England’ Invasions


A few Invasions and Conquests of England since 1066

For those with just a passing interest in English History, yes you read correctly, this is a short summary of the Conquests, invasions, and change of Monarch by coup de tat invasion or conquest.

An historical side note, often unknown to the average layman with just a passing interest in English history, are the various attempts both successful and failed on conquering England since 1066. Ask the average Britain in the street and they will quite blithely inform you England hasn’t been invaded, let alone conquered since the Battle of Hastings 1066.

What a load of tosh, there have been numerous foreign attempts on England and the English throne since 1066, the first which was successful being King Stephen 1135 to 1154.

Adel Church Porch 3j
The above is Adel Church ‘porch’, Adel is a suburb of Leeds. The Church is early Norman, and the detailing around the door is a pleasure to behold. The

When Henry I died in 1135,he was also known as Henry Beauclerc, because he could both read and write. He left no male heir, his son having drowned in the White ship. He and the crew were blind drunk when they tried sailing from France back to England, they smashed into rocks at the exit to the French harbour with only one survivor. Stephen had a distant claim to the throne, but ensured his claim, by grabbing it by swiftly. Arriving in England on Henry I death, and leaving Matilda, Henry’s daughter the rightful heir, high and dry. During his reign, Matilda also known as Maud, tried to wrest the crown from Stephen, this usually ended up with her escaping in white nightclothes in the snow. You could argue, that she makes it twice, that the throne was usurped, because importantly Stephen had been anointed Monarch.

Because Stephen had been a proper King, this makes Henry II technically a usurper, although in fact he was the rightful King by precedence, as he was the Grandson of Henry Beuclerc and the Son of Matilda. She cut a deal with King Stephen, that her son should become King on his death, but if you count Henry II as a usurper, it is now three times the Crown had changed from whom it should have been, this is less than 100 years since 1066.

Then came Louis who invaded in 1216 though he was never crowned, certainly not anointed, and it is the anointing, that confers one as Monarch. However he was declared King at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, but declaration and actual monarchy are two different things, and as he was defeated, by 70 years old William Earl Marshal, his none reign was short lived.

In 1326 Queen Isabella along with Roger Mortimer and a small army of around 700 ‘Hainaulters’ or modern day Belgians, invaded England. Landing at Walton on the Naze, they proceeded to London before chasing and capturing the Despenser family, these upstarts had effectively been running the Country, using Edward II as a puppet, Isabella had her husband, Edward II murdered in 1327. She and Roger Mortimer then ran the Country, until they was ousted by Edward III in 1330. Good quiz question in there, have the Belgians ever successfully conquered England, answer yes.

In the Wars of the Roses the Crown changes hands that many times the head spins, and inspired the hit tv show, Throne of Crowns, not to say Shakespeare,, writing a series of hit plays. However all the Monarchs have some rightful claim to the throne, through Edward III, so saying it is illegal is open to debate, and dependent on whether you are born in Lancashire and Yorkshire can make a big difference. Worth noting at the time the Yorkists were mainly Southerners and Lancastrians mainly gained there support in the North, life was tough back then, you worked twelve hours down t’pit were lucky to have a roof over your head, try telling the Yorkshireman of today that and they just won’t believe you.

Then in 1485 Richard III lost his horse and his crown, to a Welshman and commoner Henry VII (Tudor) who promptly married Elizabeth of York. She was in line to the throne and so gave legitimacy to his son, Henry VIII to be rightful King. The skeleton of Richard III was recently found under the letter K in “parking” in a Leicester municipal car park, and the bones kept in Leicester, although they rightfully belong in York Minster Richard’s centre of power. This also gives rise to a modern piece of history that is distorted, when the bones were found, great play was made of them being under the K of parKing, how serendipitous. So I thought until I was chatting to an archaeologist who informed me that locally, this exact location had been suggested for years. The people who did the marking, made sure the word King was over the most likely location.

During the reign of James II 1685 to 1688 he was deposed by invasion, he actually lived from 1633 to 1701.

The Monmouth rebellion in 1686 tried to usurp the throne from King James II and lasted some months, however it failed.

But then seven prominent Parliamentarians intervened and invited the Dutch double act of William III and Mary II, to be joint rulers and to be subject to one of the other great English Charters, the ‘Bill of Rights’ 1689. William’s invasion was the most successful, he landed with an army, largely Dutch, at Brixham a small fishing town on the south coast near to the modern holiday town of Torquay. This was bonfire night 5th November 1688, the Protestants in England immediately started to come over to William’s side, and James II power ebbed away, James escaped but was captured, however he was then allowed to escape a 2nd time December 23rd the same year, this being seen as a much better outcome than him becoming a martyr. Initially Parliament wanted Mary II to be sole Queen with William as consort, he refused and she as a ‘good wife’ conceded to his request and he became King, though they ruled as joint monarchs whilst Mary was alive, they were Crowned April 11th 1689 after William accepted the Bill of Rights which greatly restricted the powers of the Monarch and gave guarantees of liberties to the British people.

Kirkstall Abbey Leeds
Kirkstall Abbey in Leeds, the remains of the Cistercian Abbey are remarkably well preserved, considering, the location is so highly populated. In the past stone was taken for buildings nearby.

James II was exiled and deemed to have abdicated the throne, this was passed into law, by Parliament in 1689.

In 1745 Bonnie Prince Charlie who was actually Italian being born in Palazzo Muti in Rome, Italy and raised there, he spoke Italian and some little English, his Mother was Polish. He landed in Scotland to try and regain the Scottish Crown, which was by this time, also the British Crown and so the Crown of England. He raised followers mainly from the highlands and got as far as Derby in the English Midlands, before inexplicably retreating back North. The final match was principally a derby, between the Highland Scots of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the predominantly Lowland Scots of the ‘British army’, under Cumberland, the resultant battle at Culloden near Inverness was a bloodbath and Charles escaped back to Italy dying in 1788.

This does not cover the French, Spanish, Dutch, American (yes you read that correctly) successful raids and invasions of England since 1066, anyone who thinks England has never been invaded you just don’t know your History of England.

The American invasion was by USS Ranger in April 1778 led by John Paul Jones, on the Cumbrian town of Whitehaven.

And also while we are on the subject the Scots by rough calculation have invaded England more than we have invaded them. The Irish have invaded England at least three times and the Welsh have raided and invaded England more than the Scots and Irish together, and so many more times than England has invaded them, it is embarrassing to try and count.