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The Royal Stuarts

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Surname/tag: Stewart Name Study
Profile manager: Allan Stuart private message [send private message]
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The goal of this project is to provide a research page for the Royal Stuarts.

Right now this project just has one member, me. I am Allan Stuart.

Here are some of the tasks that I think need to be done. I'll be working on them, and could use your help.

  • From King of Scotland to King of England, Scotland, Wales & Ireland.

King James (VI) Stuart, King of Scots. With the forced abdication of his mother, Mary Stuart, in 1567 James became King of Scots at the age of one. Another troubled period of regency government ensued.

The key chapter of his reign involved two women - his mother, Mary Queen of Scots, and Elizabeth I of England. Throughout his reign James was keen to be seen to be supportive of the English queen. With Elizabeth ageing and still childless James realised that he had the strongest claim to succeed her. As the great-grandson of Margaret Tudor, James was the closest relative to Elizabeth. Importantly, he was also Protestant.

The only problem was the question of what to do with Mary Stuart - James' mother. Since 1568 Mary had been a captive of Elizabeth in England. During her years of captivity Mary had been the focus of several Catholic plots to release her and place on the throne of England. Mary was wise enough to avoid being implicated in these plots. In 1585, however, she succumbed. By replying to the conspirators of the Babbington Plot, Mary had signed her death warrant.

Mary was tried and sentenced to death in 1587. Now the question was how James would react to Elizabeth's intention to execute his mother? If he acted to protect her he would surely forfeit the right to succeed Elizabeth. If he did nothing how would the Scots nobles react? James followed his ambitions. Although he protested and asked Elizabeth to exile Mary, it was no more than a token gesture. Mary was executed.

With Elizabeth still alive and well James turned his attention back to Scottish matters. In 1589 James married Anne of Denmark and produced three children,

1. Henry,

2. Elizabeth and

3. Charles.

  • James I of Great Britain.

James spent his time trying to pacify the 'barbarian' Gaels in the Highlands and Islands and rooting out witches from his kingdom. He also wrote two books that clearly demonstrated his style of kingship. In 'The Trew Law of Free Monarchies and the 'Basilicon Doron', James eschewed the belief that the rights of kings were granted by God alone and as such they were above other men. His education at the hands of George Buchanan had been in vain.

The First Stuart King of an United Kingdom Eventually in 1603 Elizabeth died and James was offered the throne. The succession passed smoothly and James VI of Scotland became James I of England and Ireland. Although promising to return to Scotland every couple of years, in truth James became a stranger to the country and only returned once to the country of his birth.

James' vision of himself as king of a united Britain occupied his early years. James even went as far as designing a new flag for this new nation. However, his first experience with the English Parliament was less than satisfactory and his designs to be the official 'King of Great Britain' were dashed. Regardless James proclaimed himself King of Great Britain.

  • The other kings of the Royal House of Stuart

King Charles (I) Stuart King of Great Britain was monarch of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649. Charles was the second son of King James VI of Scotland, but after his father inherited the English throne in 1603, he moved to England, where he spent much of the rest of his life. He became heir apparent to the English, Irish and Scottish thrones on the death of his elder brother, Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, in 1612. An unsuccessful and unpopular attempt to marry him to the Spanish Habsburg princess Maria Anna culminated in an eight-month visit to Spain in 1623 that demonstrated the futility of the marriage negotiations. Two years later, he married the Bourbon princess Henrietta Maria of France instead.

After his succession, Charles quarrelled with the Parliament of England, which sought to curb his royal prerogative. Charles believed in the divine right of kings and thought he could govern according to his own conscience. Many of his subjects opposed his policies, in particular the levying of taxes without parliamentary consent, and perceived his actions as those of a tyrannical absolute monarch. His religious policies, coupled with his marriage to a Roman Catholic, generated the antipathy and mistrust of reformed groups such as the Puritans and Calvinists, who thought his views too Catholic. He supported high church ecclesiastics, such as Richard Montagu and William Laud, and failed to aid Protestant forces successfully during the Thirty Years' War. His attempts to force the Church of Scotland to adopt high Anglican practices led to the Bishops' Wars, strengthened the position of the English and Scottish parliaments and helped precipitate his own downfall.

From 1642, Charles fought the armies of the English and Scottish parliaments in the English Civil War. After his defeat in 1645, he surrendered to a Scottish force that eventually handed him over to the English Parliament. Charles refused to accept his captors' demands for a constitutional monarchy, and temporarily escaped captivity in November 1647. Re-imprisoned on the Isle of Wight, Charles forged an alliance with Scotland, but by the end of 1648 Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army had consolidated its control over England. Charles was tried, convicted, and executed for high treason in January 1649. The monarchy was abolished and a republic called the Commonwealth of England was declared. The monarchy was restored to Charles's son, Charles II, in 1660.

King Charles (II) Stuart, King of Great Britain was monarch of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.

  • The Royal Stewarts and the Civil War

Charles II's father, Charles I, was executed at Whitehall on 30 January 1649, at the climax of the English Civil War. Although the Parliament of Scotland proclaimed Charles II King on 5 February 1649, England entered the period known as the English Interregnum or the English Commonwealth, and the country was a de facto republic, led by Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell defeated Charles II at the Battle of Worcester on 3 September 1651, and Charles fled to mainland Europe. Cromwell became virtual dictator of England, Scotland and Ireland, and Charles spent the next nine years in exile in France, the Dutch Republic, and the Spanish Netherlands.

  • The Restoration.

A political crisis that followed the death of Cromwell in 1658 resulted in the restoration of the monarchy, and Charles was invited to return to Britain. On 29 May 1660, his 30th birthday, he was received in London to public acclaim. After 1660, all legal documents were dated as if he had succeeded his father as king in 1649.

Charles was popularly known as the Merry Monarch, in reference to both the liveliness and hedonism of his court and the general relief at the return to normality after over a decade of rule by Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans. Charles's wife, Catherine of Braganza, bore no live children, but Charles acknowledged at least twelve illegitimate children by various mistresses. He was succeeded by his brother James.

King James (II) Stuart King of Great Britain was King of England and Ireland as James II and King of Scotland as James VII, from 6 February 1685 until he was deposed in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. He was the last Roman Catholic monarch to reign over the combined nation James is best known for his struggles with the English Parliament and his attempts to create religious liberty for English Roman Catholics and Protestant nonconformists, against the wishes of the Anglican establishment. However, he also continued the persecution of the Presbyterian Covenanters in Scotland. Parliament, opposed to the growth of absolutism that was occurring in other European countries, as well as to the loss of legal supremacy of the Church of England, saw their opposition as a way to preserve what they regarded as traditional English liberties. This tension made James's four-year reign a struggle for supremacy between the English Parliament and the Crown, resulting in his deposition, the passage of the Bill of Rights, and the accession of his daughter and her husband as king and queen.

  • The Stuart Queens of Great Britain

Mary Stuart, Queen Mary of Great Britain was the wife of William of Orange. Her husband William was born in The Hague in the Netherlands. He was an only child and never knew his father William II who died of smallpox before his birth. His mother was Mary eldest daughter of Charles I of England.

In 1677 he married his cousin Mary, eldest daughter of James, Duke of York, the future James II. The marriage was intended to repair relations between England and The Netherlands following the Anglo-Dutch wars. William was a successful soldier, but had several male favourites, was dour, asthmatic, 12 years older and several inches shorter than his English wife Mary who was a reluctant bride.

In 1688 they were invited by the parliamentary opposition to Mary’s father James II to take the crown of England and were assured of English support. William landed at Torbay on 5 November 1688, in 463 ships unopposed by the Royal Navy, and with an army of 14,000 troops which gathering local support grew to over 20,000 and advanced on London in what became known as ‘The Glorious Revolution’.

James fled to France, and in February 1689 William and his wife were crowned King William III and Queen Mary II. Parliament passed the Bill of Rights which prevented Catholics for succeeding to the throne ensuring that Mary’s sister Anne would become the next queen, and after the autocratic rules of Kings Charles II and his brother James II limited the powers of monarchs so that they could neither pass laws nor levy taxes without parliamentary consent.

William and Mary were faced in 1689 with two Jacobite attempts to regain the throne. In Scotland government troops were defeated at Killiekrankie by Scottish Jacobites but won shortly afterwards at Dunkeld, and James II landed in Ireland with French troops and laid siege to Londonderrry. William’s navy relieved the siege and he led his army to victory at the Battle of the Boyne in July 1690. James fled back to France. William returned several times to the Netherlands but found the English parliament reluctant to support his continuing war with France. The Bank of England was founded in 1694 to control public expenditure. Williamsburg and the college of William and Mary in Virginia, were named after the King and Queen in 1693.

Mary died of smallpox in 1694 and had no surviving children. In 1701 following death of Prince William, the only surviving son of Mary’s sister Anne, the Act of Settlement was passed ensuring succession of Protestant heirs of Sophie of Hanover instead of the Catholic heirs of James. William died in 1702 of pneumonia following a broken collar bone after a fall from his horse. Because his horse had reputedly stumbled on a mole’s burrow Jacobites toasted 'the little gentleman in the black velvet waistcoat.'

  • Queen Anne, Last Stuart Monarch.

Queen Anne Stuart, Queen of Great Britain. became Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland on 8 March 1702. On 1 May 1707, under the Acts of Union, two of her realms, the kingdoms of England and Scotland, united as a single sovereign state known as Great Britain. She continued to reign as Queen of Great Britain and Ireland until her death.

Anne was born in the reign of her uncle Charles II, who had no legitimate children. Her father, James, was first in line to the throne. His suspected Roman Catholicism was unpopular in England, and on Charles's instructions Anne was raised as an Anglican. Three years after he succeeded Charles, James was deposed in the "Glorious Revolution" of 1688. Anne's Dutch Protestant brother-in-law and cousin William III became joint monarch with his wife, Anne's elder sister Mary II. Although the sisters had been close, disagreements over Anne's finances, status and choice of acquaintances arose shortly after Mary's accession and they became estranged. William and Mary had no children. After Mary's death in 1694, William continued as sole monarch until he was succeeded by Anne upon his death in 1702.

Anne was plagued by ill health throughout her life. From her thirties onwards, she grew increasingly lame and obese. Despite seventeen pregnancies by her husband, Prince George of Denmark, she died without any surviving children and was the last monarch of the House of Stuart. Under the terms of the Act of Settlement 1701, she was succeeded by her second cousin George I of the House of Hanover, who was a descendant of the Stuarts through his maternal grandmother, Elizabeth, a daughter of James VI and I.

Will you join me? Please post a comment here on this page, in G2G using the project tag, or send me a private message. Thanks!

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