#1 Alfred the Great (848-899)
Any list of the greatest British kings would be remiss without the inclusion of Britain’s most stalwart defender, Alfred the Great. His incredible leadership and military prowess brought Britain back from the brink of destruction as viking invaders from the north encroached on her lands. He was the first to take the title of King of the Anglo-Saxons, which makes him arguably Britain’s first true king - as before Alfred, the country was divided into smaller kingdoms.
#2 William the Conqueror (1028-1087)
A controversial figure in English history, William the Conqueror was an extremely cunning military genius who managed to seize the English throne with his small army of only five thousand men. During his reign, he restored peace and stability to the realm while expanding the country’s military and introducing a proper system of rule, setting the foundation for Britain to become one of the great powers of the Middle Ages.
#3 Richard the Lionheart (1157-1199)
One of Britain’s most famous kings, Richard the Lionheart is perhaps one of the most iconic figures of the Middle Ages. Boasting a list of impressive military accomplishments, such as his participation and leadership during the Third Crusade as well as the reclamation of much of his empire’s territory on campaigns in France, Richard I was certainly a monarch to be reckoned with.
#4 George VI (1895-1952)
King George VI was never meant to be king, however when his brother, Edward VII, abdicated the throne in order to marry his beloved Wallis Simpson, the responsibility fell to George, then Albert, to take up the mantle of king and lead Britain through one of the most trying periods in its great history. His great leadership through the war and his defiance in the face of almost certain doom marks him as not only one of the greatest British monarchs, but one of the greatest modern leaders in recent world history.
#5 Edward I (1239-1307)
While Edward I was known as the Hammer of the Scots, he actually conquered the Welsh. His military campaigns in Scotland met with mixed success. From a young age, Edward I boasted impressive leadership capabilities, as he crushed a rebellion against his father before he even took the throne. When he conquered Wales, he made his son and heir the Prince of Wales - a title which is still carried by the heir to the English throne to this day.
#6 Henry V (1386-1422)
Immortalised by the ingenious writings of William Shakespeare, Henry V is known for the one-time achievement of uniting the English, who during his reign were scattered throughout Britain and territories in France. His victory at the Battle of Agincourt all but annihilated France, forcing the French king to name him his heir. However, tragedy struck, and before the French king could die, Henry was taken by illness. Despite this, his legacy is that of a hero and a fierce warrior-king, the last of his kind, and historians to this day praise his reign.