Explore the stories of some monarchs who have been pivotal in the history of the Tower.
William the Conqueror (r 1066-87)
‘The Conqueror’ was the Duke of Normandy in Northern France. He defeated and killed King Harold II at the Battle of Hastings. His descendents have ruled England ever since.
Henry III (r 1216-72)
He became king when he was only 9 in the aftermath of Magna Carta and the Barons’ War.
Edward I (r 1272-1307)
A formidable warrior, he earned this moniker from his wars against William Wallace and Robert the Bruce.
Edward III (r 1327-77)
Famous for having lots of children, Edward made various improvements to the Tower during his reign.
Richard II (r 1377-99)
Famous for facing down the Peasants’ Revolt, he rode out to face the leaders of the Peasants’ Revolt in 1381 and hear their demands for an end to serfdom.
Henry VI (r 1422-61, 1470-1)
When he was only a baby Henry became king of France as well as England, as a result of the victories and negotiations of his father, Henry V.
Richard III (r 1483-1485)
He was the last king of England to die on the battlefield. Defeated by Henry Tudor (VII) at Bosworth, Richard was also the last king of the House of York.
Henry VIII (r 1509-1547)
‘Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived.’ Henry did indeed marry six times, but had only three legitimate children.
Queen Mary I (r 1553-8)
Remembered as ‘Bloody Mary’, the Roman Catholic queen who attempted to reverse the Reformation and return England to Catholicism.
Queen Elizabeth I (r 1558-1603)
Elizabeth I never married, preferring to avoid the political consequences of making a choice. It allowed her greater freedom while playing off a succession of suitors against each other.
Characters and prisoners
Discover more about these intriguing characters and see how they are connected to the Tower.
Imprisoned at the Tower
There have been prisoners at the Tower almost since it was built. For nearly 900 years, traitors, kings, queens, saints and sinners have been held here against their will.