The Seven Oldest English Monarchs (at Accession)

7.  King George V

Age at accession: 44 years, 11 months, 1 day

Reign: 1910–1936

This ruler saw a lot of military and political developments during his 26-year reign. The son of Edward VII and Queen Victoria, George served some time in the Royal Navy and later became king in 1910, when his father died. George was king during World War I; two of his enemies were his cousins, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II. George made several visits to the front during the war, and his wife, Mary, visited wounded servicemen. In 1917, George renamed his line the House of Windsor. George V was succeeded by his son, Edward VIII.

6. King Harold II

Age at accession: 45 years, 7 months, 4 days

Reign: 1066

Harold Godwinson also had one of England’s shortest reigns. He was, nonetheless, one of the realm’s most famous kings. Crowned in January of 1066, he made what he could of his kingship and won a stunning battle over the troops of Harald Hardrada at Stamford Bridge before forcing his exhausted, battered men on a determined effort to deny William of Normandy from conquering. William was successful, however, and Harold II was succeeded by William I.

5. King James II

Age at accession: 51 years, 3 months, 23 days

Reign: 1685–1688

The youngest son of King Charles I and younger brother of King Charles II, James escaped to the Netherlands during the Civil War of the 1640s and served at one time in the French army and then the Spanish army. When his brother became king, James returned to England and was named Lord High Admiral. James was originally a Protestant; however, he became a Catholic in 1670, at a a time when many of England’s powerful people were suspicious of Catholics, especially ruling ones. When Charles died in 1685, James became king. He wasn’t on the throne long, however, because a group of nobles all but rolled out the red carpet for the Dutch Prince William of Orange, whose coronation (along with his wife, Mary, who was also James’s daughter,) ended James’s time as king. Thus, James II was succeeded by William III and Mary II. James, however, lived on, in exile in France, as guests of that land’s king, Louis XIV. James made one attempt to regain his throne, in 1690, but that was unsuccessful. James died in exile in 1701.

Numbers 4–2

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David White