Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in History



First Advisor

Elisabeth A Cawthon


The English royal family is experiencing a recent surge of popularity. Though they no longer personally govern England, their role is still crucial within the country. The current heir to the throne, Prince Charles, is expected to inherit peacefully upon the death of Elizabeth II. However, there has been speculation that he could be passed over for his far more popular son Prince William. If this does occur, it will not be the first time that a monarch who was not the primary heir inherited the English throne. Eight times in the period between 1100 and 1701 the primary heir to the throne did not inherit. These eight monarchs represent the most revered and the most reviled monarchs that English history has to offer. But unlike in modern times, their education and preparation is not well documented by contemporary historians. In addition, no comprehensive study exists that encompasses all eight "sudden monarchs" and their reigns. Were they afforded the same education as their elder, dynastically more important siblings? Does their education or lack thereof show in the policies and administration of their reign? Is there a trend amongst the eight? This study seeks to address those exact questions. It will look at the reigns of Henry I, Richard I, John I, Richard III, Mary I, Elizabeth I, and James II to assess whether their formal educations, preparations, and early life experiences do in fact show not only in their reigns but in their historical legacies. What this study asserts is that these unexpected monarchs did not receive the same education or preparation as the primary heirs. The trend that emerged is that when the monarch had a stable early life as well as excellent education and preparation in the things that contemporaries viewed as important, then his or her reign was effective; in addition the ruler left behind a memorable legacy and was generally seen by contemporaries--and historical scholars-- as everything that a monarch ought to be.


Arts and Humanities | History


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington

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