British Monarchies

  • Aug 22, 1485

    Henry VII

    Henry VII
    (1457-1509) Reign: 1485 - 1509. King of England, Lord of Ireland.
    Henry VII was born as Henry Tudor, only son of Edmund Tudor and Lady Margaret Beaufort. He was the first monarch of the Tudor dynasty. He came to the throne after defeating Richard III in the Battle of Bosworth Field and had to do quite a lot of explaining and ideologising (see “Tudor Myth”) to justify that he was the rightful, godgiven ruler and not just a bloody usurper.
  • Apr 21, 1509

    Henry VIII

    Henry VIII
    (1491 - 1547) Reign: 1509 - 1547. King of England, Lord of Ireland (later King of Ireland and claimant to the Kingdom of France).
    Son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. Separated the Anglican Church from Roman authority and became the "Supreme Head of the Church of England". He is noted for being married six times and having quite a few of these wives executed.
  • Dec 24, 1515

    Thomas Wolsey becomes Lord Chancellor

    Thomas Wolsey becomes Lord Chancellor
    (c. 1470/71 - 1530) Thomas Cardinal Wolsey was an English statesman and a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. When Henry VIII became King, Wolsey became the King’s almoner. He became the controlling figure in all matters of state and extremely powerful within the church. The highest political position he attained was Lord Chancellor, the King’s chief advisor. Wolsey’s downfall is usually connected with his inability to gain an annulment of the king’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon.
  • Apr 7, 1533

    Act of Appeals

    The Act of Appeals was the start of a political process that effectively transferred the power of the Catholic Church to the king, Henry VIII and his government.
  • Nov 3, 1534

    Act of Supremacy

    Act of Supremacy
    The Act of Supremacy was an Act of Parliament that made the monarch the supreme head of the CoE. The act is based on the argument that no foreign ruler (e.g. the Pope) should have authority in English matters. The act allowed
    Henry VIII to get an annulment of his first marriage. It also produced a test of loyalty. People who did not accept the Act were considered traitors. The Act was revoked in 1554 by Henry’s Catholic daughter, Mary I, and reinstated in 1559 by his other daughter, Elizabeth I.
  • Jan 28, 1547

    Edward VI

    Edward VI
    (1537 - 1553) Reign: 1547 - 1553. King of England, King of Ireland.
    Edward was the son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour. He was crowned at the age of nine as the third monarch of the Tudor dynasty & England's first Protestant ruler.
    During Edward's reign, the realm was governed by a Regency Council because he never reached maturity. His reign was marked by the transformation of the Anglican Church into a recognisably Protestant body. Protestantism was established for the first time in England.
  • Jul 24, 1553

    Mary I

    Mary I
    (1516 - 1558) Reign: 1553 - 1558. Queen of England, Queen of Ireland.
    Mary was the fourth crowned monarch of the Tudor dynasty, daughter of Henry VIII & Catherine of Aragon, and restored England to Roman Catholicism after succeeding her short-lived half-brother, Edward VI. She had almost 300 Protestants burned at the stake in the "Marian Persecutions", which earned her the name of Bloody Mary. Her reestablishment of Roman Catholicism was reversed by her successor & half-sister, Elizabeth I.
  • Nov 17, 1558

    Elizabeth I

    Elizabeth I
    (1533 - 1603) Reign: 1558 - 1603. Queen of England, Queen of Ireland.
    Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty. She was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. The Catholic world considered Elizabeth a bastard born out of wedlock. This was to cause severe problems during her reign. In 1558, Elizabeth succeeded her half-sister, the Catholic Mary. One of her first moves as queen was to support the establishment of an English Protestant church. Elizabeth never married.
  • May 16, 1567

    Mary, Queen of Scots, flees to England

    Mary, Queen of Scots, flees to England
    (1542 - 1587) Reign: 1542 - 1567. Queen of Scots.
    Mary I of Scotland was Queen of Scots when she had to abdicate after a rebellion of the Scottish nobility. This was preceded by her alleged involvement in the murder of her second husband and her marriage to the suspected murderer. Mary sought the protection of Elizabeth, who had her put in custody. To the Catholic world, Mary was the legitimate heir to the British throne as Margaret Tudor, the sister of Henry VIII, was her grandmother.
  • Apr 13, 1576

    "The Theatre"

    "The Theatre"
    The "Theatre" was an Elizabethan playhouse located in Shoreditch, just outside the City of London. James Burbage’s "Theatre" was the second permanent playhouse ever constructed in England, and possibly the first to be built for theatrical productions alone. It was dismantled in 1598, its timber being reused in building the "Globe". Read More
  • Nov 15, 1577

    First English World Cruise

    First English World Cruise
    Sir Francis Drake was the first English navigator to sail around the world, returning to England in 1580 after a three-year expedition. Positive interpretations see this as one of the founding steps towards British naval supremacy. Negative interpretations consider it the beginning of British suppression and colonialism with Drake’s later expeditions against the Spanish as nothing more than acts of piracy.
  • Treaty of Nonsuch

    The Treaty of Nonsuch was signed by England and the Netherlands at Nonsuch Palace in 1585. England committed itself to military and financial support for the Dutch revolt against Spanish dominion and was to receive possessions in the Netherlands by way of recompense. Something which did not go down well with the Spanish.
  • Execution of Mary Stuart ("Mary, Queen of Scots")

    Execution of Mary Stuart ("Mary, Queen of Scots")
    Mary I of Scotland (not to be confused with the Tudor monarch Mary I of England, or "Bloody Mary"), was executed for treason in 1587. Mary had been Queen of Scotland from 1542 to 1567, when she had to abdicate and fled to England. Mary Stuart became the focus of many Catholics who wanted to overthrow the Protestant Elizabeth I. Mary was accused of being involved in the Ridolfi plot & the Babington conspiracy. After 19 years of having Mary in custody, Elizabeth signed the death sentence in 1587.
  • Spanish Armada

    Spanish Armada
    The Spanish Armada was the Spanish fleet that sailed against England in 1588. Its main aim was to transport a Spanish army from Flanders across the Channel to south east England in an effort to invade and conquer the island nation. While anchoring off the coast of Flanders, it came under attack by English fireships. Only later did the fleet manage to regroup, having withdrawn north. A large number of ships was destroyed during heavy Atlantic weather.
  • "The Globe"

    "The Globe"
    The Globe Theatre was built in 1599 and destroyed by fire in 1613. It could hold an audience of about 3000 people. It was owned by actors of the Lord Chamberlains Men, among them Richard Burbage and William Shakespeare, and was thus the place where many of Shakespeare's plays had their premiere.
  • East India Company

    Founded in 1600, the main purpose of the Honourable East India Company was the trade in cotton, silk, indigo, tea and other resources of Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent. For two decades, the HEIC had a monopoly on trade with the East Indies.
  • James I

    James I
    (1566 - 1625) Reign: 1603 - 1625. King of England, King of Ireland; also: James VI of Scotland.
    The son of Mary Stuart, James became King of England and Ireland as James I in 1603, thereby succeeding Elizabeth and establishing the Stuart dynasty. The cultural period after the Elizabethan Age is often referred to as the Jacobean age (from the Latin form of "James", Jacobus) and seen as a continuation of the "Golden Age" in literature and drama.
  • Gunpowder Plot

    Gunpowder Plot
    A Catholic conspiracy with the aim of assassinating James I and most of the Protestant aristocracy by blowing up the Houses of Parliament. The plotters were betrayed by one of their number, arrested and later executed. The event triggered a new wave of resentment against Catholics but was in fact the last major (and
    real) Catholic conspiracy in England. The plot is still remembered in Britain on the fifth of November each year, as Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes Night.
  • Charles I

    Charles I
    (1600-1649) Reign: 1625-1649. King of England, King of Scotland, King of Ireland.
    Son to James VI and I and Anne of Denmark. 2nd Stuart king. Charles believed in the Divine Right of Kings, dissolving the Parliament of 1629 & beginning 11 years of Personal Rule (through royal prerogative, without Parliament). His attitude, in combination with suspicions of Catholic inclinations, paved the way for the armed conflict with Parliamentary forces - the English Civil War. Executed for treason in 1649.
  • The Long Parliament

    The Long Parliament
    In 1640 Charles needed to finance a war with Scotland, i.e. Parliament to levy taxes. He summoned Parliament for the first time in 11 years, dissolved it after 3 weeks, failed to overcome the Scots, and had to resummon Parliament. This became the Long Parliament, sitting until 1660. Parliament passed the Triennial Act & the Militia Bill in 1641, the latter taking away the king’s control over the army. Charles retaliated in 1642 by trying to arrest his 5 leading opponents. A civil war ensued.
  • First Civil War 1642-1646

    Ended with the King nominally a Scottish prisoner, who nevertheless tried to exploit the stalemate between the rivaling factions to his advantage.
  • Civil War 1642-1651

    22 Aug 1642 - 3 Sep 1651. A series of armed conflicts between parliamentary and royalist forces; underneath that, a religious conflict, in which Catholics and moderate Anglicans were more likely to support the king’s cause and Puritans more likely to side with Parliament.
  • New Model Army

    New Model Army
    Reorganisation of the Parliamentary forces to form the New Model Army: the first English army to consist of full-time professional soldiers and to be dispatched to any part of the country (in contrast to earlier regional militia).
  • Second Civil War 1648-1649

    Royalist uprisings in some English regions and a new campaign by remaining royalist forces in alliance with Scottish troops, which now fought on the King’s side. Ended with the victory of Parliament.
  • Pride's Purge

    Pride's Purge
    In 1648, the Long Parliament was “purged” of royalists and opponents of the new Puritan order, i.e. these members were removed from the House by an army regiment lead by Colonel Thomas Pride – effectively a coup d’état. The remnant of Parliament became known as the Rump.
  • Execution of Charles I

    Execution of Charles I
    The intense power struggle Charles I entered into with parliament culminated in a Civil War, which in turn resulted in the abolition of the monarchy. Charles refused to accept the legality his trial, invoking the Divine Right of Kings. His insistence on this formality did not save Charles from being executed for high treason on the morning of January 30th. See stock footage of his death warrant here
  • Third Civil War 1649-1651

    The term Third Civil War is sometimes applied to Cromwell’s military campaigns against Ireland (1649/1650) and against Scotland (1651). The invasions were meant to enforce compliance with the new Puritan regime. Ireland had been allied with the royalists; Scotland had proclaimed Charles II king on the execution of his father.
  • Commonwealth

    In 1649, Charles I was tried and executed for treason. The House of Lords was abolished. Parliament passed “An Act declaring England to be a Commonwealth”, thus replacing monarchy with a republican government through Parliament. The executive function was passed to a Council of State.
  • Oliver Cromwell Lord Protector

    Oliver Cromwell Lord Protector
    (1599-1658) In office: 1653-1658. Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland.
    Cromwell dissolved the Rump Parliament, replacing it with the Nominated Parliament. The Commonwealth was dissolved and a new constitution, the Instrument of Government, was drawn up; Cromwell became Lord Protector for life, assuming most of the old royal powers without the actual title. Cromwell’s rule has often been regarded as tyrannical. However, it was also a time of relative religious freedom.
  • Richard Cromwell

    Richard Cromwell
    (1626-1712) In office: September 1658-May 1659. Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland.
    On his father’s death, Richard Cromwell succeeded as Lord Protector in 1658. He lacked experience and support, especially by the Army commanders. After only nine months, Richard was pushed to resign.
  • Charles II

    Charles II
    (1630-1685) Reign: 1660-1685. King of England, King of Scotland, King of Ireland.
    After the defeat of Scottish troops in the Battle of Worcester (1651), Charles II fled to Europe. Following the collapse of the Commonwealth, he was declared king by the Convention Parliament of April 1660. In his Declaration of Breda Charles guaranteed a free Parliament. The “Act of Indemnity & Oblivion” granted an amnesty to Cromwell’s supporters. Charles II reignited the conflict of power with Parliament.
  • The Great Plague

    The Great Plague
    (1665-1666) The Great Plague stalked England in 1665. It struck London particularly hard: in the end, over 100,000 people had died, about 20 % of London’s population. However, earlier epidemics had had even higher death tolls; the notoriety of the 17th century epidemic rests on it being the last major outbreak of the plague.
  • The Great Fire of London September 2nd - 5th

    The fire started in Pudding Lane, in a shop owned by the king’s baker Thomas Farriner, and over the next three days destroyed large parts of the medieval city centre, sparing Westminster with the royal palace & the Parliament. Depending on the political standpoint, the blame was often assigned to a Catholic conspiracy or to the sinfulness of the nation & of Charles II, to whom God had sent the recent catastrophes as signs. The fire destroyed 13,200 houses, 87 parish churches & "Old St. Paul's".
  • The Popish Plot

    In 1678, informers Titus Oates and Israel Tonge fabricated evidence of a Popish plot, convincing authorities that there was a Catholic conspiracy with the intent of killing Charles and replacing him by his Catholic brother James. The allegations led to some executions of innocents, and paranoia about Catholics gained new momentum before Oates’s intentions were discovered in 1681. The “Popish Plot” was influential in triggering the Exclusion Crisis.
  • Exclusion Crisis 1679-1681

    In the wake of the anti-Catholic hysteria, a group in Parliament tried to introduce an Exclusion Bill, to exclude Charles' Catholic brother James from the succession. Charles opposed this, claiming that kingship was sacred & hereditary succession no matter of Parliament. Charles dissolved Parliament, and the Bill was turned down by the House of Lords. After 1681, Charles never summoned Parliament again. The Exclusion Crisis saw the emergence of the pro-exclusion Whigs and the royalist Tories.
  • James II

    James II
    (1633-1701) Reign: 1685-1688. King of England, King of Ireland; also King James VII of Scotland.
    Third son to Charles I & younger brother to Charles II. A rebellion by his nephew, the Duke of Monmouth, illegitimate Protestant son of Charles II, failed. Still, James II’s position was not secure: as a Catholic, he alienated even the defenders of the royal line by promoting religious tolerance for Catholics & dissenters. In 1688, when William of Orange landed with an army, James II fled to France.
  • Glorious Revolution

    Offended by James II's Catholicism & alarmed by the birth of a Catholic male heir in June '88, a group of nobles invited William of Orange to come to England with an army. The Dutch stadtholder was married to James' Protestant daughter Mary, who would have been next in line. When William landed on November 5, some of the English army officers defected, and James fled. In 1689, a Convention Parliament argued that James II had abdicated and offered the throne to William & his wife Mary.
  • Nine Years War 1688-1697

    The Nine Years’ War was fought between England, the Netherlands (Dutch Republic) and some other nations of the “Great Alliance” on one side and France on the other. The war was settled with the Treaty of Ryswick (1697), in which France, which had previously supported the claim of former monarch James II, acknowledged William as King of England.
  • William III and Mary II

    William III and Mary II
    William III (1650-1702) Reign: 1689-1702. King of England, King of Ireland; King William II of Scotland.
    William III of Orange-Nassau was stadtholder in the Dutch Republic. He strove to spread Protestantism.
    Mary II (1662-1694) Reign: 1689-1694. Queen of England, Queen of Scotland, Queen of Ireland.
    Daughter of James II/VII & Lady Anne Hyde. Having a better claim to the throne, she succeeded her father & ruled jointly with her husband. After her death William became the sole monarch.
  • Act of Toleration

    An act of Parliament that granted toleration to Protestant nonconformists (i.e. people who dissented from the dogma of the Church of England), albeit requiring the registration of their meetings. In contrast to James II’ Declaration of Indulgence (1687), the Act of Toleration explicitly excluded Catholics. Furthermore, the act exempted the nonconformists only from penalties; disadvantages such as the exclusion from universities or public offices still remained.
  • Bill of Rights

    Bill of Rights
    The full title of this Act of Parliament is “An Act Declaring the Rights and Liberties of the Subject and Settling the Succession of the Crown”. As such, it affirms certain immutable rights that (Protestant) people possessed in a monarchy (like the right to bear arms in self-defence). It also required the monarch to consult Parliament on certain matters & ensured the freedom of speech in parliamentary debates. Furthermore, the Bill of Rights barred Catholics from inheriting the English throne.
  • Act of Settlement

    The Act of Settlement was introduced towards the end of the reign of William III. The next monarch, Queen Anne, was sickly & likely remain heirless. To prevent future power struggles (Anne had Catholic relatives, who would be next in line, despite the '89 Bill of Rights), Parliament passed the act, which stated that upon Anne’s death without a direct heir the English crown would fall to the Electress Sophia of Hanover (a granddaughter of James I) and then to Sophia’s Protestant heirs.
  • Anne

    (1665-1714) Reign: 1702-1714: Queen of England, Queen of Scotland, Queen of Ireland / Queen of Great Britain, Queen of Ireland.
    Anne was the daughter of James II and VII and Lady Anne Hyde. She succeeded her brother-in-law, William III of England, and reigned for twelve years until her death in 1714. She was the last Stuart to reign in England; with her death, the crown fell to the
    Hanoverian dynasty.
  • War of the Spanish Succession 1701-1713/14

    In 1700, Philip of Anjou, grandson of Louis XIV, had inherited the Spanish throne as King Philip V. These close ties between Spain & France upset the balance of power in Europe; several nations formed a new alliance against them. The conflicts were mainly a continuation of the Nine Years’ War. England did not declare war until 1702. It almost lasted Queen Anne's entire reign and was settled by the treaties of Utrecht (1713) & Rastatt (1714). Britain emerged from it a major naval power.
  • Act of Union

    The Acts of Union, passed by the English & Scottish Parliaments in 1707, united the English & Scottish Parliament (Union of Parliaments) making England & Scotland, which had previously been two states that since 1603 just had the same monarch, into one single kingdom, the United Kingdom of Great Britain. Anne was henceforth Queen of Great Britain and of Ireland. The union had become a necessity as the Hanoverians, who were soon to be monarchs of England, had no real claim to the Scottish throne.
  • Attempted invasion of Scotland

    James Stuart, formerly James II, had died in 1701; his followers, called Jacobites from the Latin form of his name, Jacobus, now supported his son, James Edward Stuart. (After the birth of his son in 1720, he would come to be called “the Old Pretender”.) Assisted by French troops, he sailed to Scotland in 1708, but the invasion was thwarted by the Royal Navy.
  • George I

    George I
    (1660-1727) Reign: 1714-1727. King of Great Britain, King of Ireland; also: Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg (Hanover)
    George I succeeded Anne in 1714. His reign saw further changes in the balance between monarch and Parliament, with power gradually shifting to a cabinet of ministers and to Britain’s first de facto Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole.
  • Jacobite Rebellion

    Following the dynastic change in 1714, Jacobites conspired to organise armed rebellions against the new Hanoverian government. In 1715, on a signal from James Edward, the
    Scottish Earl of Mar raised an army of 12.000 men – mostly members of Highland clans and north-eastern Lowlanders. A subsequent rising in northern England was crushed, while Mar's successes in Scotland allowed James Edward to land there and briefly set up king's court. By February 1716, however, the Old Pretender had to flee.
  • Robert Walpole Prime Minister

    Robert Walpole Prime Minister
    (1676 – 1745) In office: 1721 – 1742.
    A Whig first elected for Parliament in 1701, Robert Walpole had already had a changeable political career when he returned to the Cabinet in 1721. In retrospect, Walpole is usually regarded as the first Prime Minister of Great Britain. Based on his first name, his style of government has been nicknamed “Robinocracy”, a system of patronage. By the 1741 general elections, Walpole's power had been in decline for some time. He agreed to resign in 1742.
  • George II

    George II
    (1683 - 1760) Reign: 1727 – 1760. King of Great Britain and Ireland; Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg (Hanover); Elector of the Holy Roman Empire.
    The son of George I and Sophia, George was the last British monarch born outside Britain and spent his youth at the Hanoverian court. In 1705 he married Caroline of Ansbach; they had 3 sons and 5 daughters. George is notorious for his quarrels with his father; he actively encouraged political opposition against George I.
  • War of Jenkin's Ear 1739-1748

    (1739 – 1748) The War of Jenkins’ Ear was a conflict between Great Britain and Spain in which the British tried to break the Spanish monopoly of trade with South America. Its name relates to Robert Jenkins, captain of a British merchant ship, who exhibited his severed ear in Parliament following the boarding of his vessel by Spanish coast guards in 1731. The War of Jenkins' Ear merged with the War of the Austrian Succession.
  • War of the Austrian Succession 1740-1748

    The War began after the death of Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI of the Habsburg dynasty. Having no male heirs, he had settled upon his daughter Maria Theresa of Austria to inherit; the “Pragmatic Sanction” was meant to overrule the fact that a woman was not entitled to royal inheritance by traditional Frankish law. France, Spain & Prussia used this pretext for invasion. Britain & the Dutch sided with Austria. The war ended with the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle; Maria Theresa remained monarch.
  • Jacobite Rebellion 1745-1746

    Jacobite Rebellion 1745-1746
    Charles Edward Stuart led the last major Jacobite rising. It was initially intended to support a French invasion of Britain. With most of the British forces engaged on the Continent, Charles & his army won the Battle of Prestonpans and advanced southwards. Briefly, England was alarmed by this; however in April 1746, the Jacobites were defeated in the Battle of Culloden. Charles fled. The English Parliament then enacted legislature to ensure better control of the Scottish highlands.
  • Seven Years War 1756-1763

    This was the first global war involving all of the major European powers of the period. In a European context, the war was waged for Silesia, which Maria Theresa had lost in the War of the Austrian Succession. Britain, Hanover & Prussia opposed Austria, France, Sweden & Spain. Prussia won the war, defending its continental hegemony. For Britain the war was mostly directed against France, leading to military campaigns in the colonies. The war won Britain control over India & Canada.
  • George III

    George III
    (1738 – 1820) Reign: 1760 – 1820. King of Great Britain and Ireland (until 1800); since 1801, King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Duke of Brunswick Lüneburg and Elector of Hanover (King of Hanover in 1814).
    The grandson of George II and son of Frederick, Prince of Wales, and Augusta. George III's reign saw the loss of the American colonies and wars in France. Due to George III's bouts of mental illness, George, Prince of Wales, acted as regent from 1811 to 1820.
  • "Discovery" of Australia

    In 1768 James Cook, a British explorer & navigator, was sent from England on an expedition to the Pacific Ocean to observe the transit of Venus from Tahiti. On the return voyage Cook continued his search for the continent ‘Terra Australis’. In 1770, having previously reached New Zealand, he sighted the south-eastern corner of Australia and landed at a point he christened Botany Bay. Cook's arrival (and his claiming the land for Britain) marked the beginning of Australia as a British colony.
  • Boston Tea Party

    Colonists boarded British ships in Boston Harbour, throwing three shiploads of tea overboard to protest against the “Tea Act”, which enabled the British East India Company to profit from duties levied on the tea it exported to the colonies. The colonists protested since they did not have directly elected representatives in Westminster Parliament. “No taxation without representation” was the slogan of a struggle to be recognised as British citizens with certain rights, not to be independent.
  • Declaration of American Independence

    Declaration of American Independence
    Signed following a Continental Congress of all thirteen British colonies in America, the ‘United States Declaration of Independence’ is a document in which the colonies declare
    their independence of the Kingdom of Great Britain and explain their reasons for doing so with reference to natural rights (equality; rights to “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness”). The statement, primarily drawn up by Thomas Jefferson, was adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776 (“Independence Day”).
  • War of American Independence 1778-1783

    War of American Independence 1778-1783
    The was fought between the Kingdom of Great Britain and the 13 united British colonies in North America that had declared independence. It came to involve many of the major European powers and left Britain isolated diplomatically. France had always unofficially supported the revolutionaries, providing supplies, ammunition & weapons; in 1778, it declared war to Britain. After some initial successes, Britain was eventually overpowered. The war ended with the Treaty of Paris.
  • Treaty of Paris

    Ending the War of American Independence, the Treaty of Paris was signed by U.S. and British representatives in September 1783. It was one in a series of treaties signed in Paris in 1783 that also established peace between Great Britain and the allied nations of France, Spain and the Netherlands. Britain lost its American colonies and had to return Florida to Spain and Tobago to France.
  • French Revolution

    Claiming “liberty, equality and fraternity” as its ideals, the French Revolution overturned the ‘Ancien Régime’ & its absolute monarch, following the successful American revolution. At first, many British were sympathetic to the revolutionaries' cause as their aims (establishment of a strong Parliament to keep the monarch in check) seemed to be informed by British history. However, the French revolution was soon dominated by an increasing radicalism, leaving France at war with its neighbours.
  • French Revolutionary Wars 1793-1802

    The French Revolutionary Wars were a series of conflicts occurring in the decade after the French Revolution and in the early beginnings of the Napoleonic era. The wars, waged between France (under the revolutionary government) and several European states (Britain, Prussia, Austria), began as an effort to defend or contain the revolutionary movement respectively. Successful campaigns led by France made Britain fear an invasion. The peace obtained in 1802 proved only a short reprieve.
  • Act of Union

    The “Act of Union 1800” describes two complementary acts by the Parliaments of Great Britain and Ireland. Passed in 1800 and taking effect on January 1, 1801, these two acts merged the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. This was achieved through a union of Parliaments. After the union, only the Parliament in Westminster was left. The Irish did not give up their relative independence willingly.
  • Napoleonic Wars 1803-1815

    Napoleonic Wars 1803-1815
    A series of conflicts fought between France under Napoleon Bonaparte and several European nations (in different coalitions) between 1803&1815. One of the few defeats during Napoleon's peak occurred in the naval battle at Trafalgar (1805). Eventually his expansionism caught up with him: failures in Russia (1812) & Leipzig (1813) saw him banished to Elba by the coalition forces (1814). He was defeated for good in the battle of Waterloo by British & Prussian troops. The Holy Roman Empire dissolved.
  • George IV

    George IV
    (1762 – 1830) Reign: 1820 – 1830: King of Hanover and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
    Eldest son of George III & Charlotte. In 1785 he secretly&without the king's consent married the Catholic widow Maria Fitzherbert. The marriage was declared illegal. With a Catholic wife George would not have been allowed to reign. In 1795 he married his cousin Caroline. Their only child Charlotte died in 1817. Starting in 1811, George acted as Prince Regent in lieu of his mentally ill father.
  • William IV

    William IV
    (1765 - 1837). Reign: 1830 - 1837. King of the United Kingdom of Britain and Ireland, King of Hanover.
    The younger brother of George IV. William's reign saw political & social reforms implemented by the Whig majority in Parliament. Some historians claim (Maurer 341) that these were deliberate actions in order to avoid a revolution in Britain. None of his legitimate children outlived him, however, he had several illegitimate children. One of their descendants is ex-Prime Minister David Cameron.
  • Reform Act

    The Reform Act of 1832 introduced changes in the electoral system of the United Kingdom. 56 rotten boroughs were abolished; 42 new boroughs were created to ensure fair representation of the growing industrial cities. The franchise was extended as well, but remained contingent on property. Nevertheless, the electorate in England and Wales almost doubled. There was still no secret ballot (i.e. one had to cast one’s vote in public) and no franchise for women.
  • Victoria

    (1819 - 1901) Reign: 1837- 1901. Queen of the United Kingdom of Britain & Ireland; since 1876, Empress of India.
    Niece of William IV. Victoria acceded to the throne at 18. From 1840 to his death in 1861 (which she mourned for several years), she was married to Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha; they had 9 children. When Victoria became Queen, her executive power was already limited. She focused on her symbolic & ceremonial duties and on setting a moral example as the mother of a family & a nation.
  • Edward VII

    Edward VII
    (1841 - 1910) Reign: 1901 - 1910. King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions; Emperor of India.
    The eldest son of Victoria. Some contemporaries hailed him “The Peacemaker”, as he advocated good relations between Britain and European powers and brokered the Entente cordiale with France (1904); others criticised that he had spent the first 60 years of his life in relative leisure (having many mistresses).
  • George V

    George V
    (1865 - 1936). Reign: 1910-1936. King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, Emperor of India.
    The son of Edward VI. He changed the name of the British branch of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to “Windsor” in 1917, renouncing his German titles. George V was not much involved in politics, allegedly preferring his hobbies. Monarchical rule underwent a significant change in 1931, when the British Commonwealth was formed. In 1932, he delivered the 1st annual Christmas Radio Broadcast.
  • Edward VIII

    Edward VIII
    (1894 - 1972) Reign: 20 January–11 December 1936. King of the United Kingdom & the British Dominions, Emperor of India.
    Son of George V. His plan to marry the American divorceé Wallis Simpson caused a crisis, as Prime Minister Baldwin announced his intention to resign if it came to pass. It was argued that the royal marriage was not a personal matter. Edward abdicated in favour of his brother; 1937, he was created Duke of Windsor & married Simpson. His life after the abdication was spent abroad.
  • George VI

    George VI
    (1895 - 1952) Reign: 1936-1952. King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions. Emperor of India (until 1947).
    Son of George V. His reign saw appeasement politics, World War II & post-war reconstruction. The Empire dissolved: Indian independence in 1947; founding of the Republic of Ireland in 1949. The London Declaration (1949) changed the name of the British Commonwealth to the “Commonwealth of Nations”, making a distinction between the positions of British monarch & Head of Commonwealth.
  • Elizabeth II - Longest reigning British Monarch

    Elizabeth II - Longest reigning British Monarch
    (born 21 April 1926) Reign: 1952 - present. Queen of the United Kingdom, Head of the Commonwealth.
    The daughter of George VI. Coronated in Westminster Abbey in 1953. The ceremony was televised throughout the Commonwealth, and since 1957, so have been the Christmas Broadcasts. Flexibility & adaptability are the keys to the long survival of the monarchy in Britain (Maurer 444), and using technology & new media is part of its success. The role of the monarch is now largely symbolic and ceremonial.