Yorkshire - A Brief History Of Time:

This Brief History of Time is mainly aimed at covering the History of Yorkshire, but by necessity it also covers parts of British History as well; the history has been split into three major parts; just click on the relevant link to read about that period of History:

Early History From 8000 BC to 410 AD
Middle Ages
From 410 AD to 1547 AD
Modern History
From 1547 AD to Today
Timeline History
From 8000 BC to Today


Modern History - From 1547 to Today:

Menu: King Edward VI, Queen Mary I, Queen Elizabeth I, King James I, The Gunpowder Plot, King Charles I, Oliver Cromwell, Richard Cromwell, King Charles II, King James II, King William III, Queen Mary II, Queen Anne, King George I, King George II, King George III, King George IV, King William IV, Queen Victoria, King Edward VII, King George V, King Edward VIII, King George VI & Queen Elizabeth II.

King Edward VI (1547 to 1553) House of Tudor:

King Edward VI became King on the 28th January 1547 and was crowned at Westminster Abbey on the 19th February 1547; he was a sickly boy; it is thought he had tuberculosis; he succeeded his father at the age of 9, the government being carried on by a Council of Regency with his uncle, the Duke of Somerset, who fell from power in 1549, and then to the Earl of Warwick, later created Duke of Northumberland; during his reign he became a staunch Protestant and the Reformation progressed; Cranmer wrote the Book of Common Prayer and the uniformity of worship helped turn England into a Protestant State.

He died of tuberculosis, on the 6th July 1553, at Greenwich Palace, aged 15 years, 8 months, and 23 days; in his will he nominated Lady Jane Grey as his successor, a granddaughter of Henry VII, who had recently married Northumberland's son Lord Guildford Dudley; he wanted to maintain a Protestant succession.

Giggleswick school, which was founded on half an acre of land leased by the Prior and Convent of Durham, to James Carr the Chantry Priest at the local Parish Church of St Alkelda, for the express purpose of enclosing it and building, at his own expense, one 'Gramar Scole'; by 1512 the school consisted of two small, irregular buildings, next to the local parish church.

The school was run traditionally by the Chantry Priests until Edward VI dissolved the position; the school was saved, however, by the petition of the Kings Chaplain, John Nowell, and in 1553 it received its royal charter; this granted land to the school, and endowed it with the title: The Free Grammar School of King Edward the VI of Giggleswick; some locals of a certain age still refer to Giggleswick as 'The Grammar School'.

Queen Mary I (1553 to 1558) House of Tudor:

After Edward's death there was a dispute over the succession; under the ordinary laws of succession, Mary I was next in line to the English throne after her father's cousin, Elizabeth I; yet, in the eyes of many Catholics, Elizabeth was illegitimate, thus making Mary I the rightful queen of England, but the Third Succession Act, passed in 1543 by Parliament, provided that Elizabeth would succeed Mary I of England on the throne; but as Mary was Catholic, Lady Jane Grey was named as the next in line to the throne and she was proclaimed Queen; Jane was only 16 years old at the time and was never crowned.

When Mary heard of the death of Edward she had a meeting with prominent members of her household, she told them of her plan to assert her right to the throne and sent Thomas Hungate, to London with a proclamation of her accession and then announced to the rest of her household that she was in fact Queen.

She moved to Framlingham Castle, where she rallied her supporters; Jane's hold on the throne was still secure; she still had the support of nearly all the highest peers in the land and of the church and her armies were more significant than Mary's, but Mary's subsequent victory was far from assured at this time and she was risking her life in moving against Queen Jane and her council.

However, things began to swing in Mary's favour; her support grew and men such as Sir Edward Hastings, the Earl of Sussex, Sir Thomas Cornwallis, Lord Wentworth, Sir Henry Bedingfield, John de Vere, 16th Earl of Oxford and many prominent families of eastern England such as the Rochesters, the Jerninghams and Waldegraves rallied to her side; Queen Jane's ship's crews mutinied and offered their ships to Mary; members of the Privy Council began to desert Queen Jane and then the Earls of Arundel and Pembroke fled to Baynard's Castle to be joined by William Paget; she was soon proclaimed Queen in various counties and towns.

Finally, on the 19th July 1553, the Earl of Arundel spoke to the Privy Council, who were split over who should be the rightful queen, and spoke against the Duke of Northumberland and how the rights of the true Queen, the Lady Mary, had been usurped; the council eventually agreed to proclaim Mary as Queen and Pembroke announced Mary's accession to the people of London that afternoon.

In the Tower of London, Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk, interrupted his daughter's evening meal to inform her that she was no longer Queen; her canopy of state was taken down and Lady Jane Grey turned from Queen to prisoner and traitor; the short reign of Queen Jane was over; she reigned for only 9 days and she was executed in 1554, at age 17.

At this point, Mary was still in the dark. She did not find out that she had been proclaimed Queen until the 20th July when Paget and Arundel arrived at Framlingham to give her the news; she became Queen on the the 19th July 1553 and was crowned at Westminster Abbey on the 1st October 1553; it was the start of a new era, the reign of Queen Mary I.

Mary was the daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon; in 1554 she married Philip II of Spain and as a devout Roman Catholic obtained the restoration of papal supremacy and sanctioned the persecution of Protestants; she attempted to enforce the wholesale conversion of England to Catholicism; she carried this out with the utmost of severity; protestant bishops from around the queendom, such as Latimer, Ridley, Archbishop Cranmer and Robert Ferrar, the Prior of Nostell Priory, were amongst those burnt at the stake.

The country was subsequently plunged into a bitter blood bath, which is why she is remembered as Bloody Mary; she died on the 17th November 1558 at Lambeth Palace.

Robert Ferrar embraced the English Reformation and was made Bishop of St. David's by Edward VI, but when Queen Mary I became Queen in 1553, Ferrar was sent to Bench Prison in Southwark; his son Sage was born that year and in consequence in February 1554 he was charged with a violation of chastity and in March 1554 he lost his position of bishop; on the 13th March 1555 he was sentenced to death for his crimes and on the 30th March 1555 he was burned at the stake in Carmarthen.

Queen Elizabeth I (1558 to 1603) House of Tudor:

Queen Elizabeth I became Queen on the 17th November 1558 and was crowned at Westminster Abbey on the 15th January 1559; she was a remarkable woman, noted for her learning and wisdom; from first to last she was popular with the people and had a genius for the selection of capable advisors, such as Drake, Raleigh, Hawkins, the Cecils, Essex and many more made England respected and feared.

Many attempts were made by Parliament to persuade Elizabeth to marry and this was backed by the rulers of European states who also made unsuccessful bids of marriage; however, she found the courtship a useful political weapon and maintained friendships with, amongst others, the courtiers Leicester, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Essex; she became known as the Virgin Queen; she once stated, on being pressed by Parliament to marry, that ‘I have already joined myself in marriage to a husband, namely the kingdom of England’.

During her Roman Catholic half sister Mary's reign, Elizabeth's Protestant sympathies brought her under suspicion and she had lived in seclusion at Hatfield, Hertfordshire, until on Mary's death she became queen and then through her Religious Settlement of 1559 she enforced the Protestant religion by law, which was in exact opposition to Mary's reign.

Elizabeth's first act as queen was to reverse the re-establishment of Catholicism, but during the first years of her reign there was relative leniency towards Catholics who were willing to keep their religion private, especially if they were prepared to continue to attend their parish churches.

The arrival in England in 1568 of Mary Queen of Scots and her subsequent imprisonment by Elizabeth caused a political crisis which led to several subversive activities of supporters of Mary, Queen of Scots, such as the costly Rising of the North in 1569 and two English invasion plots:
The Throckmorton Plot of 1584, which led to Parliament councilling Mary's execution.
The Babington Plot of 1586, which led to the Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots.

These events reinforced the association of Catholicism with treachery in the popular mind and Elizabeth's government declared all Catholic priests and all those who sheltered them, to be guilty of treason.

Elizabeth did not believe that her anti-Catholic policies constituted religious persecution, finding it hard to distinguish between those Catholics engaged in conflict with her from those Catholics with no such designs; the number of English Catholics executed under Elizabeth was significant, including Edmund Campion, Robert Southwell, and Margaret Clitherow; Elizabeth herself signed the death warrant that led to the beheading of her cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots in 1587; the execution of Mary marred what was a glorious time in English history.

The wording of the official prayer book had been carefully designed in order to make catholic worship possible by omitting aggressively 'heretical' matter and at first many English Catholics did in fact worship with their Protestant neighbours, at least until this was formally forbidden by Pope Pius V's 1570 bull, Regnans in Excelsis, which also declared that Elizabeth was not a rightful queen and should be deposed, and formally excommunicated her; the Pope's bull unleashed a nationalistic feeling which equated Protestantism with loyalty to a highly popular monarch, rendering every Catholic a potential traitor, even in the eyes of those who were not themselves extreme protestants.

When the Dutch rebelled against Spanish tyranny Elizabeth secretly encouraged them; Philip II retaliated by aiding Catholic conspiracies against her; this undeclared war continued for many years, until the landing of an English army in the Netherlands in 1585 and Mary's execution in 1587, which brought it into the open; her conflict with Roman Catholic Spain led to the attempted invasion of Philip's Spanish Armada in 1588, which was decisively defeated; the war with Spain continued with varying fortunes to the end of her reign.

Parliament showed a new independence and in 1601 forced Elizabeth to retreat on the question of the crown granting manufacturing and trading monopolies; yet her prestige remained unabated, as shown by the failure of Essex's rebellion in 1601.

The Elizabethan age was expansionist in commerce and geographical exploration, and arts and literature flourished; Shakespeare was at the height of his popularity, at this time and Raleigh's first Virginian colony was founded; Elizabeth died on the 14th March 1603 at Richmond Palace

King James I (1603 to 1625) House of Stuart:

When Elizabeth died James moved to London and was crowned King James I of England the first of the Stuart Kings of the combined crowns of England and Scotland; James became King on the 24th March 1603 and was crowned at Westminster Abbey on the 25th July 1603; he was also crowned as James VI of Scotland at Stirling Castle on the 29th July 1567.

is childhood and adolescence were unhappy, abnormal, and precarious; he had various guardians, whose treatment of him differed widely; his education, although thorough, was weighted with strong Presbyterian and Calvinist political doctrine and his character, highly intelligent and sensitive, but also fundamentally shallow, vain, and exhibitionist, reacted violently to this.

The English courtiers were wary of his Scottish favourites, affairs with male courtiers and uncouth ways; he sought solace with extravagant and unsavoury male favourites who, in later years, were to have a damaging effect on his prestige and state affairs; a suitable Queen was found for him in Anne of Denmark and they were married in 1589.

As King of Scotland, he curbed the power of the nobility, although his attempts to limit the authority of the Kirk, Church of Scotland, were less successful;
he was however a supporter of literature and arts; William Shakespeare was among the ‘Kings Men’ troupe of actors who performed plays for their patron James.

Catholics in England had expected James to be more tolerant of them; in fact, he proved to be the opposite; his religious policy consisted of asserting the supreme authority and divine right of the crown and suppressing both Puritans and Catholics, who not surprisingly objected; he ordered all Catholic priests to leave England and this so angered some Catholics that they decided to kill James and put his daughter Elizabeth on the throne, ensuring that she was a Catholic.

The Gunpowder Plot of 1605:

This led to a Gunpowder Plot to kill not only King James, but also everyone sitting in the Houses of Parliament at the same time as James was there when he opened Parliament on the 5th November 1605; Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators rented out a house right by the Houses of Parliament and managed to get 36 barrels of gunpowder into a cellar of the House of Lords; Guy Fawkes, who had been left in the cellars to set off the fuse was caught when a group of guards checked the cellars; he was subsequently tortured, until he confessed, and then executed with some of the other conspirators.

Guy Fawkes' attempt to blow up Parliament produced an anti-Catholic reaction, which gave James a temporary popularity which soon dissipated; however, since that time, due to an act of parliament, the 5th November, Bonfire Night, has always been celebrated in England.

He commissioned The King James Bible, which was published in 1611 and remains one of the most important English translations of the Bible; the Authorized Version, commonly known as the King James Bible is an English translation of the Christian Bible by the Church of England that began in 1604 and was completed in 1611.

In January 1604, James convened the Hampton Court Conference where a new English version was conceived in response to the perceived problems of the earlier translations as detected by the Puritans, a faction within the Church of England; he gave the translators instructions intended to guarantee that the new version would conform to the ecclesiology and reflect the episcopal structure of the Church of England and its beliefs about an ordained clergy.

The Palatinate:

From 1618, Europe was convulsed by the religious conflict known as the Thirty Years' War and despite the peace loving inclinations of King James I, England became involved in the early phase of the war through royal family connections.

In 1612, James' eldest daughter Elizabeth married Frederick V, the youthful Elector of the Palatinate, which was the leading state in the German Protestant Union; in 1618, the Protestant princes chose Frederick and Elizabeth to be King and Queen of Bohemia in defiance of the claims of the Hapsburg Emperor, Ferdinand II; therefore, imperial troops invaded Bohemia and defeated Frederick at the battle of the White Mountain in 1620, whilst Spanish and Bavarian forces invaded the Palatinate itself.

Frederick and Elizabeth were driven into exile in Holland; English Protestants demanded military intervention to liberate the Palatinate and to restore Elizabeth, who became a Protestant heroine and was known as the "Queen of Hearts" a force of English volunteers commanded by Sir Horace Vere gallantly rode to Elizabeth's rescue, but King James realised that full scale military intervention on behalf of his daughter and son-in-law was too costly.

Instead he sought a diplomatic solution by proposing that Elizabeth's brother Charles, Prince of Wales, later Charles I, should marry the Infanta Maria, sister of King Philip IV of Spain; James hoped that Charles' marriage to a Hapsburg would bring family pressure on Ferdinand to restore Frederick and Elizabeth as well as giving Britain a powerful European ally.

Early in 1623, Prince Charles, accompanied by the Duke of Buckingham, embarked upon an ill-advised journey to Madrid to court the Infanta in person; a papal dispensation was required before the Infanta could marry a Protestant prince; Pope Gregory XV was in favour of the marriage but he died while the negotiations were in progress, after which they broke down in an atmosphere of hostility and mistrust.

Charles and Buckingham returned to England in October 1623, determined to avenge their humiliation by making war on Spain; against King James' better judgement, they persuaded the Parliament of 1624 to vote funds for war.

An army was raised under the command of the mercenary Count Mansfeld and sent to regain the Palatinate; Mansfeld's expedition failed, but the English navy was strengthened in preparation for further campaigns against Spain; although James would not declare war, Charles and Buckingham pursued their plan and arranged a marriage alliance with Spain's enemy France, which resulted in Charles' marriage to Henrietta Maria, daughter of the French King Henri IV.

Frederick died in 1632 and Elizabeth remained in exile until the Peace of Westphalia brought the Thirty Years' War to an end in 1648 and her eldest son Charles Louis was restored to the Palatinate.

The Book of Common Prayer:

In the Book of Common Prayer (1662), the text of the Authorized Version replaced the text of the Great Bible, for Epistle and Gospel readings, and as such was authorized by Act of Parliament and by the first half of the 18th century, it was effectively unchallenged as the English translation used in Anglican and Protestant churches; over the course of the 18th century, the Authorized Version supplanted the Latin Vulgate as the standard version of scripture for English speaking scholars.

James's foreign policy aimed primarily at achieving closer relations with Spain was not liked by Parliament who saw Spain as the Old Catholic enemy of the Armada and competitor for world trade; his willingness to compromise politically, even while continuing to talk in terms of absolutism, largely accounts for the superficial stability of his reign; however, the effects of many of his actions were long term, becoming fully obvious only after his death; he died on the 27th March 1625 at Theobalds Park, Hertfordshire

During his reign the East India Company expanded trade bringing spices from the East, Jamestown was founded in Virginia, the Pilgrim Fathers sailed for America in their ship The Mayflower in 1620 and James made the first ever recorded anti-smoking quote, by stating that "Smoking is hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, and dangerous to the lungs.”; b
y the 1600's Sheffield was the main centre of cutlery production in England and in 1624 The Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire was formed to oversee the trade.

King Charles I (1625 to 1649) House of Stuart:

King Charles I became King on the 27th March 1625 and was crowned at Westminster Abbey on the 2nd February 1626; he had a profound belief that Kings were appointed by God to rule by Divine Right.

As a child, Charles suffered from weak ankle joints, probably the result of rickets, which slowed his physical development; he was also slow in learning to speak; he outgrew these defects, except for a slight stammer which he never overcame; his education was overseen by Thomas Murray, a Scottish Presbyterian who later became Provost of Eton; Charles was a serious student who excelled at languages, rhetoric and divinity.

Charles was created Duke of Albany at his baptism, Duke of York in 1605 and Prince of Wales in 1616, he was instructed by King James in every aspect of ruling a kingdom; Henry's death made Charles heir to the throne of the Three Kingdoms, England, Scotland and Ireland; by strength of will, he overcame his physical weaknesses to become a good horseman and huntsman; he developed sophisticated tastes in the arts and earnestly applied himself to his religious devotions.

In 1625 he married Henrietta Maria, daughter of Henry IV of France; their children included Charles and James, who became Charles II and James II, and Mary who married William II of Orange and was the mother of William III.

Charles came to the throne amid pressure from English Protestants for intervention against Spain and the Catholic powers in the religious wars raging in Europe, the Thirty Years War from 1618 to 1648; he allowed England's foreign policy to be directed by the unpopular Duke of Buckingham, who launched a series of disastrous military expeditions against Spain and France with the aim of indirectly assisting the Palatinate.

Encouraged by the Duke of Buckingham, Charles sent a naval expedition against Spain that was intended to draw Spanish resources away from the Palatinate, but the English attack on Cadiz was a disastrous failure; after Buckingham's assassination in 1628, King Charles pursued a more peaceful foreign policy; despite his best intentions, he never sent any effective military help to restore Frederick and Elizabeth to the throne of Bohemia.

Frederick died in 1632 and Elizabeth remained in exile until the Peace of Westphalia brought the Thirty Years' War to an end in 1648 and her eldest son Charles Louis was restored to the Palatinate; her younger sons Prince Rupert and Prince Maurice fought for the Royalist cause during the English Civil War.

During this time, the economy and character of many West Riding settlements in Yorkshire became markedly different from the other areas of the county; farmers combined mining, metal working, weaving, tanning and other crafts with agriculture in the towns which were not subject to the restrictive practices of guilds and in 1629, in Leeds, west Yorkshire manufacturers had started employing men as full time clothiers.

The Dissolving of Parliament:

One of his first acts was to dissolve parliament in 1625 and again in 1626 after attempts to impeach the Duke of Buckingham over war against Spain and support of the French Huguenots, he was forced to call a third because he needed funds to pursue his warlike policies; in 1628, Charles' opponents formulated the Petition of Right, a declaration of the “rights and liberties of the subject", as a defence against the King's arbitrary use of his powers; Charles grudgingly accepted the Petition in the hope that Parliament would grant him subsidies, but in practice he ignored its provisions; after the assassination of Buckingham in 1628, critics in Parliament turned their attention to Charles' religious policy; he angrily dismissed his third Parliament in 1629, imprisoned several of his leading opponents and declared his intention of ruling alone.

The Kings Personal Rule:

This was the start of the eleven year period of the King's Personal Rule was also described as the "Eleven Year Tyranny" however, it was initially successful, during the turmoil of the civil wars, many people looked back upon it as a golden age of peace and prosperity; Charles had made peace with Spain and France by 1630, trade and commerce grew, in Leeds manufacturers were employing men full time as clothiers and the King's finances were stable by 1635.

This enabled him to commission great works of art by Rubens and Van Dyck and also to build up the Royal Navy for England's defence, but without Parliament to grant legal taxes, Charles was obliged to raise income by obscure and highly unpopular means including forced loans, the sale of commercial monopolies and, most notoriously of all, ship money; along with Charles' controversial religious policies, these measures alienated many natural supporters of the Crown, including powerful noblemen like Lord Saye and Sele and wealthy landowners like John Hampden.

The Star Chamber:

Charles and his advisers made extensive use of the Court of Star Chamber to prosecute opponents; dating back to the 15th century, Star Chamber had originally been a court of appeal; under the Stuarts, it came to be used to examine cases of sedition, which in practice meant that the court could be used to suppress opposition to royal policies; Star Chamber sessions were held in secret, with no indictments, no right of appeal, no juries and no witnesses; it became synonymous with the King's misuse of his power during the Personal Rule.

In religion, Charles favoured the elaborate and ritualistic High Anglican form of worship; he appointed William Laud Archbishop of Canterbury in 1633; Laud insisted upon strict compliance to the established tenets of the Church and vigorously supported the King's Divine Right; Laud also made extensive use of Star Chamber and the ecclesiastical Court of High Commisson to suppress opposition from Puritans who regarded the High Church Laudian liturgy as dangerously close to Roman Catholicism.

The King's marriage to the French Catholic princess Henrietta Maria also caused consternation amongst English Protestants, particularly as she was allowed to practise her religion openly and freely; in some quarters, Henrietta Maria's influence over the King and the royal children was regarded as part of an international Papist conspiracy against the Protestant faith.

The End Of The Kings Personal Rule:

Although Charles himself was high minded and devout, his religious policies were deeply divisive and turned Puritans like Pym and Cromwell against him; in collaboration with Archbishop Laud, he insisted upon religious conformity across the Three Kingdoms; this went disastrously wrong when the Anglican liturgy and Laudian Prayer Book, the English Book of Common Prayer, were forced upon the Scottish Kirk in 1637, resulting in the creation of the Scottish National Covenant against interference in religion, and the Bishops' Wars between the two nations; in order to finance war against the Scots, Charles was obliged to recall Parliament in 1640, bringing his eleven year personal rule to an end.

The strength of feeling against the King's policies in Church and State resulted in vehement opposition from the Short Parliament of April 1640 and its successor the Long Parliament; rather than attack the King himself, however, Parliament impeached and condemned to death his principal ministers Archbishop Laud and the Earl of Strafford, with Charles doing little to help them.

In November 1641, news of the Irish uprising reached London, provoking a crisis over whether King or Parliament should control the army that was needed to quell the rebellion; against a background of riots and civil unrest, the King and Royal Family were driven from London in January 1642 following Charles' disastrous attempt to arrest the Five Members regarded as his leading opponents in Parliament.

The First Civil war:

During the spring and summer of 1642, as King and Parliament appealed for the support of the nation and manoeuvred to gain control of the armed forces, a violent confrontation became inevitable; King Charles raised his standard at Nottingham Castle on the 22nd August 1642, which was his call-to-arms and the beginning of the First Civil War; many Yorkshire families were Cavaliers during this Civil War.

Ironically, the navy that Charles had built on the proceeds of ship-money declared for Parliament; having lost London to the Parliamentarians, Charles set up his court and military headquarters at Oxford.

Although he lacked military experience, Charles was courageous and developed strategic skills as the war went on; he personally commanded the army that outwitted and defeated Sir William Waller in the campaign that led up to the battle of Cropredy Bridge, then pursued and defeated the Earl of Essex at Lostwithiel in the summer of 1644; but the Royalist war effort was hampered by arguments and jealousies amongst its senior officers, with Charles himself frequently indecisive or capricious.

He was easily swayed by his counsellors, notably Lord Digby, who was himself conducting a personal vendetta against Prince Rupert; when the King attempted to bring government troops over from Ireland, Parliament mounted a successful propaganda campaign, raising fears of a Catholic conspiracy against English Protestants that greatly damaged the Royalist cause; the combination of Parliament's alliance with the Scottish Covenanters and the formation of the professionally run New Model Army brought about the defeat of the Royalists in 1645.

The End of the Civil War:

Charles's defeat at the Battle of Naseby, near Leicester, in June 1645 by Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army ended all hopes of Royalist victory and in April 1646 Charles escaped the Siege of Oxford and surrendered at Newark, Nottinghamshire, to the Scots, Charles fled from Oxford in April 1646 as the New Model Army approached the city; he surrendered to the Scottish army rather than to Parliament under secret terms negotiated by Cardinal Mazarin's envoy Jean de Montereul, who hoped to influence a settlement between England and Scotland that was favourable to French interests; Charles attempted to exploit divisions between the Parliamentarians and the Scots, continually involving himself in plots and intrigues with the exiled Henrietta Maria in the vain hope of gaining military help from Ireland and France.

He failed to recognise the damage done to his cause in England by his association with foreigners and Catholics; after Charles refused to accept the terms offered under the Newcastle Propositions, the Scots handed him over to Parliament in January 1647; the New Model Army, which was itself in disagreement with the Presbyterian faction in Parliament, secured the King in April 1647.

Charles was held at Hampton Court Palace, where he continued to play off the Army, Parliament and Scots against one another; he hoped that the Monarchy would be seen as a beacon of stability amongst the political turmoil, but his obstructiveness and duplicity in negotiations alienated Cromwell and others who had been anxious to reach a settlement; believing that Army radicals were planning to murder him, Charles escaped from Hampton Court in November 1647.

However, he ignored the advice of the Earl of Lauderdale to go north to Berwick where the Scots would support him and went instead to the Isle of Wight to seek the protection of the governor, Colonel Hammond, intending to take ship from there to France, but being torn between loyalty to the King and his duty to Parliament, Hammond confined King Charles at Carisbrooke Castle.

Refusing to compromise over a settlement with the Army or with Parliament, Charles turned once again to the Scots; under the terms of the Engagement signed in December 1647, Charles promised to impose Presbyterianism in England in exchange for a Scottish army to fight against Parliament; the Marquis of Argyll and the Scottish Kirk opposed the Engagement because Charles refused to take the Covenant personally or to impose it upon his subjects, but Argyll's rival the Duke of Hamilton put himself at the head of the Engager army and prepared to invade England.

The Second Civil War:

The Scottish invasion and simultaneous Royalist uprisings in England and Wales resulted in the short but bitterly fought Second Civil War, culminating in Cromwell's victory over the Scots at the battle of Preston in August 1648; at the end of the war many of the old castles of Yorkshire such as Helmsley and Pontefract were dismantled so that they could never again be fortified.

Army officers were furious that Charles could deliberately provoke a second war when his defeat in the first had been so clear an indication of God's favour to the Parliamentarian cause; tired of his deceptions and intrigues, the Army denounced King Charles as the "Man of Blood" Parliament was purged of Presbyterian sympathisers and moderates in December 1648 and left with a small "Rump" of MPs that was totally dependent on the Army.

The Trial, Sentencing and Execution of Charles I:

For the Trial of Charles I, Parliament appointed a High Court of Justice in January 1649 and Charles was charged with high treason against the people of England; the King's trial opened on the 20th January; he refused to answer the charges, saying that he did not recognise the authority of the High Court, but he was found guilty of the charges against him and sentenced to death on the 27th January 1649; the King was beheaded on a scaffold outside the Banqueting House at Whitehall, London on the 30th January; at his execution, he is said to have stated "Death is not terrible to me; I bless my God I am prepared."

On the 6th February, 1649, the monarchy was abolished. Parliament stated that "the office of the king in this nation is unnecessary, burdensome and dangerous to the liberty, society and public interest of the people."; what became known as a Council of State was set up instead of the monarchy and Oliver Cromwell was its first chairman.

The King's execution shocked the whole of Europe; he was buried on the 9th February at Windsor rather than at Westminster Abbey to avoid the possibility of public disorder at his funeral; Charles' personal dignity during his trial and execution had won him much sympathy and his death created a cult of martyrdom around him, which was encouraged by the publication of a book of his supposed meditations during his final months, Eikon Basilike. The ideal of Charles the Martyr helped to sustain the Royalist cause throughout the Commonwealth and Protectorate years; after the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660, it was sanctified in the Anglican Church; to this day, wreaths of remembrance are laid on the anniversary of King Charles' death at his statue, which faces down Whitehall to the site of his beheading.

The English Interregnum:

After Charles I's execution the Parliament of Scotland proclaimed his son Charles, Charles II King of Great Britain and Ireland in Edinburgh on the 6th February 1649; however, the English Parliament passed a statute that made any such proclamation unlawful and 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 helped to defeat Charles II at the Battle of Worcester on the 3rd September 1651 and Charles fled to mainland Europe, where he spent the next nine years in exile in France, the United Provinces and the Spanish Netherlands.

Oliver Cromwell (1653 to 1658) Commonwealth:

Oliver Cromwell was born in Huntingdon on the 25th April 1599, studied at Sidney Sussex College and at Cambridge University, became an MP for Huntingdon in 1628, and became an MP for Cambridge in 1640.

He raised troops for Parliament in 1642, became a Colonel in the Eastern Association Army in 1643 and then a Lieutenant General in 1644; he fought in the Battle of Marston Moor on the 2nd July and the Battle of Newbury on the 27th October; in 1645 he became the Lieutenant General of the New Model Army and fought in the Battle of Naseby on the14th June; in 1647 he supported the Parliamentary army in clashes with Parliament and in 1648 he Crushed a royalist uprising in South Wales and fought at the Battle of Preston against a Scottish Royalist army on the 18th August.

In 1649 he supported the trial and execution of King Charles I; in January he commanded an army sent to crush Irish rebels and in August 1650 he commanded an army sent to crush Scottish rebels; he fought in the Battle of Dunbar on the 3rd September 1650 and the Battle of Worcester on the 3rd September 1651; on the 20th April 1653 Parliament was dissolved and Cromwell became Lord Protector and lord general, commander in chief, of all the parliamentary forces on the 16th December.

In September 1654 he meets with the first Protectorate Parliament; in October 1655 the System of the Major Generals is established; in September 1656 he meets with the second Protectorate Parliament; in April 1657 he rejects Parliament's offer of the crown and remains Lord Protector and on the 3rd September 1658 he died at Whitehall.

On the 30th January 1661 his body was exhumed and posthumously 'executed'; the final resting place of Cromwell's physical remains is still a matter of dispute; however, it is likely that his body lies near Tyburn in London, now the Marble Arch area; Cromwell's head became a rather undignified collector's piece until it was bequeathed to his old Cambridge College in 1960 and was buried near Sidney Sussex chapel.

Richard Cromwell (1658 to 1659) Commonwealth:

Richard Cromwell was nominated as Oliver Cromwell' successor and on Oliver's death he became the second ruling Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland, but served for just under nine months; Richard was faced by two immediate problems; the first was the army, which questioned his position as commander given his lack of military experience; the second was the financial position of the regime, with a debt estimated at £2 million.

As a result Richard's Privy council called a parliament in order to redress the financial problems; this and the 'Other House' of Parliament, sat and argued instead of trying to resolve the problems; republican malcontents gave filibustering speeches about the inadequacy of the military contingent and questioned whether, or not, they where diverging away from the Cause for which the parliamentarians had originally engaged in Civil War.

The New Model Army was worried about the lack of Parliamentary commitment and respect for the army, and the fact that Richard lacked the right military credentials; there were also fears that Parliament would make military cuts to reduce costs and by April 1659 the army’s general council of officers had met to demand higher taxation to fund the regime’s costs.

Their grievances were expressed in a petition to Richard Cromwell on the 6th April 1659 which he forwarded to the Parliament two days later; Parliament ignored the army's suggestions and instead accused an army officer of alleged mistreatment to a royalist prisoner whilst acting as a Major General under Oliver Cromwell in 1655; this was followed by two resolutions on the 18th April 1659 which stated that no more meetings of army officers should take place without the express permission of both the Lord Protector and Parliament and that all officers should swear an oath that they would not subvert the sitting of Parliament by force.

These direct affronts to military prestige set in motion the final split between the civilian dominated Parliament and the army and when Richard refused a demand by the army to dissolve Parliament, troops were assembled and Richard eventually gave in to their demands and on the 22nd April, Parliament was dissolved and on the 25th May Richard resigned the position of Lord Protector.

Richard lived out the last of his days in Finchley in Middlesex, as John Clarke, living off the income from his estate in Hursley; he died on the 12th July 1712 at the age of 85.

After Richard Cromwell's Resignation:

After Richard resigned, the Protectorate was abolished and during the civil and military unrest which followed, George Monck, the Governor of Scotland, was concerned that the nation would descend into anarchy; therefore, Monck and his army marched into the City of London and forced the Rump Parliament to re-admit members of the Long Parliament excluded in December 1648 during Pride's Purge; the Long Parliament dissolved itself and for the first time in almost 20 years, there was a general election; the outgoing Parliament designed the electoral qualifications so as to ensure, as they thought, the return of a Presbyterian majority.

The restrictions against royalist candidates and voters were widely ignored and the elections resulted in a House of Commons which was fairly evenly divided on political grounds between Royalists and Parliamentarians and on religious grounds between Anglicans and Presbyterians; the new so called Convention Parliament assembled on the 25th April 1660 and soon afterwards received news of the Declaration of Breda, in which Charles II agreed, amongst other things, to pardon many of his father's enemies; the English Parliament resolved to proclaim Charles king and invite him to return, a message that reached Charles at Breda on the 8th May 1660; in Ireland, a convention had been called earlier in the year and on the 14th May it declared for Charles as King.

Charles II sailed from his exile in the Netherlands to his restoration in England in May 1660; he arrived in Dover on the 25th May 1660 and reached London on the 29th May, his 30th birthday; although Charles and Parliament granted amnesty to Cromwell's supporters in the Act of Indemnity and Oblivion, 50 people were specifically excluded; in the end nine of the regicides were executed; they were hanged, drawn and quartered; others were given life imprisonment or simply excluded from office for life and the bodies of Oliver Cromwell, Henry Ireton and John Bradshaw were subjected to the indignity of posthumous decapitations.

King Charles II (1660 to 1685) House of Stuart:

King Charles II became King on the 29th May 1660 and was crowned at Westminster Abbey on the 23rd April 1661; his restoration to the throne marked the end of republican rule in England; those men still alive who had signed his father’s death warrant 'Charles I' were tried as regicides, the murderer of a king, and executed; anyone associated with his execution was put on trial; the only people to escape were the executioners, as no-one knew who they were, as they wore masks during the execution; the body of Oliver Cromwell was dug up and posthumously decapitated, Charles I was venerated a Saint by the Anglican Church, and all legal documents were post-dated as though Charles II had succeeded on his father’s death in 1649.

Charles was born on the 29th May 1630, the eldest surviving son of Charles I; he was 12 when the Civil War began and two years later was appointed nominal commander-in-chief in western England; however, with the parliamentary victory he was forced into exile on the continent and was in the Netherlands in 1649, when he learned of his father's execution.

In 1650 Charles did a deal with the Scots and was proclaimed king; he was crowned at Scone on the 1st January 1651 and with a Scottish army he invaded England but was defeated by Cromwell at the Battle of Worcester in 1651; he escaped into exile and it was not until 1660 that he was invited back to England to reclaim his throne.

Although those who had signed Charles I's death warrant were punished, Charles pursued a policy of political tolerance and power sharing; his desire for religious toleration, due in large part to his own leanings towards Catholicism, were to prove more contentious; he made a number of attempts to formalise toleration of Catholics and Non-conformists but was forced to back down in the face of a strongly hostile parliament.

The early years of Charles's reign saw an appalling outbreak of the 'Black Death' plague in 1665 and the Great Fire of London in 1666 which destroyed a large part of the city including St Paul’s cathedral and led to the substantial rebuilding of the city of London; between 1665 and 1667 England was at war with the Dutch, the Second Anglo-Dutch War, which ended in a Dutch victory; in 1670, Charles signed a secret treaty with Louis XIV of France, while promising to convert to Catholicism and support the French against the Dutch in the Third Anglo-Dutch War (1672 to 1674), in return for which he would receive subsidies from France, thus enabling him manoeuvring room with parliament.

In 1677, Charles married his niece Mary to the Protestant William of Orange, to help re-establish his Protestant credentials; knowledge of his negotiations with France, together with his efforts to become an absolute ruler, brought Charles into conflict with parliament, which he consequently dissolved in 1681; from then until his death he ruled alone; although Charles had a number of illegitimate children with various mistresses, he had none with his wife, Catherine of Braganza; therefore his Catholic brother James was his only heir.

Charles's reign saw the rise of colonisation and trade in India, the East Indies and America; the British capture of New York from the Dutch in 1664, the Passage of Navigation Acts that secured Britain's future as a sea power and he founded the Royal Society for the study of Science in 1660 and the Royal Observatory at Greenwich; Charles died on the 6th February 1685, converting to Catholicism on his death bed.

King James II (1685 to 1688) House of Stuart:

King James II became King on the 6th February 1685 and was crowned at Westminster Abbey on the 23rd April 1685; he was the second surviving son of Charles I and younger brother of Charles II; he was created Duke of York and was in Oxford during the Civil War; after the defeat of the Royalists he escaped with his mother and brother to The Hague and then to exile in France; his father was executed in 1649; he served in the French army and later in the Spanish Army; after the death of Cromwell and the restoration of the monarchy he returned to England where his brother was crowned Charles II.

James was created Lord High Admiral and warden of the Cinque Ports and commanded the Royal Navy during the 2nd and 3rd Anglo-Dutch wars; he created controversy when in 1660 he married Anne Hyde a commoner and daughter of Charles’s chief minister Edward Hyde; they had two daughters Mary 'Queen Mary II' and Anne 'Queen Anne', who were raised as Protestants but, influenced by his time in France and Spain, James converted to Catholicism in 1670; following Anne Hyde’s death in 1671, he married Mary of Modena a 15 year old Italian Catholic princess; James’s critics described her as ‘an agent of the Pope’.

Parliament became alarmed at the prospect of a Catholic succession and in 1673 passed the Test Act which excluded Catholics from political office; in 1679 Shaftesbury attempted to introduce an Exclusion Bill to exclude James from the succession and substitute Charles’s illegitimate son the Duke of Monmouth, but this was rebutted by Charles who dissolved Parliament.

When James became King in 1685, he faced two rebellions which were intent on removing him, one in Scotland by the Duke of Argyll and the other from an army raised by the Duke of Monmouth which was defeated by John Churchill, the 6th great grandfather of Winston Churchill, at the Battle of Sedgemoor in Somerset in July 1685; the Monmouth rebels were brutally punished by Judge Jeffrey’s Bloody Assizes.

James, believing his Divine Right as King, issued the Declaration of Indulgence to suspend the Test Act and promote his Catholic supporters in Parliament; the Archbishop of Canterbury and seven other bishops were duly arrested and tried for sedition; amidst widespread alarm, the birth in 1688 of his Catholic heir James Edward Stuart prompted a group of nobles to invite Prince William of Orange, who had married James's daughter Mary, from the Netherlands to England to restore Protestantism and democracy.

William of Orange landed at Torbay on the 5th November 1688, in 463 ships which were unopposed by the Royal Navy, and with an army of 14,000 troops started to gather local support; his army grew to over 20,000 and he advanced on London in what became known as ‘The Glorious Revolution’.

Many from James’s army including Churchill and James’s daughter Anne defected to support William; James lost his nerve and fled to France throwing the Great Seal of the Realm into the River Thames; his daughter Mary was declared Queen, but she insisted on a joint rule with her husband William and they were crowned King William III and Queen Mary II.

James and his wife and son lived in exile in France as guests of Louis XIV; James landed in Ireland in 1689 with French troops in an attempt to regain the throne and advanced on Londonderry, but was defeated by William at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690; he lived the rest of his life in exile in France where he died in 1701;
his son James Edward Stuart 'The Old Pretender' and his grandson Charles 'Bonnie Prince Charlie' made unsuccessful attempts to restore the Jacobite throne in 1715 and 1745.

King William III (1688 to 1702) & Queen Mary II (1688 to 1694) House of Orange:

King William III & Queen Mary II became joint King & Queen on the 13th February 1689, aged 38 and 26 repectively and were both crowned at Westminster Abbey on the 11th April 1689; William was born on the 14th November 1650 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 the eldest daughter of Charles I of England; Mary was born on the 3th April 1662, the eldest daughter of James, Duke of York and his first wife Anne Hydet Mary and was raised as a Protestant.

William was dour and asthmatic, but a successful soldier; he was appointed Stadtholder 'Chief Magistrate' and captain-general of the Dutch forces in 1672 to resist the French invasion of the Netherlands; he forced Louis XIV to make peace in 1678 and then concentrated on building up a European alliance against France.

On the 4th November 1677 he married his cousin Mary, the 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; at the time he was 12 years older and several inches shorter than his 15 year old English wife Mary who was a reluctant bride.

After their joint coronation Parliament passed the Bill of Rights which prevented Catholics from 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, they limited the powers of future 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 they 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 is 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.

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 leaving William to rule alone and the Bank of England was founded in 1694 to control public expenditure the Treaty of Ryswick, or Ryswyck, was signed on the 20th September 1697 in the Dutch Republic, which settled the Nine Years' War, which pitted France against the Grand Alliance of England, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire and the United Provinces.

William formed an alliance between England, Holland and Austria to prevent the union of the French and Spanish crowns; this became known as the ‘War of Spanish Succession’.

In 1701 following the 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 on the 8th March 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 (1702 to 1714) House of Stuart:

Queen Anne became Queen on the 8th March 1702 and was crowned at Westminster Abbey on the 23rd April 1702; Anne was the second daughter of James II and Anne Hyde, daughter of Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon; Anne and her sister Mary received a Protestant upbringing although their father converted to Catholicism and remarried; Mary married William of Orange and in 1683 Anne married Prince George of Denmark.

After her marriage Anne was given a set of buildings in the Palace of Whitehall, known as the Cockpit, as their London residence and Sarah Churchill became one of Anne's ladies of the bedchamber; to mark their friendship and at Anne's request, Anne and Sarah called each other by their pet names Mrs. Morley and Mrs. Freeman respectively rather than use their formal styles and titles.

When William landed in England in 1688 to take the throne, Anne on the influence of her close friend Sarah the wife of John Churchill, supported her sister and brother-in-law against her father James; Prince George was made Duke of Cumberland and Churchill was created Duke of Marlborough by William when he was crowned King William III with her sister Queen Mary II; Anne detested her brother-in-law however and the Churchills' influence led her briefly to engage in Jacobite intrigues during William’s reign.

On William’s death in 1702 Anne succeeded to the throne as Queen Anne; she was a staunch, high church Protestant, shy, stubborn, 37 years old and in poor health; in a speech to the English Parliament, shortly after her coronation, she distanced herself from her late Dutch brother-in-law and said, "As I know my heart to be entirely English, I can very sincerely assure you there is not anything you can expect or desire from me which I shall not be ready to do for the happiness and prosperity of England."

Anne appointed her husband Lord High Admiral, giving him nominal control of the Royal Navy; she gave control of the army to Lord Marlborough, whom she appointed Captain-General; Marlborough also received numerous honours from the Queen, he was created a Knight of the Garter and was elevated to the rank of duke; the Duchess of Marlborough was appointed Groom of the Stole, Mistress of the Robes and Keeper of the Privy Purse.

John Churchill commanded the English Army in the War of Spanish Succession and won a series of victories over the French at Blenheim (1704), Ramillies (1706), Oudenarde (1708) and Malplaquet (1709); the victories of the Duke of Marlborough abroad gave the country an influence never before attained in Europe.

On the 1st May 1707, under the Act of Union, two of her realms, the kingdoms of England and Scotland, were united as a single sovereign state and became the Kingdom of Great Britain.

Anne's reign was marked by the development of a two party system; in general, the Tories were supportive of the Anglican church and favoured the "landed interest" of the country gentry, whilst the Whigs were aligned with commercial interests and Protestant Dissenters; as a committed Anglican, Anne was inclined to favour the Tories.

Her first ministry was predominantly Tory and contained such High Tories as Daniel Finch, 2nd Earl of Nottingham, and her uncle Laurence Hyde, 1st Earl of Rochester; it was headed by Lord Godolphin and Anne's favourite the Duke of Marlborough, who were considered moderate Tories, along with the Speaker of the House of Commons, Robert Harley; however, the Whigs grew more powerful during the course of the War of the Spanish Succession, until in 1710 Anne dismissed many of them from office.

The influence of the Churchill’s began to decline after a violent quarrel in 1710 between Anne and Sarah; this was due mainly to political differences; Sarah had consistently counselled Anne to appoint more Whigs and reduce the power of the Tories, whom Sarah considered little better than Jacobites and Anne became increasingly discontented with her; these political differences finally ended up with Sarah being dismissed from court.

Anne suffered from gout which rendered her lame for much of her later life; around the court, she was carried in a sedan chair, or used a wheelchair and around her estates, she used a one horse chaise, which she drove herself; her sedentary lifestyle resulted in her gaining weight; in Sarah's words, "she grew exceeding gross and corpulent"; on her death in 1714 her body had swollen so large that she was buried in an almost square coffin; she died, on the 1st August 1714, of suppressed gout, ending in erysipelas.

Succession wise, Anne's family loyalty had convinced her that this should fall to her father's son by his second wife, Mary of Modena, James Edward Stuart, known as the 'Old Pretender'; however, the Act of Settlement in 1701 ensured Protestant succession to the throne and Anne was succeeded by George I, a great grandson of James I.

King George I (1714 to 1727) House of Hanover:

King George I became King on the 1st August 1714 and was crowned at Westminster Abbey on the 20th October 1714; George was the son of the first elector of Hanover in Germany, Ernest Augustus, and his wife Sophia who was a granddaughter of James I of England; he became heir through his father to the hereditary lay bishopric of Osnabrück and the duchy of Calenberg, which was one part of the Hanoverian possessions of the house of Brunswick; he acquired the other part by his marriage in 1682 to his cousin Sophia Dorothea of Celle.

It was not a happy marriage, George had several mistresses and his wife Sophia eloped with Swedish Count Philip Konigsmark who in 1694 mysteriously disappeared believed killed with George’s connivance and his body thrown in a river; Sophia was imprisoned in Castle Ahlden in Celle where she remained until she died 30 years later; they had two children George, who later became George II, and Sophia who married Frederick William of Prussia in 1706 and was the mother of Frederick the Great.

In England Queen Anne had no surviving children and in 1701 Parliament passed the Act of Settlement to ensure a Protestant line of succession and oppose the claim of the Catholic James Edward Stuart; George’s mother Sophia became heiress to the British throne, but she died in May 1714 a few weeks before Queen Anne so when Anne died in August that year George became King George I of England and Scotland; this was despite the fact that over fifty Roman Catholics bore closer blood relationships to Anne than George, but the Act of Settlement 1701 prohibited Catholics from inheriting the British throne.

George arrived in England at age 54 able to speak only a few words of English, with 18 cooks and two mistresses one very fat and the other thin and tall who became nicknamed ‘Elephant and Castle’ after an area in London; in Hanover he was absolute ruler but in England he found that he had to govern through Parliament and in particularly his Whig ministers Earl Stanhope and Robert Walpole.

Within a year of George's accession the Whigs won an overwhelming victory in the general election of 1715; several members of the defeated Tory Party sympathised with the Jacobites and in 1715 some disgruntled Tories sided with a Jacobite rebellion which became known as "The Fifteen"; the Jacobites sought to put Anne's Catholic half-brother, James Stuart ‘The old Pretender’ on the Throne; they were led by Lord Mar, a Scottish nobleman who had previously supported the 'Glorious Revolution'; the rebellion was a dismal failure; Lord Mar's battle plans were poor and James arrived late with too little money and too few arms; by the end of the year the rebellion had all but collapsed; faced with impending defeat, Lord Mar and James fled to France.

Spain supported another Jacobite led invasion of Scotland in 1719, but stormy seas allowed only about three hundred Spanish troops to arrive in Scotland; a base was established at Eilean Donan Castle on the west Scottish coast in April, only for it to be destroyed by British ships a month later; attempts by the Jacobites to recruit Scottish clansmen yielded a fighting force of only about a thousand men; the Jacobites were poorly equipped and were easily defeated by British artillery at the Battle of Glen Shiel; the clansmen dispersed into the Highlands and the Spaniards surrendered.

George grew frustrated in his attempts to control Parliament; although this may have been easier if he had ever bothered to learn english; he grew more dependent upon his advisers as scandal surrounded him; his supporters turned against him, demanding freedom of action as the price of reconciliation; due to George rarely attending meetings with his ministers, the powers of the monarchy diminished and Britain began a transition to the modern system of cabinet government led by a prime minister; towards the end of his reign, actual power was held by Sir Robert Walpole, Britain's first de facto Prime Minister.

Problems arose over financial speculation and the management of the national debt; certain government bonds could not be redeemed without the consent of the bondholder and had been issued when interest rates were high; consequently each bond represented a long term drain on public finances, as bonds were hardly ever redeemed.

In 1719 the SSC (South Sea Company) proposed to take over £31 million, three fifths, of the British national debt by exchanging government securities for stock in the SSC; they bribed the Secretary of the Treasury to support their plan and enticed bondholders to convert their high-interest, irredeemable bonds to low-interest, easily-tradeable stocks by offering apparently preferential financial gains; SSC prices rose rapidly; the shares had cost £128 on the 1st January 1720, but were valued at £500 when the conversion scheme opened in May; on the 24th June the price reached a peak of £1050; the SSC's success led to the speculative flotation of other companies, some of a bogus nature, and the Government, in an attempt to suppress these schemes and with the support of the Company, passed the Bubble Act.

With the rise in the market now halted, uncontrolled selling began in August creating a stock market crash; the stock plummeted to £150 by the end of September and many individuals, including aristocrats, lost vast sums of money and some were completely ruined; George was implicated in the scandal but Walpole’s management of the crisis by rescheduling debts and paying compensation using Government money helped return the country to financial stability.

Due to the South Sea Bubble scandal and the fact that he quarrelled with his son George, a trait inherited by successive Hanoverian kings, he became increasingly unpopular; he spent little time in England, preferring his beloved Hanover, where he suffered a stroke on the road between Delden and Nordhorn on the 9th June 1727; he was taken by carriage to the Prince-Bishop's palace at Osnabrück where he died in the early hours of the 11th June 1727; he was buried in the Chapel of Leine Castle but his remains were moved to the chapel at Herrenhausen after World War II.

King George II (1727 to 1760) House of Hanover:

King George II became King on the 11th June 1727 and was crowned at Westminster Abbey on the 11th October 1727;

George was born in Hanover the son of George I and Sophia of Celle; he married Caroline of Brandenburg-Ansbach in 1705, an attractive and intelligent woman, and they had 9 children; in 1708 he took part in the Battle of Oudenarde in Belgium against the French; in 1714 his father became King and he became the Prince of Wales.

However, his father’s treatment of his mother, whom he had imprisoned, left George with a hatred of his father and they regularly quarrelled; he was even put under arrest by his father who excluded him from public ceremonies, so when his father died in 1727 and he became King, he set about changing his father’s policies; he was more English than his father, but he still relied on Sir Robert Walpole to run the country.

The death of Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI in 1740 led to the European War of Austrian Succession in which the British and Dutch supported Marie Theresa’s claim to the Austrian throne against the Prussians and French; George personally led his troops at the Battle of Dettingen in 1743, becoming the last British monarch to lead his troops into battle.

The Jacobite Rebellion began in 1745, when Charles Edward Stuart,‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’, landed in Scotland and marched with an Highland army into England; he was defeated at Culloden in 1746 and the Scottish opposition was brutally suppressed by George’s second son Prince William, Duke of Cumberland, known as 'Butcher' Cumberland;
Bonnie Prince Charlie escaped to France and finally died a drunkard's death in Rome.

The final years of his reign saw George retiring from active politics; however it was a period in which British dominance overseas grew; William Pitt the Elder became Prime Minister during the Seven years war against France,
which spread to India and North America; Robert Clive secured the Indian continent for Britain at the Battle of Plassey and General Wolfe captured Quebec in Canada; George II died in 1760 of an aneurysm while seated on his water closet; he was succeeded by his grandson also called George.

The Seven Years' War (1756 to 1763):

Alarmed by the growing power and ambition of Frederick the Great, several countries France, Spain, Austria, Saxony, Russia and Sweden formed a coalition with the intention of destroying, or at least crippling, Prussia; Frederick guessed the intention of the coalition and struck first by invading Saxony, in August 1756, and knocking them out of the war; Britain, who was already involved in a colonial conflict with France in North America and India, allied with Prussia.

British policy was to concentrate on defeating France in its colonial conflicts, whilst mainly supporting Prussia with large cash subsidies, though a small british army was sent to western Germany to cooperate with the Hanoverian army against France; French resources were heavily drained due to fighting in Europe, which enabled the British to be successful in their colonial campaigns, winning decisively in America and India, and Frederick was able to fend off the coalition; Russia dropped out of the war in 1762 when Catherine the Great became empress and Sweden came to terms with Prussia in 1762.

The Treaty of Paris, in 1763, between Britain and France forced France to cede all its possessions in Canada to Britain and to give up all claims in America east of the Mississippi river and the Treaty of Hubertusburg, in 1763, ended the war in Europe, Prussia now had possession of Silesia, acquired from Austria during the War of Austrian Succession in 1740 to 1748; the main effects of the war were to confirm Britain as the dominant colonial power and Prussia as a major European power.

King George III (1760 to 1820) House of Hanover:

King George III became King on the 25th October 1760 and was crowned at Westminster Abbey on the 22nd September 1761; George, unlike his father and grandfather, was born in England; he was shy and stubborn but well educated in science and arts and he became heir to the throne when his father Frederick, Prince of Wales, died in 1751 from a lung abscess, believed to be caused by a blow on the chest from a cricket ball, before he could succeed his father.

In 1761, after an official search for a suitable wife, he married Sophia Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz whom he first met on his wedding day; the couple enjoyed a happy marriage and he never took a mistress; they had 16 children including the future George IV and William IV and they were married for 57 years.

In 1762 he purchased Buckingham House in London which later became Buckingham Palace; George had high moral standards and was appalled by the loose morals of his brothers, so he introduced the Royal Marriage Act in 1772, which made it illegal for members of the Royal Family to marry without the consent of the Sovereign.

George was interested in agricultural improvement and during his reign there were advances in manufacturing mechanisation including the spinning frame and steam engine; he was determined to be thrifty with his own and public expenses and so he handed Parliament the right of income from Crown Estates in return for a Civil List annuity for the support of his household and expenses, an arrangement that still continues today.

Britain had been fighting a colonial war against France since 1756 with plenty of military success but at high financial cost, so George appointed Lord Bute to negotiate the Treaty of Paris in 1762 to end the Seven years war; this caused patriotic outrage for the concessions it gave to the French including the rights of French colonists in North America to remain in Quebec and New Orleans.

Lord North became Prime Minister and was determined to make the colonies pay for their own security; with this in mind the Stamp Act of 1765, which levied a tax on every official document in the British colonies, and high customs duties were introduced; these were mostly repealed in the face of American protests, with the exception of the tax on tea, which led to the ‘Boston Tea Party’ in 1773, when colonists in protest over the tax, threw chests of tea overboard in Boston harbour.

The American War of Independence began in April 1775 and american colonists fought British troops at Lexington; George Washington was appointed the commander of the Continental Army and on the 4th July 1776 the Continental Congress under leadership of John Hancock declared their independence; fighting continued until 1781 when the British were finally defeated by the Americans and French at Yorktown; in the Treaty of Paris in 1783 Britain agreed to recognise American independence; George took the loss so badly that he considered abdication before facing the political and military realities.

In 1788 George suffered his first attack of insanity, now believed to be the result of the inherited disease porphyria, which was to plague him for the rest of his life; his son George, Prince of Wales, was made temporary regent an arrangement which became permanent in 1810.

In 1789 France was shaken by revolution and King Louis XVI was guillotined in 1793; Britain was once more at war with France; an attempted revolution by Catholics and French troops in Ireland was crushed and eventually a union with Ireland was created in 1801; by 1803 Napoleon Bonaparte had assembled a fleet for an invasion of England, but the fleet was defeated by Admiral Horatio Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805; Napoleon defeated the Russians at Austerlitz but was forced to withdraw from Moscow by the Russian winter; the battles continued with the Peninsular War in which the British fought to drive the French from Spain; Napoleon was eventually defeated by joint British and German forces at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

By the late 18th, early 19th century, the British Slave Trade was, by today's standards, a multi billion pound industry and its players were some of the richest people in the world; a major part of their trade came from James Island on the River Gambia in the Senegambia region, where they exported slaves and other goods such as ivory and wax; William Wilberforce was one of the leading political figures of the time to bring an end to the British Slave trade.

In 1811 the Luddite movement began with armed men breaking into factories and destroying machinery, which threatened to affect their livelihood; the Luddite mentality spread to the surrounding cities of Yorkshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Lancashire.

The British government mobilised over 12,000 troops to stem the rebellion and hired spies to infiltrate the Luddites; a man came forward and confessed to having taken part in a murder, resulting in the trials and hanging of three men; though others were found, tried and hanged later; several Luddite leaders were killed during a battle and the movement soon fell apart.

George III died at Windsor Castle on the 29th January 1820, after a reign of almost 60 years and was succeeded by his son George IV, who had already ruled as regent since 1810.

Lieutenant James Cook sailed from Plymouth on the 26th August 1768, on the first of his three Pacific voyages, as commander of the HM Bark Endeavour
; in August 1774, Joseph Priestley discovered an air that appeared to be completely new, Oxygen gas (O2) and the Bronte sisters, Anne (1820), Charlotte (1816) & Emily (1818), were all born late in George's reign.

King George IV (1820 to 1830) House of Hanover:

King George IV became King on the 29th January 1820 and was crowned at Westminster Abbey on the 19th July 1821;
George had already ruled as Regent from 1810, as the Prince of Wales, during his father’s period of insanity.

He had several mistresses and in 1785 secretly married a Catholic widow Maria Fitzherbert in contravention of the Act of Settlement and the Royal Marriage Act; they had at least two illegitimate children; unlike his father he was extravagant with money and became badly in debt, but his extravagant lifestyle contributed to the fashions of the British Regency.

e loved the finer things in life and he was a patron of new forms of leisure, style and taste; during the ‘Regency Period’ he commissioned John Nash to build the Royal Pavilion in Brighton and remodel Buckingham Palace and commissioned Sir Jeffry Wyatville to rebuild Windsor Castle; George was also instrumental in the foundation of the National Gallery, London and King's College, London.

He was forced to deny his marriage with Mrs Fitzherbert and in return for paying off his debts officially marry Caroline of Brunswick whom he detested, so much so that when he became King George IV he refused to let her attend his coronation; they had one child Princess Charlotte, but George refused to recognise Caroline as Queen and tried several times to annul his marriage to her; she died in 1821 claiming on her death bed that she had been poisoned.

George paid a state visit to Ireland, but initially refused to support Catholic emancipation up until 1829, when he was encouraged by the Duke of Wellington to pass the Catholic Relief Act; he visited Scotland in 1822, the first monarch to do so since Charles II, and encouraged by Sir Walter Scott wore full Highland regalia leading to a revival of Scottish tartan dress that had been banned after the Jacobite Rebellions.

His heavy drinking, indulgent lifestyle and taste for huge amounts of food made him obese and he became a popular figure of ridicule when he appeared in public; he suffered from gout and towards the end of his life became mentally unstable; his last years were marked by increasing physical and mental decay and withdrawal from public affairs; privately a senior aide to the king confided to his diary, "A more contemptible, cowardly, selfish, unfeeling dog does not exist....There have been good and wise kings but not many of them...and this I believe to be one of the worst.".

George died of an heart attack at Windsor Castle in 1830; on George's death The Times captured elite opinion succinctly: "There never was an individual less regretted by his fellow-creatures than this deceased king. What eye has wept for him? What heart has heaved one throb of unmercenary sorrow? ... If he ever had a friend – a devoted friend in any rank of life – we protest that the name of him or her never reached us.".

King William IV (1830 to 1837) House of Hanover:

King William IV became King on the 26th June 1830 and was crowned at Westminster Abbey on the 8th September 1831; although due to hating pomp he had originally wanted to dispense with the Coronation, but settled for a simple one and his coronation only cost a tenth of the expense incurred by George IV's ceremony in 1821.

He was the third son of George III and was not expected to become king; he was sent off to join the Royal Navy at 13 years old and saw service at the Battle of St. Vincent against the Spanish in 1780 and in New York during the American War of Independence; he was later stationed in the West Indies under Horatio Nelson and left active service in 1790 as a Rear Admiral.

He was created Duke of Clarence and from 1791 set up home with Dorothea Bland, an Irish actress known as ‘Mrs Jordan’; they lived contentedly together for 20 years, and had 5 sons and 5 daughters given the surname Fitzclarence; by 1817 William was in debt but, with the death of Princess Charlotte, the only daughter of his elder brother, he had become heir to the throne.

Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen was found for him as a suitable Protestant wife and they married in 1818; the marriage was happy but despite several miscarriages there were no children who survived infancy.

William was 64 years old, and the oldest person, to date, to succeed to the throne, when he became King on the death of his brother George IV in 1830; he was nicknamed ‘The Sailor King’ and also known as 'Silly Billy'; he distrusted foreigners and was noted for his informality; he regularly invited his friends for dinner and when told that his carriage was not ready to take him to Parliament he is reported to have said "Then I will go by hackney cab".

In 1834 when fire destroyed the Houses of Parliament at Westminster he offered Buckingham Palace to Parliament, but they declined and Westminster was rebuilt by Charles Barry in the Gothic style; he took his responsibilities seriously but was more used, from his naval career, to giving and receiving orders than to the intrigues of politics

During his reign he sought to repair Anglo-American relations following the war during his father’s reign; England abolished slavery in the colonies in 1833 with the Abolition of Slavery Act; although despite his experience in the West Indies, he argued against William Wilberforce who had heavily campaigned to abolish the Slave Trade and the Reform Act was passed in 1832, which sought to remove inequalities in the electoral system, including the removal of ‘rotten boroughs’ which returned a disproportionate representation to actual voters, had a stormy passage through Parliament; it was only passed in 1832 after street protests and Lord Grey and his cabinet threatened to resign unless the king supported them against opposition from the House of Lords.

William died in 1837 aged 71 of heart failure; he had no legitimate children and was succeeded by his niece Victoria.

Queen Victoria (1837 to 1901) House of Hanover:

Queen Victoria became Queen on the 20th June 1837 and was crowned at Westminster Abbey on the 28th June 1838.

Alexandrina Victoria was the only child of Edward Duke of Kent and Victoria Saxe-Coburg; her father died when she was only 1 year old and her domineering mother kept her away from her ‘wicked’ uncles Kings George and William; she had a sheltered upbringing and came to the throne shortly after her 18th birthday in 1837 on the death of her uncle William who had no surviving legitimate children.

Due to Victoria turning 18, on the 24th May 1837, a regency was avoided and Victoria became Queen; in her diary she wrote, "I was awoke at 6 o'clock by Mamma, who told me the Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Conyngham were here and wished to see me. I got out of bed and went into my sitting-room, only in my dressing gown, and alone, and saw them. Lord Conyngham then acquainted me that my poor Uncle, the King, was no more, and had expired at 12 minutes past 2 this morning, and consequently that I am Queen."

Official documents prepared on the very first day of her reign described her as Alexandrina Victoria, but her first name was withdrawn at her own wish and never used again; since 1714, Britain had shared a monarch with Hanover in Germany, but under Salic law women were excluded from the Hanoverian succession, so while Victoria inherited all the British dominions, Hanover passed instead to her father's younger brother, her unpopular uncle the Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale, who became King Ernest Augustus I of Hanover.

At the time of her accession, the government was led by the Whig prime minister Lord Melbourne, who at once became a powerful influence on the politically inexperienced Queen, who relied on him for advice; Charles Greville supposed that the widowed and childless Melbourne was "passionately fond of her as he might be of his daughter if he had one", and Victoria probably saw him as a father figure; she inherited the revenues of the duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall and was granted a civil list of £385,000 per year; financially prudent, she paid off her father's debts and she became the first sovereign to take up residence at Buckingham Palace.

In February 1840 she married her cousin and love of her life Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha; during Victoria's first pregnancy in 1840, in the first few months of her marriage, 18 year old Edward Oxford attempted to assassinate her while she was riding in a carriage with Prince Albert on her way to visit her mother; Oxford fired twice, but both bullets missed; he was tried for high treason and found guilty, but was acquitted on the grounds of insanity.

Victoria suffered several more attempted assaults; on the 29th May 1842, she was riding in a carriage along The Mall, London, when John Francis aimed a pistol at her but did not fire and he escaped; the following day, she drove the same route, though faster and with a greater escort, in a deliberate attempt to provoke Francis in to taking a second aim and catch him in the act; as expected, Francis shot at her, but he was seized by plain clothes policemen and convicted of high treason; on the 3rd July, two days after Francis's death sentence was commuted to transportation for life, John William Bean also fired a pistol at the Queen, but it was loaded only with paper and tobacco; Oxford felt that the attempts had been encouraged by his acquittal in 1840; Bean was sentenced to 18 months in jail.

In a similar attack in 1849, unemployed Irishman William Hamilton fired a powder filled pistol at Victoria's carriage as it passed along Constitution Hill, London; in 1850, Victoria actually sustained an injury when she was assaulted by a possibly insane ex-army officer, Robert Pate; as she was riding in a carriage, Pate struck her with his cane, crushing her bonnet and bruising her face; both Hamilton and Pate were sentenced to seven years' transportation.

The British Empire was at the height of its power and she ruled over 450 million people, one quarter of the world’s population and approximately one quarter of the world’s landmass; it stretched so far around the globe from Canada to the Caribbean, Africa, India, Australia and New Zealand that it was said that the sun never set on the British Empire.

The Victorian era was a time of immense industrial, political, trade, scientific and military progress for Great Britain; in her early years she was dependent on her Prime Minister Lord Melbourne and her uncle King Leopold of Belgium for advice, she was strong willed and her relations with her prime ministers ranged from the affectionate, with Melbourne and Disraeli, to the stormy, with Peel, Palmerston and Gladstone.

Albert became her main advisor and exerted tremendous influence over the Queen and he persuaded her to take a more constitutional role in leaving the rule of the nation and Empire to him and Parliament and until his death on the 14th December 1861 was virtual ruler of the country; he was a pillar of respectability and left two legacies to England.

The first was the tradition of The Christmas Tree
The second was The Great Exhibition and it's Monies in 1851.

Victoria and Albert had four sons, five daughters and 42 grandchildren who were married to royalty across Europe making her the ‘grandmother of Europe’; her daughter Victoria was mother of the German Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II, and her grand-daughter Alexandria was the wife of Nicholas II Emperor and last Tzar of Russia.

The death of Albert from typhoid in 1861 plunged Victoria into mourning and she withdrew almost completely from public life spending her time at Balmoral Castle in Scotland and Osborne house on the Isle of Wight where she spent time with her favourite Scottish servant John Brown; this encouraged republican sentiments and she was the target of several assassination attempts; however she kept control of affairs, refusing her son Edward, Prince of Wales, who became Edward VII, any active role and India, which was the Jewel in the Crown of the British Empire gave her the title of Empress of India in 1876.

However, not all was well in the British Empire; no man in the world is so dependent upon weather as the farmer is and for the greater part of the 1870s and 1880s the Yorkshire farmer experienced not merely spells but seasons and years of bad weather; for several years in succession crop after crop was ruined; to this was added further disaster; in 1879 it rained throughout the summer, which ruined around 80% of the crops and to make matters worse there was an epidemic of sheep-rot, where millions of sheep died.

All of this was followed four years later by an equally serious outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, in which vast numbers of pigs, sheep and cattle were lost and in the winter of 1885 to 1886, snow fell from October to May and in many places Yorkshire was covered by a 2ft layer of snow; in some places the snow was so deep that it covered dry-stone walls and entombed whole flocks of sheep; some farmhouses were cut off for several weeks; the snow and subsequent cold caused crops to fail and killed many animals and people.

During her golden jubilee in 1887 and her diamond jubilee in 1897 she regained popular support and respect for her matriarchal role as Queen of the Nation and Empire; when Victoria died at Osborne House on the 22nd January 1901, after the longest reign in English history, 63 years and 7 months, the British Empire had doubled in size and British world power had reached its highest ever point; her reign was the longest of any British monarch, to date, and the longest of any female monarch in history; she was buried at Windsor.

King Edward VII (1901 to 1910) House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha:

King Edward VII became King on the 22nd January 1901 and was crowned at Westminster Abbey on the 9th August 1902; he was the eldest son of Victoria and Albert, and known to his family as ‘Bertie’; he was subjected to a strict regime from an early age, as his parents were keen to ensure he was prepared to rule; he attended both Oxford and Cambridge and briefly joined the army.

As Prince of Wales he did not meet his parent’s expectations of duty and during his mother’s long reign devoted himself to being self indulgent; he was likeable, sociable and outgoing but became known as a playboy interested in horse racing, shooting, eating, drinking and other men’s wives.

In 1863 he married Princess Alexandra of Denmark and the marriage was a reasonably happy producing 6 children; Alexandra tolerated his succession of mistresses who included Lille Lantry, an actress known as the 'Jersey Lily'; Lady Churchill, mother of Winston Churchill; Sarah Bernhardt, another actress and Alice Keppel, the great-grandmother of Camilla, the wife of Charles Windsor, the Prince of Wales.

Having mistresses was at the time not uncommon amongst the aristocracy, but his mother despaired of him and kept him away from taking an active part in politics even after Albert's death and she was elderly and retired to Balmoral and Osborne; in 1871 Edward survived a serious illness of typhoid which had killed his father; however, his eldest son Albert who was engaged to Mary of Teck died of pneumonia.

Edward was well received abroad and as heir-apparent toured India in 1875; when he finally became King on the death of his mother in 1901, he threw himself into his new role with energy and his reign restored sparkle to a monarchy that been rather gloomy since his father's death 40 years earlier.

Related to most of European royalty, he was known as the 'Uncle of Europe', he was able to assist in foreign policy negotiations and his well received addresses during a state visit to Paris helped pave the way for the Anglo-French Entente Cordiale of 1904.

Edward was also the first British monarch to visit Russia and contributed towards the the Triple Entente between Britain, Russia and France which a few years later would play an important role in affairs on the outbreak of World War I; in 1902, he founded the Order of Merit to reward those who distinguished themselves in science, art or literature; he supported Admiral Fisher’s expansion of the Royal Navy, including building the new Dreadnought battleships; he also supported the reform of the army following the Boer War.

The African conflict (1899 to 1902), known as The Boer War, was led by Paul Kruger, who amongst other things, besieged British garrisons in Africa.

This led to the government sending British Reinforcements to Africa, which in turn led to skirmishes, Boer farms being destroyed and many left homeless.

This in turn led to the setting up of Concentration Camps, with squalid conditions and near starvation for many.

The Boer War finally ended with the signing of The Treaty of Vereeniging in May 1902.

The Edwardian period was seen as a golden age for the upper class in Europe and America, but society was changing, socialism, women suffragettes, the Labour party and trade unions were becoming powerful and the founding of Britain’s Welfare State; "We are all socialists now" he is reported to have remarked.

In an increasing democratic society Edward saw the importance of displaying the mystique of pomp and circumstance of the monarchy, and seeing and being seen by the people; a role he and his successors took to well; he died of pneumonia at Buckingham Palace in 1910 and was succeeded by his second son George V.

He was a much loved king, the opposite of his dour father and this Edwardian Age was one of elegance; Edward had all the social graces and many sporting interests, including yachting, horse-racing and gambling; his own horse Minoru even won the Derby in 1909.

King George V (1910 to 1936) House of Windsor:

King George V became King on the 6th May 1910 and was crowned at Westminster Abbey on the 22nd June 1911.

George V was the second son of Edward and Alexandra; he joined the Royal Navy at 12 and served until 1892 when he became heir to the throne on the death of his elder brother Albert, Duke of Clarence, who died of pneumonia.

In 1893, he married Princess Victoria Mary of Teck, known as ‘May’ to her family, who had previously been engaged to his brother; they became Duke and Duchess of York and lived on the Sandringham Estate, in Norfolk; the marriage was a success and George unlike his father never took a mistress; they had 6 children Edward, Albert, Mary, Henry, George and John; the youngest Prince John suffered from epilepsy and died at 13.

They toured India in 1911 as Emperor and Empress of India; during World War I (1914 to 1918) he made several visits to the front, and Mary visited wounded serviceman in hospital; she was a staunch supporter of her husband during difficult times that included not only the war with Germany, but also the Russian revolution and murder of George’s cousin Princess Alix who was Tsarina Alexandra wife of Tsar Nicholas II, civil unrest including the General Strike in England, the rise of socialism, and Irish and Indian nationalism.

George V was criticised for not rescuing the Russian Royal family but at the time there was serious concern that it would incite a similar revolution in the UK; he sent a ship in 1922 to rescue the Greek Royal family including the 1 year old Prince Philip now the Duke of Edinburgh.

In 1917 with anti-German sentiment running high, he changed the family name from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, popularly known as Brunswick or Hanover, to Windsor and he relinquished all German titles and family connections.

During George's reign Amy Johnson achieved worldwide recognition when, in 1930 at 26, she became the first woman to fly solo from Britain to Australia; she left London, on the 5th May 1930 and landed in Darwin, Australia on the 24th May 1930; her 8,600 mile flight took 19.5 days; George awarded her the C.B.E. in recognition of the achievement

George V enjoyed stamp collecting and although considered dull by biographers he became by his Silver Jubilee in 1935 a much loved King; in 1932 he started the tradition of the Royal Christmas broadcast which has continued ever since; his relationship deteriorated with his eldest son Edward, later Edward VIII, when he failed to settle down and had affairs with married women, but he was fond of his second son Albert, known as “Bertie” and later as George VI, and his granddaughter Elizabeth, later Elizabeth II, whom he called ‘Lilibet’; she called him ‘Grandpa England’; George died of pleurisy in January 1936 .

King Edward VIII (1936) House of Windsor:

King Edward VIII became King on the 20th January 1936 up until the 11th December 1936 when he abdicated; he was never crowned; with a reign of 326 days, Edward was one of the shortest reigning monarchs in British and Commonwealth history.

He was the eldest son of King George V and a popular Prince and was seen as a handsome young modernising influence on royal institutions and a medallion celebrating the investiture of Edward as Prince of Wales, was minted in 1911.

He joined the Grenadier Guards in June 1914 and although Edward was willing to serve on the front lines, Secretary of State for War Lord Kitchener refused to allow it, citing the immense harm that would occur if the heir to the throne were captured by the enemy.

Despite this, Edward witnessed trench warfare first hand and attempted to visit the front line as often as he could, for which he was awarded the Military Cross in 1916; his role in the war, although limited, made him popular among veterans of the conflict; Edward undertook his first military flight in 1918 and later gained his pilot's licence.

Throughout the 1920s Edward, as Prince of Wales, represented his father at home and abroad on many occasions; he took a particular interest in visiting the poverty stricken areas of the country, and undertook 16 tours to various parts of the Empire between 1919 and 1935; during a tour of Canada in 1919, he acquired the Bedingfield ranch, near Pekisko, Alberta and in 1924, he donated the Prince of Wales Trophy to the National Hockey League.

He was known as David to his family, but his relationship with his parents deteriorated as he became a celebrity playboy who failed to settle down and had several affairs with married women.

In November 1936, only months into his reign, he caused a constitutional crisis by proposing marriage to the American socialite Wallis Simpson, who had divorced her first husband and was seeking a divorce from her second; some thought that she was pursuing the King because of his wealth and position and would be unacceptable as queen; Edward had stated that he wanted her to be crowned with him at the Coronation that was to take place the following May.

On the 16th November 1936, Edward invited Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin to Buckingham Palace and expressed his desire to marry Wallis Simpson when she became free to re-marry; Baldwin informed him that his subjects would deem the marriage morally unacceptable, largely because remarriage after divorce was opposed by the Church of England and the people would not tolerate Wallis as queen; as king, Edward held the role of Supreme Governor of the Church of England and the clergy expected him to support the Church's teachings.

Edward proposed an alternative solution of a morganatic marriage, in which he would remain king but Wallis would not become queen; She would enjoy some lesser title instead and any children they might have would not inherit the throne; this too was rejected by the British Cabinet as well as other Dominion governments, whose views were sought pursuant to the Statute of Westminster 1931, which provided in part that "any alteration in the law touching the Succession to the Throne or the Royal Style and Titles shall hereafter require the assent as well of the Parliaments of all the Dominions as of the Parliament of the United Kingdom."

The Prime Ministers of Australia, Canada and South Africa made clear their opposition to the king marrying a divorcee; the Irish prime minister expressed indifference and detachment, while the Prime Minister of New Zealand, having never even heard of Simpson before, vacillated in disbelief; faced with this opposition, Edward at first responded that there were "not many people in Australia" and their opinion did not matter.

Edward informed Baldwin that he would abdicate if he could not marry Simpson and Baldwin presented Edward with three choices, give up the idea of marriage, marry against his ministers' wishes, or abdicate; it was clear that Edward was not prepared to give up Simpson and he knew that if he married against the advice of his ministers, he would cause the government to resign, prompting a constitutional crisis; therefore, he chose to abdicate.

Edward duly signed the instruments of abdication at Fort Belvedere on the 10th December 1936 in the presence of his three surviving brothers, the Dukes of York, Gloucester and Kent; the next day, the last act of his reign was the royal assent to His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act 1936; as required by the Statute of Westminster, all the Dominions consented to the abdication, though the Irish Free State did not pass the External Relations Act, which included the abdication in its schedule, until the 12th December.

The British public were kept in the quiet and most of them knew nothing about Mrs. Simpson until on the night of the 11th December 1936, when Edward, now reverted to the title of prince, made a broadcast to the nation and the Empire, explaining his decision to abdicate; he famously said, "I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as king as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love."

His brother, Prince Albert, Duke of York, succeeded to the throne and chose the regnal name George VI; George's elder daughter, Princess Elizabeth, then became first in the line of succession, as heiress presumptive; after his abdication, Edward was created Duke of Windsor; he then married Wallis Simpson in France on the 3rd June 1937, after her second divorce became final; later that year, the couple toured Germany, but they were ostracised by his family who felt he had let them down and not done his duty.

During the Second World War (WWII), he was at first stationed with the British Military Mission to France, but due to his views of appeasement on the rise of fascism in Germany and Italy and a meeting with Adolf Hitler in 1937, it was thought that he held Nazi sympathies; therefore, he was given the role of Governor of the Bahamas and was moved to the Bahamas out of the way of the war effort.

After the war, he was never given another official appointment, but as a couple they became mild celebrities in Europe and America; they lived mostly in Paris where he died on the 28th May 1972; they had no children.

King George VI (1936 to 1952) House of Windsor:

Albert was the second son of George V and was named after his grandfather Prince Albert; as the Duke of York he had never expected or wished to succeed to the throne, but he became King George VI on the 11th december 1936, after his Brother Edvard VIII abdicated; he assumed the regnal name 'George VI' to emphasise continuity with his father and restore confidence in the monarchy; George was crowned at Westminster Abbey on the 12th May 1937.

He was a shy and nervous man with a very bad stutter, but he did not seem to lack bravery or enterprise and he had a strong sense of Duty; he fought as a young naval officer at the WWI Battle of Jutland and was the first member of the Royal Family to learn to fly; in 1923 he married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon and they had two daughters Elizabeth, known as ‘Lilibet’, who became Queen Elizabeth II and Margaret Rose ‘Princess Margaret’; fortified by the influence of his Queen, who swiftly acquired immense popularity in her own right, George VI coped with the aftermath of the abdication in a way that quickly restored confidence in the monarchy.

Three years after his accession, on the 1st September 1939, the WWII started, and the Empire and Commonwealth, except for the Irish Free State, was at war with Nazi Germany, but when the horrors of WWII descended on Britain and on London in particular, the royal couple rose superbly to the occasion.

Initially sceptical of Winston Churchill, George soon developed a close personal working relationship with him and they met regularly to discuss the progress of the War; both had to be dissuaded from landing with the troops in Normandy on D-Day! George and Elizabeth stayed at what they and their subjects saw as their posts all through the Blitz and showed love and care for their people in gestures that stilled the meanest critics; he became popular and well loved by the English people.

Buckingham Palace suffered nine direct bomb hits, one of which destroyed the palace chapel; on several of the bombings George and Elizabeth were in the Palace and narrowly escaped injury; though one person did die during a bombing, PC Steve Robertson, who was on duty at the Palace; he was killed by flying debris on the 8th March 1941 when the north side of the Palace was wrecked; a plaque inside the garden commemorates his heroism; George's daughters served in uniform and the identification of the Royal Family with the national will was complete.

For the duration of the war, in spite of the bombings, the royal couple remained at Buckingham Palace, which has 775 rooms, these include 19 State rooms, 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms, with 1,514 doors and 760 windows; the Palace also has its own chapel, post office, swimming pool, staff cafeteria, doctor's surgery and cinema.

Following the War Britain entered a time of economic austerity and the British Empire began to be replaced by the Commonwealth of Nations as former colonies including India and Pakistan became independent in 1947; George's title of Emperor of India was abandoned in June 1948, Ireland was formally declared a republic in 1949 and India followed suit the following year and George adopted the new title of Head of the Commonwealth; therefore, George was the last Emperor of India and the first Head of the Commonwealth.

The whole country flocked to the Festival of Britain held in London in the summer of 1951, 100 years after the Great Exhibition during Victoria's reign; the Festival of Britain celebrated the nation's recovery after WWII.

The most important festival site was the South Bank of the Thames at Lambeth; it was here that an area of old Victorian industrial buildings and railway sidings was transformed into the site of the South Bank exhibition; new structures were built to house exhibitions exploring Britain's landscape, the British character, British industry and science.

The structures included a new concert hall, the Royal Festival Hall, the Dome of Discovery and the astonishingly slender Skylon; the only existing building incorporated into the site was a tall brick shot tower, built in the early 19th century to make lead shot by dropping molten lead from a height; for the festival, it was used to house a large radio telescope and transmitter.

Although the Festival took pride in Britain's past, most of the exhibits looked to the future; science and technology featured strongly; in one of the pavilions, many Londoners saw their first ever television pictures.

The post-war years of his reign were ones of great social change and saw the start of the National Health Service (NHS), which came into operation at midnight on the 4th July 1948; ; it was the first time anywhere in the world that completely free healthcare was made available on the basis of citizenship rather than the payment of fees or insurance premiums; the service has been beset with problems throughout its lifetime, such as a continuing shortage of cash; but having cared for the nation for what most people would consider a lifetime, most Britons consider the NHS to have been an outstanding success.

Life in Britain in the 30s and 40s was tough; every year, thousands died of infectious diseases like pneumonia, meningitis, tuberculosis, diphtheria, and polio; infant mortality, deaths of children before their first birthday, was around one in 20 and there was little the piecemeal healthcare system of the day could do to improve matters.

Against such a background, it is difficult to overstate the impact of the introduction of the NHS; although medical science was still at a basic stage, the NHS for the first time provided decent healthcare for all, and at a stroke, transformed the lives of millions.

The war effort had been crushing and the King’s health was permanently affected, plus he had been a heavy smoker and in 1951 had to have his left lung removed; George VI was discovered dead, on the morning of the 6th February 1952, in bed at Sandringham House in Norfolk; he had died from a coronary thrombosis in his sleep at the age of 56.

Queen Elizabeth II (From 1952) House of Windsor:

Queen Elizabeth II became Queen on the 6th February 1952, which was and she was crowned at Westminster Abbey on the 2nd June 1953.

Elizabeth's full name is Elizabeth Alexandra Mary and she was born on the 21st April 1926 at 17 Bruton Street, London; she was privately educated and assumed official duties at age 16; during WWII she served in the Auxiliary Territorial Service and by an amendment to the Regency Act she became a state counsellor on her 18th birthday.

Elizabeth married Philip Mountbatten on the 20th November 1947 and they have had 4 children Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew & Prince Edward; the current heir to the throne is Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, who was born on the 14th November 1948 and was invested as Prince of Wales at Caernarvon Castle on the 1st July 1969; he married Lady Diana Spencer on the 29th July 1981 and they had 2 sons, William and Henry, who is better known as Harry.

Elizabeth succeeded to the throne while in Kenya with her husband, on the death of George VI in 1952; her reign has spanned a period of rapid and occasionally turbulent change; Britain’s position in the world, her economy and the very shape and structures of society have all been transformed and many traditional institutions have suffered in the process; through all this, the path of the Crown has been marked out by the Queen herself, in a prolonged display of unwavering devotion to Duty and quiet pragmatism, which has met a nationally felt need and has won her the respect and affection of her peoples.

As hereditary head of State for Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Head of the Commonwealth, she has symbolic and formal functions and duties but no direct powers; she is an embodiment of national identity and continuity and, with her family, performs countless formalities to mark events in the lives of individuals and communities and provides valuable patronage for innumerable charities.

Elizabeth II is now the longest reigning British monarch since Queen Victoria and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002 was celebrated with enthusiasm and displays of loyalty; debate about the future of the monarchy continues, but the Royal Family has shown itself willing to contemplate evolutionary change and the Crown of Britain has entered the second decade of the twenty first century with renewed vigour and fresh purpose.

However, the royal marriage breakdowns caused further problems for Elizabeth, starting with the widely publicised marriage break down of Charles and Diana and the subsequent divorce, and the following bitterness between them; these troubles, together with the divorces of Princess Anne and the Duke of York, were seen by some to diminish the monarchy in public esteem; the death of Diana, Princess of Wales on the 31st August 1997 in a car crash in Paris unleashed a wave of hysteria stirred up by the media and the family had to suffer relentless intrusion by the world's press into their lives.

The Prince of Wales, after suffering a period of unpopularity, has shown resilience and willingness to meet the public half way in its new mood; his long established concern for the disadvantaged sections of society and support of ‘green’ environmental issues, has enabled him to meet on common ground many who might be put off by the grandeur and pomp, and his evident devotion to his two sons Prince William and Prince Harry has won him a real measure of respect.

Initially unpopular his second wife Camilla has shown herself to be capable in her support; Prince Charles’s willingness to accept change is also reflected in the institution of the monarchy; this has altered significantly in recent times with the Queen’s decision to pay tax, changes being made to the Civil List and the opening of Buckingham Palace to the public to help fund the restoration of Windsor Castle.

To mark 60 years of Elizabeth's reign, her Diamond Jubilee celebrations centred around an extended weekend, which took place on the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th of June 2012; in order to facilitate this the late May bank holiday was moved to Monday 4 June 2012 and an additional Jubilee bank holiday took place on Tuesday the 5th June 2012; the extra bank holiday and extended bank holiday weekend also applied to Scotland.

More than 30 beacons were lit across West Yorkshire to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, they were lit to mark Queen Elizibeth II becoming the second monarch in British history to celebrate a 60 year reign; places such as Otley Chevin, Pontefract Castle and Castle Hill, Huddersfield, which is over 900 ft 275m high and was the site of an iron age hill fort, were among more than 4,000 places around the world where beacons were lit in sequence; the Victoria Tower on Castle Hill was built to commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897.

The beacon on the Chevin was lit by the Lord Mayor of Leeds and at Surprise View the ridge, overlooking Otley and Wharfedale, is 925 ft (282 m) high; Denise Jeffrey, from Wakefield Council, said she was "delighted" that Pontefract Castle was taking part having become a royal castle in 1399, although it dates back to the 11th Century.

Originally used for communication or as warnings, beacon chains have come to be used for celebrations; they were lit for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897 and again for Queen Elizabeth II's Silver and Golden Jubilees in 1977 and 2002.

A new 26ft (8m) high steel sculpture called Danum, the Roman name for Doncaster, was unveiled in a newly developed square in Doncaster; the new square was opened as part of the the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations and will eventually house Doncaster's new theatre; Danum was designed by local sculptor Michael Johnson and is meant to reflect the history of the region, from the local Iron Age tribes to the Victorian railway works.

Decimalisation Day (D-Day): D-Day was on the 15th February 1971; it was by far the most fundamental and far reaching revision of our monetary system for more than a thousand years; there had, of course, been many changes in the past but this was particularly extensive in that shapes, designs and denominations of all coins were to alter more or less simultaneously.

The Falklands War: Also known as the Falklands Conflict or Falklands Crisis, was a 74 day war in 1982 between Argentina and the UK for control over the Falkland Islands; the conflict resulted from a long standing dispute over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, which lie in the South Atlantic, east of Argentina.

The Falklands War began on Friday, the 2nd April 1982, when Argentine forces invaded and occupied the Falkland Islands and South Georgia; the British government responded by dispatching a naval task force, to engage the Argentine Navy and Air Force, and also to retake the islands by amphibious assault.

The resulting conflict lasted just 74 days and ended with the Argentine surrender on the 14th June 1982, which returned the islands back to British control; 649 Argentine military personnel, 255 British military personnel and three Falkland Islanders died during the conflict; it remains the most recent external conflict to be fought by the UK without any allied states and the only external Argentine war since the 1880s.

The conflict was the result of a protracted historical confrontation regarding the sovereignty of the islands; Argentina has asserted that the Falkland Islands are Argentinian territory since the 19th century and, as of 2012, shows no sign of relinquishing the claim; the claim was added to the Argentine constitution after its reformation in 1994, as such, the Argentine government characterised their initial invasion as the re-occupation of its own territory, whilst the British government saw it as an invasion of a British dependent territory.

However, neither state officially declared war and hostilities were almost exclusively limited to the territories under dispute and the local area of the South Atlantic; the conflict had a strong impact in both countries; patriotic sentiment ran high in Argentina, but the outcome prompted large protests against the ruling military government, which hastened its downfall.

In the UK, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's government was bolstered by the successful outcome, although its level of support fell in the 1983 general election; the war has played an important role in the culture of both countries and has been the subject of several books, films, and songs; over time, the cultural and political weight of the conflict has had less effect on the British public than on that of Argentina, where the war is still a topic of discussion; relations between the UK and Argentina were restored in 1989 under the umbrella formula which states that the islands' sovereignty dispute would remain aside.

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