It has been quite some time since I last posted in the English Monarchs FA Cup series. What is the English Monarchs FA Cup? Well, here’s a summary:

Sixty-four monarchs throughout English history have been randomly drawn against one another in the format of the football FA Cup. The winner of the match-ups progress through to the next round until the very best monarch in English history is declared.

The last posts in the series provided an overview of the first round, and a summary of the fixtures for Round 2.

In this part, the first four fixtures of Round 2 will be covered:

  • Mary II v William III
  • Mary I v Eadred
  • Matilda v George V
  • Elizabeth I v Richard II

Mary II (r.1689-1694) v

William III (r: 1689-1702)

This tie has provided a “first” for the series: a battle between married monarchs. Mary II successfully made it to the second round by “defeating” Harold Harefoot; in this, she was fortunate in obtaining an easy fixture against a forgotten monarch. However, in her husband William III she comes up against much tougher opposition. William himself had a straight-forward victory in Round 1 by easily swatting aside the “Nine Day Queen”, poor Lady Jane Grey.

Mary’s key achievements are limited, and she died within a handful of years on coming to the throne as part of the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688. Perhaps the single biggest moment of her life – in terms of its political impact – was her marriage to her cousin, William, in 1677. This set the scene for the big events that happened in 1688.

But 1688 belongs to William, not Mary. It was William who leading nobles wanted as the ruler of the kingdom, and the only person they believed had the clout and force to remove James II from the throne. William was the head of the army that landed in Devon, and he was the man who directed England’s policies for the next decade (until his death in 1702).

Of course, there are large, enduring stains on William’s record that retain a negative influence in the 21st century, particularly lingering religious divides and hatred. However, evaluation of his legacy will wait for the next round and his next opponent. For when compared side-by-side, Mary’s influence on the country and the development of the kingdom is far outweighed from her husband’s. As such, William “wins” this tie and progresses to the final 16.

Winner: William III

Mary I (r: 1553-1558) v

Eadred (r: 946-955)

The other Mary in this post – Mary I – is someone who had a larger impact on the politics of the kingdom. A clear difference between Mary I and II is that the first Mary ruled in her own right, without the overbearing dominance of a husband (despite the arguable influence of Philip of Spain). But yet, there remain key similarities between the two.

For example, Mary I also had to fight for her throne. In 1553, her younger half-brother Edward VI died at the age of 15, and many in the country did not want the crown to pass to a Catholic woman. This set the scene for the Devise of the Succession, in which power was to pass to Lady Jane Grey rather than Mary. (These events are described in more detail in the previous round.) However, Mary stood her ground and eventually her rule was recognised around the country. Furthermore, there are religious parallels: Mary II was part of a Protestant rise against Catholic absolutism, whereas Mary I wished to rid the kingdom of Protestant claptrap in order to restore England to the Catholic cause. Yes, both are on different platforms of this religious divide, but both were part of governments that used force to achieve their dogmatic ideas.

However, Mary I’s five year reign could not be called a success. It was the period of the Mid Tudor Crisis and the nation was divided. Mary’s religious policy resulted in the burning of up to 300 Protestants, including the Archbishop of Canterbury; meanwhile, the country suffered from poor harvests and a declining economy. Furthermore, England went to war with France – as part of its Spanish alliance (Mary’s husband was Philip of Spain) – and it resulted in the loss of Calais. Many historians believe that Mary’s reign provides evidence of a Mid Tudor Crisis, in which the kingdom was close to collapse.

In the first round Mary was fortunate to be matched against King Stephen; a fellow monarch who also ruled during difficult times. This time she is pitted against Eadred, who reigned from 946 to 955. Eadred is a forgotten monarch, however, in the first round he was able to “defeat” Harold, the unlucky monarch who reigned for a few months in 1066. Again, Eadred is not notable for much in his short reign, however, his key achievement was the expansion of the English kingdom; Northumbria was added during this period.

As such, Eadred had a positive part to play in the growth of the English kingdom, continuing the tradition set by his grandfather Alfred the Great. In comparison to Mary I, it is clear that this positive outweighs the negative divides of the 1550s. As such, Eadred progresses to the next round.

Winner: Eadred

Matilda (r: 1135) v

George V (r: 1910-1936)

Matilda was one of the “wildcards” who were given a place in the tournament. Yes, I had to fill numbers in order to create a neat 64 entrants, however, there are convincing reasons for her inclusion. She was the legitimate heir to Henry I, however, others disputed this; her crown was passed to her cousin Stephen, which set in motion a two decade long civil war. Although Matilda did not rule in her own right, her efforts led to the crown eventually passing to her son, Henry II.

In Round 1, Matilda fortunately came up against Charles I. This time she faces George V from the 20th Century. In many ways, it is extremely difficult to compare two monarchs who are separated by eight centuries of history. George V, and all the other monarchs from the modern day, are at a disadvantage in being constitutional monarchs who have weaker powers and influence.

However, George V served the role of monarch extremely well during a time of great disturbance: he overcome the constitutional crisis of 1910, weathered the storm of the First World War, and then continued into the uncertainties of the inter-war period. Interestingly, George V remained on the throne after the Great War whilst many of his relatives lost their crowns in other foreign states (notably the Kaiser in Germany and the royals in Russia).

So, the chief comparison is in how these monarchs – Matilda and George V – were able to create a harmonious kingdom. Matilda’s actions in a civil war disrupted harmony, whereas George V played a near-perfect role of constitutional monarch. As such, George continues in the tournament to Round 3.

Winner: George V

Elizabeth I (1558-1603) v

Richard II (r: 1377-1399)

In Round 1, Elizabeth overcame another one of England’s most famous monarchs, Cnut the Great. Her reign makes her one of the favourites for the tournament winner. Her rival in this round – Richard II – had the luck of sneaking into second round due to being matched with an even worse monarch, James II.

Let’s be honest, there is no contest here. Richard II has gone down in history as a shambolic ruler, whereas Elizabeth’s achievements and longevity clearly make her the victor of this match-up. Richard’s ghastly demise highlights his failure on the throne, thereby gaining infamy as one of England’s least effective monarchs. As such, let’s wait until Elizabeth’s fixture in Round 3 before we thoroughly assess her reign in deeper detail.

Winner: Elizabeth I

Round 1 Results:

  1. Henry V beat Richard Cromwell
  2. Edmund Ironside beat Henry VI
  3. Edward III beat Richard I
  4. Elizabeth beat Cnut
  5. Victoria beat Henry I
  6. Elizabeth II beat George VI
  7. William IV beat Louis
  8. James I beat Edward VI
  9. Eadred beat Harold
  10. Henry III beat Edward IV
  11. Henry IV beat Sweyn Forkbeard
  12. George III beat George I
  13. Mary I beat Stephen
  14. Matilda beat Charles I
  15. Edward the Elder beat Edward VIII
  16. Edgar the Peaceful beat Eadwig
  17. Edmund I beat Richard III
  18. Aethelstan beat John
  19. Mary II beat Harold Harefoot
  20. William the Conqueror beat Aelfweard
  21. Henry II beat Ethelred the Unready
  22. George II beat William “Rufus” II
  23. Oliver Cromwell beat Edward V
  24. Edward the Confessor beat Edward II
  25. William III beat Lady Jane Grey
  26. Henry VII beat Charles II
  27. Richard II beat James II
  28. George V beat Edward the Martyr
  29. Harthacnut beat Edward VII
  30. Anne beat George IV
  31. Henry VIII beat Edgar Aetheling
  32. Alfred the Great beat Edward I