Sunday, May 31, 2009

Question from Bren - If Arthur had succeeded to the throne

If Henry VIII's brother Arthur had not died and had succeeded to the throne would he have been known as Arthur I as there seems to be controversy as to whether the well known King Arthur was either a legend or based on another person ?


  1. The cue might have been taken from the example of Edward I in the 13th century; despite the fact that the old Saxon line of kings had had at least two King Edwards, Edward the Elder and Edward the Confessor, Edward Longshanks became the "first" Edward of the new dynasty. Edward the Confessor retained an honored place as a sort of cult protector of the English kings. Perhaps the Tudors might have taken the same approach; Arthur Tudor would have become Arthur I, but with plenty of iconography and pageantry to link him to the famous king of old Britain.

  2. We use ordinal or regnal numbers to distinguish between monarchs with the same name going only as far back as William I (the Conqueror) 1066-1087; the current Prince William will be William V, should he decide to keep his own name, which he is not forced to do. The practice of using these numbers seems to have begun in the time of Edward III.

    Arthur Tudor would have been King Arthur with no regnal number until another king of the same name came along. We have had only one Queen Anne so far, so she is never called Anne I; similarly with Queen Victoria, King Stephen and King John. In history books written before 1952 Elizabeth Tudor is called Queen Elizabeth, not Elizabeth I, it is only after the accession of another Elizabeth that she was given a regnal number.

  3. I suppose i should add that a few pre-Conquest kings are sometimes given regnal numbers nowadays, for example Edmund II, Harold I and Harold II, but more often than not they are known as Ironside, Harefoot and Godwinsson respectively.

  4. Also, I think it should be pointed out that while King Arthur is a legend to us (meaning if he existed, it was certainly not as Malory's chivalric paladin, with the knights and ladies and quest for the Holy Grail), to Arthur Tudor's contemporaries he was a real person, one of the ancient kings of Britain.


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