King Charles II

We tend to start our story here at Culloden with James VII & II but before he became king, it was his brother Charles II who ruled in Scotland and England.

Charles II was king of Scotland from 1649 when he was proclaimed by the Parliament of Scotland on 5th February. He was eventually crowned at Scone in 1651. However, he only became King of Scotland, England & Ireland in 1660 when the English restored the monarchy following a period of republican rule led by Cromwell.

Prior to the restoration of the monarchy Charles II operated in exile. He attempted to lead a force against Cromwell and the republic. It was during this time that the famous story of Charles hiding in an oak tree to escape capture originates. Charles II was unsuccessful in his attempts to overthrow Cromwell and following his defeat he spent ten years moving from country to country to stay out of Cromwell’s reach.

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Charles II

 

When Cromwell died in 1659 Charles issued a declaration in which he promised to uphold the Anglican church and offered his enemies a pardon if he was restored to the throne. Finally, he was eventually invited back and became King of England, Scotland and Ireland. He was crowned at Westminster Abbey in 1661 for which a new set of crown jewels had to be made after Cromwell melted down the previous set.

Charles II’s reign was filled with some major events, including an awful plague in 1665 and the Great Fire of London in 1666. He unsuccessfully led the English against the Dutch in the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665-1667) and then joined forces with the French to fight again in the Third Anglo-Dutch War (1672-1674) which ended with the Treaty of Westminster.

Part of his agreement with the French when he joined to fight with them was a treaty he signed in which he agreed to convert to Catholicism. Although he did not do this straight away it was still a worry for the parliament who did not want a Catholic ruler. Charles and his wife, Queen Catherine, had not managed to produce an heir to the throne and many were already concerned that the crown would pass to his brother James who had become a Catholic. To try and dispel some of the worry amongst his subjects Charles II arranged for his niece Mary to marry William of Orange, a protestant, in 1677.

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Charles II coronation in 1661 at Westminster Abbey

 

However, this did not solve the issue. A year later there was a plot to assassinate Charles II’s brother and the tension between Charles II and his subjects appeared to take a toll on him. Eventually, apparently fed up with all the conflict, he dissolved the Parliament in 1679 and decided to rule alone.

He continued as King for another 6 years when he suffered a suspected stroke. On his deathbed he finally made good on his treaty with France and did indeed convert to Catholicism. The suddenness of Charles II’s death led some to believe he had been poisoned but this has been shown, through modern analysis, to be false. Charles II was buried in Westminster Abbey in Henry VII’s chapel but there was no monument raised for him. Instead, a life size wax effigy was placed over his grave and this figure can still be seen in the museum at Westminster Abbey.

We hoped you enjoyed this little insight to Charles II. As always please like, tweet, comment and share and feel free to delve deeper into the history of what many would call the most popular member of the Stuarts.

All the best, K & D

 

 

 

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George I – The First Hanoverian King

George I was King of Great Britain and Ireland from 1st August 1714 until his death on 11th June 1727 and was the first monarch from the House of Hanover. Before we look at George himself we need to first understand how exactly he came to become king.

When Queen Anne died in 1714 without heirs the throne of Great Britain would surely have gone to here nearest relative, James VIII & III. However, following the removal of his father James VII & II there were a number of acts passed that prevented James VIII & III from taking the throne.

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Queen Anne

Firstly in 1701 was the Act of Settlement. This prevented Catholics from the line of succession. The Act was put into place after William and Mary, as well as Anne herself, failed to produce any heirs and all the other members of the Stuart line were Roman Catholics. In 1700 Prince William, Duke of Gloucester, the only son of Anne to survive infancy, died aged only 11. His death destabilised the succession and ultimately led to the English parliament passing the Act of Settlement in 1701. Under the Act anyone who became a Roman Catholic or married a Roman Catholic was unable to inherit the throne. The Act was also used to reinforce the Bill of Rights (1689) and strengthen the principle that government was undertaken by constitutional advisers and not personal advisers chosen by the King or Queen.

Reproduktion des "Act of Settlement", der im Leineschloss in Hannover an Kurfürstenwitwe Sophie übergeben wurde. Mit dem "Act of Settlement" (dt. Grundordnung) schuf das englische Parlament 1701 eine neue Grundlage für die Thronfolge im Königreich England, die eine 123-jährige Personalunion (1714 - 1837) zwischen Hannover und Großbritannien begründete.
Act of Settlement 1701

This alone prevented James VIII & III from taking the throne but it did not guarantee the Hanoverian line would rule throughout Britain. In 1703 in response to the Act of Settlement, the Act of Security was approved by the Scottish parliament and was later ratified in 1704. This Act placed the power of appointing a successor to the Scottish throne in the hands of the Scottish parliament. The successor should be of the Royal line of Scotland, Protestant and not the same as the English successor unless various economic, political and religious conditions were met. The Scottish parliament were not happy that the English parliament had chosen Electress Sophia of Hanover as a successor without consulting them.

Finally in 1707 came the inauguration of the Treaty of Union which created the United Kingdom of Scotland, England and Wales. The Union mean the dissolution of the Scottish parliament and thus Act of Security was made invalid and there would be only one successor to the thrones of Scotland, England and Wales. This was decided to be Electress Sophia of Hanover who was the nearest relative to Queen Anne who was a protestant. By all rights it was her who should have followed Anne onto the throne but she unfortunately died a couple of months before Anne so her son George became King following Anne’s death.

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Treaty of Union 1707

George I finally arrived in Britain in September 1714 after being forced to wait at the Hague while bad winds prevented passage. He arrived speaking only a few words of English with, it is said, 18 cooks and two mistresses, one very fat and the other tall and thin who became nicknamed ‘Elephant and Castle’ after an area in London. His coronation took place at Westminster Abbey on 20th October and was accompanied by rioting in over 20 towns in the South West of England disrupting and, in some cases, assaulting those celebrating and ransacking their properties.

With some Tories sympathetic to the Jacobites, George turned to the Whigs to form a government, and they were to dominate politics for the next generation. This led to many turning against George and fighting to get James VIII & III onto the throne in the early Jacobite uprisings of 1715 and 1719.

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King George I

In 1720 the South Sea Company, with heavy government, royal and aristocratic investment, collapsed. The resulting economic crisis made the king and his ministers extremely unpopular. Robert Walpole was left as the most important figure in the administration and in April 1721 was appointed first lord of the Treasury and in effect, ‘prime minister’. His ascendancy coincided with the decline of the political power of the monarchy and George became less and less involved in government.

George remained unpopular in England throughout his life, partly because of his inability to speak English but also because of the perceived greed of his mistresses and rumours concerning his treatment of his wife. He finally died on 11 June 1727 during a visit to Hanover and was succeeded by his son, George II.

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this little insight into the first Hanoverian King of Britain. As always please like, share, tweet and comment.

All the best, K & D.