April 1 Munch and Learn Recap, Part 2 by Linley Schmidt

Royalty and Religion, 1500-1750 

Part II, The Stuarts   

King James I of England (1603-1625) and King James VI of Scotland (1567 – 1625) were the sons of Mary Queen of Scots.  James VI took the crown of Scotland when his mother abdicated the throne in 1567 when James was just 13 months old. Mary was then executed by her sister Queen Elizabeth I.  Upon his aunt Elizabeth’s death in 1603, he also became King of England. He married Anne, daughter of Frederick II of Denmark and Norway in 1589, and they had three sons and five daughters. Henry, Elizabeth and Charles survived to adulthood. King James used the “divine right” of the crown to suppress both Puritans and Catholics, yet he wished to consolidate Christians against what he perceived as a Muslim threat.   

James I was a supporter of the arts and William Shakespeare was in the Kings Men who performed for him and his court.  James, in 1611, also commissioned the King James Version of the Bible that is still used today. During his reign, the East India Company expanded trade and Jamestown was founded in Virginia. 

Charles I was the son of James I and VI.  Like his father, Charles believed in his “divine right” to rule. His brother, Prince Henry, heir to the throne, died in 1612 and Charles became king in 1625. In 1637 Charles had the Book of Common Prayer for Scotland made; however, it was rejected by the people and never used. Charles went to war with France and Spain at the same time which causes huge financial strain on the country. Controversy during his reign divided the people of Great Britain which resulted in civil war first in Scotland (1637) then in England (1642-46). A second civil war happened in 1648.It was decided that there would never be peace while Charles ruled so the Army put the king on trial. Charles was charged with treason and was beheaded in January of 1649. 

Charles II (1660-1685) passed the Clarendon Code between 1661 and 1665, which reestablished the supreme position of the Anglican Church and ended tolerance for other religions. The year 1665 brought a terrible plague, which killed 70,000 Londoners, and the second Dutch war, which was due to the commercial and colonial rivalry between the two counties. It was in this time that New Amsterdam became New York after being taken from the Dutch by the English.    

In the year 1666 the Great Fire of London destroyed many buildings including St. Paul’s. Charles promised Louis XIV of France he would restore Catholicism to England in The Secret Treaty of Dover of 1670. In this agreement the French king would finance Charles militarily. As a result of this agreement, tolerance for other religions was re-established, but in 1673 Parliament forced Charles to accept the Test Act which excluded Catholics from holding office. Technically this meant that Charles’ brother, James, was banned from succeeding him to the throne. Charles dissolved Parliament and ruled through his financier Louis XIV. His brother James took the throne in 1685.   

King James II (also James VII of Scotland) brought Catholicism back to England. Although suspicious of him, because of his religion, his subjects initially supported him. They became doubtful; however, when it became clear that the King wished to grant freedom of worship to Catholics and to even allow them to serve in public office. The people of England became even more unsettled when James II and his wife Mary had a son who would be yet another Catholic king. William, the son-in-law of King James II invaded England and many people deserted James in favor of William. William and his Wife Mary took the throne in 1689.   

The Marriage of William of Orange, who was from the Netherlands, and Mary, the daughter of James II, was to improve the relationship between England and the Netherlands after the Anglo-Dutch wars. William’s invasion and subsequent succession to the throne of England, which he shared equally with his wife Mary, is referred to as the Glorious Revolution. Mary died of smallpox in 1694 and the couple had no surviving children. The Act of Settlement was passed by Parliament to protect the throne from Catholics by granting succession to the heirs of Sophie of Hanover rather than the Catholic heirs of James. William died in 1702. Williamsburg and William and Mary College in Virginia were established in 1693 and are named in the couple’s honor.   

Queen Anne, who was the daughter of James II and VII and Anne Hyde, ascended to the throne in 1702. She was married to Prince George of Denmark and even though she was pregnant 18 times none of their children lived to adulthood. Under her leadership, England and Scotland became united under one parliament, becoming Great Britain. This came after a period of conflict where Scotland declared it could choose its own parliament and choose its own leader which might be the son of James VII and II, whom England had worked to banish from the English throne. The treaty that created the union between the two countries took effect in May of 1707. Queen Anne, the last Stuart monarch, died in 1714.   

In spite of there being many Catholic claimants to the throne that were descendants of James VII and II, because of the Act of Settlement, which guaranteed Protestant ascension to the throne, the son of Sophia, Electress of Hanover, inherited the throne in 1714. George did not speak English well and depended heavily on his ministers for council. Robert Walpole was the most respected of King George’s ministers and is looked upon as the first “Prime Minister” of England. George died in 1727 in Hanover.   

The English Monarchy and religion in England finally stabilized after the Jacobite Revolution. Charles Edward Stuart, Grandson of James VII, in 1745, decided to make an attempt to take the throne of England. He and the Scottish, Jacobite army got as far as Derby, England. Charles had tried to gain military support and aid from the French but failed. Without their help the invasion of England and subsequent taking of the throne was doomed. Following the failed plot England and Scotland were one in parliament and Protestantism. 

Posted by Chantal Drake at 10:09 AM
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