The Monarchy of England is generally traced back to Alfred the Great (849-899), the king of Wessex, one of several kingdoms in what is now called England. After asserting Wessex's dominance over rival kingdom Mercia, Alfred proclaimed himself "King of the English". His grandson, Æthelstan, was the first monarch to reign over a unified England. However, he retained the title "King of the English".
In 1066, William, Duke of Normandy successfully conquered the entirety of England. William is generally considered to have been the first monarch to rule as "King of England" as opposed to "King of the English". In the centuries that followed, the role of the monarchy was defined and expanded. In 1542, Henry VIII was proclaimed King of Ireland. In 1603, James VI of Scotland ascended the English throne as James I of England, thereby bringing the two crowns into personal union. However, England and Scotland remained separate countries, despite James' efforts.
In 1649, after a period of civil war, Charles I was overthrown, and the monarchy replaced with a republic, called the Commonwealth, under the rule of Oliver Cromwell. The Commonwealth lasted until 1659. The monarchy was restored under Charles II of England in 1660.
The Acts of Union of 1707 officially unified the governments of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Both England and Scotland became constituent countries of the new kingdom, rather than sovereign states. This was further redefined in the Acts of Union of 1800, which were enacted after a bloody rebellion in Ireland two years prior. The country was rechristened the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. However, given England's prominent role in the U.K., the reigning monarch is still sometimes colloquially called the "King/Queen of England".
In 1588, King Philip II ordered the Spanish Armada to invade England. The invading Spanish subdued the country, and imprisoned Elizabeth in the Tower of London. Philip installed his daughter, Isabella, and her husband Albert on the English throne. Their reign lasted until 1598, when the English people rose up and drove the Spanish out.
|Isabella and Albert||Hapsburg||1588-1598|
|Elizabeth||Tudor||1598-Incumbent at novel's end|
In A Different Flesh, the English monarchy embraces the divine right of kings model in the 17th century. "Vilest Beast", the first story, is explicitly set during the reign if James I. Based on the timeline provided, it appears Charles I is the monarch who adopted the divine right of kings, though he is not explicitly named.