Medieval Kings

Who Was the First King of England?

Alfred the Great is considered by many to be the 'first true king of England', a King that ruled all of England and not just parts of it, he ruled over the Angles and Saxons.

Alfred the Great was King of the Anglo Saxons from around the year 886. Alfred may not have been strictly the 'first King' in England as there are other Kings that historians mention in the Anglo Saxon times such as 'Offa of Mercia' or 'Egbert of Wessex', However it is widely thought that 'Alfred the Great' was the first King to unify most of England and thus the First real King of England.

However it was actually 'Alfred the Great's' son 'Edward the Elder' who was able to take control of previously unconquered parts of England such eastern and northern regions that were under the control of the Danes from Scandinavia and were called 'Danelaw'.

Some Historians argue that it was actually 'Edward the Elder's' son 'Æthelstan' that was the First true king of England as he was able to conquer Northumbria in 927 and this meant that he was the first king to completely control the whole of England - there are different opinions however the majority of Historians consider the first true King of England to be the first unifiying king 'Alfred the Great'.

In 1066 William the conqueror invaded England in the Battle of Hastings and brought Norman rule and his feudal system, which allowed this foreign medieval king to control the entire kingdom of England with authority in time

Much of the medieval times was dominated by different Dynasties and as such many kings ruled England such as Norman, Plantagenent and Tudor Kings - probably one of the most famous kings of medieval times was king Henry VIII who is remembered for his violent temper and six wives.

Early Medieval Kings

Medieval Kings King Cnut - Skt Knud den Hellige

Early medieval kings did not have the sophistication of later medieval kings and therefore ruled smaller territories and were not absolute rulers Read more about the Early Medieval Kings >>

Famous Medieval Kings

Famous Medieval Kings who left their mark on History were William the Conqueror, Robert the Bruce, Henry VIII and Frederick Barbarossa Read more about the Famous Medieval Kings >>

Lancaster and York Kings

King Richard III - King of England

King Henry V was probably one of the most famous Kings during the Royal house of Lancaster and York period Read more about the Lancaster and York Kings >>

Norman Kings

King William Rufus of England

The Norman Kings introduced dramatic changes to England. The Norman Kings removed the old class system and introduced their own feudal system that was designed to empower the Norman Kings. Read more about the Norman Kings >>

Plantagenet Kings

King Richard II of England

Famous Plantagenet Kings such as Richard the Lionheart and Henry II made their mark on medieval history. Plantagenet Kings also created Parliament (House of Commons) Oxford and Cambridge universities. Read more about the Plantagenet Kings >>

Tudor Kings

Tudor Period Coat of Arms

Henry VIII was probably the most famous Tudor king and was the second king of the Tudor Dynasty, Tudor King Henry VIII famously had six wives Read more about the Tudor Kings >>

Medieval Kings Definition

A man who holds by hereditary right and chief authority over a country or state and its people was a common medieval kings definition.

There were other definitions of medieval kings such as a male monarch of a major territorial unit. Some said a king is a paramount chief who ruled for life.

Medieval Kings and kings in general came into power in several different ways. In some cultures, the right of a king’s to rule was part of his blood.

When a king died, his eldest son became the king, this was referred to as hereditary succession. However, if the king did not have a son, his brother was usually appointed as the new king. Other kings, however, came into power by winning battles and conquering lands during wars.

Medieval Kings Duties

The king’s power was mostly limited to feudal nobles and other powerful men in his monarch. Kings were sworn with an oath to fulfill his responsibilities, especially to the monarch, although the details of the oath varied from one kingdom to another.

Medieval Kings Childhood

A Medieval Kings’ Childhood was not easy and as part of the royal family, there were also subjected to threats. The king’s eldest son may already have his future laid out for him – to be the next king.

Most royals and nobles did not see the family as a source of happiness. Most young kings thought of succession as a duty to the kingdom. Young men and women of the royal families were put into marriage and more often than not, it was common practice among the royal families to arrange marriages for the children years ahead, especially the eldest son who was going to be king.

As a child, a king enjoyed many privileges to create an impression among the common people. However, various responsibilities came with these privileges.

Just as knights were taught the artistry of battle at a young age, so did the young kings. Training on military tactics, combat techniques, study of their country’s history and the surrounding nations were part of their education.

Medieval Kings Education

Most common people were not educated during the medieval period. However, medieval kings’ education usually started with tutors.

Young boys from the noble and royal families learned fundamentals of Latin and Liberal Arts. Young kings were also taught about court life, manners and other teachings, including military tactics and combat techniques.

A Medieval king’s education included games being played at an early age, allowing them to learn how to use a sword, riding, jousting and fighting.

Some young kings would go hunting and hawking for royal pursuits. Studying the Bible as well as studying about their history, native language and other languages also became part of a medieval king’s education.

Medieval kings’ education was strict and rigid. Lessons started at sunrise and ended at sunset. Spring months education lasted longer than winter months as they could spend more time studying during the spring or summer.

Medieval Kings Life in a Castle

Castles were built as a means of protection for the king. A Medieval king’s life in a castle was mostly comfortable. Kings had their own private chambers as opposed to the large rooms that knights shared among themselves.

Most castles had great halls where the medieval king used to hold events in the castle such as celebrations, feasts, banquets and meetings.

Medieval Kings activities at the castle included attending to business and political matters concerning him and his people. Some kings summoned lords to participate in these activities as well.

Part of the medieval kings’ life in a castle is a court. This was a term used to describe the king’s household and the council. Kings sought advice from the wise men of his court and these men consisted mostly of barons, lords, bishops, members of the church and sometimes, relatives.

Medieval kings did not really stay in castles all the time. A common pastime for kings and noblemen was hunting. Other forms of entertainment were also embraced.

Board games were a common and essential part of medieval kings’ life in castle to help fight boredom. Musicians, entertainers such as jugglers were also hired and invited to perform at the king’s court.

Food of a Medieval King

The kitchen was one of the most important parts of the castle. Whenever the king was around, banquets were usually held. The food of a medieval king was almost always extravagant.

Most of the menus for banquets were very extensive. However, only smaller portions were usually consumed. More often than not, social etiquette had influence over the choice of food prepared during the feast.

Good food was always part of each feast. This included colored jellies, different kinds of meat and livestock, swans and peacocks.

A variety of dishes were also served to the kings and noblemen. The food for a medieval king were mostly from meat or fish and were served with spicy sauces and spices were very popular during the medieval era.

Medieval King Facts

Here are some medieval king facts:

  • Many kings during the early medieval period were not able to read and write.
  • Kings had a special seal used to stamp official documents. This signified that the document was genuine.
  • Kings were expected to lead their men into battle.
  • Kings also claimed their right to rule by God in order to maintain control
  • Only when the king ran out of money or when an army was needed for war were more taxes imposed among the people.
  • Kings sought approval from the church and the pope.
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