History of Great Britain

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ent, known as the Cavaliers and the Roundheads. The first one supported Charles I, and the Roundheads were their principal political opponents. By the end of seventeenth century these parties had evolved into two definite political formations, the royalists and those supporting parliamentary supremacy. The Royalists were called Tories by their opponents (it was a term of abuse for the original Tories being Irish bandits), and the Tories called the Parliamentarians Whigs after a group of Scottish cattle thieves. Much later these parties became known as the Conservatives and the Liberals.

In 1689 James II landed in Ireland, where he had an army ready to hand. In July 1690 William III defeated James at the battle of Boyne. This event has been celebrated since by Orangemen, as Protestants of Northern Ireland belonging to the Orange Order call themselves. In October 1691 the Irish troops finally surrendered; as a condition of surrender William promised religious toleration for the Irish Catholics, but the promise was immediately broken by the passing of Penal Laws which deprived the Catholics of all civil and religious rights.

In Scotland the new regime faced no much opposition. The expulsion of James was welcomed, and by 1692 William IIIs sovereignty was undisputed throughout the British Isles. After William of Orange and Mary had been declared king and queen, Parliament added a number of new acts to the laws of constitution. Among them were the Triennal Act of 1694, that obliged the king to summon Parliament at least every three years, and the Septennial Act of 1715 which increased the normal term of Parliaments existence from thee to seven years.

Mary II and William III had no surviving children, and William was succeeded by Queen Anne, Marys younger sister. The major event of Queen Annes reign was the formation of the Kingdom of Great Britain. The Kingdom of Great Britain was formed in 1707 by the Act of Union between England and Scotland. London, the biggest city in Britain, with a population of about half a million, became the capital of the entire island. Great Britain from then on had a single Parliament and a single system of national administration and taxation. The units of weights and measures were unified.

Queen Anne had no surviving children. She was succeeded by her nearest Protestant relative, the elector of Hannover, who came from Germany in 1714 and was accepted as King George I of Great Britain.

The first years of George Is reign were marked by the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715 raised by followers of Queen Annes half-brother, James Edward Stuart. In 1708 James had already attempted to invade Scotland with the help of French troops, but the invasion failed. In 1715 he wasnt lucky again.


2.3. Britain in the eighteenth century


Britain under George I actually had two decades of relative peace and stability. The most significant events of that period were the internal political affairs. In fact, throughout those years a smooth transition from limited monarchy to Parliamentary government took place in Great Britain. One of the important events of that time became the appointment of Robert Walpole, a member of Whig party, the first Prime Minister in the British history.

In 1739 Britain declared war on Spain, and in 1742 parliamentary pressure forced Walpole to resign. The conflict between Britain and Spain has been known as the War of Jenkinss Ear (1739-1748). Between 1739 and 1763, Great Britain was generally at war. The War of Jenkins Ear merged with the war of the Austrian Succession of 1740-1748, in which Great Britain allied with Austria against Prussia , France, and Spain. The country being at war, the Scottish Jacobites decided to take advantage of it and made their last major attempt to recover the British throne for the Stuart dynasty in 1745. Prince Charles Edward landed in Scotland with the army of highlanders and Jacobites and captured Edinburgh, winning the battle of Prestonpans. Still, Charles failed to attract many supporters in England and had to retreat to Scotland, where he was defeated by the government army under Duke of Cumberlands command, and Charles had to flee to France. The War of the Austrian Succession ended with the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle signed in the October 1748 recognizing the Hanoverian succession in Britain.

A lot of problems remained unsolved, and eight years later they resulted in a new war of 1756-1763 between Great Britain, Prussia, and Hanover on one side and Austria, France, Spain, Saxony, Sweden and Russia on the other.

The wars of the eighteenth century were almost all followed by the acquisition of new colonies. The colonies already established were growing rapidly both in wealth and population. By the middle of the eighteenth century, the British colonies in America already had about two hundred thousand inhabitants and lay in a long line from Maine to Florida.

In 1760 George II was succeeded by his grandson, George III. The new king had a deep sense of moral duty and tried to play a direct role in governing his country, though he had to face probably the worst political problem in the whole British history. Long accustomed to a considerable degree of self-government, and freed, after 1763, from the French danger, British colonists in America resented any attempts to make them pay a share of the cost of imperial defense in the form of assorted taxes and duties. They also resented attempts to treat colonial legislatures as secondary to the government in London. American resistance led to the calling of the First Continental Congress in 1774, and in April 1775 war broke out at Lexington and concord in America. The British felt the rebellious colonists had to be brought to their senses, and king George III was firmly against giving in to them. Though British governmental authority in the 13 colonies collapsed in 1775, forces were able to occupy first Boston and later New York City and Philadelphia, but the Americans did not give up. France was brought into the war on the American side in 1778, then the Spanish and the Dutch also joined the anti-British side. In 1783 Britain had to recognize American independence in the Treaty of Paris. The 13 British colonies were recognized as independent states and were granted all British territory south of Great Lakes; Florida and Minorca were ceded to Spain, and some West Indian and African colonies to France.


2.4. Britain in the nineteenth century


The beginning of the nineteenth century was remarkable for Great Britain for its union with Ireland. In Ireland, some of the Irish united under the and began to demand independence, being affected by the French Revolution. They formed the organization known as the United Irismen. They quickly took the lead of the whole national movement, and attempted to initiate a rebellion in 1796, with the help of the French troops which were ready to land in Ireland. The landing failed, and the English government began to eliminate its enemies. In 1798 it seized a number of the Irish leaders, and placed the whole Ireland under the military law. All the Irish uprising were suppressed, and finally the rebellion and an attempt of the French invasion led to the Act of Union with Ireland of 1801. The Dublin legislature was abolished, and one hundred Irish representatives were allowed to become members of Parliament in London. So in the very beginning of the nineteenth century the United Kingdom took the political and geographical shape of the country we know today. Still, the Act of Union caused great indignation in Ireland, and another powerful insurrection took place in 1803.

In 1790s, the wars of the French Revolution merged into the Napoleonic Wars, as Napoleon Bonaparte took over the French revolutionary government, and Britain was engaged into the conflicts. Throughout the whole period of Napoleonic wars, Britain won two battles of great importance, one of them against the combined French and Spanish navy at Trafalgar, and another against the French army at Waterloo. The naval battle of Trafalgar was fought on October 21, 1805. The battle took place off Cape Trafalgar on the southern coast of Spain, where a British fleet of 27 ships under the command of admiral Nelson faced a slightly larger enemy fleet commanded by a French admiral. The goal of the French was to land the reinforcements in southern Italy, but they were intercepted by Nelson on October 21 and engaged in a battle. Finally, some 20 French and Spanish ships were destroyed or captured, while not a single British vessel was lost. The great victory is recorded in the name of Trafalgar square in London, which is dominated by the granite column supporting a large statue of Nelson, who was mortally wounded and died in the course of battle.

The final victory over Napoleon after his defeat at Waterloo in 1815 laid the foundations for a great extension of the British Empire. As one of the members of anti-Napoleonic coalition, Britain got a number of strategic key points, such as Malta, Mauritius, Ceylon, Heligoland and the Cape. Yet the first result of the peace was a severe political and economic crisis.

The British had assumed that the ending of war would open a vast market for their goods and had piled up stocks accordingly. Instead, there was an immediate fall in the demand for them because Europe was still too disturbed and too poor to take any significant quantity of British good. This post-war crisis was marked by a sudden outburst of class conflict, as a series of disturbances began with the introduction of the Corn Bill in 1815 and went on until 1816. The obje