Royal Styles and Titles in England and Great Britain
England (to 1707)
William II (1087) was the first to introduce the consistent use of the
style N Dei Gratia Rex Anglorum. Under king John
the phrase changed on the royal seal from "king
English" to Rex Anglie, "king
His successors would add other
titles over time: Henry I added dux Normannorum (duke of
in 1121, Henry II added dux Aquitanorum et comes Andegavorum
of Aquitaine and count of Anjou) in 1154
(see the seal
of Richard I with the legend "Ricardus Dei gratia rex anglorum" on
the obverse and "Richardus dux Normannorum et Aquitanorum comes
on the reverse).
Lord/King of Ireland
In 1199, John added dominus Hiberniae
(lord of Ireland, a title he held since 1177, perhaps by virtue of
of Pope Hadrian II of 1155 giving Henry II permission to subdue
so that "illius terrae populas te recipiat et sicut dominum
veneretur"). The style dominus
Hyberniae had been used in a royal council by Henry I in his
33d year (Parry 1839, 12). Under John
the royal seal bore the legend : "Iohannes Dei
Gratia Rex Anglie Dominus
Hibernie | Ioh's Dux Normannie et Aqitannie Comes Andegavie."
Irish statute of 1542, Henry VIII became king of Ireland.
The French possessions
England was conquered by a duke of Normandy in 1066. Although
Normandy and England were initially separated after the Conqueror's
death in 1086, they were reunited by force under king Henry I in
1106. After Henry's death the succession was disputed between his
daughter Maud and his nephew Stephen. Maud's husband count
Geoffrey of Anjou wrestled away Normandy and gave it to his son Henry
Plantagenet, who eventually succeeded Stephen in 1154 and reunited
again Normandy and England unde rone ruler Also, being the
husband since 1152 of Alienor duchess of Aquitaine, he considerably
enlarged the French holdings of the English kings. Over the next
two centuries, however, the French kings successfully pared down the
Angevin empire to a sliver of land along the Atlantic coast around
Bordeaux by 1339.
The biggest single loss was sustained in 1204, afterPhilip II
Augustus of France declared king John of England, his vassal as duke of
Normandy and count of Anjou, a rebel (April 28, 1202), and confiscated
Neither John nor his son and successor Henry III were able to reverse
the loss, which was formally accepted by the king of England at the
treaty of Paris.
The details of the process by which the treaty was drawn up by
plenipotentiaries in 1258 and ratified over the course of 1259 are
given in Chaplais (1952
King of France (1340-1800)
By a writ of April 16, 1340, Edward III publicly assumed the title
king of France, and dropped the title of Duke of Aquitaine (because
in the French crown): thus his great seal was changed to read : Edwardus
Dei Gracia Rex Francie et Anglie et Dominus Hibernie. He dropped
renouncing his claims at the peace
of Brétigny on 24 Oct 1360, which secured to him Aquitaine
Gascony. On 19 July 1362 he granted to his eldest son the principality
of Aquitaine and Gascony, reserving himself to raise them to the title
and dignity of a kingdom; hereafter the Black Prince styled himself
regis Angliae, princeps Aquitaniae" (e.g., on the coinage he struck in
Aquitaine). Aquitaine never became a kingdom, and the title of duke of
to be used on coinage struck there.
III, considering that the French had breached the treaty of 1360, with
the advice of his Parliament, resumed the title of king of France (Rotuli Parliamentorum 3:300,
43 Ed. III):
Et le Meskerdi suant [=8 Jun 1369],
l'Ercevesque et Prelatz, eu sur la Charge qe lour feust done devant
mature delib[er]ac[i]on, d'une acord respondirent,et disoient, Que
n[ost]re dit Seign[ou]r le Roi par les Causes susdites poait reprendre
et user le Noun du Roi de France de droit et bone conscience. Et a ce
acorderent les Ducs, Countes, Barons et autres Grantz, et Com[m]unes,
en plein Parlement. Quele Noun de Roi de France le Roi reprist, et le
XI jour de Juyn le Grant Seal le Roi quel il usa a devant mys en garde,
et un autre Seal emprente de noun de France repris, et furent Chartres,
Patentes, et Briefs ensealez; et toutz les autres Sealx en les autres
places le Roi en mesme la maniere chaungez le dit jour.
gold salut of Henry VI, struck in Rouen. The legend reads "Henricus Dei
Fra[n]coru[m] Z A[n]glie Rex. The arms are those of France and England
(itself England and France quartered).
Pursuant to the
treaty of Troyes of May 21, 1420, Henry V replaced the title
of king of France with that of heir of the kingdom of France (Rotuli Parliamentorum 4:171).
Henry V died on Aug 31, 1422, before Charles VI of France, who died on
Oct 21 of the same year. His successor Henry VI resumed the
"king of France", and it remained part of the royal styles and
titles until 1801 (see below),
although the English lost Paris in 1436, Normandy in 1450, Aquitaine in
1453, and Calais
(their last continental possession) in 1558.
Early English kings were not numbered. Since it was customary to date
legal documents by the year of their reign, to distinguish various
the form "king X son of king Y" was used. Examples taken from
(in Statutes of the Realm reprint 1993, vol. 1):
In the case of Edward (III), son of Edward (II), confusion was possible
Edward (II) son of Edward (I). One solution, shown here, was to go back
two generations. Another solution was adopted the following year in the
- "Anno regni Regis H[enrici] fil[ii] Regis Jo[ha]nnis vicesimo"
in 20 Hen III c.1
- "Ce sunt les Establisemenz le Rey edward le fiz le
Rey Henry fez a Weymoster a son p[re]mer parlement apres son
corounement" in 3 Edw I c.1
- "anno d[omi]ni millio CCC. undecimo regni vero Regis Edwardi
filii Regis Edward Quinto" in 5 Edw II c. 41
- "le Roi Edward, filz au Roi Edward filz le Roi Henri" in 1 Edw
III stat. 2
From then on, English kings, explicitly or implicitly,
were numbered as "Nth since the Conquest", although other formulas
are sometimes used (e.g., "Roi Edward aiel n[ot]re s[eigneu]r le Roi
qorest" = king Edward grandfather of our lord the King that now is, in
1 Hen IV c. 15).
- N[ot]re seign[eu]r le Roi Edward, le tierz ap[re]s le conqueste"
in 2 Edw III
- "lan du Regne del Roi Henry quint puis le co[n]queste
noevisme" in 9 Hen V stat. 1
- "Roy Henry quart puis le conquest pier a Roy qore est" (king
Henry fourth since the conquest father to the king that now is") in 2
Hen V stat. 2 c.6
- "lan du Regne le Roi Henry quint ap[re]s le conqest tierce" in
3 Hen V
- "lan de regne du Roy Henry sisme puis le conquest prim[ier]" in
1 Hen VI
- Edward p[ar] la g[ra]ce de Dieu Roi Denglet[ere]e & de
& Seigneour Dirland puis le Conquest quart" in 1 Edw IV c.1 (a
that inter alia validates all acts done "en le temps de Henry le quart,
Henry le quint son filz, & Henr[y] le sisme son filz, nadgairs en
fait & nient
en droit successivement Roies Denglet[e]re")
- "Richard p[ar] la grace de Dieu Roy Denglet[e]re & de Fraunce
S[eigneu]r Dirland puis le conquest tierce" in 1 Ric III
- "lan du reigne du Roy Henry le septisme puis le conquest
in 1 Hen VII
This numbering, however, was not part of the style used by the king
(in the examples above for Edward IV and Richard III, the rest of the
text speaks of the king in the third person).
Henry VIII was the first to use a numeral after his name, in 1525.
Usually, sovereigns who are the first of their name are not numbered;
only if there is a successor bearing the same name are they
numbered. There are exceptions, however:
- the official style
of Mary I proclaimed in 1553 calls her: "Mary the First"
- the inscription on the coffin of James I in Westminster begins:
"Depositum Invictissimi Principis Jacobi primi, Magnæ
Franciæ, & Hiberniæ Regis"
- Under the face of the clock of Westminster Palace (commonly
Big Ben) is a prominent inscription: "Domine salvam fac reginam nostram
Victoriam primam" (see a close-up)
Changes under the Tudors
Defender of the Faith (since 1521)
To express his appreciation for a treatise that Henry VIII wrote
Martin Luther, pope Leo X bestowed on him the style of Defender of
Faith by a bull of 11 Oct 1521. Even after the break with Rome,
monarchs retained the style, to this day, but on the basis of acts of
Parliament rather than the papal bull.
Here is the relevant excerpt of the bull (Magnum Bullarium
"Nos [...] qui in hac Sancta Sede a qua omnes dignitates ac
tituli emanant, sedemus [...] Majestati tuae titulum hunc, videlicet
Defensorem, donare decrevimus, prout te tali titulo per praesentes
mandantes omnibus Christifidelibus, ut Majestatem tuam hoc titulo
& cum ad eam scribent, post dictionem Regi adjungant Fidei
We [...] who sit in this Holy See from which all dignities and
emanate [...] decree that we grant to your majesty this title, namely
of the Faith, asking all Christians to style you with this title, and
they write to you, to insert "Defender of the Faith" after the word
Supreme Head (1544-53)
statute of 1544 (35 Hen VIII c.3) granted Henry VIII the style of
King of England,
France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, and of the Church of England
and also of Ireland on earth the supreme head. This act was
by Mary in 1553.
Mary and Philip (1553-58)
Mary and her husband Philip of Spain were jointly
and Mary by the grace of God king and queen of England, France, Naples,
and Ireland, defenders of the faith, princes of Spain and Sicily,
of Austria, dukes of Milan, Burgundy and Brabant, count of Habsburg,
Tyrol. Note that the title of king of Ireland was not the
created by Henry VIII in 1542, but the one conferred by Pope Paul IV in
The style was adjusted when Philip became king of Spain on his father's
abdication in 1555.
Elizabeth I used the simpler by the grace of
queen of England, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, etc.
(See below for the "etc").
See Maitland 1900.
At the accession of Elizabeth I, a subtle change was made to the
If one compares her
proclamation of accession (1558) with that
her predecessor (1553), one sees that they are identical except
that the phrase "and in the earth supreme head of the Church of England
and Ireland" has been
replaced by "etc". This was no accident, and the decision was taken at
levels: two days after her accession, her secretary of State Robert
Cecil was preparing to assemble "a commission to make out writs for the
parliament touching &c. in the styles of writs". When Parliament
assembled in January 1559
it appointed a commission to examine the validity of the writs, and it
that the omission of "supreme head" did not invalidate them.
A few years later,
some English Catholics consulted with Rome and asked whether they could
conscience add the particule "et cetera" to the style when "it is
understood that it stands for supreme head of the Church"; to which
they were told that heretics
might well interpret it to mean head of the Anglican church, but
Catholics are not obliged to do so, since it is a "vox indifferens"
which can mean many other things
and is often added to royal styles.
The purpose of replacing "supreme head" with "etc" was thus achieved:
it allowed to finesse the problem and neither drop nor explicitly use
Henry VIII's religiously divisive title.
The "etc" was dropped in 1801.
Scotland (to 1707)
The style was Rex Scotorum. The phrase "by the grace of God"
introduced by John Baillol and used consistently from David II on. Mary
and Francois II of France (1559-60) were styled king and queen of
and Scotland. Mary and Darnley were styled Henry and Mary king
queen of Scotland, but Bothwell was never styled king.
Seal of François II of France and Mary queen of
Scots (1559). Note the legend: "Franciscus et Maria D[ei] G[ratia] R[ex
et] R[egina] Francor[um] Scot[orum] Angl[iae] et Hyber[niae]". (Source:
de données Archim.)
Great Britain (1707-1800)
"Great Britain" before 1707
Although technically, there was no United Kingdom of Great Britain
the Act of Union in 1707, British monarchs had begun using "king of
Britain" as a short-hand for "king of England and Scotland" or "king of
Scotland and England" as soon as personal union took place. In a proclamation
of Oct. 24, 1604, James I stated: "We do by these presents, by
of our kingly power and prerogative, assume to ourself by the clearness
of our right, the name and style of King of Great Britain, France and
Defender of the Faith, etc. as followeth in our just and lawful style,
and do hereby publish, promulge and declare the same, to the end that
all proclamations, missives foreign, and domestical, treaties, leagues,
dedicatories, impressions, and in all other cases of like nature, the
may be used and observed."
In fact, Henry VIII had planned to marry the prince of Wales and
Queen of Scots, and the 1548 articles proposed that the eventual ruler
of both countries be called Emperor of Great Britain, and a similar
proposal was by a member of Parliament in 1604 (Bindoff 1945). The
term "Great Britain" itself appears in a marriage
of 1474 between the daughter of Edward IV and James II of Scotland. It
is used repeatedly in print after the mid-16th century.
This proclamation of 1604 was followed, on the whole. The style of
of Great Britain was used by James I on his seal as king of England as
well as his seals as king of Scotland (but with different arms on each
seal: "quarterly 1 and 4 England, 2 Scotland, 3 Ireland" for the
seal; "quarterly 1 and 4 Scotland, 2 England, 3 Ireland" for the
seal). Likewise, coins of James I (and all Stuart kings) used that
(the Scottish coins used the Scottish arms after a decision of the
Council of 7 Dec 1609; see Burns 1887, 2:425).
I used the same style on his first English seal of 1625, then reverted
to "king of England, France and Ireland" on his second seal of 1627,
then back to "Great Britain" on his third seal of 1640. His English and
Scottish coins both use "Great Britain" (see, for example, this Oxford
crown at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, whose legend reads "Carolus
D[ei] G[ratia] Mag[nae] Brit[anniae] Fran[ciae] et Hiber[niae] Rex"),
as, like the seals, they display different coats of arms (see for
shilling coin whose reverse shows the Scottish arms in quarters 1
4, the English arms in quarter 2). Charles II and James II both styled
themselves kings of Great Britain on their seals and coins.
On Dec 16, 1653, Oliver Cromwell was proclaimed Lord Protector of
Scotland and Ireland. His style on the Great Seal of the Connonwealth
"Olivarius Dei Gratia Reip[ublicae] Angliae Scotiae et Hiberniae,
By the Act of Union of 1707 (xi. sect.1), it was decided "That the
Kingdoms of England and Scotland shall, upon the 1st day of May next
the date hereof, and for ever after, be united into one Kingdom by the
Name of Great Britain, and that the ensigns armorial of the said United
Kingdom be such as Her Majesty shall appoint, and the crosses of St.
and St. George be conjoined in such manner as Her Majesty shall think
and used in all flags, banners, standards and ensigns, both at sea and
Consequently, the style adopted was "N, by the grace of God, of
Britain, France and Ireland King/Queen, Defender of the Faith, &c"
(see for example
patent of Queen Anne dated 1712. Upon the accession of the house of
Hanover in 1714, the style was occasionally modified to be "by the
of God King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, Defender of the
Duke of Brunswick and Lunenburg, Arch Treasurer, and Prince Elector of
the Holy Roman Empire, &c" (e.g., the ratification
of the treaty of Paris dated 1784). The Latin form was "Georgius I
Dei Gratia Magnae Britanniae, Franciae et Hiberniae Rex, Fidei
Brunscvicensis et Luneburgensis Dux, Sacri Romani Imperii
United Kingdom (since 1801)
The Act of Union of 1801 created the United Kingdom of Great Britain
Ireland. It was proposed to George III that he adopt the style of
of the British and Hanoverian Dominions," a suggestion he rejected. But
he dropped the title of king of France (see more on the circumstances).
By Proclamation of
1, 1801, the style adopted was by the grace of God, of the
Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland king, defender of the faith
Latin: Georgius Tertius, Dei Gratia, Britanniarum Rex, Fidei
In 1814, the prince regent changed his father's German title to
of Hanover, Duke of Brunswick and Lunenburg". The
were modified two years later, in 1816.
In 1837 the personal union between Hanover and the United Kingdom ended
with the accession of Ernst Augustus I in Hanover and
Queen Victoria in the United Kingdom on 20 Jun 1837. Since Hanover did not
appear in the royal style, however, no change was needed, although the
royasl arms were modified.
Seal of Queen Victoria. Credit: The National Archives, ref. HO125/2.
By proclamation of
28, 1876, the title of Empress of India was added, and by proclamation
of 1901 the style was changed to by the grace of God, of the
Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British dominions
the Seas king, defender of the faith, Emperor of India.
From 1901 to 1952, a new Latin title was used on coins: Dei
Gratia Britanniarum Rex,
or King of the Britains. In 1868, a book by C. W. Dilke popularized the
phrase "Greater Britain" to mean Britain and all its colonies. This may
have led to the proposal of the title "King of all Britains", in the
years of the 19th c., by the earl of Rosebery. The Oxford English
(s.v. "Britain") provides two quotes:
1897 Earl of Rosebery in Daily News 5 July 4/5 :
"`Regina Britanniarum' - the Queen of the Britains... She
is sovereign, not of one or two, but of numberless Britains, all
1901 Westminster Gazette 11 Dec. 2/2: "Lord Rosebery has
succeeded with his cry of `All the Britains', as the three letters
`Omn' on the new coins are to testify... Our King henceforth is to be
King of All the Britains."
This style may have been influenced by
the Russian style of "Czar of all the Russias". It appeared on coins
abbreviated as Britt. Omn.: the double T in Britt
is a mark of plural, a common abbreviation on Roman coins.
Seal of Edward VII. Credit: The National Archives, ref. HO125/5.
Seal of King George V, obverse (second version, 1930). Credit: The National Archives, ref. HO125/17.
See also a
picture of the first version of 1912.
The Anglo-Irish treaty of 1922 put an end to the union of Great Britain and Ireland
by creating a new dominion, of which George V remained king. The Parliament in
Westminster ceased to represent all of Ireland, which required a change in its style.
The Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act 1927 (17 Geo 5 c. 4) gave the
king authority to issue a royal proclamation within 6 months "to make
alteration in the style and titles at present appertaining to the Crown
as to His Majesty may seem fit". Accordingly, a proclamation
of May 13, 1927 changed the style to by the grace of God, of
Great Britain, Ireland and of the British dominions beyond the Seas king,
defender of the faith, Emperor of India. The only alteration was to replace
the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of with Great Britain,
Ireland and; and, in the Latin version, to replace Britanniarum with
Magnae Britanniae, Hiberniae,. The new seal, designed by Percy Metcalfe (1895-1970)
in 1930, replaced the seal designed by Gilbert Hayes (1872-1953) in 1912.
The same act also changed the style
of Parliament, which would "hereafter be known as and styled the Parliament
of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" (instead of
"...and Ireland"). It also provided that the phrase "United Kingdom" would
henceforth refer to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
In diplomatic correspondance, the government became known as "the government
of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".
The Ireland Act 1949 declared that "the part of Ireland heretofore known
as Eire ceased, as from the 18th day of April, 1949, to be part of
His Majesty's dominions." But the royal style remained unaltered until 1953.
In a treaty
signed with the Sultan of Muscat and Oman on 20 Dec 1951, George VI
is referred to as "HM the King of Great Britain, Ireland and the
British Dominions beyond the seas," and as late as 22 Dec 1952 a warrant
addressed to Lord Lyon setting the precedence of the duke of Edinburgh in Scotland
styled the Queen as "by the Grace of God of Great Britain, Ireland
and the British Dominions beyond the Seas Queen, Defender of the Faith."
No change was made to account for the new situation until May 1953 (see below).
The title of Emperor of India was abandoned by proclamation
of June 22, 1948, by virtue of the India Independence Act (10-11
6 c. 30, s. 7(2)) which specified: "The assent of the Parliament of the
United Kingdom is hereby given to the omission from the Royal Style and
Titles of the words 'Indiae Imperator' and the words 'Emperor of India'
and to the issue by His Majesty for that purpose of His Royal
Proclamation under the Great Seal of the Realm."
of British Chronology mistakenly dates the proclamation to June
22, 1947 and says
it was issued in anticipation of royal assent for the Act!).
Seal of King George VI. Credit: The National Archives, ref. HO124/49.
The statutes of Westminster of 1937 in fact required the assent of
legislatures of all Commonwealth members to any change in the style of
the British sovereign. Since such assent could not be secured in time,
the change was nevertheless applied, and George VI ceased to sign
G.R.I. as of August 15, 1947 (the I standing for Imperator).
work began to devise a new style acceptable to various Commonwealth
In December 1952, representatives of the UK, Canada, Australia, New
South Africa, Pakistan and Ceylon agreed that "there is need for an
[of the style and titles appertaining to the Crown] which, whilst
of the use in relation to each of those countries of a form suiting its
particular circumstances, would retain a substantial element common to
all." The results, delayed by the death of George VI, were authorized
the Royal Titles Act 1953 (c. 9) ("The assent of the Parliament of the
United Kingdom is hereby given to the adoption by Her Majesty, for use
in relation to the United Kingdom and all other the territories for
foreign relations Her Government in the United Kingdom is responsible,
of such style and titles as Her Majesty may think fit having regard to
said agreement, in lieu of the style and titles at present appertaining
to the Crown, and to the issue by Her for that purpose of Her Royal
under the Great Seal of the Realm"). They were made public on May 29,
when a proclamation
simultaneously in the various capitals of the Commonwealth set a
style in each. In London, the style was by the grace of God, of
Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of her other realms
territories queen, head of the Commonwealth, defender of the faith.
On coins, the style is simply D[ei] G[ratia] Regina F[idei]
while on the great seal of the realm it is "Elizabeth II D[ei] G[ratia]
Britt. [=Britanniarum] Regnorumque Suorum Ceter[orum] Regina
Consortionis Populorum Princeps F[idei] D[efensor]" in conformity with
the proclamation of 1953. (For a description of the great seal, see
press notice 261/01 from the Lord Chancellor's Department,
titled "seal of the realm" and dated 18 July 2001,
Government News Network).
Duke of Lancaster
Is the Queen "duke of Lancaster"? The duchy's web site seems to
Brief history of the honor of Lancaster
The first earl of Lancaster was Edmund Plantagenet (d. 1297), younger
son of Henry III, earl of Leicester since 1265 and earl of Derby since
1266. He was granted the honor, county, castle and town of
Lancaster on June 30, 1267. He was succeeded by his son
Thomas (beheaded for treason in 1322). Thomas's brother Henry (d.
1345) was restored in 1327 to the earldoms of Lancaster and Leicester,
and was succeeded by his son Henry (d. 1361), who was created duke of
Lancaster by chater of March 6, 1351. He died without male heirs
and his dukedom became extinct; the barony of Lancaster, created by
writ of summons of 1299, fell in abeyance between his daughters Blanche
and Mathilda. Mathilda died without issue the following year and
all the estates fell to Blanche, who married John of Gaunt, son of king
John of Gaunt was created on Nov 13, 1362 duke of Lancaster.
Blanche died in 1369, having given birth to Henry of Bolingbroke. John
of Gaunt remarried in 1371 with Constance, daughter of Pedro king of
Castille and Leon, and he bore for a while the title of king of
Castille and Leon. He died on Feb. 3. 1399. King Richard II
seized the inheritance from the duke's son Henry of Bolingbroke, then
in exile in Paris. Henry returned to England, ostensibly to claim
his inheritance, but eventually deposed Richard II and became himself
king Henry IV (so proclaimed in Parliament on September 30,
1399). Henry IV's son Henry of Monmouth (b. 1387) was created
Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, and Earl of Chester on October 15,
One of Henry IV's first acts was to prevent the merger of his Lancaster
inheritance with the crown estates. On Nov. 10, 1399, the
following took place in Parliament (Rotuli
notre Seigneur le Roy considerant,
coment luy Dieu tout-puissant de sa grande grace luy ad mys en
l'onorable estat du Roy, & partant il ne poet mesmes pur certeine
cause porter le Noun de Duc de Lanc[astre] en son estile: Et auxi mesme
n[otr]re S[eigniou]r le Roy considerant, coment cel honorable Noun
& estat de Duc ad este mesnez & governez moelt honourablement
en l'onorable Personne de son pier, qi Dieu assoill', & des
pleusours ses honorables Auncestres; & veullant sur ceo q[e] le dit
Noun de Duc de Lancastre soit continuez en honor comme affiert; de
l'advis & assent des toutz les Seignrs Espirituels & Temporelx,
& de les Communes avaunt ditz, ad ordeignez, q Henry son eisnez
fitz ait & porte le Noun de Duc de Lancastr[e], & q'il soit
nomez Prince de Gales, Duc d'Aquitaigne, de Lancastre, & de
Cornewaill', & Count de Cestre. Et outre ceo, mesme n[ot]re
S[eigniou]r le Roi considerant, coment diverses Libertees &
Franchises aient este grantez devant ces heures, si b[ie]n a son dit
pier come as autres ses Auncestres Ducs & Counts de Lanc[astre],
voet & grante, de l'advys & assent avaunt ditz, Qe mesmes les
Libertees & Franchises soient & demorgent a son dit eisnez
Fitz, & ses heirs Ducs de Lanc[astre], disseverez de la Corone
d'Engleterre, quitement & entierment, solonc l'effect et purport de
les Grantes avaunet dites. Et sur ceo monstra une Chartre en Parlement
ent faite, & la bailla son eisnez Fitz avaunt dit.
The charter is dated Oct. 14, 1399, as is a similar charter
concerning the estates of Hereford which the king held from his wife
(they were annexed to the duchy of Lancaster in 1414).
Henry IV was succeeded in 1413 by his son Henry V, who remained in
possession of the duchy of Lancaster. He died in 1422 and was
succeeded by his son Henry VI. The latter was deposed on March 4,
1461, and on Nov. 4 of the same year his successor Edward IV had him
attainted by Act of Parliament and the duchy of Lancaster was forfeited
to the Crown. On November 14, a
parliamentary charter maintained
the separation of the duchy from the Crown: all the possessions of
Henry VI as of March 4, 1461 were incorporated and called "duchy of
Lancaster" and vested in Edward IV and his successors the kings of
England (Edward IV, of course, was not heir to the duchy of Lancaster
under the charter of 1399). When the throne passed to Henry VII
in 1485, a similar act (Nov. 14, 1485) vested the duchy of Lancaster in
the new king.
The title and style of "duke of Lancaster"
The duchy of Lancaster has remained separate from the Crown, but always
held by the sovereign, since 1413. This is not in doubt.
What is more
open to question is in what capacity did the king hold the duchy: as
king, or as duke?
An incontrovertible fact is that "duke of Lancaster" was never part of
the official styles and titles of the sovereign, which are now set by
royal proclamation pursuant to statutes of Parliament.
Peerage law holds that all titles held by an individual merge with the
crown when the individual ascends. The duchy was created in
1351, and became extinct in 1361. It was created once again in
1362; when Henry IV acceded to the crown on September 30, 1399 the
title merged with the crown. That is why the preamble of the act
of 1399 that established the duchy as separate from the crown says that
the king "himself may not for a certain
cause bear the
name of duke of Lancaster in his stile".
The estates, however, were kept separate by the charter of October 14,
while at the same time the title was conferred the same day on Henry
IV's son, amounting to a third creation. When Henry V ascended
the throne on March 21, 1413 all his honors merged with the crown
(Cokayne: Complete Peerage 7:419),
while the estates, under the charter of 1399, remained separate.
It is true that the roll of Parliament says that the grant of 1399 was
to Henry IV's son and his heirs dukes of Lancaster, and this might be
taken as evidence that an explicit exception was made to the common law
rule that all titles merge in the crown on accession. In any
event, the act of attainder of 1461 against Henry VI would clearly
extinguish any such title if it had remained. The charter of 1461
makes no mention whatsoever of a title of duke, nor does it say that
the king is duke of Lancaster. What it does, explicitly, is
create a corporation by the name of "duchy of Lancaster":
we have ... ordained and
established that the same [possessions] shall make, and from the fourth
day of March last past be the
Duchy of Lancaster corporate, and shall be called the Duchy of
and it provides that these possessions shall be owned by "us
and our heirs Kings of England, separate from all our other
Particular exceptions to common law created by statute must be
interpreted strictly and narrowly. All that the charter does is
separate some of the sovereign's possessions from others, give them a
name ("duchy of Lancaster") and provide for their administration.
It does not create a title where there is none.
A clear statement in law that the the king is not duke of Lancaster can
be found in the Duchy
of Lancaster Case (1561). A parcel of the
duchy had been leased while king Edward VI was of less than full age;
the lease would normally be invalid, but by common law the king is
never underage. Did the principles of common law regarding the
person of the king apply to the owner of the duchy? The question
had been considered at length and the nearly unanimous conclusion of
the various judges of the Queen's bench and judges of common pleas was
that the queen could not avoid the lease.
The general principle was that there was no distinction between the
king's actions as a private individual (in his "body natural") or as
sovereign (in his "body politic"). As for the particular case,
after Henry IV's accession, "the possessions of the dutchy of
Lancaster were in him as king, and not as duke, for the name of duke
being lower than the name of king, was drowned by the name of king, and
by the accession of the estate royal to him who was duke, for the king
could not be duke in his own realm, though he might out of it."
The judges considered the charter of 1399 severing the duchy from the
crown, but they did not find anything in it that altered the status of
the king, but rather it altered the status of the thing possessed
(the duchy): and "altho' the charter and the act make the king to have
dutchy and all the liberties, privileges, and jurisdictions thereof, as
they were before in the hands of the duke, yet they don't make the king
to be duke of Lancaster, for there is not a word in them to any such
purpose, nor can it be reasonably supposed to be the intent of the
charter or of the makers of the act to make him so, for the king cannot
be duke in his own realm, tho' he may out of it, a it is said
before." They similarly considered the charter of 1 Edward IV and
that of 1 Henry VII, and again found that "nor is there any word that
tends to make the king duke of
Lancaster, or to make him duke of Lancaster with regard to the
possessions of the dutchy".
At best, the phrase "duke of Lancaster" can be seen as a short-hand for
"the king in his capacity as owner of those of his possessions
separately incorporated and administered under the name "duchy of
Lancaster"; the extant to which this capacity has any legal meaning
being narrowly defined by the statutes governing the duchy of Lancaster.
That being said, Sir
Robert Somerville found a few instances of the
style "duke of Lancaster" used in documents under the seal of the duchy
of Lancaster under Henry VI, and even some rare occurrences under
Richard III and Henry VII. The phrase "the king and his heirs
dukes of Lancaster" also appears a number of times in duchy instruments
of the first half of the 15th century. He concludes that "at any rate under the Lancastrian
dynasty the king was
considered to be duke of Lancaster". But this practice does
not seem to have extended much after the reign of Henry VI, since
Edward IV was not legitimate heir to the duchy of Lancaster by the
terms of the charter of 1399. As mentioned above, the
charter of 1461 vests the duchy not in the king and his heirs dukes of
Lancaster, but in the king "and [his] heirs
Kings of England".
Somerville admits (p. 232) that "there is no clear evidence that Edward
was considered to be duke of Lancaster". Richard III was
styled once as duke of Lancaster in a charter confirming the
incorporation of Pontefract (p. 257; translated in Benjamin Boothroyd's
History of the Ancient Borough of
1807). For Henry VII, "the style does not appear anywher
eas part of the royal style and Henry is not specifically called duke
of Lancaster. We may note in parenthesis that Henry VIII is twice
referred to in bills as duke of Lancaster [dewkys of the said dewche], and
although this evidence lacks the authority of official documents it
nevertheless reveals a popular conception that is in fact confirmed by
references in every sense official" (p. 260) [Letters
and Papers foreign and domestic of the reign of of Henry VIII, II,
i. n.55: pardon for John Saintclair as late sheriff of Essex and Herts
"with proviso that the pardon shall not extend to any sums payable by
sheriffs of Essex and Herts to the King as Duke of Lancaster"; 23 Jan ,
6 Hen VIII]. Somerville cites no other instances of the style
until 1603, where his history stops.
Somerville only notes two instances in the modern era: the preamble of
the Chancery of Lancaster Act 1850 (13 & 14 Vic c. 43) mentions the
Queen's "Prerogatives and Rights as Duchess of Lancaster", and a draft
of the London
County Council (Improvements) Bill of 1939 referred
to "the duke of Lancaster for the time being". These rare
instances can hardly be seen to overturn the Duchy of Lancaster case.
Somerville, who believes that the Queen is duke of Lancaster, mentions
the custom of toasting the sovereign in Lancashire
as "the king/queen duke of Lancaster." This custom appears to
have royal sanction: it was approved by Victoria, who preferred "duke"
to "duchess", the wording of 13 & 14 Vic c. 43 notwithstanding (see
also Lord Campbell's Life,
2:220, where the Lord High Chancellor toasted the queen as "duchess
of Lancaster" at a dinner in 1847).
It was also approved by George V, George VI, and Elizabeth II.
The duchy of Lancaster, held by Henry IV at his accession in 1399, was
not merged into the crown but was kept separate, to be inherited by his
heirs. After the accession of Edward IV, the duchy was forfeited
to the king and formally established as a corporation in 1461,
consisting of a collection of estates owned by the sovereigns of
England but kept separate from the Crown. The last duke of
Lancaster (as a title or dignity) was the eldest son of Henry IV, so
created in 1399, and the title merged with the crown in 1413.
Although the king was occasionally described as "duke of Lancaster" in
official documents under the Lancastrian kings, the practice
disappeared by the mid-16th century. A famous law case of 1561
decided that the king was not, and could not be, duke of Lancaster, as
Henry IV himself had said in 1399.
The phrase "duke of Lancaster" appears on occasion, and can be taken as
a shorthand for "the owner of the corporation called 'duchy of
Lancaster'". Is the Queen duke of Lancaster? Yes, in the
that she owns the corporation called "duchy of Lancaster". Is she
or should she be styled duke of Lancaster? Just as much is she is
or should be styled "Elizabeth, by the grace of God ... owner of the
castle of Balmoral".
Duke of Normandy
A similar toast is apparently customary in the Channel Islands, styling
the British sovereign as "duke of Normandy".
The website Royal Insight,
edited by members of the Royal Household, has asserted repeatedly over
the years, in response to queries, that the Queen is duke of Normandy
(see Feb 2003, July 2003, Oct 2003, Sept 2005, Jan 2007).
Most recently, it has said that ""Since , the English Sovereign,
whether male or female, has
always held the title Duke of Normandy and assumes the title upon
accession to the throne".
There is even evidence that the
Queen thinks of herself as Duke of Normandy.
But is she?
There are some superficial similarities with the style of "duke of
Lancaster", although the logic of English peerage law is inapplicable
here. As noted in the duchy of Lancaster case, the king may be a
duke out of his own realm. And, in fact, so were the kings of
England from 1066, dukes of Normandy outside of their realm, and as
such vassals of the kings of France. Did this title somehow
survive to the present by virtue of Jersey and Guernsey?
The Renunciation of 1259
The Channel islands are said to have been granted to Rollo, first duke
of Normandy, by royal charter of 933. They were undeniably part
of the duchy of Normandy until the 13th century. The French kings
were able to seize mainland Normandy in 1204, but, in spite of some
(poorly documented) attempts, not the islands.
By the treaty of Paris of October 1259, the king of England renounced
to a number of titles. What follows is the relevant part of the treaty
(art. 6), in both the old French
and the Latin versions, as it appears in the ratification signed by
Louis IX in October 1259, sent to England, and published in Rymer's Foedera (1:690-691; 3d ed.,
|... E de ce, que nos au Roi
d'Angleterre, e a ses heirs avonz done en fiez e en demaines, li Rois
d'Angleterre, e si heir feront homage lige a nos, e a nos heirs Rois de
France; e ausi de Bordiaus, e de Baone, e de Gascoigne, e de tote la
terre que il tient deca la mer d'Angleterre en fiez, e en demaines, e
des Isles (s'aucune en ja) que li Rois d'Angleterre tieigne, qui soient
de l'Roialme de France; e tendra de nos come Pers de France, & Dux
|...et de hoc, quod nos Regi
Angliae et haeredibus suis donavimus in feodum et domaniam, Rex
Angliae, et haeredes sui facient homagium ligeum nobis et haeredibus
nostris Regibus Franciae, et ita de Burdegala, de Bayona, et Vasconia,
et de tota terra quam ipse tenet citra mare Angliae, in feodo et
domania; et de Insulis (si aliqua est) quas Rex Angliae teneat, quae
sint de Regno Franciae; et tenebit de nobis sicut Par Franciae, et Dux
|Et, par ceste pais faisant, a
quite, e quitie de tot en tot, li rois
d'Engleterre, et si dui fils, a nos, e a nos heirs, et a nos freres, e
a lor successours, por soi, e por ses heires, e por ses successours, se
ils Roys d'Angleterre, ou ses ancessors aucune droitoure ont, ou orent
onques en chose que nos teigniens, ou teignissens onques, ou nostre
ancecssor, ou nostre frere, c'est a savoir en la Duchie, e en tote la
terre de Normandie; en la Conte et en tote la terre d'Anjou, de
Toraine, et de l'Maine; e en la Conte e en tote la terre de Poitiers;
ou aillors en aucune partie de l'Roiaume de France, ou des Isles (se
aucunes ou tenoms nos, ou nostre frere, ou autres de par nos, ou de par
els) e toz arrerages.
||Et faciendo istam pacem,
quiptavit, et quiptat, de toto in totum, Rex
Angliae, et sui do filii, nobis, et nostris haeredibus et
successoribus, nostris fratribus, et haeredibus suis, pro se,
haeredibus, et successoribus suis, si ipse Rex Angliae, vel sui
antecessores aliquam droituram habent, vel habuerunt unquam in rebus
quas nos tenebimus vel tenuissemus unquam, vel antecessores nostri, vel
fratres nostri, videlicet in Ducatu et Comitatu terrae Normandiae: et
in comitatu et tota terra d'Anjou, et de Tureyne, et du Meyne; et in
Comitatu et in tota terra Pictaviae; vel alibi in aliqua parte Regni
Franciae, vel in insulis (si aliquas tenemus nos, vel fratres nostri,
vel alii nomine eorum) et omnia arreragia.
That is, the king of England renounced any rights he had or would ever
have in things that the king of France or his predecessors or his
brothers held or once held, namely the duchy and the whole land of
Normandy, the county and the whole land of Anjou, Touraine and Maine,
and the county and the whole land of Poitiers or elsewhere in any part
of the kingdom of France and any islands if any is held by the king of
France or his brothers or others from them and all arrears.
The phrasing is clear: Henry III renounces Normandy, Anjou, Touraine,
Maine, Poitiers, anything else in the kingdom of France, any islands
held by the king of France, and any arrears. The formulation
carefully distinguishes between titles and lands and specifies that
the king renounces both titles and lands. What is excluded
from the renunciation are islands not held by the king of France or his
brothers or anyone from them, including the Channel Islands.
The lands received (Limoges, Cahors, Perigord,
Agenois) or retained (Bordeaux, Bayonne, Gascony and any other lands
and islands that he held) by the king of England were to be held
altogether by him as peer of France and duke of Aquitaine, and for
those lands he was to give homage liege to the king of
If anything, then, the Channel Islands are the last
remnant of the duchy of Aquitaine!
As said above, the great seal of England was changed in late July or
August 1259, although the old one was retained for all documents other
than those sent to the king of France or related to the peace.
When Henry III went to France to give homage as required by the treaty,
he took both seals with him. Homage was given on Dec. 4, and on
Dec. 7 he wrote to his officials in England and ordered them to use his
new style, from which the title of "duke of Normandy" had disappeared,
but this did not take full effect (since the new seal was with the king
in France) until Henry III returned to England in April 1260. The
last documents using the style of duke of Normandy are exchequer writs
of June 19, 1260. The old seal was destroyed on October 18, 1260
and "with it disappeared the last symbol of the English resistance to
the conquests of Philip Augustus; henceforth the duchy of Aquitaine was
the only remnant held de jure and de facto by the English king of the
great continental empire inherited by John" (Chaplais 1952, 251).
who as heir of Henry III had protested against the renunciation,
himself confirmed it upon receiving the county of Ponthieu in 1279, and
never made any claims (Ormrod 1994, 199, n9).
The official styles of the
kings of England and later kings of Great
Britain and of the United Kingdom (as they appeared on seals, coins,
and at the beginning and end of letters patent, charters and other
official documents emanating from the sovereign) never again included the title of
"duke of Normandy". There are a few instances of the style "duke of
Normandy" being used by the sovereign himself or in his presence,
although only one instance in
over seven centuries in relation to the Channel Islands. The
other uses pertain to two limited time periods: 1356-60 and 1417-19,
and pertain to the duchy of Normandy on the mainland, not the
islands. I now describe those instances (see also Matthews
"Our duchy of Normandy"
Edward III (1357-60)
While England held on to its duchy of Aquitaine, it was constantly
being nibbled at the edges by the French, and subjected to confiscation
by the French king as overlord, in 1294 and again in 1337.
In 1339, arguing of his
maternal descent from Philip IV of France, Edward III claimed the
whole kingdom of France, possibly raising the stakes to secure what he
ultimately wanted, namely sovereign ownership of Aquitaine, free from
the threat of confiscation by the French overlord.
The first campaigns (notably with the capture of Calais in 1346) began
in the North of France, but in 1356 Edward III was able to take
advantage of internal French politics to secure the support of
significant members of the Norman aristocracy, who appealed for his
On July 18, 1356, Godfrey Harcourt acknowledged the "bon et playn droit
que mon tressoveraigne seignor, monsieur le Roy de France et
d'Engleterre a a la corone de France & duche de Normandie".
The title was used by Godfrey, but on August 1 the king sent a letter
to all his officers informing them that "Godefrey de Harcourt ... nous
ad promys de faire Homage et Foialte, come a son Seignur liege Roi de
France et d'Engleterre, et Duc de Normandie pur touz les Terres et
Possessions qu'il tient en nostre dit Duche de Normandie" (Rymer
ed., 3:1:332; similar letter in favor of Guillaume de Croucy, ibid.
333). A letter of Feb 4, 1357 to Pierre Pigache, governor
of Cotentin, orders him to confiscate the estates of those who act as
adversaries against "nous, notre droit et jouste querele, roi de France
et duc de Normandie" (ibid. 345).
On Sept. 4, 1356, an indentured contract
passed between "le tresexcellent et trespuissant prince, monsieur
Edward, par la grace de Dieu, Roi de France & d'Engleterre, d'une
part, et haut home et nobles, monsieur Phelip de Navarre, son cousyn,
d'autre part, tesmoigne que ledit monsieur Phelip ad fait homage lige
au dit Roi, come au Roi de France et duc de Normandie". By the
contract Philippe obligated himself to give homage
"come a Roy de France & duc de Normandie"; Edward granted to
Philippe some lands to conquer "a tenir par le dit monsieur Phelip a
heritage du dit roy Edward, et de ses successours Rois de France et
ducs de Normandie" with the proviso that any lands "que soient du
demense du duc de Normandie, et que a la duchie appertenoient au temps
du Roi Phelip le Bel" should be returned to Edward
(ibid., 340). It is curious to note that, although the ducal
used by Philippe de Navarre, it is not used by Edward III in describing
himself. Ormrod, based on existing drafts of the indenture which
did not contain the ducal title, thinks that the style was inserted at
the request of Edward III, but it is not clear why.
"Thus began a brief period during which certain public instruments
emanating from the English chancery in reference to the duchy carried
the unusual and highly significant royal title 'king of France and duke
of Normandy'" (Ormrod 1994, 205; the documents were first
discussed by Le Patourel 1953). As far as I can tell from
the documents in Rymer, the period in question is brief indeed, lasting
from July 1356 to February 1357. One also finds
occasionally, between 1356 and 1359, references to "ducatus noster
Normannie", "our duchy of Normandy" (for example, letters patent
creating Philippe de Navarre, comte de Longueville his lieutenant in
Normandy, Oct. 20, 1356, and others Oct 28, 1359; Rymer 3d ed. 3:1:342,
course, such usage, as under Henry V below, is consistent with the
practice of French kings who used such a phrase even in the absence of
any titular duke. It therefore does not represent per se a use of the title of duke.
Edward III, however, did not try to administer or colonize Normandy,
but was content to leave it prey to roving bands of pillaging and
ransoming soldiers (Ormrod 1994, 208). By the
treaty of Bretigny, Edward III, in exchange for full
sovereignty over Aquitaine and new territories, was to renounce his
claims to the throne of France and, inter alia, to the duchy of
Normandy (Rymer 6:184; 3d ed. 3:1:489):
|le Roy d'Angleterre
et son Ainsne Filz, Renounceront expressement a
toutes les choses qui, par ce present Traittie, ne doivent estre
Baillees, ne Demourer au Roy d'Engleterre, & a toutes les Demandes
qu'il fasoit au Roy de France,
Et par especial, au Nom & au Droit
de la Couronne & du Royaume de France,
Et a l'Omage, Souverainete
& Demeine du Duchie de Normandie, de Toureine, des Contez d'Anjou
& du Maine,
Et a la Souvereinete & Hommage du Duchie de
A la Souvereinete & Hommage du Conte & Paiis de
Et a touz autres Demandes que le Roy d'Engleterre fasoit ou
faire pouroit au Roy de France, pour quelconque cause que cec soit,
oultre ce, & excepte que, par ce presente Traittie, doit Demourer
et estre Baille au dit Roy d'Engleterre, & a ses Hoirs.
|Rex Angliae & suus
Primogenitus, renunciabunt expresse omnibus quae, per praesentem
Tractatum, non debent Tradi, vel Remanere Regi Angliae, & omnibus
Petitionibous quas ipse fecerit Regi Franciae, Et specialiter Nomini
& Juri Coronae & Regni Franciae,
Et Homagiom Superioritati, & Dominio Ducatum Normanniae &
Turoniae, Comitatum Andegaviae & de Mayne,
Et Superioritati & Homagio Ducatus Britanniae,
Superioriati & Homagio Comitatus & Patriae Flandriae,
Et omnibus aliis Peitionibus quas Rez Angliae Fecit, vel Facere
poterit, Regi Franciae, proquacumque causa quae fuerit, ultra illud
& illo Excepto quod, per hunc paresentem Tractatum, debet Remanere
& Tradi dicto Regi Angliae & Haeredibus suis.
The terms of the treaty were never fulfilled, and in 1369 Edward III
denounced it and resumed the royal title of France, but he
did not resume his claim to Normandy. English holdings in
were reduced by 1361 to Saint-Sauveur, which was retaken by the
French in 1375, and Normandy ceased to play any important role in the
Hundred Years War until 1415.
Henry V (1417-20)
Anne Curry (1994) discusses at length the use of the title by Henry V
from 1417 to 1419.
There is no suggestion that Henry V's conquest of Normandy was
initially motivated or justified by appeal to the inheritance of
Conqueror: "there is no specific mention of special rights to the
Norman duchy in either parliamentary or concilar documents concerning
the first expedition ... There is no unequivocal evidence that Henry
sought to stress his ancestral claim to Normandy on the first campaign
... Whether the man in the street or even the English intellectual had
given much thought to a specific Norman heritage is equally difficult
to fathom." The title only appears after the second campaign, in
1417, and its meaning is very unclear.
The earliest instance she found in which Henry V called himself duke of
Normandy is dated Nov. 24, 1417, and the last being in the summer of
1419. She cites as a source mss. 26042 in the Bibliothèque
nationale, which seems to consist of Norman enrollments .
Most of the time, however, the titles in the enrollments are
abbreviated as "Rex etc"; when they are not, "Henry's style sometimes
includes the ducal title, but sometimes it does not" (in particular,
"most treaties of surrender name him only as king of France and
England"; none of the documents published in Rymer use the ducal
style). When he did use the ducal title, "he used it alongside
rather than instead of his French royal title; it is thus difficult, if
not impossible, to distinguish between his exercise of authority as
duke and as a claimant of the French crown", especially since
"his only real claim to Normandy stemmed from his claim to the French
Henry V refers very frequently to "ducatus noster Normanniae" (our
duchy of Normandy), and does so even after the treaty of Troyes.
the letters appointing Thomas Montagu, earl of Salisbury, as his
lieutenant on Nov 13, 1420 "locumtenentem nostrum ducatius nostri
Normanniae, ac partium de Mayn, et aliarum partium nobis subjectarum
infra regnum Franciae" (Rymer 10:29). But as Anne Curry says,
"The Valois kings had also used the term 'our duchy' even when ther
ewas no titular duke", and before 1419 Henry V frequently used the
phrase "ducatus regis", the king's duchy.
What duchy this was, i.e., the ancient duchy of William the Conqueror
or simply a duchy that was part of the kingdom of France that Henry V
claimed, is also unclear, but the first hypothesis has nothing to
support it: "It is not clear what duchy Henry was attempting to
recreate ... It is difficult to pinpoint anything in his administration
which was redolent of the ancient duchy ... both he and his
administrators had a rather feeble knowledge of the Anglo-Norman ducal
Ambiguity and confusion continued after 1420, because article 18 of the
treaty of Troyes specified: "quand il avendra que
nostredit filz, le Roy Henry, venra à la couronne de France, la
duchié de Normendie, et aussi les autres et chascun lieux par
lui conquis ou royaume de France, seront soubz la jurisdicion,
obeissance et monarchie de ladicte couronne de France." Thus the
parts conquered by Henry V were to be reunited after his accession to
the throne of France, but remain a possession of the English crown
The nature of the possession is made clear in letters patent of Mar 10,
1421 confirming a rent owned by a Parisian college on the marketplaces
and mill-houses of Rouen. The master and students of the college
asserted that they had enjoyed this rent "a tempore fundationis dicti
collegii in tempus quo, divina favente dextera, Ducatum nostrum
Normanniae conquisimus" and Henry V confirmed their right to the rent
as it was collected" "ante conquestum nostrum" (Rymer 10:71).
Normandy was his by right of conquest, not by inheritance. There
is similar language in a letter to Pandolphe, bishop of
Apr 14, 1421: "nostrum Normanniae Ducatum et alias partes supradictas
per Nos, Salvatoris Pacis, Justitiae et Aequitatis Directoris, operante
gratia, conquestos", (ibid. 10:101); letters patent "universis et
singulis ballivis etc nostris intra Ducatum nostrum Normanniae ac
partes Conquestus nostri", 16 Dec 1421, (ibid 10:161); "ducatum nostrum
Normanniae aut alia loca conquestae nostrae" (ibid., 10:216); "in
divino Nutu, Ducatum nostrum Normanniae et alias partes in Regno
Franciae Nobis subjectas, conquisivimus", (ibid., 10:219), etc; when
by someone else the phrase is "ducatus Regis Normanniae", the king's
duchy of Normandy.
It's interesting that, although the phrase becomes much rarer under H6
(at least in Rymer), the earl of Warwick's appointment on July 16, 1437
was still as "locumtenentem generalem et gubernatorem totius regni
nostri Franciae, ducatus et patriae Normanniae, ac aliorum terrarum et
dominiorum nostrorum transmarinorum" (lieutenant general and governor
of our whole kingdom of France, duchy and land of Normandy, and of our
other lands and dominions beyond the seas).
As Ann Curry says, "one can argue that it was never fully part of
Lancastrian royal France, nor was it kept totally separate, nor was it
ever integrated with the kingdom of England". Normandy remained
in English hands until 1450.
The Channel Islands during the Hundred Years War
Edward III was referred to as duke of Normandy in homages by Norman
vassals in 1356; Henry V sometimes used the title of duke of Normandy
in documents relating to recently conquered Normandy from Nov. 1417 to
the summer of 1419.
Neither example has anything to do with the Channel Islands, which
remained as they were since 1259, either in fee or administered by a
warden or captain appointed by the king. At no time during the
period 1417-1450, when Normandy was in English hands, were the islands
annexed to the duchy or administered by its officials.
In the 14th century, the islanders did state that "they held of their
king as of a duke" and that the king of England had nothing but
the status of a duke in the islands ('Dominus Rex Anglie nichil habet
Insula hic nisi statum ducis' (Assize
Roll no. 1167, m. 4. r. (1331); 'Come les Isles soient de auncienete
parcele de la Duche de Normendie et en tiel manere tiegnent de nostre
seignur le Roi come de Duc' the Islanders argued that they need not
answer to writs de quo warranto 'pur ce que ce estoit un estatut fait
de novel en Engleterre que lient taunt soullemement ceux que tiegnent
de nostre Seignur le Roi come tenantz de sa Corone' Petition of 1333,
Havet, Cours Royales, 228-9.
[cited in John H. Le Patourel 1937, 29 n2.]). These
are statements by the islanders, not by the English king, and they
state that the king holds the islands as
if he were duke; they do not
amount to uses of the style by him.
The fact that the islands were considered both by the French and by the
English as distinct from Normandy is underlined by the neutrality they
enjoyed in the Hundred Years War, confirmed by a treaty between England
and France in 1439 (A
Brief description 1826, 110; no source given, however) and by a
papal bull of 1483. This privilege of neutrality was abolished by
order in council in 1689.
The 1615 letters patent
The single example in 750 years of an English or British sovereign
styling himself duke of Normandy in connection with the islands is in the text of letters patent of Aug 9, 1615.
The letters patent were registered in the registers of the Privy
Council and in the Royal Court of Jersey. They were issued to
settle a dispute that had arisen between the captain of the island, Sir
John Peyton (appointed by the king), and the new bailiff, John Herault,
who had secured patents of reversion for the office from the
king. Peyton refused to accept Herault as the new bailiff,
because his own letters patent of appointment gave him the right to
choose the bailiff. Herault claimed that the right to choose the
bailiff belonged to the king. The dispute was resolved in the
predictable way, that the king reserved for himself the right to choose
the bailiff, and described the clause in Peyton's letters patent as an
error. (See Le Quesne 1856 and Eagleston 1949 for more details on
The letters patent open with the usual style of the sovereign, without any mention of Normandy.
(nor does the date make any reference to anything but the reigns of
France, England, Scotland, and Ireland). The text contains
four occurrences of the phrase "us, our heirs and successors", but only
the last is of the form "us, our heires and successors, Kinges of
this realme of Englaunde, and Dukes of Normandie".
This document was drafted in the Privy Council after a report by two
privy councellors on an important dispute, so it cannot be dismissed
easily. Yet it remains the single known use of the phrase in
relation to the Channel Islands, in a document whose intitulatio does not contain the
According to Paul Matthews (1999), and in spite of the letters patent's
prescription that future appointments of royal officials in Jersey by
made "in the
name and by the authoritie of us, our heires and successors, Kinges of
this realme of Englaunde, and Dukes of Normandie, and not
otherwise", there is not a single instance of such letters patent
using the ducal title. The oaths taken by these officers have
never contained it. No legislation relating to Jersey contains
it. None of the various writers on Jersey law or customs ever
mention it (except in historical references to the dukes before
1204). Only a handful of instances in local court documents of
Jersey for the period 1615-17 (no doubt due to the letters patent of
1615) can be found.
It should also be noted that the letters
patent of Elisabeth I granting the island of Sark to Helier de
Carteret in 1565 use the phrase "our Island of Sark, situate near our Islands of
Guernsey and Jersey,
within our Duchy of Normandy" (it is not clear if Guernsey and Jersey
were seen as part of the duchy of Normandy, or Sark itself, or
both). This, of course, is not the same as using the title of
duke of Normandy, just as the phrase "in our county of X" does not mean
that the Queen claims to be countess of X.
status of the Islands since 1259
The islands are self-governing dependencies of the British crown.
The Queen, as successor to the
dukes of Normandy, is sovereign of the islands, and legislates (i.e.,
gives royal sanction to the laws passed by the islands's legislative
bodies) through orders in council. She has no special title in
respect of the islands.
Up to and including 1260, the king of England's tenure of the islands
was as a vassal of the king of France. It is not possible to say
with any certainty whether they continued to do homage in respect of
the islands and, if so, up to what date. The kings of France
might arbuably have renounced their suzerainty over the islands by the
treaty of Bretigny in 1360, but that treaty was denounced.
The islands have never been annexed or united to England or the United
Kingdom. They are not represented in the Parliament of the UK,
laws do not apply unless it is explicitly said so. They are not
of the European Union.
As a curiosity, see the judgement
of the International Court of Justice (1953) in the dispute between
France and the UK over the Minquiers and Ecreho(u)s.
The title of duke of Normandy was renounced by Henry III in 1259, and
removed from his seal and official styles in 1260. It was never
again used in the official styles of his successors, except in a few
homages by Norman vassals to Edward III in 1356, and by Henry V,
occasionally, in documents concerning occupied Normandy between 1417
and 1419. Furthermore, in both instances the use of the title was
from the English king's claim to the throne of France, and hence was
unrelated to the title held until 1259.
In over 750 years, it was used once
by an English sovereign to describe himself in his relation to the
There is no trace of its use for the past 390 years.
Loyal subjects in the Islands, just as those in Lancashire, may well
toast their Queen as "Duke". But that does not make her one, any
more than the people of Vanuatu who worship the duke of Edinburgh as a
god make him one.
The major primary source is
- Thomas Rymer: Foedera, conventiones,
cujuscunque generis acta publica, inter Reges Angliae et alios quosvis
imperatores, reges, pontifices ...
London: 1704-35, A. & J. Churchill, Tomson (20 vols).
3d edition (documents from 1066 to 1383): London, 1816-69, Commissioner
on Public Records (4 vols).
Brief description and historical notices of the island of Jersey.
Jersey: C. Le Lievre, 1826.
- Bindoff, S. T.
'The Stuarts and their Style,' English Historical Review May
- Burns, Edward. Coinage of Scotland.
Edinburgh: A. and C. Black, 1887.
- Chaplais, Pierre. 'The
the Treaty of Paris (1259) and the Royal Style.' JSTOR,
- Curry, Anne. 'Lancastrian Normandy:
the Jewel in the Crown?' in Anne Curry and David Bates (ed.): England and Normandy in the Middle Ages, 235-252.
London: Hambledon Press, 1994.
- Eagleston, Arthur J. The Channel Islands under Tudor
government, 1485-1642; a study in administrative history. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1949.
- Handbook of British Chronology.
3d edition. London: Offices of the Royal Historical Society, 1986.
- Le Patourel, John H. The medieval administration of the Channel
islands, 1199-1399. London: Oxford University Press, 1937.
- Le Patourel, John H. 'Edouard III, "roi de France et duc
de Normandie".' Revue historique de droit français
et étranger 4e série, 1953, 31:317-318.
- Le Quesne, Charles. A Constitutional History of Jersey.
London: Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans, 1856.
- Maitland, Frederick W. 'Elizabethan
Gleanings,' English Historical
Review Jan 1900, 15(57):120-124. (available at JSTOR,
Le Rouai, Nouot' Duc.
Jersey Legal Information Board, 1999.
- Ormrod, William Mark. 'England, Normandy, and the Beginnings of
the Hundred Years War 1259-1360.' in Anne
Curry and David Bates (ed.): England
and Normandy in the Middle Ages, 197-213. London: Hambledon
- Parry, Charles Henry. The Parliament and Councils of England.
London: J. Murray, 1839.
- Rotuli Parliamentorum: ut et
petitiones, et placita in parliamento. 1767-77 (6 vols).
- Somerville, Sir Robert. History of the Duchy of Lancaster.
London: Chancellor and Council of the Duchy of Lancaster, 1953.