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British History/English regnal numbers


I would like to know when, why and by whom it was decided to allocate the regnal number "first" to Edward Longshanks as there had been three previous Kings of England called Edward: an Elder, a Martyr and a Confessor.

Thank you!

Hello Hugh.
It all began with Edward I in 1272, who should really have been Edward IV. Most chroniclers could recall the deeds of Edward the Confessor (1042-66) and Edward "The Elder" (899-924) but overlooked the short reign of the boy King Edward "The Martyr" (975-78), so there are instances of Edward I being wrongly called Edward III during his reign. Later those practices fell out of use and Edward became known in later times as "King Edward, son of King Henry". However with three Kings named Edward in succession it became necessary to differentiate between them, so they were numbered Edward I, II and III by the middle of the 14th century with "since the Conquest" added to show the fact that their were others in the dim and distant past. And so the Norman Conquest of 1066 became the official starting point for Regnal numbers of English Monarchs.

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Mark Smith


I have a good basic knowledge of British political history, but my speciality is the Kings and Queens of England and Scotland from 927 AD. Please no social history questions, it's not my strong point and I'm unlikely to answer them.


No professional experience, but a lifelong interest and access to a variety of sources of information.

"A" level in History.

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