Famous British Historical Personalities

Great Britain has a long and complicated history that dates back to several millennia. King Henry VII of England, the first monarch of the House of Tudor, played an instrumental role in the vast expansion of the British Empire in the 16th century. Influential writers Richard Hakluyt and John Dee also thrived during the same period. Queen Elizabeth I, counted amongst the most popular Britons ever to have lived, brought a period of relative internal stability to the region. She is associated with the defeat of the Spanish Armada. Another famous monarch was Henry VIII, known for his role in the separation of the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church. Political leader Oliver Cromwell, Commander of the New Model Army during the English Civil War against King Charles I is another significant historical figure. Thomas Wolsey, Thomas More, Thomas Cromwell, Richard Rich, and Thomas Cranmer are prominent figures in British history as well. Known for its rich legacy in the fields of science and literary, England was also home to geniuses such as William Shakespeare and Sir Isaac Newton. This section provides you information about the life and works of famous British historical personalities.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Henry VII of England

Henry VII of England
Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: January 28, 1457
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Pembroke Castle, Pembrokeshire, Wales, United Kingdom
Died: April 21, 1509

Henry VII of England played an important role in popularizing the House of Tudor by becoming the first monarch of the house; he ruled as the king of England from 1485 until his death in 1509. He is credited with several economic, diplomatic, and administrative initiatives.

 2 King James I

King James I
Famous As: King of Scotland
Birthdate: June 19, 1566
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
Died: March 27, 1625

King James I of England and Ireland was also the king of Scotland as James VI. Son of Mary, Queen of Scots, he believed in royal absolutism. He had major conflicts with the Parliament and its ever-growing powers, which eventually led to revolts against his successor, Charles I.

 3 Charles II

Charles II
Famous As: King of England, Scotland & Ireland
Birthdate: May 29, 1630
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: St James's Palace
Died: February 6, 1685
Charles II, son of King Charles I of England, ruled England, Scotland, and Ireland from 1660 to 1685. He was initially defeated by Oliver Cromwell and forced to go into exile, but returned to England after Cromwell’s death. He introduced the Clarendon Code and later sided with the Tories.
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 4 Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II
Famous As: Queen of the United Kingdom
Birthdate: April 21, 1926
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Mayfair, London, England

The Queen of the United Kingdom and 15 other Commonwealth realms, Queen Elizabeth II is the world's oldest living monarch and longest-reigning current monarch. The first child of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother , she ascended to the throne in 1952. Despite the press criticism of the royal family, she continues to be a popular figure in UK.

 5 Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria
Famous As: Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (1837-1901)
Birthdate: May 24, 1819
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Kensington Palace, London, England
Died: January 22, 1901

The Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland for over six decades, Queen Victoria reigned for longer than any of her predecessors. Her rule witnessed the vast expansion of the British Empire and ushered in a period of industrial, cultural, political, scientific, and military changes. Her Golden and Diamond Jubilees were celebrated with great pomp and show.

 6 Henry V of England

Henry V of England
Famous As: King of England (1413-1422)
Birthdate: August 9, 1386
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Monmouth Castle, Monmouth, Principality of Wales
Died: August 31, 1422

One of the most renowned kings in English history, Henry V ascended the throne at the age of 26 in 1413 and ruled England till his death in 1422. Though his reign was short, it was marked by great successes in the Hundred Years' War against France which established England as one of the strongest kingdoms in entire Europe.

 7 Alfred the Great

Alfred the Great
Famous As: King of Wessex
Birthdate: 0849 AD
Birthplace: Wantage, United Kingdom
Died: October 26, 0899

Alfred the Great, king of Wessex, cemented his place in history as a legendary ruler who led his kingdom to victory in wars that seemed hopeless. He is known for his brilliant strategies and defensive measures. He prevented England from falling to the Danes during his rule from circa 871 to 886. He’s also credited with promoting learning and literacy and curbing corruption.

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 8 William the Conqueror

William the Conqueror
Famous As: King of England (1066-1087)
Birthdate: 1028 AD
Birthplace: Falaise, France
Died: September 9, 1087

William the Conqueror was the first Norman King of England who ruled from 1066 to 1087. William's conquest had a profound impact on England; his government merged elements of the Norman and English systems that laid the foundations of the medieval English kingdom. He is credited with building castles, mottes, and keeps, including the White Tower and Tower of London.

 9 Anne Boleyn

Anne Boleyn
Famous As: Marquess of Pembroke
Birthdate: June 30, 1501
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Hever Castle, Kent, England
Died: May 19, 1536

The queen of England from 1533 to 1536, Anne Boleyn played an important role in the political and religious upheaval that led to the beginning of the English Reformation. She is widely regarded as the most important and influential queen consort of England. She was charged with adultery, incest, and treason and was executed by beheading in 1536.

 10 William III of England

William III of England
Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: November 14, 1650
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: The Hague, Netherlands
Died: March 8, 1702
King William III of England, son of William II, Prince of Orange, was also known as William of Orange. A staunch Protestant, he is remembered for his joint rule with his wife, Queen Mary II, and for his exploits such as the Glorious Revolution and the Nine Years' War.

 11 Elizabeth I of England

Elizabeth I of England
Famous As: Queen of England
Birthdate: September 7, 1533
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Palace of Placentia
Died: March 24, 1603
Elizabeth I, daughter of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, ruled as the Queen of England and Ireland from 1558 to 1603. She had been declared illegitimate after her mother’s execution. Nicknamed The Virgin Queen for her unmarried status, she established an English Protestant church and served as its governor.

 12 Catherine of Aragon

Catherine of Aragon
Famous As: Queen of England (1509-1533)
Birthdate: December 16, 1485
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Archbishop's Palace of Alcalá de Henares, Alcala de Henares, Spain
Died: January 7, 1536

Catherine of Aragon was one of the most popular English royal consorts of all time. A patron of Renaissance humanism, she gained widespread admiration for starting a program for the relief of the poor. A woman who was ahead of her time, Catherine commissioned The Education of a Christian Woman, a controversial book promoting women's right to education.

 13 Mary I of England

Mary I of England
Famous As: Queen of England
Birthdate: February 18, 1516
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Palace of Placentia, England
Died: November 17, 1558

Mary I, the queen of England from 1553-1558, is remembered as the ruler who sought to return England to the Catholic Church. She persecuted many Protestants and got nearly 300 of them burned at the stake. Most of them were common citizens. Many also died in prison and hundreds fled the country. This earned her the ignominious nickname ‘Bloody Mary’.

 14 Anne, Queen of Great Britain

Anne, Queen of Great Britain
Famous As: Queen of Britan
Birthdate: February 6, 1665
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: St James's Palace, Westminster, England
Died: August 1, 1714

Many biographers consider Anne, the Queen of Great Britain, a weak and irresolute woman. It is said that she lacked political astuteness and was easily influenced by others. Though she was troubled by poor health throughout her life, she became increasingly obese and ill during her 30s and eventually died at the age of 49.

 15 Boudica

Famous As: Queen of the Iceni Tribe
Birthdate: 0030 AD
Birthplace: Britannia
Died: 0061 AD

Boudica served as a queen of the Iceni tribe. She is regarded as a British folk hero for leading an uprising against the Roman Empire, which wanted to conquer her land. She has remained a prominent cultural symbol in the UK. A bronze statue named Boadicea and Her Daughters is located in London, facing the Palace of Westminster.

 16 Lady Jane Grey

Lady Jane Grey
Famous As: Monarch
Birthdate: 1537 AD
Birthplace: Leicestershire
Died: February 12, 1554
Lady Jane Grey, the Nine Days' Queen, was the Queen of England and Ireland from July 10 to 19, 1553. Jane, a Protestant, was nominated to the Crown, owing to Roman Catholic Mary’s opposition to the Reformed Church of England. However, Jane was deposed, convicted of high treason, and executed.

 17 Henry VIII of England

Henry VIII of England
Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: June 28, 1491
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kent, England
Died: January 28, 1547

Henry VIII, the second monarch of the Tudor dynasty, ruled England from 1509 to 1547. He married six times, leading to differences with the Roman Catholic Church, which prohibited divorce, thus forming the Anglican Church. The "father of the Royal Navy," he was known for his tyranny and extravagance.

 18 Catherine Howard

Catherine Howard
Famous As: Queen of England from (1540-1541)
Birthdate: 1523 AD
Birthplace: Lambeth, London
Died: February 13, 1542
Catherine Howard, England’s queen consort from 1540 until 1541, was Henry VIII’s fifth wife. She was a cousin of Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn. In November 1541, Catherine was stripped of the queen’s title and imprisoned. She was later beheaded on charges of adultery with her cousin Thomas Culpeper.

 19 Elizabeth of York

Elizabeth of York
Famous As: Queen of England (1486-1503)
Birthdate: February 11, 1466
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: London, England
Died: February 11, 1503
Elizabeth of York, daughter of King Edward IV and wife of Henry VII of the Tudor Dynasty, was the queen consort of England from 1486 until 1503. She and Henry got married after Henry won at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1486, thus ending the Wars of the Roses

 20 Anne of Cleves

Anne of Cleves
Famous As: Queen of England (1540)
Birthdate: September 22, 1515
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Düsseldorf, Germany
Died: July 16, 1557

Anne of Cleves was the Queen of England for 6 months in 1540, as the fourth wife of King Henry VIII. Their unconsummated marriage deprived led to the annulment of the marriage, following which she received a settlement and came to be known as the King's Beloved Sister.

 21 Henry IV of England

Henry IV of England
Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: April 15, 1367
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Bolingbroke Castle
Died: March 20, 1413

Henry IV of England reigned over England from 1399 until his death in 1413. Apart from spending much of his reign fighting against rebellions, Henry IV of England also established foreign relations; during his reign, Manuel II Palaiologos visited England, becoming the only Byzantine emperor to do so.

 22 Edward III of England

Edward III of England
Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: November 13, 1312
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Windsor Castle
Died: June 21, 1377
Edward III, or Edward of Windsor, was the King of England and the Lord of Ireland from 1327 to 1377. He took to the throne after his father, Edward II, was deposed by his mother, Isabella, and Roger Mortimer. He strengthened the military and participated in the Hundred Years' War.

 23 Catherine Parr

Catherine Parr
Famous As: Queen of England & Ireland
Birthdate: July 31, 1512
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: London
Died: September 7, 1548
Catherine Parr, the most-married English queen, was the queen of England and Ireland from 1543 to 1547, as the last wife of King Henry VIII. She influenced the passing of the 1543 Third Succession Act. She was also the first English queen to publish a book using her own name.

 24 Edward I of England

Edward I of England
Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: June 17, 1239
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Palace of Westminster, London, England
Died: July 7, 1307

Edward I of England ruled England as its king from 1272 to 1307. During his reign, Edward I reformed common law and royal administration. He is also credited with setting up Parliament as a permanent institution. He is also criticized for issuing the Edict of Expulsion, which expelled Jews from England. The Edict was not overturned for almost 350 years.

 25 Edward II of England

Edward II of England
Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: April 25, 1284
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Caernarfon Castle
Died: September 21, 1327
Edward II was the king of England from 1307 till his deposition in 1327. His relationship with Piers Gaveston caused the English barons to revolt against Edward, leading to the passage of the Ordinances of 1311. Edward lost to Robert Bruce at Bannockburn. Edward inspired Christopher Marlowe's play Edward II.

 26 Edward IV of England

Edward IV of England
Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: April 28, 1442
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Rouen, France
Died: April 9, 1483

The King of England for several years from 1461 until his death in 1483, Edward IV of England was a central figure in the Wars of the Roses. He was a brave warrior and his contemporaries described him as handsome, affable, and energetic. He died at the relatively young age of 40. The cause of his death remains unknown. 

 27 Elizabeth Woodville

Elizabeth Woodville
Famous As: Queen of England (1464-1483)
Birthdate: February 3, 1437
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Grafton Regis, England
Died: June 8, 1492

Elizabeth Woodville was the queen of England from 1464 until her husband King Edward IV's death in 1483. Elizabeth Woodville remained politically influential even after the demise of her husband. She also played a major role in Henry VII's accession to the throne in 1485. Her life and work have inspired several books, films, and TV series.

 28 James II of England

James II of England
Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: October 14, 1633
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: London
Died: September 16, 1701

James II of England reigned as the king of Ireland, Scotland, and England from 1685 to 1688. His deposition as king, caused by the Glorious Revolution of 1688, ended a century of civil and political strife by establishing the principle that Parliament would be preferred over the Crown as opposed to the principles of divine right of kings and absolutism.

 29 Charles I of England

Charles I of England
Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: November 19, 1600
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Dunfermline Palace, Dunfermline, Scotland
Died: January 30, 1649

Charles I, the King of England, Scotland and Ireland from 1625 to 1649, was said to be authoritarian and was in constant battle with the Parliament over the issue of royal prerogative. The friction led to a civil war from 1642 to 1645 between him and the English and Scottish Parliaments. He was defeated and executed in 1649 for treason.

 30 George III of the United Kingdom

George III of the United Kingdom
Famous As: King
Birthdate: June 4, 1738
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Norfolk House, St James's Square, London, England, United Kingdom
Died: January 29, 1820

The King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland for almost six decades, George III had a reign that was longer than those of any of his predecessors. His reign was marked by a series of military conflicts. He suffered from mental illness in his later years.

 31 John, King of England

John, King of England
Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: December 24, 1166
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Beaumont Palace, Oxford
Died: October 19, 1216

John, King of England reigned over England from 1199 to 1216. His inability to retain the French lands, which was acquired by King Philip II of France, contributed to the subsequent growth of the Capetian dynasty; this is widely regarded as a turning point in the history of Europe.

 32 Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley

Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley
Famous As: King Consort of Scotland (1565-1567)
Birthdate: December 7, 1545
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Temple Newsam, Yorkshire, England
Died: February 10, 1567
Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley was the great-grandson of King Henry VII of England. As the second husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, he reigned as the king of Scotland from 1565 till his murder in 1567. His son ruled as King James VI of Scotland and I of England.

 33 Athelstan

Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: 0894 AD
Birthplace: Wessex
Died: October 27, 0939
Æthelstan, or Athelstan, son of Edward the Elder, was an Anglo-Saxon king who ruled from 924 to 927. He was also the King of the English from 927 to 939. Æthelstan is known for his victory at the Battle of Brunanburh and for his significant contribution to European politics. 

 34 Harold Godwinson

Harold Godwinson
Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: 1022 AD
Birthplace: Wessex
Died: October 14, 1066
Harold Godwinson, also known as Harold II, was the last Anglo-Saxon ruler of England, and succeeded Edward the Confessor. He died at the Battle of Hastings, fighting William the Conqueror and his army during the Norman Conquest. Harold was the first English king who was crowned in Westminster Abbey.

 35 Lady Godiva

Lady Godiva
Famous As: 11th-century Anglo-Saxon noblewoman
Birthdate: 0980 AD
Birthplace: Mercia
Died: 1067 AD

Lady Godiva was the wife of Leofric, Earl of Mercia. A 13th-century legend stated how she rode naked through Coventry to reverse an oppressive tax imposed by Leofric. Everybody stayed indoors, except a tailor named Thomas, who watched her, giving rise to the name Peeping Tom associated with voyeurs.

 36 Mary Tudor, Queen of France

Mary Tudor, Queen of France
Famous As: Queen
Birthdate: March 18, 1496
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Sheen Palace, London, England
Died: June 25, 1533

 37 Richard I of England

Richard I of England
Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: September 8, 1157
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Beaumont Palace, Oxford, England
Died: April 6, 1199
Richard I of England, the king of England from 1189 to 1199, was known as Richard the Lionheart, for his military prowess. He also reigned over Normandy, Aquitaine, Gascony, Cyprus, Poitiers, Anjou, Maine, and Nantes. The third son of King Henry II, he fought actively in the Third Crusade.

 38 Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy

Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy
Famous As: Queen
Birthdate: December 25, 1936
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Belgrave Square, England

 39 Edward the Confessor

Edward the Confessor
Famous As: King
Birthdate: 1003 AD
Birthplace: Islip
Died: January 5, 1066
Edward the Confessor, son of Æthelred the Unready, was one of the last Anglo-Saxon rulers of England and reigned from 1042 to 1066. He restored the rule of the House of Wessex after the reign of Danish king Cnut. He was considered a national saint till Saint George replaced him.

 40 Mary II of England

Mary II of England
Famous As: Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland (1689-1694)
Birthdate: April 30, 1662
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London, England
Died: December 28, 1694

Mary II of England was Queen of England, Ireland, and Scotland from 1689 to 1694. Although she co-reigned along with her husband William III of England, she also took major decisions by herself whenever William was abroad. Mary has been portrayed in films, such as Orlando and England, My England.

 41 Edward VI of England

Edward VI of England
Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: October 12, 1537
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Hampton Court Palace, Molesey, United Kingdom
Died: July 6, 1553

Edward VI of England served as the King of England and Ireland from 1547 until his death at the age of 15 in 1553. Edward VI, who took interest in religious matters, allowed Protestantism to be established in England during his reign. His reign also witnessed the introduction of written works that formed the basis for practices of the English Church.

 42 George V

George V
Famous As: Former King of the United Kingdom
Birthdate: June 3, 1865
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Marlborough House, London, England
Died: January 20, 1936

George V became the King of Great Britain and the British Dominions in 1910. During the World War I, he played an active role in supporting the troops. The rise of socialism, communism, fascism and the Indian independence movement was witnessed during his rule. His reign also saw the supremacy of the elected British House of Commons established by the Parliament.

 43 Henry VI of England

Henry VI of England
Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: December 6, 1421
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Windsor Castle, Berkshire, England, United Kingdom
Died: May 21, 1471

The only child of Henry V, Henry VI of England served as the king of England for almost 40 years. He also served as the disputed king of France between 1422 and 1453, becoming the only English monarch to serve as the king of France. He founded educational institutions like Eton College, All Souls College, Oxford, and King's College, Cambridge.

 44 Empress Matilda

Empress Matilda
Famous As: Holy Roman Empress (1114-1125)
Birthdate: February 7, 1102
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Sutton Courtenay, England
Died: September 10, 1167

Empress Matilda was the daughter of King Henry I of England and one of the claimants to the throne of England during the 'Anarchy'. Her participation in the civil war and tales of bravery have been the subject of historical fiction. She has also been depicted in films, stage shows, and TV series.

 45 Henry I of England

Henry I of England
Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: 1068 AD
Birthplace: Selby, United Kingdom
Died: December 1, 1135
Henry I, fourth son of William the Conqueror, seized the throne of England after his brother William II’s death, and ruled as the King of England from 1100 to 1135. He was strict but efficient, and is known for his conquest of Normandy following the Battle of Tinchebray.

 46 Edward the Elder

Edward the Elder
Famous As: King of Wessex
Birthdate: 0874 AD
Birthplace: Wessex
Died: July 17, 0924

Edward the Elder, the Anglo-Saxon ruler of Wessex from circa 899 to 924, is known as the king who extended his authority over almost all of England by conquering the areas previously held by the Danish invaders. Though he is said to have been largely ignored by historians until the late 20th century, he is held in high regard now.

 47 Edward VIII

Edward VIII
Famous As: King of United Kingdom
Birthdate: June 23, 1894
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Richmond Park, Surrey, England
Died: May 28, 1972

Edward VIII was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Empire for several months in 1936. He was also Emperor of India during this period. He served in the British Army during the First World War and became the king following his father’s death. However, he abdicated the throne only months into his reign.

 48 Richard II of England

Richard II of England
Famous As: King of England (1377-1399)
Birthdate: January 6, 1367
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Bordeaux, France
Died: February 14, 1400

Richard II of England was King of England from 1377 to 1399. Also known as Richard of Bordeaux, he was a firm believer in the royal prerogative. He was not popular as a king and was deposed in 1399 and is believed to have been starved to death in captivity. Modern historians believe he may have had a personality disorder.

 49 Mary Boleyn

Mary Boleyn
Famous As: Mistress of Henry VIII
Birthdate: 1499 AD
Birthplace: Blickling, Norfolk, England
Died: July 19, 1543

Mary Boleyn was the sister of Anne Boleyn. As a sibling of the English queen consort, Boleyn enjoyed considerable influence during King Henry VIII's reign. Also known for her affairs with Henry VIII and King Francis I of France, Boleyn has been the subject of films, such as The Other Boleyn Girl in which she was portrayed by Scarlett Johansson.

 50 George IV of the United Kingdom

George IV of the United Kingdom
Famous As: King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Birthdate: August 12, 1762
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: London, England
Died: June 26, 1830

Regarded as the first gentleman of England, King George IV of the United Kingdom saw his empire consolidating its position as the global hegemon, particularly after the Napoleonic Wars. His regency during the illness of his father and then his 10-year reign were marked by royal extravagance.