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House of Stuart, 1603-1714


James I 1603-1625 (great-great-grandson of Henry VII)
Charles I 1625-1649 (second son of James)
[Commonwealth 1649-1660] Cromwell (Not Stuart)
Charles II 1660-1685 (oldest son of Charles)
James II 1685-1688 (brother of Charles II)

 

 

The Stuarts were the first kings of the United Kingdom. King James I of England who began the period was also King James VI of Scotland, thus combining the two thrones for the first time.

The Stuart dynasty reigned in England and Scotland from 1603 to 1714, a period which saw a flourishing Court culture but also much upheaval and instability, of plague, fire and war.

It was an age of intense religious debate and radical politics. Both contributed to a bloody civil war in the mid-seventeenth century between Crown and Parliament (the Cavaliers and the Roundheads), resulting in a parliamentary victory for Oliver Cromwell and the dramatic execution of King Charles I.

There was a short-lived republic, the first time that the country had experienced such an event.

The Restoration of the Crown was soon followed by another 'Glorious' Revolution. William and Mary of Orange ascended the throne as joint monarchs and defenders of Protestantism, followed by Queen Anne, the second of James II's daughters.

The end of the Stuart line with the death of Queen Anne led to the drawing up of the Act of Settlement in 1701, which provided that only Protestants could hold the throne.

The next in line according to the provisions of this act was George of Hanover, yet Stuart princes remained in the wings. The Stuart legacy was to linger on in the form of claimants to the Crown for another century.


Stuart timeline

 

24 March 1603
Elizabeth I dies and James VI of Scotland accedes to the English throne

Elizabeth I died childless so was succeeded by her cousin, James VI of Scotland, who henceforth assumed the title of James I of England as well. James's accession meant that the three separate kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland were now united, for the first time, under a single monarch. James was the first Stuart ruler of England.

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August 1604
James I ends the war with Spain
One of James I's first acts of foreign policy was to end the long war with Spain, which had continued intermittently for 20 years. The resulting Treaty of London was largely favourable to Spain, but was also an acknowledgement by the Spanish that their hopes of bringing England under Spanish control were over. The end of the war greatly eased the English government's near bankrupt financial state. England and Spain were at peace for the next 50 years.

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5 November 1605
Gunpowder Plot to assassinate James I is discovered
In 1604, a group of English Catholics, angered by James I's failure to relax the penal laws against their co-religionists, hatched a plot to blow up the king and parliament by igniting gunpowder barrels concealed in a vault beneath the building. The plot was discovered before it could be carried out. The conspirators, including Guy Fawkes after whom the plot is often known, were either killed resisting arrest, or captured and then executed by being hanged, drawn and quartered.

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September 1607
Irish Earls flee to the continent fearing arrest
Following their defeat in the Nine Years' War, Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone and Rory O’Donnell, Earl of Tyrconnell were treated leniently by the victorious English government of Ireland and allowed to retain their lands and titles. But in 1605, the new lord deputy, Arthur Chichester, began to restrict their authority. Fearing arrest, the two fled to the continent with 90 family members and followers - the 'Flight of the Earls'. This marked the end of the power of Ireland’s Gaelic aristocracy.

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1609
Plantation of Ulster sees Protestants moving onto confiscated Irish land
In the wake of the Nine Years' War, James I determined to secure Ulster for the Crown through a systematic settlement programme. Protestants from England and Scotland were encouraged to move to Ulster, cultivate the land and establish towns. These 'planters' moved onto land confiscated from its Gaelic Catholic inhabitants. The plantation was often organised through guilds and corporations. The London companies were granted the city of Derry, thereafter known as Londonderry.  

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1611
'King James Bible' is published
By the end of the 16th century, there were several different English bibles in circulation and the church authorities felt a definitive version was needed. The 'Authorised Version of the Bible' (also known as the 'King James Bible') was commissioned in 1604. It became the most famous English translation of the scriptures and had a profound impact on the English language.

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14 February 1613
James I's daughter Elizabeth marries Frederick V, Elector Palatine
The eldest daughter of James I and Anne of Denmark, Princess Elizabeth, was widely admired for her beauty, spirit and charm. She married Frederick V, Elector of the Rhine Palatinate, at the age of 16 and travelled with him to Heidelberg. Six years later, Frederick was elected king of Bohemia, but he and Elizabeth were driven out of the country by Catholic forces soon afterwards. It was through Elizabeth's descendants that the House of Hanover came to inherit the English throne.

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23 April 1616
William Shakespeare dies
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, popular in his time but subsequently regarded as the greatest writer in the English language. He wrote numerous sonnets and poems as well as more than 30 plays, including 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', 'The Merchant of Venice', 'Henry V', 'Richard III', 'Romeo and Juliet, 'Macbeth', 'Hamlet' and 'King Lear'.

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1619
First record of Africans in British North American colonies
The first Africans who arrived in Jamestown, Virginia were not slaves but indentured servants. However, over the course of the 17th century their status gradually shifted so that more and more became slaves. Race-based slavery soon became central to the economy of the British colonies in North America.

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August 1620
'Pilgrim Fathers' sail for America in the 'Mayflower'
A group attempting to escape religious persecution in England sailed for the New World and landed at Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts. They became known as the 'Pilgrim Fathers', and are often portrayed as the founders of modern America. In reality, the first permanent British colony in North America was Jamestown in Virginia, founded by Captain John Smith in 1607. Jamestown was established on behalf of the London Company, which hoped to make a profit from the new colony for its shareholders.

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27 March 1625
James I dies and Charles I accedes to the throne

James I was struck down by what contemporaries described as 'a tertian ague' and died in his bed at Theobalds, in Hertfordshire, at the age of 57. He was succeeded by his only surviving son, Charles, then 24-years-old, who was proclaimed as king at the gates of Theobalds a few hours later.

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14 May 1625
Barbados comes under British control

Captain John Powell landed in Barbados in 1625 and claimed the island as a British Caribbean colony. He returned two years later with a group of settlers and Barbados was developed into a sugar plantation economy using at first indentured servants and then slaves captured in West Africa.

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October 1627
English forces are defeated at La Rochelle, France

In a bid to help the French Protestants of La Rochelle, who were besieged by Catholic forces, Charles I sent an English army. It was commanded by his chief minister, George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, who attempted to capture the nearby island of Rhé at the approaches to La Rochelle. Despite his best efforts, Buckingham was eventually forced to evacuate the island amid scenes of chaos and confusion.

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23 August 1628
Charles I's chief minister, George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, is assassinated
Anxious to redeem his honour in the wake of the defeat by the French at the Isle of Rhé, George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, travelled down to Portsmouth in order to prepare for a new expedition to La Rochelle. While conferring with his officers, Buckingham was stabbed by John Felton, a discontented former soldier. The duke was immensely unpopular and few apart from the king mourned his death.

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10 March 1629
Charles I dissolves parliament and begins 11 years of personal rule
Already disillusioned with parliaments, Charles I was outraged when, on 2 March 1629, members of parliament first held the Speaker of the House down in his chair and then passed three resolutions condemning the king's financial and religious policies. Eight days later, Charles dissolved the assembly and embarked on a period of government without parliaments, known as the 'Personal Rule'.

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23 July 1637
New Scottish prayer book causes a riot in Edinburgh

Keen to secure a greater degree of religious conformity across his three kingdoms, Charles I ordered the introduction of a new prayer book in Scotland. The measure backfired badly when, at St Giles church in Edinburgh, an angry crowd protested against the book, shouting: 'The Mass is come amongst us!' - a negative reference to the reintroduction of Catholicism.

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28 February 1638
Scots begin to sign the National Covenant to prevent religious 'innovations'
Determined not to accept the new prayer book which Charles I was trying to impose on them, the Scots had drawn up a 'National Covenant' which bound its signatories to resist all religious 'innovations'. On 28 February 1638, leading Scottish gentlemen began signing the document in Grey Friars Church, Edinburgh. Thousands followed. The General Assembly of the Kirk declared episcopacy (bishops) abolished and Charles prepared to send troops into Scotland to restore order.

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13 April 1640
'Short Parliament' opens at Westminster
Desperate for money to fight the Scots, Charles I was forced to summon a new parliament - his first after 11 years of personal rule. At first, there seemed a good chance that members of parliament might be prepared to set their resentments of the king's domestic policies aside and agree to grant him money. Yet such hopes proved illusory, and Charles was forced to dissolve the parliament within a month.

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28 August 1640
Scots defeat the English at Newburn on the River Tyne

Having advanced deep into England, the Scottish army found Charles I's forces waiting for them on the southern bank of the River Tyne at Newburn. Charging across the river under cover of artillery fire, the Scots swiftly put the English infantry to flight. Charles was forced to agree to a humiliating truce.

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3 November 1640
'Long Parliament' opens at Westminster
With the Scottish army firmly established in Northern England and refusing to leave until its expenses had been paid, Charles I was again forced to summon a parliament. But instead of providing the king with financial assistance, many of the members of parliament - some of whom were zealous Protestants, or Puritans - used it to voice angry complaints against his policies.

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October 1641
Rebellion breaks out in Ireland
In late 1641, Ireland rebelled. The country's Catholic inhabitants were simultaneously appalled by the prospect of a Puritan parliament achieving political dominance in England, and entranced by the possibility of seizing concessions similar to those which had been won by the Scots. Several thousand English and Scottish Protestant settlers were killed and many more were forced to flee.

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4 January 1642
Charles I tries to arrest five leading members of parliament
Fearing that his opponents in parliament were not only determined to seize political control, but also to impeach his Catholic wife, Henrietta Maria, Charles I marched into the House of Commons and attempted to arrest five leading members of parliament. Forewarned, they slipped away and Charles was forced to leave empty-handed.

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22 August 1642
Civil War begins as Charles I raises his standard at Nottingham
By setting up his royal standard on the Castle Hill at Nottingham, and by summoning his loyal subjects to join him against his enemies in parliament, Charles effectively signalled the start of the English Civil War. Inauspiciously for him: 'the standard itself was blown down the same night... by a... strong and unruly wind'.

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1-7 October 1642
Cornishmen rise in support of Charles I
Although parliament had initially managed to gain control of almost all of southern England, in October 1642 some 10,000 Cornishmen rose up in arms for Charles I and chased parliament's few local supporters across the River Tamar. Thus a new front in the developing English Civil War was opened, with the Cornishmen becoming some of the king's toughest soldiers.

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23 October 1642
Royalist and Parliamentarian armies clash at Edgehill, Warwickshire
As Charles I's army advanced on London from the Welsh Marches, its path was blocked by parliament's army under Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, at Edgehill in Warwickshire. The struggle that followed was bloody but indecisive, putting paid to hopes that the English Civil War might be settled by a single battle.

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15 September 1643
Royalists sign a ceasefire with the Irish
Having suffered a series of reverses and desperate for more men, Charles I ordered James Butler, Marquis of Ormond, to arrange a ceasefire with the Catholic 'confederates' (or insurgents) in Ireland, so that the English Protestant soldiers fighting there could be shipped home to serve against the Parliamentarians. The so-called 'cessation of arms' outraged the king's English opponents.

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25 September 1643
Parliamentarians enter into an alliance with the Scots
Fearing that they would be unable to beat the Royalist forces without outside help, the Parliamentarians concluded an alliance with the Scots. By the terms of the treaty the Scots agreed to send a powerful army to fight Charles I, in return for church reform in England 'according to the word of God', that is, in keeping with Scottish Protestantism.

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2 July 1644
Scottish and Parliamentarian armies destroy Charles I's northern army
Charles I's northern supporters were besieged in York by a joint force of Parliamentarians and Scots, but were relieved by a Royalist army under the king's nephew, Prince Rupert. Triumph quickly turned to disaster for Rupert when his army was destroyed in a pitched battle at Marston Moor on the following day. Thereafter, the north of England was effectively lost to the king.

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15 February 1645
Parliament establishes the 'New Model Army'
Following the humiliating defeat of its main field army in the Battle of Lostwithiel in Cornwall in 1644, parliament decided a more effective army was required. It passed the 'Self-denying Ordinance' that required all members of both houses of parliament to lay down their commands. The restructured fighting force, established by law on 15 February, was named the 'New Model Army'. Sir Thomas Fairfax was appointed its lord general and Oliver Cromwell his second-in-command.

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14 June 1645
Royalists are crushed by the New Model Army at Naseby, Northamptonshire
Confident that his veteran troops would outfight parliament's newly-raised forces, Charles I launched his main field army of around 9,000 men against Sir Thomas Fairfax's army of around 14,000 men at Naseby in Northamptonshire. The result was a disaster for the king. The superb Royalist infantry were lost, and with them, all chance of winning the war.

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5 May 1646
Charles I surrenders to the Scots
As the Parliamentarian net closed around him, Charles I decided to throw in his lot with the Scots. He made his way to the camp of the Scottish army at Southwell, near Newark, and gave himself up. The Scots eventually handed him over to the Parliamentarians for £400,000. At the end of December 1647, the bulk of the Scottish army marched back across the River Tweed and the king's Scottish guards were replaced by English Parliamentarian ones.

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17-19 August 1648
Oliver Cromwell's Parliamentarian troops defeat a Scottish-Royalist Army
In mid-1648, England experienced a further eruption of violence known as the Second Civil War. Rebellions in favour of the king broke out in many parts of England and Wales, and a joint force of Scots and English Royalists rode south but were destroyed at Preston by an army under Oliver Cromwell. This marked the end of the Royalist resurgence.

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6 December 1648
'Pride's Purge' turns away half of parliament
Enraged by parliament's opposition to their political ideals, officers of the New Model Army decided to remove those members of parliament they regarded as untrustworthy in what was effectively a coup d'etat. Colonel Thomas Pride, after whom the purge is named, accordingly turned away some 180 members, while over 40 more were arrested. The resulting parliament of less than 160 members was derisively known as 'the Rump'.

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30 January 1649
Charles I is executed at Whitehall, London

In the wake of the Second Civil War, Oliver Cromwell and the other senior commanders of the New Model Army decided that England could never be settled in peace while Charles I remained alive. Accordingly, the king was charged with high treason, tried, found guilty and beheaded. Charles faced his trial and death with remarkable dignity. His last word on the scaffold was: 'Remember'. The execution of a king was greeted across Europe with shock.

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15 May 1649
'Leveller' mutiny crushed by New Model Army leadership
In an atmosphere of greater religious tolerance and lack of censorship during the war, radical political and religious ideas flourished. The New Model Army was a hothouse for many of these ideas. It was particularly influenced by the 'Levellers', a small but vocal group who called for significant changes in society, including an extension of the franchise. The army leadership reacted badly to challenges to their authority, and in May 1649 crushed a Leveller mutiny at Burford in Oxfordshire.

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11- 12 September 1649
Oliver Cromwell's troops storm the town of Drogheda, Ireland
Determined to subdue 'the rebellious Irish', parliament ordered Oliver Cromwell to lead a powerful expeditionary force across the Irish Sea. After landing at Dublin, Cromwell quickly moved on to storm the nearby town of Drogheda. His troops slaughtered more than 3,000 of the defenders in the process.

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1 January 1651
Charles II is crowned king of Scotland
Desperate to recover his father's throne, Charles I's eldest son struck a bargain with the Scots whereby he agreed to take the Covenant himself in return for the promise of Scottish military assistance. Early in 1651, Charles was crowned Charles II of Scotland at Scone Castle.

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3 September 1651
Oliver Cromwell defeats Charles II at the Battle of Worcester
Following his coronation as king of the Scots, Charles II raised a Scottish army and invaded England. Many English royalists came in to support him, but in a hard-fought battle at Worcester, the Parliamentarian commander Oliver Cromwell defeated the young king's army. It proved to be the last major battle of the English Civil War. Charles subsequently fled into exile abroad.

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16 December 1653
Oliver Cromwell makes himself Lord Protector
After the execution of Charles I, the various factions in parliament began to squabble amongst themselves. In frustration, Oliver Cromwell dismissed the purged 'Rump' parliament and summoned a new one. This also failed to deal with the complexity of the problems England was now facing. Cromwell’s self-appointment as 'Lord Protector' gave him powers akin to a monarch. His continuing popularity with the army propped up his regime.

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May 1655
Britain takes Jamaica from Spain
The Spanish had ruled Jamaica since 1509, and introduced African slaves to work in the sugar plantations. The British seized the island and continued to develop the sugar trade. During this period, many slaves escaped into the mountains. These people became known as 'Maroons' and came to control large areas of the Jamaican interior, often launching attacks on the sugar plantations.

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3 September 1658
Oliver Cromwell dies and is succeeded by his son, Richard
When Oliver Cromwell died, he was succeeded as Lord Protector by his son, Richard. The Commonwealth of England collapsed into financial chaos and arguments between the military and administration increased. Parliament was once again dissolved and Richard Cromwell was overthrown. George Monck, one of the army's most capable officers, realised that only the restoration of the king could end the political chaos, and Charles II was invited to return from exile.

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1 January 1660
Samuel Pepys starts his diary
Samuel Pepys was a naval administrator and later a member of parliament whose diaries, covering the years from 1660-1669, provide a fascinating insight into mid-17th century life. The scope of the diary ranges from private remarks to detailed observations of the events and personalities around him.

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29 May 1660
Charles II is restored to the throne

Charles II's official restoration to the English throne - he had already been acknowledged as king in Scotland in 1651 - occurred on 29 May. The king’s restoration was marked by massive celebrations, lesser versions of which continued to be held on Royal Oak Day for centuries to come.

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March 1665
Great Plague of London begins

Towards the end of the winter of 1664-1665, bubonic plague broke out in the poverty-stricken London parish of St Giles-in-the-Fields. Soon the contagion was spreading fast, and over the following months more than 100,000 people died. By the time the epidemic finished in December 1665, a quarter of the capital's inhabitants had perished.

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2 September 1666
Great Fire of London destroys two-thirds of the city
The fire broke out in a baker's shop in Pudding Lane in the City of London and spread rapidly. Within four days, two-thirds of the city had been destroyed and 65,000 people were homeless. Despite this, the fire did have some positive outcomes. Within three weeks, an architect called Christopher Wren presented plans for rebuilding much of the city. Although his plans were never fully implemented, Wren was responsible for the rebuilding of more than 50 churches, including St Paul's Cathedral.

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June 1667
Dutch ships attack the English fleet in the Medway
In 1667, the Dutch admiral Michiel de Ruyter led a daring raid up the River Medway. Having broken a chain which the English had placed across the river, he attacked the naval dockyard at Chatham, burning and taking many ships. It was a terrible humiliation for the English. The diarist Samuel Pepys wrote: 'Never were people so dejected as they are in the City… this day.'

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1672
Royal African Company is established to regulate the African slave trade
Charles II granted the Royal African Company a monopoly on the rapidly expanding slave trade. Rival merchants opposed the monopoly and in 1698 Parliament opened the slave trade to all. Britain would become one of the leading transatlantic slave trading nations. Ships took guns and manufactured goods from Britain to West Africa, where goods were exchanged for people. Captives were taken across the Atlantic and sold into slavery on the plantations of the Caribbean and North America. Cargoes of rum, tobacco, cotton and sugar were then carried to England. This was known as the triangle trade.

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29 March 1673
Test Act excluded Catholics from public office
The Test Act required public office holders to accept communion in the Protestant form and swear an oath of allegiance recognising the monarch as the head of the Church of England. The intention of the act was to exclude Catholics and dissenters from public office. Charles II’s brother James, Duke of York, a Catholic himself, was a victim of the act. He was forced to surrender his public office as lord high admiral as he would not take the oath.

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4 November 1677
Mary Stuart marries William of Orange, Charles I's grandson
Born in 1662, Mary Stuart was the elder daughter of Charles II's brother, James, Duke of York, and his first wife Anne Hyde. Although both her parents later converted to Catholicism, Mary herself was brought up as a Protestant. Her marriage in 1677 to the Dutch Protestant Prince William of Orange, himself the grandson of Charles I, strengthened William's claim to the English throne.

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September 1678
'Popish Plot' to murder Charles II is 'revealed'
Disgraced clergyman Titus Oates claimed he had learned of a Catholic and French conspiracy to kill Charles II, replace him with his Catholic brother James, Duke of York, and transform England into a Catholic-absolutist state. Oates's 'revelations' sparked panic and many innocent people were arrested and tried. The plot was little more than an invention. At the height of the furore a second Test Act was passed requiring members of both houses of parliament to make an anti-Catholic declaration.

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6 February 1685
Charles II dies and James II accedes to the throne

Having suffered a stroke, Charles II converted to Catholicism on his death-bed and passed away a few hours later. He was succeeded by his brother, James, whose adherence to the Catholic faith made many of his staunchly Protestant subjects deeply suspicious. Nevertheless, James enjoyed considerable popularity when he first acceded to the throne as James II.

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5 July 1685
James II defeats James Scott, Duke of Monmouth, at Sedgemoor, Somerset
Hoping to seize the throne from James II, Charles II's illegitimate son, James Scott, Duke of Monmouth, landed at Lyme Regis in Dorset. As he marched eastwards, hundreds flocked to join him. Yet Monmouth's raw West Country recruits proved no match for James II's experienced soldiers, and when they fought at Sedgemoor on the Somerset Levels, the rebels were cut to pieces. Monmouth was captured and executed at the Tower of London.

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10 June 1688
Birth of James II's son sparks popular outrage
Following the death of his first wife, James II married Mary of Modena, a Catholic, in 1673. The birth of a son to the royal couple in 1688 provoked popular outrage. Many of James II's opponents, furious that their Catholic king now had a male heir, denounced the infant as an imposter, and claimed that the baby had been smuggled into the queen's bedroom in a warming-pan.

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5 November 1688
William of Orange lands with an army at Torbay
William of Orange, Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland and Utrecht, was implored by Protestant conspirators to 'deliver' them from the Catholic James II. William, who had a legitimate claim to the throne through his grandfather, Charles I, raised an army in the Netherlands and transported it across the English Channel to Devon. As nobles and officers defected to William, James II lost his nerve and eventually fled abroad, leaving William free to take the crown.

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13 February 1689
William and Mary are formally proclaimed king and queen

In the wake of James II's flight to exile, many felt that William and his wife Mary (James II's daughter) should be termed 'regents', rather than monarchs in their own right, because the former king was still alive. William was not prepared to accept this, and on 6 February 1689 the House of Lords at last conceded the point. The formal declaration of William and Mary as king and queen took place a week later. This became known as the 'Glorious Revolution'.

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March 1689
James II lands in Kinsale with a French army
Encouraged by Louis XIV of France, James II sailed to Ireland hoping that, with Ireland under his control, he would be able to recover England and Scotland as well. Landing at the head of 20,000 French troops, James quickly found himself reinforced by thousands of eager Irish Catholics. Soon, most of Ireland was in James's hands.

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27 July 1689
Jacobite Highlanders defeat William III's troops in the Battle of Killiecrankie
In Scotland, as in Ireland, many people still supported the Catholic James II against the Protestant William III. When Williamite troops (mostly Lowland Scots) advanced into the Grampian Mountains during the summer of 1689, John Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee, led his clansmen against them at the Battle of Killiecrankie. Claverhouse himself died on the field. His army was routed by William's forces at the Battle of Dunkeld a month later.

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16 December 1689
'Bill of Rights' is confirmed by an act of parliament
William and Mary had accepted a Declaration of Rights on 13 February 1689 as an implicit condition of being offered the throne. In December, it was confirmed by an act of parliament, becoming the 'Bill of Rights'. It is a statement of rights of the subject as represented by parliament (whereas Magna Carta is broadly a statement of the rights of the individual). It remains a basic document of English constitutional law and the template for other constitutions around the world.

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1 July 1690
William III defeats James II at the Battle of the Boyne, Ireland
James II had landed in Kinsale in 1689 and now controlled most of Ireland. William III sailed to Ireland himself to face his opponent. They met on the River Boyne, where William ordered his forces to cross and attack the joint Irish-French army. The Jacobite troops were routed and James retreated to France soon afterwards, earning himself the Irish nickname 'Séamus á Chaca' ('James the Sh*t'). In less than two years, William's forces had completed the re-conquest of Ireland.

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13 February 1692
Government troops massacre the MacIains of Glencoe
Despite James II's defeat in Ireland, Jacobite sympathies remained strong in the Scottish Highlands. William III's Scottish supporters resolved to terrorise the Jacobite clans into submission. At 5am on 13 February, Captain Robert Glenlyon and his soldiers, who were then enjoying the hospitality of the MacIain clan of Glencoe, suddenly fell upon their unsuspecting hosts. Some 30-40 people were slaughtered in the massacre.

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1694
Bank of England is established to manage mounting debts
England had accrued a considerable national debt on the back of William III's expensive wars. Scottish merchant William Paterson founded the Bank of England to assist the Crown in managing its debt. The Bank became the national reserve, and in 1697 its position of prominence was secured when parliament forbade the formation of any further joint-stock banks in England. The bank has issued bank notes since 1694. A separate Bank of Scotland was established in 1695.

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28 December 1694
Mary dies, leaving William III to rule alone

William III's wife Mary died at the age of 32 leaving no children. William had loved his wife deeply, despite the somewhat tempestuous nature of their relationship, and was grief-stricken at her death.

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1699
80% of those living in the Caribbean are African slaves
Initially, European colonists forced the indigenous people of the Caribbean to work in the sugar plantations. However, they were decimated by European diseases against which they had no immunity, so plantation owners began to buy African slaves. The profits from slavery were potentially very high for European slave traders. In 1708 a slave could be bought in Africa for £5, and sold in the West Indies for £20. The profits for plantation owners from cotton, tobacco and above all sugar were even higher. For the enslaved people, the work was hard, the punishments harsh and the living standards very poor.

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12 June 1701
Act of Settlement places the House of Hanover in line for the English throne
William III was childless, as was James II's last surviving child, Anne. English Protestants wanted to prevent the return of James II (who lived until September 1701) and his Catholic son, also James. Parliament decreed that after the deaths of William, Anne and any children they might yet have, the throne would revert to the heirs of James I's daughter, Elizabeth, the wife of the Elector Palatine. Thus, Sophie, electress of Hanover, and her heirs became next in line to the throne.

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September 1701
English, Dutch and Austrians sign the Treaty of the Grand Alliance
The expansionist policies of Louis XIV of France were threatening to overturn the balance of power in Europe, and his attempts to bring about a future union of the Spanish and French crowns caused the English, Dutch and Austrians to ally against him. The so-called 'War of the Spanish Succession' began the following year.

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8 March 1702
William III dies and Anne accedes to the throne

William III died two weeks after being thrown from his horse when it tripped over a molehill in Hyde Park, London. Jacobites, gloating at their old enemy's downfall, drank to 'the little gentleman in black velvet' who had inadvertently helped to bring about the king's death. William was succeeded by Anne, who was the younger sister of his wife Mary and the second daughter of James II and Anne Hyde.

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13 August 1704
John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, defeats the French at Blenheim, Bavaria
Allied forces under John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, Prince Eugene of Savoy and Prince Lewis of Baden shattered a Franco-Bavarian army under the Duc de Tallard at the Battle of Blenheim on the River Danube in Bavaria. It was a crucial victory in the War of the Spanish Succession and helped to pave the way for the eventual defeat of the French in northern Europe and the frustration of Louis XIV's imperial ambitions.

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March 1707
Act of Union of England and Scotland is ratified
Although the Act of Settlement of 1701 ensured that there would eventually be a Protestant succession in England, there was no guarantee that this would be the case in Scotland too. Leading Scots were thus persuaded to agree to a union of the two kingdoms. Once the Act of Union had finally been ratified, England and Scotland officially became one country - Great Britain.

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April 1713
Treaty of Utrecht ends a decade of war in Europe
The English and their Dutch allies came to terms with France at the Treaty of Utrecht, ending ten years of warfare. Many long-standing problems were resolved by the treaty. In particular, the French agreed to abandon their support for the dynastic claims of James II's son, James, to the throne of Great Britain. France also recognised the Hanoverian succession in Britain, which had been established by the Act of Settlement in 1701.

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1 August 1714
Anne dies and George I accedes to the throne
Anne, the last Stuart monarch, died at Kensington Palace in London aged 49. None of her children survived her, so under the terms of the Act of Succession of 1701 she was succeeded by George, Elector of Hanover, who was proclaimed as George I. He was the first of the Hanoverian monarchs. In dynastic terms at least, Britain had entered a new age.

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