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Visualizing 1,000 Years of England’s Kings and Queens

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Visualizing 1000 Years of England’s Kings and Queens

Visualizing 1,000 Years of England’s Kings and Queens

As far back as the 9th century, when Athelstan, grandson of Alfred the Great, became King, England has had a ruling monarchy.

Many countries have had monarchies at some point in history, though few are still recognized today. However, England’s monarchy is very much present, with the most recent sovereign, Queen Elizabeth II, having reigned for over 70 years.

This visualization by Neil Richards illustrates the reigns of England’s kings and queens from 1066 to 2021.

England’s Kings and Queens (1066–2021)

The English monarchy is passed from generation to generation, from parent to eldest child, a tradition that started with the sovereign William I (also known as William the Conqueror).

Up until 1702, this order of succession only applied to male heirs, until Parliament passed the Act of Settlement which allowed women to inherit the throne if a male heir was unavailable. Not until 2013 were these rules further updated to allow a female to inherit the throne if she is the eldest child, regardless of male heirs.

MonarchReign Length of Reign (Years)
William I1066–108720
William II1087–110012
Henry I1100–113535
Stephen 1135–115418
Henry II1154–118934
Richard I1189–119909
John 1199–121617
Henry III1216–127256
Edward I1272–130734
Edward II1307–132719
Edward III1327–137750
Richard II1377–139922
Henry IV1399–141313
Henry V1413–142209
Henry VI1422–146138
Edward IV1461–147009
Henry VI1470–14710.5 (191 days)
Edward IV1471–148311
Edward V14830.2 (78 days)
Richard III1483–148502
Henry VII1485–150923
Henry VIII1509–154737
Edward VI 1547–155306
Jane15530.02 (9 days)
Mary I1553–155805
Elizabeth I1558–160344
James I1603–162522
Charles I1625–164923
Charles II1660–168524
James II1685–168803
Mary II1689–169405
William III1689–170213
Anne1702–171412
George I1714–172712
George II1727–176033
George III1760–182059
George IV1820–183010
William IV1830–183706
Victoria 1837–190163
Edward VII1901–191009
George V1910–193625
Edward VIII19360.9 (327 days)
George VI1936–195215
Elizabeth II1952–Present70+

One notable time frame missing is 1650–1659, which had no reigning monarch following the beheading of Charles I in 1649. Instead, England was ruled by Parliament in a period known as the Commonwealth of England, which lasted until 1653. That year, a coup d’état led by Oliver Cromwell ensued, leading to the eventual restoration of the monarchy in 1660, reigned by Charles II.

Other reigns of interest include the shortest reigning monarch, Jane, who held the throne for just nine days in 1553. Previously, King Edward VI had overruled the order of succession in naming Jane his heir. This was disputed and Edward VI’s half-sister, Mary I, was then crowned.

The longest reigning monarch is Elizabeth II, who had been on the throne for over 70 years. Before her, the longest reign was held by Victoria, Elizabeth II’s great-great-grandmother, from 1837 to 1901 (63 years).

Why Does England’s Monarchy Still Exist?

Today, the English monarchy is largely symbolic. The monarch serves as the Head of State in a ceremonial position, while Parliament, a representative government body headed by the Prime Minister, holds all real political power.

Instead, the monarch’s main duty is to provide ceremonial speeches and formal appearances, specifically for the opening of each new Parliament and on holidays and other special occasions. Though the Prime Minister briefs the monarch regularly on national affairs, it is understood that they will never provide opinions on political matters nor make any final decisions.

This beginning of this shift in political power was first established in 1215 with the signing of the Magna Carta by King John. Essentially one of the first written constitutions, it recognized the King and all future sovereigns as being subject to the law, not above it.

The Future of the Monarchy

Currently next in line to the throne is the Queen’s eldest son Charles, Prince of Wales, followed by his eldest son William, Duke of Cambridge.

And though there is much criticism of England’s monarchy as an outdated, expensive and inegalitarian system, the majority of England’s citizens are still in favor of the institution.

Advocates for a reigning king or queen look at the monarch’s role in unifying the nation and providing reassurance in times of uncertainty. They see the royal family as a symbol for their country, bringing in massive revenues in tourism.

With 61% of polled British adults in 2021 believing that the monarchy should stay, it is safe to assume that the institution will continue in the near future. But as the world continues to shift around us, how will that attitude evolve over time?

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This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.

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Misc

Infographic: The Next Characters to Enter the Public Domain

This infographic shows which popular characters will be entering the public domain over the next 15 years.

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Infographic showing which popular characters that will enter public domain in coming years

The Next Characters to Enter the Public Domain

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Copyright is a type of intellectual property right that protects authors’ original works, meaning that their art cannot be used without approval. However, copyright protections do not last forever—eventually, all original work will enter the public domain.

In this graphic, we visualize the popular characters that are set to enter the public domain in the next 15 years, using data compiled from several sources.

How Does a Character Enter the Public Domain?

The amount of time a given work is protected by copyright varies, but this window typically lasts 70 years after the author’s death or 95 years after publication. Once the copyright expires, the work enters the public domain, signaling time for anyone to enjoy and interact with them without legal repercussions.

Which Characters Will Have Their Copyrights Expire Next?

The Brothers Grimm version of Snow White has already had its copyright expire. However, Disney’s iconic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs version will only enter public domain in 2032.

On January 1st, 2024, the Steamboat Willie versions of Mickey and Minnie Mouse entered public domain (and already, content creators are seizing the opportunity). The modern version of Mickey Mouse will follow suit in roughly 15 years.

Below is a list of popular characters that will be entering the public domain in coming years.

CharacterYear expected to enter the public domain
Sleeping Beautyalready public domain
Snow Whitealready public domain
Pinocchioalready public domain
Peter Panalready public domain
Tinkerbellalready public domain
Captain Hookalready public domain
Winnie-the-Poohalready public domain
Mickey Mouse (Steamboat Willie version)already public domain
Minnie Mouse (Steamboat Willie version)already public domain
Popeye2025
Pluto2026
Betty Boop2026
Goofy2028
Donald Duck2029
King Kong2029
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (Disney version)2032
Superman2034
Bugs Bunny2035
Batman2035
Joker2036
Captain America2036
Wonder Woman2037
Mickey Mouse (Disney version)2037
Bambie2038

Several of Mickey’s companions—including Pluto (2026), Goofy (2028), and Donald Duck (2029)—will be entering public domain in the next five years along with Betty Boop (2026), King Kong (2029), and Bugs Bunny (2035).

The copyright on many of DC Comics’ stars—like Superman, Batman, the Joker, and Wonder Woman—will expire in the 2030s.

If you found this interesting, check out this visualization on the world’s top media franchises of all-time by revenue.

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