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Archive - English Royalty > Monarchs of England: Mnemonic Verses

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message 1: by Jennifer, Group Founder/Mod #1 (last edited Oct 27, 2009 09:37AM) (new)

Jennifer (jennifertudor) | 726 comments Mod
I don't even know how I stumbled across this but I thought it was neat. I found it on Wikipedia and I love lists and stuff like this. Can you imagine actually having to memorize one of these?

A mnemonic verse listing the monarchs ruling in England since William the Conqueror was traditionally used by English schoolchildren in the era when rote learning formed a major part of the curriculum.[1:]

The verse as it is commonly set out lists the monarchs ruling in England since the Norman Conquest, with some omissions (see below). The failure to mention any pre-Conquest Saxon kings, and the presentation of the monarchs of a variety of kingdoms (England, then the joint crown of England and Scotland, then Great Britain, then Great Britain and Ireland, then Great Britain and Northern Ireland) as existing in one unbroken line arrogated to a nonexistent "English" or "British" throne, ensure the simple flow of the mnemonic but also reflect a Whiggish view of history.

The main part of the verse is largely constant, but the stanza from the 20th century has many variations, of which some are presented below. Alan Bennett's staging of the verse in Forty Years On works around the issue by stopping at Victoria.[2:]

Americans were introduced to a brief snippet of the mnemonic in the film King Ralph.


The verse
(Can be sung to the tune of Good King Wenceslaus.)

Willie, Willie, Harry,[3:] Stee[4:],
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 VII VIII and Ned the Lad[5:];
[6:]Mary, Bessie, James the Vain[7:],
Charlie,[8:] Charlie, James again...
William[9:] and Mary, Anna Gloria,
Four Georges I II III IV, William and Victoria[10:];
Edward seven next, and then
George the fifth in 1910;
Ned the eighth soon abdicated
Then George the sixth was coronated;
After which Elizabeth
And that's the end until her death.[11:]

Alternatives to last 6 lines
Edward seven, George and Ned [or Ted:],
George the sixth, now Liz instead.
Eddie, Georgie, Ned the Eighth;
George the sixth, Elizabeth.
Edward, George, and both again,
Now Bessie Two and that's the end.
Edward, George, then Ned the eighth
Quickly goes and abdicat’th,
Leaving George, then Liz the second,
And with Charlie next it’s reckoned.
Edward seven, Georgie five,
Ed eight, George six, Liz two, alive.
Edward the seventh stands on his own
George, then Ned gave up the throne
George we love, the people say
And Elizabeth the second is Queen today.

Alternative to last 4 lines
Ned went when Mrs Simpson beckoned
Leaving George and Liz the second.

Alternative to last 2 lines
And if you've not lost your breath
Give a cheer for Elizabeth.

or even:
Edward, George, the same again
And now Elizabeth doth reign

Alternative as used in Forty Years On (1976 Production)
Willie, Willie, Harry, Stee
Harry, Dick, John, Harry Three
One Two Three Neds, Richard Two
Henrys Four Five Six, Eds Two
Dick, then Henrys seven and eight
Ned, Jane, Mary and Elizabeth.
James, two Charlies, James again
William and Mary, Anne the Plain
Four Georges from Hanover
William Four, Victoria

Another Mnemonic on the same subject
First William the Norman
Then William his son
Henry, Stephen, Henry
Then Richard and John
Next Henry the Third
Edwards One, Two and Three
And again after Richard
Three Henrys we see
Two Edwards, Third Richard
If rightly I guess
Two Henrys, Sixth Edward
Queen Mary, Queen Bess
Then Jamie the Scotsman
Then Charles whom they slew
Yet received after Cromwell
Another Charles too.
Next James the Second
Acceded the Throne
Then good William and Mary
Together came on
Not till Anne, Georges Four
And Fourth William all passed
Came the reign of Victoria
Whose longest did last
Then Edward the Peacemaker
(He was her son)
The fifth of the Georges
Was next in the run
Edward the Eighth
Gave the Crown to his brother
Now God's sent Elizabeth
All of us love her.

A Mnemonic detailing the Royal Houses of England and Great Britain
No Plan Like Yours To Study History Wisely
(Norman, Plantagenet, Lancaster, York, Tudor, Stuart, Hanover, Windsor.)

Notes and references
1. ^ British Monarchs: Kings and Queens of England, Scotland and Wales
2. ^ English Monarchs -- Anon
3. ^ omitted: Maud (Matilda) (deposed)
4. ^ Sources have "Stee" here; "Steve" also fits, but is an inferior rhyme
5. ^ or "then Ned"
6. ^ omitted: Lady Jane Grey (uncrowned)
7. ^ or "James you ken"
8. ^ omitted: the English Interregnum; republicans may cough at this point
9. ^ or just "Will"
10. ^ or "Then four Georges, Will, Victoria" or "Four Georges, William and Victoria"
11. ^ or "Has the throne, until her death."


message 2: by Lyn (Readinghearts), The mod of last resort/Mod #3 (new)

Lyn (Readinghearts) (lsmeadows) | 1546 comments Mod
These are great, and you have too much time on your hands.


message 3: by Jennifer, Group Founder/Mod #1 (last edited Oct 27, 2009 03:43PM) (new)

Jennifer (jennifertudor) | 726 comments Mod
haha Thanks Lyn. I know ;)
I told you before I get a little bored at work!


message 4: by Aly (new)

Aly (Alygator) | 174 comments O wow... of course, I had to sing the song to myself LOL!!


message 5: by Colleen, The Enforcer/Mod #2 (new)

Colleen (NightOleander) | 345 comments Mod
I second that Lyn, I myself have said to her the same thing! LOL


message 6: by Jennifer, Group Founder/Mod #1 (new)

Jennifer (jennifertudor) | 726 comments Mod
Colleen wrote: "I second that Lyn, I myself have said to her the same thing! LOL"

A few times :)


message 7: by Colleen, The Enforcer/Mod #2 (new)

Colleen (NightOleander) | 345 comments Mod
How about my all time favorite for remembering what happened to each of Henry VIII's wives (and what order they are in, LOL).

Divorced, beheaded, died, {pause} divorced, beheaded, survived.

How have I not posted that in this group yet?!


message 8: by Aly (new)

Aly (Alygator) | 174 comments I always said that to myself until I knew what had happened to whom!!! I love it, Colleen!


message 9: by Jennifer, Group Founder/Mod #1 (new)

Jennifer (jennifertudor) | 726 comments Mod
Me too! It really helped to keep all the ladies straight!


message 10: by Niecole (new)

Niecole | 160 comments I love this post you put here!
Laughed so much now...
Jennifer, you're very creative :)
Would you like to make up little rhymes and riddles for my study work before exams????


message 11: by Jennifer, Group Founder/Mod #1 (new)

Jennifer (jennifertudor) | 726 comments Mod
LOL Niecole... I wish I could take credit for it! I can only take credit for copying and pasting it ;)


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (SusannaG) | 226 comments I found this one helpful growing up, with the Wars of the Roses:

In the battle for England's head
York was white, Lancaster red.


message 13: by Catherine (new)

Catherine | 19 comments I love it! this is great :) now...to memorise it all!!! :) there is no room in my head!


message 14: by Catherine (new)

Catherine | 19 comments yeah..Colleen...I always remember that rhyme....but I can not remember the 4th, 5th, and 6th wives in order...

I recently read a book about Catehrine Howard...and now remember her as number 4....but I still can't remeber who survived! :) was it Anne of Cleves or Katherine Parr?!?!?!?

Catherine of Aragon
Anne Boleyn
Jane Seymour
Katherine Howard


message 15: by Lyn (Readinghearts), The mod of last resort/Mod #3 (new)

Lyn (Readinghearts) (lsmeadows) | 1546 comments Mod
Catherine wrote: "yeah..Colleen...I always remember that rhyme....but I can not remember the 4th, 5th, and 6th wives in order...

I recently read a book about Catehrine Howard...and now remember her as number 4....b..."


Actually, both Anne of Cleves and Katherine Parr survived. Henry's marriage to Anne of Cleves was annulled (some say he divorced her) and Katherine Parr was his wife when he died.


message 16: by Catherine (new)

Catherine | 19 comments ok...thanks! :) I always forget that! it's like trying to remember the seven dwarves! :) lol always on the tip of your tongue!


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (SusannaG) | 226 comments I learned it:

Divorced, beheaded, died;
Divorced, beheaded, survived.

(Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard, Katherine Parr.)


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (SusannaG) | 226 comments I had a history professor once who asked if anyone knew all of Elizabeth Taylor's husbands. He got several yeses.

Then he said we had no excuse to not be able to learn all of Henry's wives.


message 19: by Lyn (Readinghearts), The mod of last resort/Mod #3 (new)

Lyn (Readinghearts) (lsmeadows) | 1546 comments Mod
Susanna wrote: "I had a history professor once who asked if anyone knew all of Elizabeth Taylor's husbands. He got several yeses.

Then he said we had no excuse to not be able to learn all of Henry's wives."


When you think about it, that is so true, Susanna.


message 20: by Catherine (new)

Catherine | 19 comments Oops! After I posted....I realised that Catherine Howard was 5th!

@ Susanna.....well...I have to agree with your professor! It is amusing, however, what inconsequential information we remember :)


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (SusannaG) | 226 comments He had a real point with the couple of people in there who knew the order of Erica Kane's marriages!


message 22: by Lyn (Readinghearts), The mod of last resort/Mod #3 (new)

Lyn (Readinghearts) (lsmeadows) | 1546 comments Mod
That is way too funny, Susanna.


message 23: by Destiny (new)

Destiny | 7 comments That is confusing for me since I Don't know the song. I found this and this is how I know the kings and queens https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuREC...


message 24: by Catherine (new)

Catherine | 19 comments I learnt the "divorced, beheaded, died...
..divorced, beheaded, survived.." but only remembere the order of the first 3! Lol


message 25: by Lyn (Readinghearts), The mod of last resort/Mod #3 (new)

Lyn (Readinghearts) (lsmeadows) | 1546 comments Mod
Destiny wrote: "That is confusing for me since I Don't know the song. I found this and this is how I know the kings and queens https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuREC..."

Destiny - That is so great. I loved it. Thanks for sharing.


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