to his brother, James Beauclerc, & the heirs male of his body." A few weeks later, James was given "the title of Lord Beauclerc, with the place & precedence of the eldest son of an earl." Just after the death of Henry Jermyn, 1st Earl of St Albans, at the turn of the year, on 5 January 1684, King Charles granted his son Charles, Earl of Burford, the title of Duke of St Albans. He became colonel in the 8th regiment of horse in 1687, & served with the emperor Leopold I, being present at the siege of Belgrade in 1688.

When his mother died (14 November 1687), Beauclerk received a large estate, including Burford House, near Windsor Castle. After the Battle of Landen in 1693, William III made Beauclerk captain of the gentlemen pensioners, & four years later gentleman of the bedchamber. On 17 April 1694 he married Lady Diana de Vere, daughter & sole heiress of Aubrey de Vere, 20th Earl of Oxford. She was a well-known beauty, who became lady of the bedchamber to Caroline of Ansbach, Princess of Wales. They had twelve children.

In 1718, George made him a Knight of the Garter. Beauclerk died at Bath two days after his 56th birthday & is buried in Westminster Abbey. He was succeeded by his eldest son.

Several legends describe how Beauclerk became Earl of Burford. The first is that on arrival of the King, his mother said, "Come here, you little bastard, & greet your father." When the king rebuked her for calling him that, she replied, "Your Majesty has given me no other name to call him by." In response, Charles created him Earl of Burford.


Other 10 May history;

  • 1291 – Scottish nobles recognize the authority of Edward I of England pending the selection of a king

  • 1403 – Katherine Swynford, widow of John of Gaunt died (b.1350)

  • 1775 - Caroline Matilda of Great Britain, queen consort of Denmark died (b.1751). She The youngest & posthumous daughter of Frederick, Prince of Wales, by Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha & was Queen of Denmark & Norway from 1766 to 1772 by marriage to King Christian VII.

  • 1783 - Prince Octavius of Great Britain funeral.


11 May

Matilda of Flanders, Queen of England, Duchess of Normandy

11 May 1068

Coronation of Matilda of Flanders as Queen of England.

Matilda (c.1031-1083) was Queen of England & Duchess of Normandy by marriage to William the Conqueror, & regent of Normandy during his absences from the duchy. She was the mother of ten children.

Matilda was crowned queen on 11 May 1068 in Westminster during the feast of Pentecost, in a ceremony presided over by the archbishop of York. Three new phrases were incorporated to cement the importance of queens, stating that they were divinely placed by God, shared in royal power, & blessed her people by her power & virtue.


Other 11 May history;

  • 1985 – Fifty-six spectators die & more than 200 are injured in the Bradford City stadium fire.


12 May

Richard the Lionheart, king of England

12 May 1191

King Richard I married Berengaria of Navarre

Richard had Berengaria brought to him by his mother Eleanor of Aquitaine, since Richard was already on the Third Crusade, having wasted no time in setting off after his coronation, the two women had a long & difficult journey to catch up with him. They arrived at Messina in Sicily during Lent (when the marriage could not take place) in 1191 & were joined by Richard's sister Joan, the widowed Queen of Sicily. The two women became good friends & Berengaria was left in Joan's custody. En route to the Holy Land, the ship carrying Berengaria & Joan ran aground off the coast of Cyprus, & they were threatened by the island's ruler, Isaac Comnenus.

Berengaria of Navarre, Queen of England, wife of Richard the Lionheart

Richard came to their rescue, captured the island, & overthrew Comnenus. Richard then married Berengaria of Navarre on May 12, 1191, in the Chapel of St George at Limassol on Cyprus, surely the most unlikely place for the wedding of an English king.

The marriage was celebrated with great pomp & splendour, many feasts & entertainments, & public parades & celebrations followed commemorating the event. Among the other grand ceremonies was a double coronation. Richard caused himself to be crowned King of Cyprus, & Berengaria Queen of England & of Cyprus, too. Richard took his new wife on crusade with him briefly, though they returned separately. Berengaria had almost as much difficulty in making the journey home as her husband did, & she did not see England until after his death. After his release from German captivity Richard showed some regret for his earlier conduct, but he was not reunited with his wife. The marriage remained childless.


The King and Queen in their coronation robes. Oil portraits by Sir Gerald Kelly, ca. 1938
The King & Queen in their coronation robes. Oil portraits by Sir Gerald Kelly, ca. 1938

12 May 1937

Coronation of King George VI & Queen Elizabeth

The coronation took place at Westminster Abbey, London, on 12 May 1937.

King George VI ascended the throne upon the abdication of his brother, King Edward VIII, on 10 December 1936, three days before his 41st birthday. Edward's coronation had been planned for 12 May 1937 & it was decided to continue with his brother & sister-in-law's coronation on the same date.

A print after a 1938 painting by Frank O. Salisbury, depicting the coronation service.
A print after a 1938 painting by Frank O. Salisbury, depicting the coronation service.

Although the music included a range of new anthems & the ceremony underwent some alterations to include the Dominions, it remained a largely conservative affair & closely followed the ceremonial of King George V's coronation in 1911.

The ceremony began with the anointing of the King, symbolising his spiritual entry into kingship, & then his crowning & enthronement, representing his assumption of temporal powers & responsibilities.

The peers of the realm then paid homage to the King before a shorter & simpler ceremony was conducted for the Queen's coronation.

The return procession to Buckingham Palace was over six miles in length, making it the longest coronation procession up to that time; crowds of people lined the streets to watch it, over thirty-two thousand soldiers took part & twenty thousand police officers lined the route.

The coronation was commemorated by the issuing of official medals, coinage, & stamps, by military parades across the Empire, & by numerous unofficial celebrations, including street parties & the production of memorabilia.

Other 12 May history;

  • 1820 – Florence Nightingale, Italian-English nurse, social reformer, & statistician was born (d. 1910).

Kings and Queens of England/Britain Framed poster


13 May

Framed Portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots

13 May 1568

Mary Queen of Scots is defeated at Battle of Langside, part of Civil war between Queen Mary & Regent Moray.

The Battle of Langside was fought on 13 May 1568 between forces loyal to Mary, Queen of Scots, & forces acting in the name of her infant son James VI. Mary’s short period of personal rule ended in 1567 in recrimination, intrigue, & disaster when, after her capture at Carberry Hill, she was forced to abdicate in favour of James VI, her infant son. Mary was imprisoned in Loch Leven Castle, while her Protestant half-brother, James Stewart, Earl of Moray, was appointed Regent on behalf of his nephew. In early May 1568 Mary escaped, heading west to the country of the Hamiltons, high among her remaining supporters, & the safety of Dumbarton Castle with the determination to restore her rights as queen. Mary was defeated & went into exile & captivity in England. The battle can be regarded as the start of the Marian civil war.


13 - 16 May 2008

Queen Elizabeth II visits Turkey


Other 13 May history;

  • 1254 – Marie of Brabant, Queen of France was born (d. 1321)

  • 1423 - John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford (the third son of King Henry IV of England, & brother to Henry V) married Anne of Burgundy (d.1432), daughter of John the Fearless. The couple were happily married, despite being childless. Anne died of the plague in Paris in 1432. Bedford would later marry Jacquetta of Luxembourg in 1433, This marriage was also childless, although Jacquetta went on to have more than a dozen children in her second marriage to Richard Woodville (later Earl Rivers). Her eldest child, Elizabeth Woodville, became Queen consort of England as the spouse of Edward IV in 1464.

  • 1453 – Mary Stewart, Countess of Arran was born (d. 1488). She was the eldest daughter of King James II of Scotland & Mary of Guelders.


14 May

14 May 1264

Battle of Lewes: Henry III of England is captured & forced to sign the Mise of Lewes, making Simon de Montfort the de facto ruler of England.


Other 14 May history;

  • 1541 Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury was executed (b.1473). She was the only surviving daughter of George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence, a brother of Kings Edward IV & Richard III (all sons of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York), by his wife Isabel Neville. Thomas Cromwell produced a tunic bearing the Five Wounds of Christ, symbolising Margaret's support for Catholicism & the rule of her son Reginald & the king's Catholic daughter Mary. The 'supposed' discovery, six months after her house & effects were searched at her arrest, is likely to have been a fabrication. She was held in the Tower of London for two & a half years before her execution.

  • 1610 – Henry IV of France is assassinated by Catholic zealot François Ravaillac. Also known by the epithet Good King Henry or Henry the Great, Henry was King of Navarre (as Henry III) from 1572 & King of France from 1589 to 1610. He was the first monarch of France from the House of Bourbon.


15 May
King George III of Great Britain

15 May 1800

Double assassination attempt on king George III.


15 May 1981

Zara Anne Elizabeth Tindall MBE (née Phillips; born 15 May 1981) was born

Tindall is a British equestrian, an Olympian, & the daughter of Princess Anne & Captain Mark Phillips. She is the eldest granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II & Prince Philip. At birth, she was sixth in the line of succession to the British throne; she is currently 22nd in line. Tindall won the Eventing World Championship in Aachen in 2006. That same year, she was voted 2006 BBC Sports Personality of the Year by the public. She was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2007 New Year Honours for her services to equestrianism. In 2012, she carried an Olympic flame at Cheltenham Racecourse on her horse Toytown.

As a member of the Great Britain Eventing Team, she won a silver medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics, presented to her by her mother. She married rugby union player Mike Tindall (b. 1978) in 2011. The couple has three children; Mia Grace (born 17 January 2014); Lena Elizabeth (born on 18 June 2018) & Lucas Philip (born 21 March 2021)


Other 15 May history;

  • 1464 - Battle of Hexham - wars of the roses. The Battle of Hexham, marked the end of significant Lancastrian resistance in the north of England during the early part of the reign of Edward IV.

  • 1536 – Anne Boleyn, Queen of England, stands trial in London on charges of treason, adultery & incest; she is condemned to death by a specially-selected jury.

  • 1567 - Mary, Queen of Scots married James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, her third husband.


16 May

16 May 1991

Queen Elizabeth II addresses a joint session of the United States Congress.

She is the first British monarch to address the U.S. Congress. “I do hope you can see me today,” the Queen joked before beginning her remarks. The Queen “immediately established a rapport with the audience” Her remarks—which the Queen read from paper instead of a teleprompter, & which had been drafted by the British Embassy because modern British monarchs do not express independent policy opinions or political viewpoints—quickly developed a more serious tenor. She thanked the United States for its leadership in the Persian Gulf War & in previous armed conflicts & stressed the necessity of continued cooperation between the nations. As the Cold War struggle among superpowers wound down, the Queen warned against isolationism & discouraged any reliance on force to solve international problems. “Some people believe that power grows from the barrel of the gun. So it can, but history shows that it never grows well nor for very long,” she said. “Force in the end, is sterile. We have gone a better way; our societies rest on mutual agreement, on contract & on consensus.” During her 15-minute speech the Queen received several long applauses as well as a standing ovation when she concluded by saying, “May God Bless America.”


Other 16 May history;

  • 1532 – Sir Thomas More resigns as Lord Chancellor of England. More opposed Henry VIII's separation from the Catholic Church, refusing to acknowledge Henry as supreme head of the Church of England & the annulment of his marriage to Katharine of Aragon. After refusing to take the Oath of Supremacy, he was convicted of treason & executed.

  • 1568 – Mary, Queen of Scots, flees to England.


17 May

King Henry III of England

17 May 1220

Henry III coronation at Westminster Abbey.

Henry III (1 October 1207 – 16 November 1272), also known as Henry of Winchester, was King of England, Lord of Ireland, & Duke of Aquitaine from 1216 until his death in 1272. The son of King John & Isabella of Angoulême, Henry assumed the throne when he was only nine in the middle of the First Barons' War.

Henry was staying safely at Corfe Castle in Dorset with his mother when King John died during The First Baron's War. On his deathbed, John appointed a council of thirteen executors to help nine year old Henry reclaim the kingdom, & requested that his son be placed into the guardianship of William Marshal, one of the most famous knights in England. The loyalist leaders decided to crown Henry at Gloucester Cathedral immediately to reinforce his claim to the throne. William knighted the boy, & Cardinal Guala Bicchieri, the papal legate to England, then oversaw his coronation at Gloucester Cathedral on 28 October 1216. In the absence of Archbishops Stephen Langton of Canterbury & Walter de Gray of York, he was anointed by Sylvester, Bishop of Worcester, & Simon, Bishop of Exeter, & crowned by Peter des Roches. The royal crown had been either lost or sold during the civil war or possibly lost in The Wash, so instead the ceremony used a simple gold corolla belonging to Queen Isabella.

Cardinal Guala declared the war against the rebel barons to be a religious crusade & Henry's forces, led by William Marshal, defeated the rebels at the battles of Lincoln & Sandwich in 1217. Henry later underwent a second coronation at Westminster Abbey on 17 May 1220.


17 May 1939

King George VI & Queen Elizabeth, arrived in Quebec on the first visit to Canada by a reigning British monarch.


Other 17 May history;

  • 1536 – Henry VIII & Anne Boleyn's marriage is annulled.

  • 1590 – Anne of Denmark (wife of James VI & I) is crowned Queen of Scotland.

  • 1768 - Caroline of Brunswick was born (d.1821). She was Queen of the United Kingdom & Hanover as the wife of King George IV from 29 January 1820 until her death in 1821. She was Princess of Wales from 1795 to 1820.

  • 2008 - Peter Phillips (son of Princess Anne & Captain Mark Phillips) married Autumn Phillips.


18 May

14th-century representation of Henry and Eleanor
14th-century representation of Henry & Eleanor

18 May 1152 (Whit Sunday)

Henry II, King of England (then Duke of Normandy) married Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Henry & Eleanor had eight children—three daughters & five sons. Three of his sons would be king, though Henry the Young King was named his father's co-ruler rather than a stand-alone king.

12th-century depiction of Henry and Eleanor of Aquitaine holding court
12th-century depiction of Henry & Eleanor of Aquitaine holding court

Henry II (5 March 1133 – 6 July 1189) was King of England from 1154 until his death in 1189. He was the first king of the House of Plantagenet. King Louis VII of France made him Duke of Normandy in 1150. Henry became Count of Anjou & Maine upon the death of his father, Count Geoffrey V, in 1151. His marriage in 1152 to Eleanor of Aquitaine, whose marriage to Louis VII had recently been annulled, made him Duke of Aquitaine. He became Count of Nantes by treaty in 1185. Before he was 40 he controlled England, large parts of Wales, the eastern half of Ireland & the western half of France; an area that was later called the Angevin Empire. At various times, Henry also partially controlled Scotland & the Duchy of Brittany.

Eleanor (c. 1122 – 1 April 1204; French: Aliénor d'Aquitaine) was Queen of France from 1137 to 1152 as the wife of King Louis VII, Queen of England from 1154 to 1189 as the wife of King Henry II, & Duchess of Aquitaine in her own right from 1137 until her death in 1204. As the heiress of the House of Poitiers which controlled much of southwestern France, she was one of the wealthiest & most powerful women in western Europe during the High Middle Ages. She was patron of literary figures such as Wace, Benoît de Sainte-Maure, & Bernart de Ventadorn. She was a key leading figure of the unsuccessful Second Crusade.

13th-century depiction of Henry and his legitimate children: (l to r) William, Young Henry, Richard, Matilda, Geoffrey, Eleanor, Joan and John
13th-century depiction of Henry & his legitimate children: (l to r) William, Young Henry, Richard, Matilda, Geoffrey, Eleanor, Joan & John


Other 18 May history;

  • 1797 Charlotte, Princess Royal married Frederick I of Württemberg. Charlotte was She was the eldest daughter & fourth child of King George III of the United Kingdom & his wife, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.


19 May

Anne Boleyn, Queen of England

19 May 1536

Anne Boleyn was executed

Henry had Anne investigated for high treason in April 1536. On 2 May she was arrested & sent to the Tower of London, where she was tried before a jury of peers & found guilty on 15 May. .

On the morning of Friday 19 May, Anne Boleyn was executed within the Tower precincts. She wore a red petticoat under a loose, dark grey gown of damask trimmed in fur & a mantle of ermine. Accompanied by two female attendants, Anne made her final walk from the Queen's House to the scaffold & she showed a "devilish spirit" & looked "as gay as if she was not going to die".

Anne climbed the scaffold & made a short speech to the crowd: "Good Christian people, I am come hither to die, for according to the law, & by the law I am judged to die, & therefore I will speak nothing against it. I am come hither to accuse no man, nor to speak anything of that, whereof I am accused & condemned to die, but I pray God save the king & send him long to reign over you, for a gentler nor a more merciful prince was there never: & to me he was ever a good, a gentle & sovereign lord. And if any person will meddle of my cause, I require them to judge the best. And thus I take my leave of the world & of you all, & I heartily desire you all to pray for me. O Lord have mercy on me, to God I commend my soul."

The ermine mantle was removed & Anne lifted off her headdress, tucking her hair under a coif. After a brief farewell to her weeping ladies & a request for prayers, she kneeled down & one of her ladies tied a blindfold over her eyes. She knelt upright, in the French style of executions. Her final prayer consisted of her repeating continually, "Jesu receive my soul; O Lord God have pity on my soul."

The execution consisted of a single stroke. She was then buried in an unmarked grave in the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula. Her skeleton was identified during renovations of the chapel in 1876, in the reign of Queen Victoria, & Anne's resting place is now marked in the marble floor.


Queen Charlotte, wife of George III

19 May 1744

Queen Charlotte was born

Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (later queen consort to King George III) was born at Untere Schloss, Mirow, Holy Roman Empire (now Germany).

She was the youngest daughter of Duke Charles Louis Frederick of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Prince of Mirow and his wife Princess Elizabeth Albertine of Saxe-Hildburghausen. Mecklenburg-Strelitz was a small north German duchy in the Holy Roman Empire. Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz married King George III in 1761. She was Queen of Great Britain & Ireland from their marriage in 1761 until the union of the two kingdoms in 1801, after which she was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland until her death in 1818. She was also the Electress of Hanover in the Holy Roman Empire until the promotion of her husband to King of Hanover on 12 October 1814, after which she was also queen consort of Hanover.

Queen Charlotte was a patroness of the arts & an amateur botanist, who helped expand Kew Gardens. George III & Charlotte had 15 children, 13 of whom survived to adulthood. She was distressed by her husband's bouts of physical illness & insanity, which became permanent in later life & resulted in their eldest son (George IV) being appointed Prince Regent in 1810.

Charlotte died at Kew Palace aged 74 on 17 November 1818.


19 May 1939 - George VI grants Royal Assent to laws in the Canadian Senate.

19 May 1939

George VI grants Royal Assent to laws in the Canadian Senate.

On 19 May, George VI personally accepted & approved the Letter of Credence of the new U.S. Ambassador to Canada, Daniel Calhoun Roper; gave Royal Assent to nine parliamentary bills; & ratified two international treaties with the Great Seal of Canada.

The official royal tour historian, Gustave Lanctot, wrote "the Statute of Westminster had assumed full reality" & George gave a speech emphasising "the free & equal association of the nations of the Commonwealth". In May & June 1939, the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth toured Canada & the United States. From Ottawa, they were accompanied throughout by Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, to present themselves in North America as King & Queen of Canada. George was the first reigning monarch of Canada to visit North America, although he had been to Canada previously as Prince Albert & as Duke of York.

Although the aim of the tour was mainly political, to shore up Atlantic support for the United Kingdom in any future war, the King & Queen were enthusiastically received by the public. The fear that George would be compared unfavourably to his predecessor, Edward VIII, was dispelled. They visited the 1939 New York World's Fair & stayed with President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the White House & at his private estate at Hyde Park, New York. A strong bond of friendship was forged between the King & Queen & the President during the tour, which had major significance in the relations between the United States & the United Kingdom through the ensuing war years

George VI and his royal consort, Queen Elizabeth, walking through Queen's Park, Toronto, May 1939
George VI & Queen Elizabeth, walking through Queen's Park, Toronto, May 1939