Monarchy with David Starkey (2004–2007): Season 3, Episode 3 - Rule Britannia - full transcript

Under William and Mary and their successor, Anne, the nation transforms itself into Europe's greatest power and enjoys unprecedented financial prosperity.

DAVID STARKEY: This is a copy of
the contemporary statue of Queen Anne

placed in front ofthe splendid
new cathedral of St Paul!s

to celebrate its completion.

The Queen herself came here in 1704

to lead the national service
ofthanksgiving for Blenheim -

the great victorywon over
Louis XIV of France

by her general, John Churchill,
Duke of Marlborough.

The last monarch to come to St Paul!s
for a victory service

was Elizabeth l,

and the parallels between
the two queens were invoked

in the celebrations.

In personal terms,
the comparison was absurd.

Elizabeth was one of
the most remarkable individuals

ever to have worn a crown,

Anne was an overweight,
overwrought housewife.

But in terms ofthe power
ofAnne!s kingdom and Elizabeth!s,

the boot was on the other foot.

Elizabeth!s England had been too poor
to fight continuous war abroad,

but each year ofAnne!s reign
brought fresh victories

and another state procession
to St Paul!s

until, by 1712, her kingdom was
the greatest power of Europe.

It had acquired a new name

underwhich it would take its place
on the world stage - Great Britain.

Why did the England ofAnne succeed

where the England of Elizabeth
had finally failed?

It did so because Anne was heir to
the Glorious Revolution of 1688-!89,

which altered forever

the relationship between Crown
and Parliament.

And in the quarter-century
which followed the revolution,

England herselfwas transformed.

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14 years before Anne became queen,

her sister, Mary, and brother-in-law,
William, arrived by barge

here at Hampton Court.

It was early in February 1689

and their arrival was the culmination

of a sequence
of eraordinary events.

Less than two months earlier,
Mary and Anne!s father,

the Roman Catholic king, James ll,

had fled the country after William
had landed with an invasion force.

Parliament had welcomed
the Protestant William

and his wife, Mary, with open arms.

Just a few days before
coming to Hampton Court,

he and Mary had accepted
the crown asjoint monarchs,

although all the power
was vested in William.

Now here theywere at the palace that
Mary had last visited as a child.

Hampton Court was soon to become
their favourite house,

a place theywould make their own
with a massive building program

and many improvements.

Butjust as the Tudor palace
was to be remodelled dramatically

so too was the monarchy.

For though William and Marywore
the crown oftheir forebears

they represented a radical break
from what had gone before.

And within weeks
oftheir arrival here,

this break from tradition
became explicit

as they sought to escape from
the quasi-religious rituals

that hedged the divinity
ofthe Tudor and Stuart kings.

These centred on
the Chapel Royal here

and followed the ancient cycle
ofthe Church!s calendar -

a particularly important group

clustered round
the great feast of Easter,

which in 1689 fell on 31 March.

The first ofthese was
the ceremony of Maundy Thursday.

For centuries,
on the day before Good Friday,

the English monarch had
re-enacted the role of Christ

after the Last Supper

by bathing the feet
of some carefully chosen poor person.

William baulked at this
outlandish popish ceremony.

He flatly refused
to wash the feet ofthe poor

and limited himself instead
to giving them the traditional alms.

William objected even more strongly
to the ceremonies of Easter Sunday.

By tradition,
after solitary communion,

the monarch would lay healing hands
on a waiting crowd of invalids

suffering from an illness
known as the king!s evil,

a disfiguring strain oftuberculosis.

It was a ceremony on which Mary!s
father had been especially keen.

James ll had taken the practice
oftouching for the king!s evil

frankly back to its
medieval Catholic roots

by reintroducing
the old Latin liturgy.

For William this was to add
superstitious idolatry

to old-fashioned absurdity,

and he suspended
the practice entirely.

FfGod give you better health
and more sense,!!

He is supposed to have told
the hopeful afflicted.

William!s refusal to continue
the old rituals signalled to everyone

that here was a different
kind of king.

For his Tudor and Stuart predecessors
the monarchy had been a sacred trust

committed to them by God,

but William was no believer
in the divine nature of kingship.

To a Calvinist like him, monarchywas
a purely human institution.

What William did believe in
was predestination,

or divinely ordained destiny.

In particular,
his own God-given mission

to be the nemesis of Catholic France

and of its overweeningly aggressive
king, Louis XIV.

And it is this mission which William
is shown as achieving in this,

the ceiling painted
by Sir James Thornhill

in the Painted Hall at Greenwich.

Right in the centre ofthe painting,
William sits enthroned,

Mary to one side.

Beneath William!s feet cowers
an emblematic figure oftyranny,

a savage-looking portrait
of Louis XIV.

All around, crowns
and papal tiaras topple.

Here in swirling imagery
is William!s lifetime ambition.

To become king of England was
only a step towards this goal

of crushing France and Louis XIV
and not an end in itself.

This meant that what his predecessors
had regarded as inalienable,

God-given rights,
William saw only as bargaining chips

that he was willing, if not
necessarily happy, to negotiate away

in return for the hard cash
that was needed

to fight his war to the death
against France.

This is the Royal Naval Hospital
at Greenwich.

Established in 1692,

it celebrates William!s
first great victory over France.

William had seized the chance

to thrust his father-in-law
from the throne

principally because
he wanted English support

in the Dutch war against France.

But he soon found that such help
was far from automatic,

for the events of 1689
had changed the attitude

of both parties in the English
Parliament towards their monarch.

Since the reign of Charles ll,
kings had known where they stood.

The Tory half ofthe nation
supported royal power

whilst the Whig opposed it.

But the revolution of 1689, which
had brought William to the throne,

had muddied the waters.

For the Whigs, whilst backing
William!s invasion,

retained their traditional mistrust
of royal power.

On the other hand, the Tories,

though they remained theoretically
committed to monarchy,

in their heart of hearts

didn!t really think
that William was rightful king

and so, in practice, mistrusted him
just as much as the Whigs.

The result was that,
divided in everything else,

William!s Parliament was united

in its determination to drive
a hard bargain with their new king.

They knewthat it was only their
control over the purse strings

that would force the King
to call regular parliaments,

otherwise, as one MP put it,

ffWe should not do our duty
to them that sent us hither.!!

In personal conversations,

William freely expressed his outrage
at such apparent ingratitude.

The Commons, he seethed,
had used him like a dog.

But William could achieve
nothing without money,

so he settled down to negotiate.

First, he offered the Commons
scrutiny of public accounts

so they could see where
their moneywas going.

Then he agreed to the Triennial Act,

which ensured the summoning of
a new parliament every three years

whether the King liked it or no.

And, finally,
he yielded to Parliament

control over both raising the money
for the armed forces

and over spending it.

William had ceded powers
to Parliament

which his royal predecessors
would never have dreamt of giving up.

Parliament repaid the favour in full.

By 1694 theywere voting an
unprecedented £5 million a year

for William!s war.

And every pennywas needed,

for the warwhich William was
to declare against France

within days of his coronation
was the longest, largest,

most expensive conflict
in which England had engaged

since the Middle Ages.

The man who was to become
its leading general, Marlborough,

predicted that it would last forever.

In sober fact it was
a new Hundred Years War

whose outcome was not decided until
the Congress ofVienna in 1815.

The scale ofthe war
and the taxation that it entailed

completed the revolution of 1688-!89
and made it permanent.

And the results were literally
set in stone.

The Royal Hospital at Greenwich

is only the first
ofWilliam!s great monuments.

Grander than any royal palace,

it!s a celebration of both
England!s naval greatness

and, in its lavishly painted

the Glorious Revolution and William!s
own triumphs over France.

But perhaps the most enduring
monument to William!s war machine

is the Bank of England,

established in 1694
to manage the government debt

incurred in fighting the French war.

Its securitywas not
the King!s personal credit

but the guaranteed steady income
of parliamentary taxation.

It would prove the basis
for Britain!s future prosperity.

But William!s greatest achievement
was his ability

to make the relationship
between monarch and Parliament work

for the first time in over a century.

His pragmatism and tenacity
laid the foundation stones

of a truly modern state.

But William, with so many great gifts

had few ofthe small ones
which humanise greatness

and make it popular
or at least bearable.

He had no small talk,
he suffered fools not at all

and he hated company,

preferring instead to relax
with a handful of his intimates

here in his private dining room
at Hampton Court.

Where, surrounded with paintings
ofthe beauties ofthe court,

theywould get right royally drunk.

For all his military successes
in Europe,

William was deeply unpopular
in England.

His intimacywith favoured
household officials

fuelled rumours of homosexuality.

He built himself
a new private banqueting house

in the grounds ofthe palace,

but the friends he entertained there
were all Dutch.

And this the xenophobic English
found intolerable.

In terms of public relations, William
was heavily dependent on his queen.

Marywas tall, beautiful
and an able politician

with a natural charm
and an easy gift of popularity.

Above all, she was a Stuart.

But in 1694 Mary died, aged only 32,

of a virulent strain of smallpox

and the Stuart fig leaf
was torn from William!s throne.

Without his wife!s support

he found managing Parliament
much more difficult.

But, thanks to his usual miure of
tenacity and flexibility, he coped.

He coped too with mounting ill health

until a sudden, unexpected event
brought his life and reign to an end.

Early in the spring of 1702, William
was hunting here in Richmond Park.

When his favourite horse, Sorrel,
stumbled at a molehill

William came off and broke
his collarbone in the fall.


A chest infection set in.
Two weeks later William was dead.

His had been one of
the most significant reigns

in English history,

a time when the very meaning
of monarchy changed.

But his death was little mourned.

The Pri Council announced plans
for a monument in the Abbey,

but nobody could be bothered
to build it,

least of all his successor, Anne.

Anne was 37.

She was a Stuart, the younger
of James ll!s daughters,

and had never been considered
a beauty like her sister, Mary.

But she had a beautiful
speaking voice

and, above all, she knew how
to rise to a public occasion.

The result was that Anne!s
first speech to Parliament,

given only three days
after William!s death,

was a triumph.

She wore a magnificent crimson robe

lined with ermine
and bordered with gold.

She blushed prettily and she
proclaimed in her thrilling voice

that, ffl know my heart
to be entirely English.!!

The English, as pleased as she was
to be rid ofWilliam,

loved her for it.

And from that moment she became
and remained as popular

as William had been disliked.


Anne and William had never got on,

but her first policy decision
as queen

was one ofwhich he would
thoroughly have approved.

For four years there!d been
peace with France,

but events in Europe meant that it
now looked as ifthe Spanish crown

might fall into French hands.

That would make William!s
old enemy Louis XIV

easily the most powerful man
in Europe once more.

Just before his death,

William had reassembled a grand
alliance of nations to fight France,

but the declaration ofwar
was left to Anne.

Louis is supposed to have replied

that he must be old indeed
nowthat women made war on him.

But, oddly enough, it was the fact
that Anne was a woman

which proved his downfall.

For William, as was then customary,

had acted as his own commander.

This was a mixed blessing.

William was brave
to the point of foolhardiness

and he was indomitable,
but he was no general.

On the other hand, the man that Anne
appointed to act in her stead was.

Indeed, John Churchill,
Duke of Marlborough,

ranks with Caesar and Napoleon
as one ofTHE great generals.

A master ofthe art of manoeuvre,

Marlborough was to breakwith the
lumbering siege warfare ofthe day

and almost literally run rings
around the French,

revolutionising the art ofwar
in the process.

But it!s likely that Anne chose him

as much for his wife!s qualities
as his own.

Sarah Churchill had been a friend
ofAnne!s since theywere children.

Anne was only six
when her mother died

and had soon been separated
from her father also.

In place of parental love

she enjoyed a series of intense
friendships with otherwomen.

Much the most important and long
lasting was with Sarah Churchill.

And the testimony to it
is these countless letters

they exchanged with each other

under the levelling pseudonyms of Mrs
Freeman, Sarah, and Mrs Morley, Anne.

Back in 1692, Anne had broken
irretrievablywith William

over her refusal to part with Sarah,

to whom she pledged herself
passionately in this letter.

(READS) ffNo, my dear Mrs Freeman,

ffnever believe your faithful
Mrs Morleywill ever submit.

FfShe can wait with patience
for a sunshine day.

FfAnd if she does not live to see it,

ffshe hopes that England
will flourish again.!!

Nowwith William!s death
the sunshine day had arrived

for Anne, England
and especially for the Churchills.

Within weeks ofAnne!s accession

both John and Sarah had established
positions of unrivalled influence.

Sarah was made groom ofthe stole
and head ofthe royal bedchamber.

The office was known
from its official symbol

as the key to the monarch,

and it controlled access to
the Queen!s private apartments,

her robes and jewels
and her personal cash.

At the same time,
John was made captain general,

master general ofthe ordnance

and ambassador eraordinary
to the Dutch Republic.

Most importantly
he was nowjoint commander

ofthe Anglo-Dutch alliance
against France.

He was an immediate success.

In 1702 he freed the Dutch Republic
from the French stranglehold.

In 1704 he shattered
the French threat to Austria,

the other key member
ofthe Grand Alliance,

with the victory of Blenheim.

The French commanderwas captured
along with 13,000 of his men.

It was England!s greatest victory
since Henry V!s at Agincourt.

Marlborough scribbled the news to
Anne on the back of a tavern bill

and was rewarded with
a royal estate and palace.

Named after his great victory
at Blenheim,

every feature ofthis building
memorialises Marlborough!s triumphs.

Most graphic is the great series
of battle tapestries

which hang in the sequence
of formal drawing rooms.

Ramillies, Oudenaarde,
Malplaquet, Bouchain, Lille -

Marlborough!s army
swept across northern Europe

in one ofthe most successful
military campaigns

of British history.

But while Marlborough was performing
great feats of arms in Anne!s name

on the Continent

there remained profound tensions
in her British kingdoms,

for the issue ofthe succession
had reopened.

Back in 1689

the radical implications of
dethroning James ll had been masked

because it seemed it was likely
that the Stuart line would continue

in the persons of his daughters
and their children.

But it was not to be,

for in 1700 Anne!s last
surviving child, a son, died.

Loyalty to the House of Stuart
now meant only one thing -

the return ofthe Stuart male line,

so temptingly near,
in exile in France.

Spring 1703, England and her allies
are at warwith France

under the command of
the Duke of Marlborough.

The French have a secret weapon,
the exiled Stuart heir,

the would-be King James lll
of England and Vlll of Scotland.

And in Scotland
feelings were running high.

Would Marlborough have to break off
from his Continental campaign

in order to subdue
the rebellious northern kingdom?

In March 1703, the Scots Parliament
was opened with the customary Riding.

The mounted procession set out
from Holyrood Palace

and rode up the High Street,
past the Canongate Kirk,

towards St Giles! Cathedral
and Parliament Square.

First came the nobles in their robes.

Then the barons,
representing the shires.

And finally the town burgesses.

The Members were accompanied
by their armed retainers

and rode through a lane of citizens,
also armed,

until they arrived
at the Parliament House itself.

The carrying of arms was traditional

but on this occasion
the atmosphere was feverish

with barely suppressed real violence.

FfOur swords were in our hands,

ffat least, our hands were at our
swords,!! one leading Member recalled.

And the target ofthis
impassioned feeling was England.

For over a century, Scotland had
shared a Stuart monarch with England,

but they!d kept their own parliament
and their own national interest,

which frequently clashed
with England!s.

Tensions between England and Scotland
now reached boiling point.

The Scots had a weapon to hand -

the question ofwho
would succeed Anne.

Many in Highland Scotland
and some in England

felt allegiance toward
James Edward Francis Stuart,

the son and heir of James ll,

living in exile in France.

The French had already recognised him
as rightful king,

but the English Parliament was
determined not to have a Catholic.

So, in 1701 , they!d passed
the Act of Settlement,

which handed the succession
to Sophia of Hanover

and her eldest son, Georg.

Theywere an improbable 50th
and 51st in the line of succession,

but theywere the first
Protestants on the list.

But the English Parliament
had passed the Act of Settlement

without consulting the Scots.

It was nowthe Scots! turn to play
the English at their own game.

The Scots Parliament of 1703 did so
in the Act of Security here.

This provided that,
after Anne!s death,

the ne monarch of Scotland should
be a Protestant and ofthe royal line

but should not be the same person

as the successor
to the Crown of England.

The act was deliberately provocative.

Some saw it as an invitation
to James Stuart to convert,

others as a bid to eract commercial
concessions from the English.

But the hands ofAnne
and her English Parliament were tied.

They couldn!t afford
to tangle with Scotland

while still fighting
a warwith France.

So, having delayed for over a year,
Anne reluctantly gave her assent.

But only four days after she did so
news reached London

ofthe greatest of Marlborough!s
victories, at Blenheim.


NowAnne and her English Parliament
could respond robustly

to the Scots! provocation.

The result was the Aliens Act
passed in spring 1705.

All Scots,
except those resident in England,

were to be treated as aliens

and all the major Scots export trades
to England banned

unless by Christmas 1705
significant progress had been made

towards agreeing a union
ofthe two kingdoms.

Union had been discussed
on and off over the years,

but one country or the other had
always had a reason to resist.

But the Aliens Act hit the Scots
where it hurt -

in the pocket and in trade.

It was enough to bring them
to the table.

Each parliament now appointed
a set of commissioners

to try to thrash out
an agreement in London.

This wall is one ofthe few surviving
fragments ofthe Palace ofWhitehall.

And it was here in the building
ofwhich it once formed part

that in April 1706
the union commissioners began work.

To avoid suspicion of collusion,

the two sets of commissioners
met in separate rooms,

communicated only bywritten minutes

and strictly avoided
socialising with each other.

On 22 April,

the English room sent the following
proposal to the Scottish.

That the two kingdoms of England
and Scotland be forever

ffunited into one kingdom
by the name of Great Britain!!,

that the United Kingdom
of Great Britain

be represented by one
and the same parliament

and that the succession
to the monarchy of Great Britain

be vested in the House of Hanover.

On the 25th,
the Scottish commissioners came back

with a counterproposal.

Theywould accept union
and the Hanoverian succession

but on condition of freedom oftrade

not onlywithin the United Kingdom
but also with the plantations.

The English replied promptly

that they regarded such
a mutual freedom oftrade

as a necessary consequence
of a full and entire union.

This was the key concession.

The plantations, or colonies,
largely in North America,

were the great English success story
ofthe last hundred years.

By Anne!s reign indeed,
America seemed a separate realm

and appears symbolically as such
below her statue outside St Paul!s.

Access to this trading empire
was very desirable,

and up till nowthe English
had kept it to themselves.

It had taken only three days to work
out the bones of an agreement,

for both sides had got
what theywanted.

The English wanted a Scotland
unshakably onside

during the warwith France,

whilst the Scots,

whose own attempt to establish
a colony in Central America

had failed catastrophically,

wanted free access
to the English plantations

as a way out oftheir own
desperate national poverty.

But the agreed articles of union
had still to be ratified

by the Parliament in London
and in Edinburgh,

where theywere being asked to sign
their own death warrant.

Within the Scots Parliament

the promise of free trade
with the colonies

helped along with
a generous dollop of bribery

had begun to create
a majority for union.

But outside in the streets

there was widespread
and often violent hostility

and at times it seemed an open
question which side would win.

However, on 16 January 1707,

after three months of
clause by clause debate,

the Scots Parliament voted
decisively, by 110 to 67,

for union and its own einction.


The bells of St Giles!
are said to have rung out

with the tune fWhy Am l So Sad
On This My Wedding Day?!

And across Scotland
few celebrated the union.

There was unrest in Edinburgh
and riots in Glasgow,

which were caused both by patriotism

and a fear that England would still
keep Scotland a poor relation.

But, as the transformation
of 18th-century Scotland would show,

the Scots benefited hugely from union
and access to the colonies.

From a small ifthriving town,
Glasgow grew rapidly

into one ofthe great commercial
cities ofthe British Empire.

In London the union was marked
by a day of grand celebration,

and for Anne yet another great
ceremonial visit to St Paul!s.

Not since Elizabeth l
had a monarch so understood

the value of public royal spectacle
or been so loved by her people.

So, on 1 May 1707,

Anne came to the great cathedral
accompanied by 400 coaches

and wearing the combined
orders ofthe English Garter

and the Scottish Thistle.

It was, she told
her cheering subjects,

the day that would prove
the true happiness of her reign -

the day that England
and Scotland became

the United Kingdom of Great Britain.

But for all the public achievement,

in private Anne found happiness
increasingly elusive.

After decades of intimacy, her close
friendship with Sarah Churchill,

Duchess of Marlborough,
was beginning to cool.

The private squabble
had a political origin.

Sarah had campaigned vigorously
against the leading Tories

whom she accused of being secret
supporters ofthe exiled Stuarts.

But Anne, keen to preserve
her freedom of action

between the competing
political parties,

had refused to remove the Tories

and resented Sarah!s bullying
attempts to make her do so.

The result was that Sarah!s company

became increasingly disagreeable
to the Queen,

who transferred her affections
instead to Sarah!s cousin

Abigail Masham,
a lowly bedchamberwoman.

Sarah, outraged in turn,

accused the Queen in barely
concealed terms of lesbianism.

She showed Anne a ballad

ridiculing Abigail!s position
in Anne!s household.

FfHer secretary she was not

ffBecause she could not write

ffBut had the conduct and the care

ffOf some dark deeds at night.!!

True or not,
it was an appalling insult.

For two months,
the two women did not speak.

Then theywere forced
to share a coach

on the way to St Paul!s for yet
another service of celebration.

En route, the two women had
a terrible quarrel

because Anne,
who hated cumbrous clothing,

had refused to wear
the rich and heajewels

which Sarah, as groom ofthe stole,
had put out for her to wear.

As they stepped out ofthe coach,
Sarah hissed,

ffBe quiet,!! to the Queen

lest, she claimed,
others overheard their quarrel.

Anne never forgave
the insult to majesty

and it was all over between them.

This rupture in Anne!s
personal relationships

had serious consequences.

Sarah!s loss of favour at court

cast a dark shadow
over Marlborough!s own position

as commander ofthe Allied forces.

And it came at a critical time,

for Anne along with much ofthe
nation was becoming sick ofthe war,

the deaths
and the spiralling taxation.

The turning point was Marlborough!s
Battle of Malplaquet,

the first time the war
had been fought on French soil.

It was an English victory of sorts,

but the casualties were enormous -
8,000 British dead -

and the French, faced with
the invasion oftheir own soil,

dug their heels in
to fight a patriotic war.

Marlborough!s reaction was to demand
the captain generalship for life,

like Oliver Cromwell.

Anne!s was to exclaim, ffWhen
will this bloodshed ever cease?!!

And to decide that
Marlborough must go.

He was dismissed in December 1711

and his Whig supporters in government
replaced by a Tory ministry

that was determined to negotiate
a unilateral peace with France.

Negotiations were opened and,
after nine years ofwarfare,

agreement quickly reached.

To Britain!s allies,
including the Elector of Hanover,

this was a gross betrayal.

Peace with France was formally agreed
at Utrecht in 1713

and celebrated with another grand
thanksgiving service in St Paul!s.

And there was much to celebrate

since the peace marked Britain!s
eclipse ofthe two powers

which only half a century before
had overshadowed her.

Britain was now more powerful
militarily than France

and more commercially successful
than the Netherlands.

A time for celebration indeed,

but the poor health which prevented
Anne from attending a thanksgiving

didn!t go unnoticed

and London was soon fizzing
with speculation

about the succession to the throne.

This statue ofAnne was erected
within a year of peace with France.

Soon after, Anne, still aged only 49,
fell dangerously ill.

She!d been the most popular monarch
since Elizabeth l,

a queen whose reign had seen England
become the greatest power in Europe

and who had brought England and
Scotland together as Great Britain.

But as she lay dying all anyone cared
about was who would succeed her.

Finally, on 1 August 1714,
fGood Queen Anne! died in this room

in Kensington Palace.

The two principal claimants
to her crown

were both several hundred miles
from London -

Georg Ludwig in Hanover,
and James Stuart in France,

under the protection of Louis XIV.

If he!d made a dash for it,

James could have given the Hanoverian
a run for his money,

but, for all that he was only 28,
James lll did not do dashing.

But neither did Georg.

Instead, correctly confident in the
machinery ofthe Act of Settlement,

he Anglicised his name to George

and spent six long weeks making
a stately progress towards England.

He landed at Greenwich
on 18 September at 6pm.

Then, accompanied by his eldest son,
George Augustus,

and a great crowd of nobles,
gentry and commonfolk,

he walked through
the great colonnades and courtyards

ofthe Royal Naval Hospital
to the Queen!s House

here in the park, where he spent
his first night in England.

Whilst George and his German advisers
prepared for his coronation,

James Stuart lingered on in France.

It would be up to his supporters
to go it alone without him.

In the late summer of 1715,

the Earl of Mar raised the Stuart
standard at Braemar in the Highlands

and rallied the clans
to the Stuart cause.

The newly formed Jacobite army
began to march across Scotland,

soon taking Perth but coming to
a halt before the small British force

garrisoning the key stronghold
of Stirling.

They finally confronted each other
at Sheriffmuir,

just a few miles from the fortress.

The battle was long and bloody
and strangely inconclusive.

At the end of it,
no-one was really sure who!d won.

But in France it was represented as
a great victory for the Jacobites,

and James finally set sail
for Scotland.

At first it was a triumphal progress.

The magistrates ofAberdeen
paid him homage,

he made a state entry into Dundee

and then he came here
to Scone Palace.

He even issued a proclamation

announcing the date
of his forthcoming coronation

as King James Vlll and lll
here on Moot Hill

in the grounds of Scone Palace,

the ancient coronation site
ofthe king of Scots.

But, after this good start,
things quickly began to crumble.

For James, with his shy,
cold public manner,

was unable to keep the loyalty
of his existing followers

let alone recruit new ones.

Fflf he was disappointed with us,!!
one of his soldiers wrote,

ffwe were tenfold more so in him.!!

James!s dream was fading fast.

His soldiers were beginning
to desert him

and, worst of all, his great ally
and patron, Louis XIV, had died.

There would be no more money
or men coming from France.

On 30 January, as the government
forces marched towards them

through the winter snow,

James!s retinue moved from Scone
back to Perth.

The following morning
they abandoned the city,

marching, horses and men,
across the frozen River Tay

on theirway back to the coast
at Montrose.

On the night of 4 February 1716,

James secretly set sail for France,

escaping the warships
which had been sent to intercept him

and abandoning his army
to their fate.

He never saw Britain again.

Through his dithering,
his failure to inspire his men

and his refusal
to give up his Catholicism,

James had thrown away
the Stuarts! best chance

to regain the British throne.

30 years later,

his grandson Charles, known to
history as fBonnie Prince Charlie!,

would give it another, bolder go -

a venture that came to a bitter end
on the battlefield of Culloden.

No Stuart would ever again
wear the crown,

norwould any British king revert to
that Stuart vision of monarchy

as absolute and divinely inspired.

Among disaffected Scots,

the Stuart cause would slip
into the realm of romance,

a realm in which tragic failure
constituted much of its allure.

The propaganda dispersed
on behalf ofthe Hanoverian regime

was altogether
more robustly confident.

The arrival of George l
is commemorated here in Greenwich

just a few paces
from where he actually landed.

But that!s the only realistic thing
about the painting,

which shows George arriving
in a triumphal chariot

led by the symbolic figure
of Libertywith her cap.

It!s painted in shades of grey
to imitate a Roman sculpture relief,

and St George!s slain dragon
is being trampled underfoot.

The reality had been
very different, however,

as the painter, James Thornhill,
who was present as an eyewitness

and shows himself here as such,
well knew.

It was night, George!s dress was
wholly inadequate to the occasion

and most ofthe receiving nobles
were Tory,

which is the wrong political party.

Hence, Thornhill explains,
his decision to go instead

for high-flown allegory.

But the sober reality
had been right, of course,

George was a modest man and would
preside over a modest monarchy.

Parliament had brought him
to the throne

and Protestantism
would keep him there.

The Crown which George had inherited
had been utterly transformed

under his immediate predecessors.

The reigns ofWilliam and Mary

and Queen Anne
are little remembered today,

but they are amongst the most
significant in English history.

In a single generation,
Britain had freed herself

from political
and religious absolutism

and, in so doing, had freed herself

for the most rapid expansion
of any European power since Rome.


At the root ofthis success
was the Glorious Revolution.

The religious settlement
and union with Scotland

meant that energies which
had been devoted to civil war

could turn outward to European war
and overseas expansion.

The new financial system
provided money not only forwar

but also to generate
economic growth at home.

Whilst economic growth made for a
society that was richer, more diverse

and, above all, vastly more curious
intellectually than ever before.

It was a virtuous circle.

In just 25 years,
England and her monarchy

had discovered their own route
to modernity

and had become Great Britain
along the way.