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The monarch is the United Kingdom's head of state, exercising powers that are circumscribed by common law, convention, and statute law. Nowadays, many of the sovereign's functions are ceremonial but in the past the balance between ceremony and decision-making was very different. The foundations of the modern monarchy were laid more than a millennium ago, in Anglo-Saxon and Celtic Britain, so its modern form is a stage in an evolution that has been shaped by attitudes towards divorce, the changing role of women, the democratization of society, dynastic intermarriage, financial demands, religious convictions, struggles for economic and political power, and territorial aggrandizement. Covering some of the most famous figures in world history, including William the Conqueror, Henry VIII, and Queens Victoria, Elizabeth I, and Elizabeth II, the Historical Dictionary of the British Monarchy provides a chronology starting with the year 495 and continuing to the present day, an introductory essay, an extensive bibliography, and over 600 cross-referenced dictionary entries on significant persons, places, events, institutions, and other aspects of British culture, society, economy, and politics. This book is a must for anyone interested in the British monarchy.