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The modern English monarchy was born out of a long series of external conquests and internal revolutions. Most historians date the beginnings of the English monarchy to the ninth century, when the Anglo-Saxon House of Wessex successfully established sovereignty over numerous other prominent houses. The House of Wessex would rule England nearly uninterrupted until 1066 AD, with only a brief thirty year gap in the 10th century when they were temporarily removed from power by Viking invaders.
In 1066 AD, the Norman conqueror William crossed the English Channel, defeated the restored Wessex monarchy at the Battle of Hastings, and began nearly four hundred years of rule over England by kings of French lineage. This lineage, known as the Plantagenets, were descendents of the count of Anjou, a region in northern France. The Plantagenets eventually split into two other English Royal Houses, the House of Lancaster, which ruled England 1399 until 1471, and the House of York, who took control after the removal of the Lancesters and ruled until 1485.
In 1485 a Welsh nobleman named Henry VII, a member of the House of Tudor, overthrew the House of York, giving rise to the monarchy that would change England to a greater degree than any before it. King Henry VIII, the second Tudor king, turned the small island nation of England from a speck on the periphery of Europe's vision into a formidable player in European politics. Henry VIII's daughter, Elizabeth I, however, would make England one of the most powerful nations on Earth and create an overseas empire.