Regnal years of English monarchs

The following is a list of the official regnal years of the monarchs of the Kingdom of England, Kingdom of Great Britain and United Kingdom from 1066. The regnal calendar ("nth year of the reign of King X", etc.) is used in many official British government and legal documents of historical interest, notably parliamentary statutes.

Overview

For centuries, English official public documents have been dated by the regnal years of the ruling monarch. Traditionally, parliamentary statutes are referenced by regnal year, e.g. the Occasional Conformity Act of 1711 is officially referenced as "10 Anne c.6" (read as "the sixth chapter of the statute of the parliamentary session that sat in the 10th year of the reign of Queen Anne").

Regnal years are calculated from the official date (year, month and day) of a monarch's accession. For example, King George III acceded on 25 October 1760. That marks the beginning of his first regnal year. His second regnal year starts on 25 October 1761, his third regnal year on 25 October 1762, and so on. When a monarch dies, abdicates or is deposed, the regnal year comes to an end (whether the full year has run its course or not). A new regnal year begins from a new date, with a new monarch.

As different monarchs begin their reigns at different times, the exact month and day when a regnal year begins varies across reigns. For example, Elizabeth I's regnal year starts on 17 November, James I's on 24 March, Charles I's on 27 March, and so on.

The regnal year is distinct from the official "legal year" – that is, the calendar used for legal, civic and ecclesiastical purposes. The legal year also did not always coincide with the start date for the historical year. Until the 13th century, the English legal year began at Christmas (25 December). From the 14th century until 1752, the legal year began on 25 March. It is only since 1752 that the legal year was re-set to coincide with the start of the historical calendar year (1 January) (see Calendar (New Style) Act 1750).[1]

These date differences can also be confusing when sorting dates in old documents before 1753. For example, the reign of Charles I came to an end with his execution on 30 January 1649, but contemporary legal records such as the House of Commons Journals record this as 30 January 1648.[2] To account for this complication, it is customary for historians referring to legal events between 1 January and 25 March to write the year down in "double-barreled" format (e.g. "30 January, 1648-49", the former being the legal year, the latter the historical year).

The regnal years listed below are given in normal historical date (not legal year). So a parliamentary statute that was passed on, say, 10 February 1585 (in normal calendar date) would be dated in the official record as 10 February 1584 (the legal year), and simultaneously said to have been passed in the 27th year of Elizabeth I (the regnal year that started on 17 November 1584).[1]

The 1750 Act reforming the legal year also officially introduced to England the Gregorian calendar on Thursday 14 September 1752. Up until then, England had been using the Julian calendar, which by that time was eleven days behind the calendar of most countries on the European Continent. So events before 1752 in English records often differ from European records, and it is sometimes necessary to refer to both sets of dates using "Old Style" (Julian) and "New Style" (Gregorian) notation, e.g. William of Orange's armada landed in England on November 5, 1688 (OS) or November 15, 1688 (NS)(see Old Style and New Style dates). The dates in the table below follow the English calendar (OS until 1752, NS thereafter).

The following table gives the dates of the regnal years for Kings of England (and subsequently Great Britain), from 1066 to the present day.[3] These are official de jure dates, and may or may not coincide with whether a particular king had de facto power or not at that time. For example, as the Commonwealth era was suppressed in the official record, the regnal years of Charles II are measured from 30 January 1649 (the day his father Charles I was executed); as a result, when Charles II actually became king, on 29 May 1660, he was already in his 12th regnal year. (For the de facto tabulation of English rulers, see any conventional list of English monarchs.)

Regnal calendar table

To calculate the regnal year from a particular date, just subtract the calendar year from the first regnal year. If the month and day fall before the regnal date, do nothing; if it falls on or after the regnal date, add one.

  • Example 1: 4 July 1776. This falls in the reign of George III, whose first regnal year is 1760; so 1776 – 1760 = 16th year of his reign (4 July is before 25 October).
  • Example 2: 2 May 1662. This is in the reign of Charles II, whose first regnal year is 1649. So 1662 – 1649 = 13, add 1 because 2 May is after 30 January, so the date falls in the 14th regnal year of Charles II.
Monarch No. of years First regnal year Regnal year start date Regnal year end date End of final year
William I 21 1066 14 October 13 October 9 Sep 1087
William II 13 1087 26 September 25 September 2 Aug 1100
Henry I 36 1100 5 August 4 August 1 Dec 1135
Stephen 19 1135 26 December 25 December 25 Oct 1154
Henry II 35 1154 19 December 18 December 6 Jul 1189
Richard I 10 1189 3 September 2 September 6 Apr 1199
John 18 1199 May (Ascension Day)[a] May (varied) 19 Oct 1216
Henry III 57 1216 28 October 27 October 16 Nov 1272
Edward I 35 1272 20 November 20 November[b] 7 Jul 1307
Edward II 20 1307 8 July 7 July 20 Jan 1327
Edward III 51 (England),
38 (France)[c]
1327 25 January 24 January 21 Jun 1377
Richard II 23 1377 22 June[d] 21 June 29 Sep 1399
Henry IV 14 1399 30 September 29 September 20 Mar 1413
Henry V 10 1413 21 March 20 March 31 Aug 1422
Henry VI 39 + 1[e] 1422 1 September 31 August 4 Mar 1461
Edward IV 23 1461 4 March 3 March 9 Apr 1483
Edward V 1 1483 9 April 25 June 25 Jun 1483
Richard III 3 1483 26 June 25 June 22 Aug 1485
Henry VII 24 1485 22 August 21 August 21 Apr 1509
Henry VIII 38 1509 22 April 21 April 28 Jan 1547
Edward VI 7 1547 28 January 27 January 6 Jul 1553
Mary I 2 1553 6 July[f] 5 July 24 Jul 1554[g]
"Philip and Mary" 5 & 6[g] 1554 25 July 24 July 17 Nov 1558
Elizabeth I 45 1558 17 November 16 November 24 Mar 1603
James I 23 1603 25 March[h] 24 March 27 Mar 1625
Charles I 24 1625 27 March 26 March 30 Jan 1649
Charles II 37[i] 1649 30 January 29 January 6 Feb 1685
James II 4 1685 6 February 5 February 11 Dec 1688[j]
"William and Mary" 6 1689 13 February[k] 12 February 27 Dec 1694
William III 8
(7 to 14)[l]
1694 28 December[l] 27 December 8 Mar 1702
Anne 13 1702 8 March 7 March 1 Aug 1714
George I 13 1714 1 August 31 July 11 Jun 1727
George II 34 1727 11 June 10 June 25 Oct 1760
George III 60[m] 1760 25 October 24 October 29 Jan 1820
George IV 11[n] 1820 29 January 28 January 26 Jun 1830
William IV 7 1830 26 June 25 June 20 Jun 1837
Victoria 64 1837 20 June 19 June 22 Jan 1901
Edward VII 10 1901 22 January 21 January 6 May 1910
George V 26 1910 6 May 5 May 20 Jan 1936
Edward VIII 1 1936 20 January 11 December 11 Dec 1936
George VI 16 1936 11 December 10 December 5 Feb 1952[4]
Elizabeth II (ongoing;
2019 = 67 Eliz. 2 – 68 Eliz. 2)
1952 6 February 5 February

See also

Copyright