France and Denmark had allied with the Dutch. The war was dogged by poor

administration culminating in a Dutch attack on the Thames in 1667; a peace

was negotiated later in the year.

In 1667, Charles dismissed his Lord Chancellor, Clarendon - an adviser

from Charles's days of exile (Clarendon's daughter Anne was the first wife

of Charles's brother James and was mother of Queens Mary and Anne). As a

scapegoat for the difficult religious settlement and the Dutch war,

Clarendon had failed to build a 'Court interest' in the Commons. He was

succeeded by a series of ministerial combinations, the first of which was

that of Clifford, Ashley, Buckingham, Arlington and Lauderdale (whose

initials formed the nickname Cabal). Such combinations (except for Danby's

dominance of Parliament from 1673 to 1679) were largely kept in balance by

Charles for the rest of his reign.

Charles's foreign policy was a wavering balance of alliances with France

and the Dutch in turn. In 1670, Charles signed the secret treaty of Dover

under which Charles would declare himself a Catholic and England would side

with France against the Dutch - in return Charles would receive subsidies

from the King of France (thus enabling Charles some limited room for

manoeuvre with Parliament, but leaving the possibility of public disclosure

of the treaty by Louis). Practical considerations prevented such a public

conversion, but Charles issued a Declaration of Indulgence, using his

prerogative powers to suspend the penal laws against Catholics and

Nonconformists. In the face of an Anglican Parliament's opposition, Charles

was eventually forced to withdraw the Declaration in 1673.

In 1677 Charles married his niece Mary to William of Orange partly to

restore the balance after his brother's second marriage to the Catholic

Mary of Modena and to re-establish his own Protestant credentials. This

assumed a greater importance as it became clear that Charles's marriage to

Catherine of Braganza would produce no legitimate heirs (although Charles

had a number of mistresses and illegitimate children), and his Roman

Catholic brother James's position as heir apparent raised the prospect of a

Catholic king.

Throughout Charles's reign, religious toleration dominated the political

scene. The 1662 Act of Uniformity had imposed the use of the Book of Common

Prayer, and insisted that clergy subscribe to Anglican doctrine (some 1,000

clergy lost their livings). Anti-Catholicism was widespread; the Test Act

of 1673 excluded Roman Catholics from both Houses of Parliament.

Parliament's reaction to the Popish Plot of 1678 (an allegation by Titus

Oates that Jesuit priests were conspiring to murder the King, and involving

the Queen and the Lord Treasurer, Danby) was to impeach Danby and present a

Bill to exclude James (Charles's younger brother and a Roman Catholic

convert) from the succession. In 1680/81 Charles dissolved three

Parliaments which had all tried to introduce Exclusion Bills on the basis

that 'we are not like to have a good end'.

Charles sponsored the founding of the Royal Society in 1660 (still in

existence today) to promote scientific research. Charles also encouraged a

rebuilding programme, particularly in the last years of his reign, which

included extensive rebuilding at Windsor Castle, a huge but uncompleted new

palace at Winchester and the Greenwich Observatory. Charles was a patron of

Christopher Wren in the design and rebuilding of St Paul's Cathedral,

Chelsea Hospital (a refuge for old war veterans) and other London


Charles died in 1685, becoming a Roman Catholic on his deathbed.

JAMES II (1685-88)

Born in 1633 and named after his grandfather James I, James II grew up in

exile after the Civil War (he served in the armies of Louis XIV) and, after

his brother's restoration, commanded the Royal Navy from 1660 to 1673.

James converted to Catholicism in 1669. Despite his conversion, James II

succeeded to the throne peacefully at the age of 51. His position was a

strong one - there were standing armies of nearly 20,000 men in his

kingdoms and he had a revenue of around Ј2 million. Within days of his

succession, James announced the summoning of Parliament in May but he

sounded a warning note: 'the best way to engage me to meet you often is

always to use me well'. A rebellion led by Charles's illegitimate son, the

Duke of Monmouth, was easily crushed after the battle of Sedgemoor in 1685,

and savage punishments were imposed by the infamous Lord Chief Justice,

Judge Jeffreys, at the 'Bloody Assizes'.

James's reaction to the Monmouth rebellion was to plan the increase of

the standing army and the appointment of loyal and experienced Roman

Catholic officers. This, together with James's attempts to give civic

equality to Roman Catholic and Protestant dissenters, led to conflict with

Parliament, as it was seen as James showing favouritism towards Roman

Catholics. Fear of Catholicism was widespread (in 1685, Louis XIV revoked

the Edict of Nantes which gave protection to French Protestants), and the

possibility of a standing army led by Roman Catholic officers produced

protest in Parliament. As a result, James prorogued Parliament in 1685 and

ruled without it.

James attempted to promote the Roman Catholic cause by dismissing judges

and Lord Lieutenants who refused to support the withdrawal of laws

penalising religious dissidents, appointing Catholics to important academic

posts, and to senior military and political positions. Within three years,

the majority of James's subjects had been alienated.

In 1687 James issued the Declaration of Indulgence aiming at religious

toleration; seven bishops who asked James to reconsider were charged with

seditious libel, but later acquitted to popular Anglican acclaim. When his

second (Roman Catholic) wife, Mary of Modena, gave birth on 10 June 1688 to

a son (James Stuart, later known as the 'Old Pretender' and father of

Charles Edward Stuart, 'Bonnie Prince Charlie'), it seemed that a Roman

Catholic dynasty would be established. William of Orange, Protestant

husband of James's elder daughter, Mary (by James's first and Protestant

wife, Anne Hyde), was therefore welcomed when he invaded on 5 November

1688. The Army and the Navy (disaffected despite James's investment in

them) deserted to William, and James fled to France.

James's attempt to regain the throne by taking a French army to Ireland

failed - he was defeated at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. James spent

the rest of his life in exile in France, dying there in 1701.

WILLIAM III (1689-1702) AND MARY II (1689-94)

In 1689 Parliament declared that James had abdicated by deserting his

kingdom. William (reigned 1689-1702) and Mary (reigned 1689-94) were

offered the throne as joint monarchs. They accepted a Declaration of Rights

(later a Bill), drawn up by a Convention of Parliament, which limited the

Sovereign's power, reaffirmed Parliament's claim to control taxation and

legislation, and provided guarantees against the abuses of power which

James II and the other Stuart Kings had committed. The exclusion of James

II and his heirs was extended to exclude all Catholics from the throne,

since 'it hath been found by experience that it is inconsistent with the

safety and welfare of this protestant kingdom to be governed by a papist

prince'. The Sovereign was required in his coronation oath to swear to

maintain the Protestant religion.

The Bill was designed to ensure Parliament could function free from royal

interference. The Sovereign was forbidden from suspending or dispensing

with laws passed by Parliament, or imposing taxes without Parliamentary

consent. The Sovereign was not allowed to interfere with elections or

freedom of speech, and proceedings in Parliament were not to be questioned

in the courts or in any body outside Parliament itself. (This was the basis

of modern parliamentary privilege.) The Sovereign was required to summon

Parliament frequently (the Triennial Act of 1694 reinforced this by

requiring the regular summoning of Parliaments). Parliament tightened

control over the King's expenditure; the financial settlement reached with

William and Mary deliberately made them dependent upon Parliament, as one

Member of Parliament said, 'when princes have not needed money they have

not needed us'. Finally the King was forbidden to maintain a standing army

in time of peace without Parliament's consent.

The Bill of Rights added further defences of individual rights. The King

was forbidden to establish his own courts or to act as a judge himself, and

the courts were forbidden to impose excessive bail or fines, or cruel and

unusual punishments. However, the Sovereign could still summon and dissolve

Parliament, appoint and dismiss Ministers, veto legislation and declare


The so-called 'Glorious Revolution' has been much debated over the degree

to which it was conservative or radical in character. The result was a

permanent shift in power; although the monarchy remained of central

importance, Parliament had become a permanent feature of political life.

The Toleration Act of 1689 gave all non-conformists except Roman

Catholics freedom of worship, thus rewarding Protestant dissenters for

their refusal to side with James II.

After 1688 there was a rapid development of party, as parliamentary

sessions lengthened and the Triennial Act ensured frequent general

elections. Although the Tories had fully supported the Revolution, it was

the Whigs (traditional critics of the monarchy) who supported William and

consolidated their position. Recognising the advisability of selecting a

Ministry from the political party with the majority in the House of

Commons, William appointed a Ministry in 1696 which was drawn from the

Whigs; known as the Junto, it was regarded with suspicion by Members of

Parliament as it met separately, but it may be regarded as the forerunner

of the modern Cabinet of Ministers.

In 1697, Parliament decided to give an annual grant of Ј700,000 to the

King for life, as a contribution to the expenses of civil government, which

included judges' and ambassadors' salaries, as well as the Royal

Household's expenses.

The Bill of Rights had established the succession with the heirs of Mary

II, Anne and William III in that order, but by 1700 Mary had died

childless, Anne's only surviving child (out of 17 children), the Duke of

Gloucester, had died at the age of 11 and William was dying. The succession

had to be decided.

The Act of Settlement of 1701 was designed to secure the Protestant

succession to the throne, and to strengthen the guarantees for ensuring

parliamentary system of government. According to the Act, succession to the

throne went to Princess Sophia, Electress of Hanover and James I's

granddaughter, and her Protestant heirs.

The Act also laid down the conditions under which alone the Crown could

be held. No Roman Catholic, nor anyone married to a Roman Catholic, could

hold the English Crown. The Sovereign now had to swear to maintain the

Church of England (and after 1707, the Church of Scotland). The Act of

Settlement not only addressed the dynastic and religious aspects of

succession, it also further restricted the powers and prerogatives of the


Under the Act, parliamentary consent had to be given for the Sovereign to

engage in war or leave the country, and judges were to hold office on good

conduct and not at royal pleasure - thus establishing judicial

independence. The Act of Settlement reinforced the Bill of Rights, in that

it strengthened the principle that government was undertaken by the

Sovereign and his or her constitutional advisers (i.e. his or her

Ministers), not by the Sovereign and any personal advisers whom he or she

happened to choose.

One of William's main reasons for accepting the throne was to reinforce

the struggle against Louis XIV. William's foreign policy was dominated by

the priority to contain French expansionism. England and the Dutch joined

the coalition against France during the Nine Years War. Although Louis was

forced to recognise William as King under the Treaty of Ryswick (1697),

William's policy of intervention in Europe was costly in terms of finance

and his popularity. The Bank of England, established in 1694 to raise money

for the war by borrowing, did not loosen the King's financial reliance on

Parliament as the national debt depended on parliamentary guarantees.

William's Dutch advisers were resented, and in 1699 his Dutch Blue Guards

were forced to leave the country.

Never of robust health, William died as a result of complications from a

fall whilst riding at Hampton Court in 1702.

ANNE (1702-14)

Anne, born in 1665, was the second daughter of James II and Anne Hyde.

She played no part in her father's reign, but sided with her sister and

brother-in-law (Mary II and William III) during the Glorious Revolution.

She married George, Prince of Denmark, but the pair failed to produce a

surviving heir. She died at 49 years of age, after a lifelong battle with

the blood disease porphyria.

The untimely death of William III nullified, in effect, the Settlement

Act of 1701: Anne was James' daughter through his Protestant marriage, and

therefore, presented no conflict with the act. Anne refrained from

politically antagonizing Parliament, but was compelled to attend most

Cabinet meetings to keep her half-brother, James the Old Pretender, under

heel. Anne was the last sovereign to veto an act of Parliament, as well as

the final Stuart monarch. The most significant constitutional act in her

reign was the Act of Union in 1707, which created Great Britain by finally

fully uniting England and Scotland (Ireland joined the Union in 1801).

The Stuart trait of relying on favorites was as pronounced in Anne's

reign as it had been in James I's reign. Anne's closest confidant was Sarah

Churchill, who exerted great influence over the king. Sarah's husband was

the Duke of Marlborough, who masterly led the English to several victories

in the War of Spanish Succession. Anne and Sarah were virtually

inseparable: no king's mistress had ever wielded the power granted to the

duchess, but Sarah became too confident in her position. She developed an

overbearing demeanor towards Anne, and berated the Queen in public. In the

meantime, Tory leaders had planted one Abigail Hill in the royal household

to capture Anne's need for sympathy and affection. As Anne increasingly

turned to Abigail, the question of succession rose again, pitting the Queen

and the Marlborough against each other in a heated debate. The relationship

of Anne and the Churchill's fell asunder. Marlborough, despite his war

record, was dismissed from public service and Sarah was shunned in favor of


Many of the internal conflicts in English society were simply the birth

pains of the two-party system of government. The Whig and Tory Parties,

fully enfranchised by the last years of Anne's reign, fought for control of

Parliament and influence over the Queen. Anne was torn personally as well

as politically by the succession question: her Stuart upbringing compelled

her to choose as heir her half-brother, the Old Pretender and favorite of

the Tories, but she had already elected to side with Whigs when supporting

Mary and William over James II. In the end, Anne abided by the Act of

Settlement, and the Whigs paved the way for the succession of their

candidate, George of Hanover.

Anne's reign may be considered successful, but somewhat lackluster in

comparison to the rest of the Stuart line. 1066 and All That, describes her

with its usual tongue-in-cheek manner: "Finally the Orange... was succeeded

by the memorable dead queen, Anne. Queen Anne was considered rather a

remarkable woman and hence was usually referred to as Great Anna, or Annus

Mirabilis. The Queen had many favourites (all women), the most memorable of

whom were Sarah Jenkins and Mrs Smashems, who were the first wig and the

first Tory... the Whigs being the first to realize that the Queen had been

dead all the time chose George I as King."


The Hanoverians came to power in difficult circumstances that looked set

to undermine the stability of British society. The first of their Kings,

George I, was only 52nd in line to the throne, but the nearest Protestant

according the Act of Settlement. Two descendants of James II, the deposed

Stuart King, threatened to take the throne and were supported by a number

of 'Jacobites' throughout the realm.

The Hanoverian period for all that, was remarkably stable, not least

because of the longevity of its Kings. From 1714 through to 1837, there

were only five, one of whom, George III, remains the longest reigning King

in British History. The period was also one of political stability, and the

development of constitutional monarchy. For vast tracts of the eighteenth

century politics were dominated by the great Whig families, while the early

nineteenth century saw Tory domination. Britain's first 'Prime' Minister,

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