When the Scots ruled England —- Peashooter’s short guide to the Stuart Kings.
When one typically thinks of Scottish and English relations throughout history one usually thinks of the English being dominant over Scotland. After all anyone who has watched the movie Braveheart can tell you how Edward I conquered Scotland and kept the country under a brutal tyrannical English rule. But did you know that four Kings of England were Scottish?
In 1542 King James V of Scotland died passing the Scottish throne to his daughter Mary. From thence on Mary became known as “The Queen of Scots”. After marrying Dauphin of France and becoming a widower, Mary returned to Scotland to continue her reign as Queen. She married a Scottish nobleman named Henry Stuart, Lord of Darnay. Together they had a son named James.
While Mary was Queen of Scotland she was also niece to King Henry VIII and thus had a claim for the English throne. Her cousin, Elizabeth Tudor, also claimed the throne. In the end Elizabeth would become Queen of England and later had Mary beheaded.
In the meantime Mary’s son James was raised in Stirling Castle to become a proper Scottish king. He was crowned King of Scotland (James VI) in 1567 while he was only 13 months old. Meanwhile Queen Elizabeth I of England had a prosperous and glorious reign… until she died without an heir in 1603. That left the English throne to King James VI of Scotland, who also became known as King James I of England.
King James I (pictured upper left)
- Reigned 19 June 1566 – 27 March 1625
- Ruled over England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales
- Sponsored an English translation of the Bible, now known as the King James Version.
- Wrote several books on philosophy and government.
- Brought a wave of witch hunts to England.
King Charles I (pictured upper right)
- Reigned 27 March 1625 – 30 January 1649
- Son of James I
- Clashed with Parliament over his authority in government.
- Tried to force the entire realm to worship Protestant Anglicanism. This Angered Puritans, Presbyterians, and Catholics
- Conflicts with Parliament and the Puritans led to the English Civil War. His supporters were called the Royalists a.k.a “Cavaliers”. The rebels were called the Parliamentarians a.k.a “Roundheads”
- Under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell the Parliamentarians defeated the Royalists. Charles I was beheaded on January 30th, 1649.
From 1649 until 1658 England was ruled by Oliver Cromwell, a military dictator with the title of “Lord Protector”. In the meantime Charles I’s son Charles II lived in exile in France and the Netherlands. When Cromwell died in 1658 the Parliamentarian government collapsed. Charles II returned to England and became king during a period known as “The Restoration”.
King Charles II (pictured lower left)
- Reigned 29 May 1630 – 6 February 1685
- Re-established the Church of England and the monarchy.
- Supported Catholicism and made reforms favorable to Catholics.
- Supported religious freedom.
- Made war with the Dutch… a lot.
- Died of a stroke in 1685.
King James II (pictured lower right corner)
- Son of Charles II reigned 6 February 1685 –
11 December 1688.
- Declared religious freedom.
- Devout Catholic
- Was very friendly to Catholics allowing them to take high offices, something which had been illegal for generations.
- Received a representative from the Pope, the first since Henry VIII. By then many in England feared James II would force the country to become Catholic.
- Was ousted from power in a bloodless coup called the “Glorious Revolution” in 1688. William of Orange from the Netherlands was invited to become King of England in his place on the condition that he had limited powers.
King James II would be the last Stuart King of England. He tried to regain his throne in the coming years but was unsuccessful. He died in 1701. Over the next five decades the Stuarts would live in exile in France. In a series of wars called The Jacobite Rebellions the Stuarts would attempt to regain the throne. The last occurred in 1745 in Scotland and resulted in an overwhelming British victory at Culloden. The Stuarts never again attempted to regain the throne.