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English Monarchs -- Anonymous

Guest poem requested by Christie le Goy, and
almost simultaneously submitted by Christopher Martin:
(Poem #1361) English Monarchs
 Willie Willie Harry Stee
 Harry Dick John Harry three;
 One two three Neds, Richard two
 Harrys four five six... then who?
 Edwards four five, Dick the bad,
 Harrys (twain), Ned six (the lad);
 Mary, Bessie, James you ken,
 Then Charlie, Charlie, James again...
 Will and Mary, Anna Gloria,
 Georges four, Will four, Victoria;
 Edward seven next, and then
 Came George the fifth in nineteen ten;
 Ned the eighth soon abdicated
 Then George six was coronated;
 After which Elizabeth
 And that's all folks until her death.
-- Anonymous
[Christopher's comments]

I first read a version of this in Alan Bennett's play "Forty Years On"
which however stopped at Victoria. This version I found on the web at
There are no doubt many others.

For those who aren't immediately reminded by it of their school years,
the scrap of verse is supposed to put you in mind of:

William the Conqueror
William II (Rufus)
Henry I (Beauclerc)
Stephen (of Blois)
Henry II (Curtmantle)
Richard I (Lionheart)
John (Lackland)
Henry III
Edward I (Longshanks)
Edward II
Edward III
Richard II
Henry IV (Bolingbroke)
Henry V
Henry VI
Edward IV
Edward V
Richard III (Crookback)
Henry VII (Tudor)
Henry VIII
Edward VI
Mary I (Queen of Scots)
Elizabeth I
James VI of Scotland and I of England
Charles I
Charles II
James II
William II
Mary II
Anne (dead)
George I
George II
George III
George IV
William IV
Edward VII
George V
Edward VIII (abdicated)
George VI
Elizabeth II

[Not mentioned in the list or the mnemonic are the Empress Matilda, only
surviving legitimate child of Henry I, and mother of Henry II, who was
deposed by her cousin Stephen; and Lady Jane Grey, who was queen for
nine days in 1553 - t.]

[Also omitted are the monarchs who ruled prior to the Battle of
Hastings, though looking at their names -- Egbert and Aethelwulf through
Eadwig and Svein to Hardicanute and Harold -- it's not hard to see why -

96 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Christie le Goy said...

I enjoyed today's poem about the old English counties, and wonder if you
have ever heard the lines of doggerel listing all the kings and queens of
England. It begins:

Willie, willie, henry, john

(I think)

and goes on in a very catchy way to list the lot in sequence.

Have often wished to have a complete version of it; it used to be chanted by
a few well-informed guides in Westminster Abbey.

Christie le Goy

Steve Chernicoff said...

Loved the poem on the English monarchs; but I do want to correct a minor
factual error in Christopher Martin's explanatory comment:

: Mary I (Queen of Scots)

Er, um, nope. Queen Mary I of England was "Bloody Mary," the daughter of
Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon--not her cousin Mary Queen of Scots,
granddaughter of Henry VIII's sister Margaret Tudor and mother of James I.
Even I know this--and I'm a Yank! :-)


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Lynd Mike said...

There are various endings to this for the recent monarchs, as follows:

Edward the Seventh, and then
George the Fifth in 1910.
Edward the Eighth did abdicate,
Then George the Sixth did rule the state.


Edward the Seventh, George the Fifth,
Edward the Eighth and George the Sixth.


Ned Seventh ruled till 1910,
When George the Fifth came in, and then
Ned went when Mrs Simpson beckoned,
Leaving George and Liz the Second.

Best wishes,
Mike Lynd

Abraham Thomas said...

Christopher Martin wrote:

> Well, I didn't add the gloss "Queen of Scots" and I don't
> know who did. It's an error - Steve Chernicoff is quite right,
> and I'm glad to hear that U.S. standards of education were so
> high in his day.

Oops, mea culpa. Christopher's original poem submission email had a few
nicknames typed in; I added the rest from memory. Evidently my memory
wasn't up to scratch; in short, I goofed. I will email an apology and
correction to the list along with tomorrow's poem.

Christopher, please accept my apologies for the error (and worse still,
allowing readers to form the impression that the error was yours).


Merrill Pye said...

ERROR - in your explanatory list, you say that
the Mary before Elizabeth I was Mary, Queen of
Scots. Not so.

She's Henry 8th's eldest child, the daughter of
him & his first wife Katherine of Aragon. It was
because of her not being male that he divorced
Kate & broke with the Roman Catholic church.

When the young Edward 6th (Henry's only son & a
strong Protestant) died young, she was the next
in line. Being a fervent Catholic, she engaged
in a lot of persecution of the Church of England
and Protestant people who had come up through
Henry's & Edward's reigns. They called her
Bloody Mary - now mostly commemorated in liquid

Henry's final child Elizabeth - daughter of the
Anne Boleyn for whom he divorced Mary's mother -
then became Queen because Mary's (extremely
unpopular) marriage to Philip of Spain left no

Mary, Queen of Scots (not of English - they were
separate kingdoms at the time) was related to
Henry (niece?). She was Queen of Scotland at the
same time Elizabeth was Queen of England, Wales &
(sort of) Ireland.

When Bess, The Virgin Queen, died childless,
Mary's child James 6th, King of Scotland, was
also able to claim the English throne & proclaim
a "United Kingdom" through that relationship ...
eventually leading to the Civil War, Cromwell's
Puritans setting up their Commonwealth, the
Restoration, the Bloodless Revolution & a whole
buncha other stuff we often forget it took to get
to democracy & other things we value (as well as
troubles that continue) today.

Dafydd Urchurdan said...

Just a note on the comments following the poem for Sept. 30. In the list
of English monarchs it states that Mary I was Queen of Scots which is
incorrect. Mary I was Mary Tudor, also known as Bloody Mary, the daughter
of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. Mary Stuart, Mary Queen of Scots,
never ruled England. Actually she was imprisoned by Elizabeth I of England
from 1568 to 1587 when she was executed by the Elizabeth's order.

ceb56 said...

Another alternative ending is

Edward Seven, Georgie Five,
Ned and George and Liz (alive).


ps - links to most recent poems seem to be mixed up - I think the
numberings gone wrong somewhere; this is supposed to be a comment on
'English Monarchs' so apologies if it ends up attached to the wrong poem!

Fluffykt said...

Does anyone know the Monarch listing poem that starts:

William the Conquerorm ten-sixty-six,
Then William called Rufus, as red as old bricks,
Then Henry the First, but nobody reckoned
He'd ever be followed by Henry the Second
'Cause the barons broke out under Stephan and Maude
To pillage and plunder, to rob and maraud

I remember more, but not all of it. Read it many years ago but have never
been able to find it again!

Pat Myers

Alison Randall said...

Love the mnemonic. Does anyone know the one for remembering all of the
battles in the English Civlil War?

Kevin Morley said...

I really enjoyed this poem as a boy but does anyone remember the poem which
starts "William the first was the first of our kings not counting Ethelreds
Egberts and things. He had himself crowned and anointed and blessed in 106-,
I need'nt tell you the rest"
Kevin Morley

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