Published on July 7th, 2015 | by Sarah Jubb
The Queen of Great Britain
Queen Anne’s rule was to be the last of the Stuart dynasty and she took the throne after a turbulent century for the monarchy. Her father, King James II, had become king in 1685 after the death of his brother, Charles II, but his Catholic beliefs caused many of the British elites to be suspicious of him. The birth of a Catholic son proved to be his downfall, as it meant his Protestant daughter would not take the crown.
A result of this was that the British elites convinced James’s son-in-law, the Protestant William of Orange, to invade England. This Glorious Revolution saw James fleeing and being replaced by William and Mary, James’s daughter, as co-monarchs. The death of William and Mary later saw the younger daughter of James being crowned as queen, thus beginning Queen Anne’s rule from 1702.
During this time the relations between England and Scotland had worsened and there were many disagreements of the succession of the crown. In particular was the attempts of the Jacobites to restore James to the throne, and though the cause had support in various areas of England, Ireland and Wales, it had strong support from Scotland. The Jacobite cause was still supported long after Anne’s death.
The Act of Union
Despite this, the two countries were finally unified in 1707 with the Act of Union that saw them brought together under a common flag and Parliament, though it allowed the Church of Scotland to remain as the established church. It also stated that Scotland would still retain its own law system but saw a monetary union created. As such, Queen Anne became the first sovereign of Great Britain.
As well as this historically important event, the development of the two party system with the Whigs and the Tories occurred under Anne’s rule. This resulted in the two parties vying for dominance and power throughout Anne’s rule, with the Tories aligning with the Anglican Church and the Whigs with the Protestant Dissenters.
The End of the Stuarts
Anne was married to Prince George of Denmark in 1683 but she suffered many miscarriages and still births, with any children she did manage to birth all dying young of illness or disease, leaving her with no heirs. She had also suffered ill health throughout her later life, even leaving her unable to walk at some points. In 1714 she finally died and was buried with her husband and children in Westminster Abbey.
Due to her lack of heirs, the crown had been intended to go to Sophia of Hanover; however she too had died only months before Anne. As such the crown passed over to George of Hanover, who had inherited the crown due to the Act of Settlement 1701. Anne’s death meant that the Stuart dynasty was over and brought in the Hanover line with George I, who is an ancestor of Queen Elizabeth II.