The next section of chapter 3, A Long and Illustrious History, is called A Global Power. It contains information about British history from the coronation of King William III through the first part of the 20th century.
Beginning with the coronation of William and Mary, the British political structure began to shift further. The power of Parliament, which had increased under Charles II, continued to grow. The Bill of Rights, a document confirming the rights of Parliament, was read during the 1689 coronation of William and Mary.
– The Bill of Rights stated:
- All future kings and queens must be Protestant.
- A new Parliament must be elected every 3 years. This would eventually change to every seven years. Today a new Parliament must be elected every 5 years.
- Every year the monarch (the ruling king or queen) was required to ask Parliament to renew funding for the army and the navy.
- These new regulations meant that monarchs needed advisors, or helpers, in Parliament to make sure that enough members voted to implement their plans. These advisors came to be called ministers. Without the vote of Parliament, the monarch could do very little.
- Parliament was still divided into two houses: the House of Lords and House of Commons.
- There was one minister or advisor for each House.
- There were two main political groups in Parliament, the Whigs and the Tories. This was the beginning of party politics, a system which exists to this day. Today’s Conservative party in Britain is still sometimes known as the Tories.
– Free Press
- Starting in 1695, newspapers were able to operate without a license from the government. This was important because it meant that newspapers could print news without government interference. Consequently, after 1695, the number of newspapers published began to increase.
- Members of the House of Lords were voted in by the public.
- Only men who owned a certain amount of property could vote. Women could not vote at all.
- In some places the number of eligible voters was very low. Some areas were controlled by one wealthy family. These were known as “pocket boroughs” Other areas had hardly any voters. These were known as “rotten boroughs”.
A Growing Population
– The 17th century was also a time of migration.
- British and Irish immigrants left for America and elsewhere.
- Jewish immigrants from the Middle East came to London in 1656.
- From 1680 to 1720, French Protestant refuges called Huguenots, came to Britain. They were fleeing religious persecution in their own country. Many were educated or had craftsmen’s training.
Succession and The Act of Union
- – William and Mary were succeeded by their daughter, Queen Anne. She had no children and therefore no direct successor of her own. With the line of succession in doubt, there was uncertainty in England, Wales and Ireland, who shared the same ruler, and also in Scotland, which was still regarded as a separate country.
- – The Act of Union (called Treaty of Union in Scotland) was drafted. With this act, the Kingdom of Great Britain was formed, and included Scotland. This meant that Scotland was no longer an independent country, although it kept its own legal and educational systems, and the Presbyterian Church.
- – When Queen Anne died in 1714, Parliament chose her nearest Protestant relative. George I of Germany, to succeed her. George I did not speak English well and depended heavily on his ministers. The most important minister in Parliament became known as the Prime Minister. The first man to hold this role was Sir Robert Walpole, from 1721 – 1742.
- – There was an attempt by Jacobites in Scotland to make the son of James II the king of Britain. This was quickly defeated. . You may remember from the previous section (The Tudors and the Stuarts) that James II descended from the Stuart family after the War of the Roses. In Scotland the Stuart family was considered to be the rightful heirs to the British throne for generations afterward.
The Rebellion of the Clans
- – In 1745 there was another attempt by the Scottish to put a Stuart on the throne of Britain. King George I had been succeeded by his son, George II, and the Scottish wished to replace him with Charles Edward Stuart.
- – Charles Stuart had the nickname of “Bonnie Prince Charlie”. He raised an army from the clans in the Scottish highlands, and had some success against George II’s army. He was defeated at the Battle of Culloden in 1746, and retreated back to Europe.
- – After the Battle of Culloden, the Scottish clans lost much of their power in the country. Chieftains that supported Britain in the battle retained control of the land, and the clans had to pay for the land that they used.
- A process known as the “Highland Clearance” began in the early 19th century. Small farms were seized and combined into large plots of land for raising sheep and cattle. Many of those who were evicted left Scotland for America at this time.
– The Enlightenment was a period of time in the 18th century in which new political, scientific, and philosophical ideas were introduced. Many of the great minds of this time came from Scotland. Some major contributors were:
- Adam Smith – economics
- David Hume – human nature and philosophy o James Watt – steam power and industry
– One of the most important ideas put forth during this time was that each person should have the right to their own beliefs, and that the government should not try to force people to think a certain way. This idea is still an important belief in Great Britain today.