This week’s challenge was to identify the eldest sons of the monarch since 1066 who did not become monarch in their turn. How did you do? And how many of you spotted the fact that I missed Richard II from last week’s list. His mother Joan of Kent never became queen because her husband the Black Prince pre-deceased Edward III.
William the Conqueror’s eldest son was Robert Curthose (1). William left Robert the duchy of Normandy, William Rufus the English crown and Henry of Selby £5000. Robert made several attempts to gain the crown but none were successful.
Henry I had only two legitimate children to survive to adulthood. Unfortunately William Adelin (2) was drowned off Barfleur in Normandy when the White Ship sank on 25th November 1120. Adelin simply means Atheling which is the Saxon term to identify royal princes.
King Stephen was Henry I’s nephew. He actually had three sons. The first Baldwin died whilst still a child but the second Eustace (3) was actually crowned in 1152 but he didn’t survive his father. He died in 1153. The crowning whilst his father was still alive was a bid by Stephen to ease the succession. Stephen, if you recall, was at war with his cousin Matilda about who should wear the crown. The papacy wasn’t keen on the idea though. Eustace didn’t take the news that Stephen was negotiating with Matilda’s soon Henry particularly well, withdrew from Stephen’s army and went on a bit of a fund raising spree, by which I mean looting and pillaging. On 10 August 1153 Eustace raided Bury St Edmunds. Eustace died soon after – the monks were keen to identify this as a result of the Almighty’s displeasure. Stephen’s third son succeeded his father as Count of Mortain and his mother as Count of Boulogne. He died in 1159.
Henry II’s eldest on was named William and he died whilst still a child. Henry (4), also known as the Young King, survived to adulthood, was crowned by his father as King of England in 1170 but since no real power was forthcoming rebelled. He died in 1183 – whilst rebelling against his father once more.
Edward I had many children including three sons who died in childhood or infancy – John, Henry and Alfonso are footnotes in history. Edward of Caernarvon was born in April 1284 and became the first English Prince of Wales. Since 1301 the title has been granted to the eldest son of the monarch. From this point forward I shall only reference heirs who lived long enough to be created and invested as Prince of Wales.
Edward III’s eldest son was Edward of Woodstock better known as the Black Prince (5). He predeceased his father meaning that Edward’s son Richard succeeded his grandfather in 1377.
We now arrive at the Wars of the Roses.
Henry VI’s son Edward (6) was created Prince of Wales the year after his birth in 1453. He was killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury on 4th May 1471.
Edward IV’s son Edward (7) was created Prince of Wales in 1471 but he is better remembered as one of the murdered princes in the Tower.
Richard III’s son Edward (8) was created Prince of Wales in 1183 but he died the following year at Middleham.
Henry VII who launched Tudor rule made much of the fact that his eldest son united the red and white roses. After all, Henry’s wife was Elizabeth of York, the daughter of Edward IV. Their first child, Arthur (9) was born in Winchester in 1486 enabling Henry to weave the story of his descent from Arthur – his claim to the throne was situated in legend. Unfortunately Arthur died in 1502 at Ludlow leaving his bride Catherine of Aragon to eventually marry Arthur’s brother Henry which led ultimately to the Henrician Reformation when no male heir was forthcoming.
James VI of Scotland became James I of England in 1603 when Elizabeth I died. One of the advantages of the new Stuart monarch was that he had a ready made family which included an heir and a spare. The heir was Prince Henry (10) – who became Prince of Wales in 1610. Two years later he went for a swim in the Thames and died soon afterwards of typhoid, although many suspected poisoning.
James II of England had two daughters from his first marriage to Anne Hyde. They were Protestant. However, James married for a second time to Mary of Modena- any heir would be Catholic. In 1688 the so-called “baby in the bedpan” was born. James Francis Edward is better known as the Old Pretender. He spent his life in exile and was barred by act of parliament from inheriting the throne following the Glorious Revolution – so I’m not counting him and can only apologise to any Jacobite sympathisers.
Queen Anne’s son William was created duke of Gloucester but never created Prince of Wales. He died shortly before his eleventh birthday.
George II’s son Frederick pre-deceased his father Frederick was estranged from both his parents.
George IV’s only legitimate child, Charlotte, died in childbirth in 1817 predeceasing both her father and grandfather.
Edward VII’s eldest son was created Duke of Clarence but not Prince of Wales – as his grandmother Queen Victoria was still alive. He predeceased her in 1892.
George V’s eldest so was Edward VIII (11)- created Prince of Wales in 1910. He abdicated in 1936 before his coronation – so I have added him to the list making him the eleventh person not to inherit the crown despite expectations to the contrary.
If you have any more ideas for quizzes – please let me know – I’ve really enjoyed the last two quizzes which were set by History Jar readers. Thank you.
Weir, Alison. Britain’s Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy.