Kingdom of Great Britain

Kingdom of Great Britain

Overview
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign state in northwest Europe
North-West Europe
North-West Europe is a term that refers to a northern area of Western Europe, although the exact area or countries it comprises varies.-Geographic definition:...

, in existence from 1707 to 1801. It came into being on 1 May 1707, with the political union
Political union
A political union is a type of state which is composed of or created out of smaller states. Unlike a personal union, the individual states share a common government and the union is recognized internationally as a single political entity...

 of the kingdom of Scotland
Kingdom of Scotland
The Kingdom of Scotland was a Sovereign state in North-West Europe that existed from 843 until 1707. It occupied the northern third of the island of Great Britain and shared a land border to the south with the Kingdom of England...

 and the kingdom of England
Kingdom of England
The Kingdom of England was, from 927 to 1707, a sovereign state to the northwest of continental Europe. At its height, the Kingdom of England spanned the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and several smaller outlying islands; what today comprises the legal jurisdiction of England...

 (which included Wales
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

).
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Encyclopedia
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign state in northwest Europe
North-West Europe
North-West Europe is a term that refers to a northern area of Western Europe, although the exact area or countries it comprises varies.-Geographic definition:...

, in existence from 1707 to 1801. It came into being on 1 May 1707, with the political union
Political union
A political union is a type of state which is composed of or created out of smaller states. Unlike a personal union, the individual states share a common government and the union is recognized internationally as a single political entity...

 of the kingdom of Scotland
Kingdom of Scotland
The Kingdom of Scotland was a Sovereign state in North-West Europe that existed from 843 until 1707. It occupied the northern third of the island of Great Britain and shared a land border to the south with the Kingdom of England...

 and the kingdom of England
Kingdom of England
The Kingdom of England was, from 927 to 1707, a sovereign state to the northwest of continental Europe. At its height, the Kingdom of England spanned the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and several smaller outlying islands; what today comprises the legal jurisdiction of England...

 (which included Wales
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

). With the 1706 Treaty of Union
Treaty of Union
The Treaty of Union is the name given to the agreement that led to the creation of the united kingdom of Great Britain, the political union of the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland, which took effect on 1 May 1707...

 (ratified by the Acts of Union 1707
Acts of Union 1707
The Acts of Union were two Parliamentary Acts - the Union with Scotland Act passed in 1706 by the Parliament of England, and the Union with England Act passed in 1707 by the Parliament of Scotland - which put into effect the terms of the Treaty of Union that had been agreed on 22 July 1706,...

), it was agreed to create a single, united kingdom, encompassing the whole of the island of Great Britain and its minor outlying islands, excluding Ireland, which remained a separate realm under the newly created British crown. A single parliament
Parliament of Great Britain
The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in 1707 following the ratification of the Acts of Union by both the Parliament of England and Parliament of Scotland...

 and government, based at Westminster
Palace of Westminster
The Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament or Westminster Palace, is the meeting place of the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom—the House of Lords and the House of Commons...

, controlled the new kingdom. The former kingdoms had already shared the same monarch since James VI, King of Scots
James I of England
James VI and I was King of Scots as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the English and Scottish crowns on 24 March 1603...

 became King of England in 1603 following the death of Queen Elizabeth I
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

, bringing about a "Union of the Crowns
Union of the Crowns
The Union of the Crowns was the accession of James VI, King of Scots, to the throne of England, and the consequential unification of Scotland and England under one monarch. The Union of Crowns followed the death of James' unmarried and childless first cousin twice removed, Queen Elizabeth I of...

".

The new kingdom of Great Britain was superseded by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

 on 1 January 1801, when Great Britain was united with the Kingdom of Ireland
Kingdom of Ireland
The Kingdom of Ireland refers to the country of Ireland in the period between the proclamation of Henry VIII as King of Ireland by the Crown of Ireland Act 1542 and the Act of Union in 1800. It replaced the Lordship of Ireland, which had been created in 1171...

 by the Acts of Union of 1800 following the suppression of the Irish Rebellion of 1798
Irish Rebellion of 1798
The Irish Rebellion of 1798 , also known as the United Irishmen Rebellion , was an uprising in 1798, lasting several months, against British rule in Ireland...

. Most of Ireland left the union in 1922, leading to another re-naming of the state in 1927, as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

. The later British states, albeit with territorial changes, are considered direct continuations of Great Britain rather than successor states.

Name


The Treaty of Union
Treaty of Union
The Treaty of Union is the name given to the agreement that led to the creation of the united kingdom of Great Britain, the political union of the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland, which took effect on 1 May 1707...

 and the subsequent Acts of Union themselves state explicitly that England and Scotland were to be "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain". They also refer to the new state as "One Kingdom", the "United Kingdom of Great Britain" and the "United Kingdom". The websites of the UK parliament
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories, located in London...

, the Scottish Parliament
Scottish Parliament
The Scottish Parliament is the devolved national, unicameral legislature of Scotland, located in the Holyrood area of the capital, Edinburgh. The Parliament, informally referred to as "Holyrood", is a democratically elected body comprising 129 members known as Members of the Scottish Parliament...

, the BBC, and others including the Historical Association
Historical Association
The Historical Association is an organisation founded in 1906 and based in London, England. The goals of the Historical Association are to support "the study and enjoyment of history at all levels by creating an environment that promotes lifelong learning and provides for the evolving needs of...

 refer to the state created on 1 May 1707, as the "United Kingdom of Great Britain". However, the state created by the union of England and Scotland in 1707 is usually referred to as the kingdom of Great Britain.

The term united kingdom is found in informal use during the 18th century to describe the newly combined nation of England and Scotland, but only officially became part of the name of the state with the Acts of Union of 1800, when it was specified as the name of the state after being united with the Kingdom of Ireland
Kingdom of Ireland
The Kingdom of Ireland refers to the country of Ireland in the period between the proclamation of Henry VIII as King of Ireland by the Crown of Ireland Act 1542 and the Act of Union in 1800. It replaced the Lordship of Ireland, which had been created in 1171...

. The Historical Association stated in The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

in 2006 that "The United Kingdom did not come into being until 1800, with the Act of Union with Ireland," although an article on its website now refers to The Creation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. In 1927 the departure of Southern Ireland from the United Kingdom five years before was recognised by the style of the British sovereign
Style of the British Sovereign
The precise style of British Sovereigns has varied over the years. style is officially proclaimed in two languages:* in English: * in Latin: -Highness, Grace and Majesty:From about the 12th century onwards, English Sovereigns used the style "Highness"...

 being changed, removing from it the term "United Kingdom". This was not reinstated until 1953.

Political structure


The kingdoms of England and Scotland, both in existence from the 9th century, were separate states until the Acts of Union came into effect in 1707. However, they had come into personal union
Personal union
A personal union is the combination by which two or more different states have the same monarch while their boundaries, their laws and their interests remain distinct. It should not be confused with a federation which is internationally considered a single state...

 in 1603, when James VI of Scotland succeeded his cousin Elizabeth I
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

 as King of England (under the name of James I
James I of England
James VI and I was King of Scots as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the English and Scottish crowns on 24 March 1603...

). This Union of the Crowns
Union of the Crowns
The Union of the Crowns was the accession of James VI, King of Scots, to the throne of England, and the consequential unification of Scotland and England under one monarch. The Union of Crowns followed the death of James' unmarried and childless first cousin twice removed, Queen Elizabeth I of...

 under the House of Stuart
House of Stuart
The House of Stuart is a European royal house. Founded by Robert II of Scotland, the Stewarts first became monarchs of the Kingdom of Scotland during the late 14th century, and subsequently held the position of the Kings of Great Britain and Ireland...

 meant that the whole of the island of Great Britain was now ruled by a single monarch, who by virtue of the English crown also ruled over the Kingdom of Ireland
Kingdom of Ireland
The Kingdom of Ireland refers to the country of Ireland in the period between the proclamation of Henry VIII as King of Ireland by the Crown of Ireland Act 1542 and the Act of Union in 1800. It replaced the Lordship of Ireland, which had been created in 1171...

. Each of the kingdoms maintained its own parliament and laws (although there was a brief attempted union during the Interregnum
English Interregnum
The English Interregnum was the period of parliamentary and military rule by the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell under the Commonwealth of England after the English Civil War...

 in the mid-17th century).

This disposition changed dramatically when the Acts of Union 1707
Acts of Union 1707
The Acts of Union were two Parliamentary Acts - the Union with Scotland Act passed in 1706 by the Parliament of England, and the Union with England Act passed in 1707 by the Parliament of Scotland - which put into effect the terms of the Treaty of Union that had been agreed on 22 July 1706,...

 came into force, with a single unified Crown of Great Britain and a single unified parliament. (However, Ireland remained formally separate until the Acts of Union 1801.) The succession
Succession to the British Throne
Succession to the British throne is governed both by common law and statute. Under common law the crown is currently passed on by male-preference primogeniture. In other words, succession passes first to an individual's sons, in order of birth, and subsequently to daughters, again in order of birth....

 to the British throne (and that of Ireland) was now determined by the English Act of Settlement
Act of Settlement 1701
The Act of Settlement is an act of the Parliament of England that was passed in 1701 to settle the succession to the English throne on the Electress Sophia of Hanover and her Protestant heirs. The act was later extended to Scotland, as a result of the Treaty of Union , enacted in the Acts of Union...

; Scotland's Act of Security
Act of Security 1704
The Act of Security 1704 was a response by the Parliament of Scotland to the Parliament of England's Act of Settlement 1701. Queen Anne's last surviving child, William, Duke of Gloucester had died in 1700, and both parliaments needed to find a Protestant successor...

, a source of contention with England, thus ceased to have effect. The Act of Settlement required that the heir to the English throne be a Protestant descendant of the Electress Sophia of Hanover; this brought about the Hanoverian succession
House of Hanover
The House of Hanover is a deposed German royal dynasty which has ruled the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg , the Kingdom of Hanover, the Kingdom of Great Britain, the Kingdom of Ireland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland...

 only a few years after the Union.

Legislative power was vested in the Parliament of Great Britain
Parliament of Great Britain
The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in 1707 following the ratification of the Acts of Union by both the Parliament of England and Parliament of Scotland...

, which formally replaced both the Parliament of England
Parliament of England
The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England. In 1066, William of Normandy introduced a feudal system, by which he sought the advice of a council of tenants-in-chief and ecclesiastics before making laws...

 and the Parliament of Scotland
Parliament of Scotland
The Parliament of Scotland, officially the Estates of Parliament, was the legislature of the Kingdom of Scotland. The unicameral parliament of Scotland is first found on record during the early 13th century, with the first meeting for which a primary source survives at...

. However, the new body was in practice a continuation of the English parliament, sitting at the same location in Westminster, albeit expanded to include representation from Scotland.

As with the former Parliament of England and the modern-day Parliament of the United Kingdom
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories, located in London...

, the Parliament of Great Britain was formally constituted of three elements: the House of Commons
House of Commons of Great Britain
The House of Commons of Great Britain was the lower house of the Parliament of Great Britain between 1707 and 1801. In 1707, as a result of the Acts of Union of that year, it replaced the House of Commons of England and the third estate of the Parliament of Scotland, as one of the most significant...

, the House of Lords
House of Lords
The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster....

, and the Crown
The Crown
The Crown is a corporation sole that in the Commonwealth realms and any provincial or state sub-divisions thereof represents the legal embodiment of governance, whether executive, legislative, or judicial...

. The right of the English peerage
Peerage of England
The Peerage of England comprises all peerages created in the Kingdom of England before the Act of Union in 1707. In that year, the Peerages of England and Scotland were replaced by one Peerage of Great Britain....

 to sit in the House of Lords remained unchanged, while the disproportionately large Scottish peerage
Peerage of Scotland
The Peerage of Scotland is the division of the British Peerage for those peers created in the Kingdom of Scotland before 1707. With that year's Act of Union, the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England were combined into the Kingdom of Great Britain, and a new Peerage of Great Britain was...

 was only permitted to send sixteen representative peer
Representative peer
In the United Kingdom, representative peers were those peers elected by the members of the Peerage of Scotland and the Peerage of Ireland to sit in the British House of Lords...

s, elected from amongst their number for the life of each parliament. Similarly, the members of the former English House of Commons continued as members of the British House of Commons, but (as a reflection of the relative tax bases of the two countries) the number of Scottish representatives was reduced to forty-five compared to their previous numbers at the Scottish parliament. Newly created peers in the Peerage of Great Britain
Peerage of Great Britain
The Peerage of Great Britain comprises all extant peerages created in the Kingdom of Great Britain after the Act of Union 1707 but before the Act of Union 1800...

 were also given an automatic right to sit in the Lords.

Despite the end of a separate parliament for Scotland, however, the country retained its own laws and system of courts after the Union.

Relationship with Ireland


As a result of Poynings' Law of 1495, the Parliament of Ireland
Parliament of Ireland
The Parliament of Ireland was a legislature that existed in Dublin from 1297 until 1800. In its early mediaeval period during the Lordship of Ireland it consisted of either two or three chambers: the House of Commons, elected by a very restricted suffrage, the House of Lords in which the lords...

 was subordinate to the authority of the Parliament of England
Parliament of England
The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England. In 1066, William of Normandy introduced a feudal system, by which he sought the advice of a council of tenants-in-chief and ecclesiastics before making laws...

, and after 1707 to the Parliament of Great Britain. In addition, the British parliament's Dependency of Ireland on Great Britain Act 1719
Dependency of Ireland on Great Britain Act 1719
The Dependency of Ireland on Great Britain Act 1719 was an Act of Parliament of the Parliament of Great Britain passed in 1719 ....

 noted that the Irish House of Lords
Irish House of Lords
The Irish House of Lords was the upper house of the Parliament of Ireland that existed from mediaeval times until 1800. It was abolished along with the Irish House of Commons by the Act of Union.-Function:...

 had recently "assumed to themselves a Power and Jurisdiction to examine, correct and amend" judgements of the Irish courts and declared that as the Kingdom of Ireland
Kingdom of Ireland
The Kingdom of Ireland refers to the country of Ireland in the period between the proclamation of Henry VIII as King of Ireland by the Crown of Ireland Act 1542 and the Act of Union in 1800. It replaced the Lordship of Ireland, which had been created in 1171...

 was subordinate to and dependent upon the British crown, the King
George I of Great Britain
George I was King of Great Britain and Ireland from 1 August 1714 until his death, and ruler of the Duchy and Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg in the Holy Roman Empire from 1698....

, through the Parliament of Great Britain, had "full power and authority to make laws and statutes of sufficient validity to bind the Kingdom and people of Ireland". The Act was repealed by the Repeal of Act for Securing Dependence of Ireland Act 1782
Repeal of Act for Securing Dependence of Ireland Act 1782
The Repeal of Act for Securing Dependence of Ireland Act 1782 was an Act of Parliament of the Parliament of Great Britain passed on 17 April 1782. As suggested by the title, it served to repeal the entirety of the Dependency of Ireland on Great Britain Act 1719. It was itself repealed by the...

. The same year, the Irish constitution of 1782
Constitution of 1782
The Constitution of 1782 is a collective term given to a series of legal changes which freed the Parliament of Ireland, a Medieval parliament consisting of the Irish House of Commons and the Irish House of Lords, of legal restrictions that had been imposed by successive Norman, English, and later,...

 produced a period of legislative freedom. However, the Irish Rebellion of 1798
Irish Rebellion of 1798
The Irish Rebellion of 1798 , also known as the United Irishmen Rebellion , was an uprising in 1798, lasting several months, against British rule in Ireland...

 undermined that freedom and was one of the factors which led to the Union between the kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland in 1801.

Great Britain in the 18th century



The 18th century saw England, and after 1707 Great Britain, rise to become the world's dominant colonial power, with France becoming its main rival on the imperial stage.

Integration


The deeper political integration of Britain was a key policy of Queen Anne
Anne of Great Britain
Anne ascended the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland on 8 March 1702. On 1 May 1707, under the Act of Union, two of her realms, England and Scotland, were united as a single sovereign state, the Kingdom of Great Britain.Anne's Catholic father, James II and VII, was deposed during the...

, the last Stuart monarch of England and Scotland and the first monarch of Great Britain. Under the aegis of the Queen and her advisors a Treaty of Union
Treaty of Union
The Treaty of Union is the name given to the agreement that led to the creation of the united kingdom of Great Britain, the political union of the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland, which took effect on 1 May 1707...

 was drawn up and negotiations between England and Scotland began in earnest in 1706. The Acts of Union received royal assent
Royal Assent
The granting of royal assent refers to the method by which any constitutional monarch formally approves and promulgates an act of his or her nation's parliament, thus making it a law...

 in 1707, uniting the separate Parliaments and crowns of England and Scotland and forming the Kingdom of Great Britain. Anne became formally the first occupant of the unified British throne and in line with Article 22 of the Treaty of Union
Treaty of Union
The Treaty of Union is the name given to the agreement that led to the creation of the united kingdom of Great Britain, the political union of the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland, which took effect on 1 May 1707...

, Scotland sent 45 Members to the new House of Commons of Great Britain
House of Commons of Great Britain
The House of Commons of Great Britain was the lower house of the Parliament of Great Britain between 1707 and 1801. In 1707, as a result of the Acts of Union of that year, it replaced the House of Commons of England and the third estate of the Parliament of Scotland, as one of the most significant...

.

Empire


The death of Charles II of Spain
Charles II of Spain
Charles II was the last Habsburg King of Spain and the ruler of large parts of Italy, the Spanish territories in the Southern Low Countries, and Spain's overseas Empire, stretching from the Americas to the Spanish East Indies...

 on 1 November 1700 and his bequeathal of Spain and its colonial empire to Philip of Anjou
Philip V of Spain
Philip V was King of Spain from 15 November 1700 to 15 January 1724, when he abdicated in favor of his son Louis, and from 6 September 1724, when he assumed the throne again upon his son's death, to his death.Before his reign, Philip occupied an exalted place in the royal family of France as a...

, a grandson of the King of France, had raised the prospect of the unification of France, Spain and their colonies, an unacceptable possibility for the other powers of Europe. In 1701, England, Portugal and the Netherlands sided with the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

 against Spain and France in the War of the Spanish Succession
War of the Spanish Succession
The War of the Spanish Succession was fought among several European powers, including a divided Spain, over the possible unification of the Kingdoms of Spain and France under one Bourbon monarch. As France and Spain were among the most powerful states of Europe, such a unification would have...

. The conflict, continued by the new state of Great Britain, lasted until 1714, with France and Spain proving the losers. At the concluding Treaty of Utrecht
Treaty of Utrecht
The Treaty of Utrecht, which established the Peace of Utrecht, comprises a series of individual peace treaties, rather than a single document, signed by the belligerents in the War of Spanish Succession, in the Dutch city of Utrecht in March and April 1713...

, Philip renounced his and his descendents' right to the French throne. Spain lost its empire in Europe, and although it kept its empire in the Americas and the Philippines, it was irreversibly weakened as a great power. The new British Empire, based upon what until 1707 had been the English colonies
English colonial empire
The English colonial empire consisted of a variety of overseas territories colonized, conquered, or otherwise acquired by the former Kingdom of England between the late 16th and early 18th centuries....

, was territorially enlarged: from France, Britain gained Newfoundland and Acadia
Acadia
Acadia was the name given to lands in a portion of the French colonial empire of New France, in northeastern North America that included parts of eastern Quebec, the Maritime provinces, and modern-day Maine. At the end of the 16th century, France claimed territory stretching as far south as...

, and from Spain, Gibraltar
Gibraltar
Gibraltar is a British overseas territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance of the Mediterranean. A peninsula with an area of , it has a northern border with Andalusia, Spain. The Rock of Gibraltar is the major landmark of the region...

 and Minorca
Minorca
Min Orca or Menorca is one of the Balearic Islands located in the Mediterranean Sea belonging to Spain. It takes its name from being smaller than the nearby island of Majorca....

. Gibraltar, which is still a British overseas territory to this day, became a critical naval base and allowed Britain to control the Atlantic entry and exit point to the Mediterranean.

The Seven Years' War
Seven Years' War
The Seven Years' War was a global military war between 1756 and 1763, involving most of the great powers of the time and affecting Europe, North America, Central America, the West African coast, India, and the Philippines...

, which began in 1756, was the first war waged on a global scale and saw British involvement
Great Britain in the Seven Years War
The Kingdom of Great Britain was one of the major participants in the Seven Years' War which lasted between 1756 and 1763. Britain emerged from the war as the world's leading colonial power having gained a number of new territories at the Treaty of Paris in 1763 and established itself as the...

 in Europe, India, North America, the Caribbean, the Philippines and coastal Africa. The signing of the Treaty of Paris of 1763
Treaty of Paris (1763)
The Treaty of Paris, often called the Peace of Paris, or the Treaty of 1763, was signed on 10 February 1763, by the kingdoms of Great Britain, France and Spain, with Portugal in agreement. It ended the French and Indian War/Seven Years' War...

 had important consequences for Britain and its empire. In North America, France's future as a colonial power there was effectively ended with the ceding of New France
New France
New France was the area colonized by France in North America during a period beginning with the exploration of the Saint Lawrence River by Jacques Cartier in 1534 and ending with the cession of New France to Spain and Great Britain in 1763...

 to Britain, leaving a sizeable French-speaking population under British control, and Louisiana
Louisiana (New France)
Louisiana or French Louisiana was an administrative district of New France. Under French control from 1682–1763 and 1800–03, the area was named in honor of Louis XIV, by French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle...

 to Spain. Spain ceded Florida to Britain. In India, the Carnatic War had left France still in control of its enclaves
French India
French India is a general name for the former French possessions in India These included Pondichéry , Karikal and Yanaon on the Coromandel Coast, Mahé on the Malabar Coast, and Chandannagar in Bengal...

 but with military restrictions and an obligation to support British client states, effectively leaving the future of India to Britain. The British victory over France in the Seven Years War therefore left Britain as the world's dominant colonial power.

Mercantilism


Mercantilism
Mercantilism
Mercantilism is the economic doctrine in which government control of foreign trade is of paramount importance for ensuring the prosperity and security of the state. In particular, it demands a positive balance of trade. Mercantilism dominated Western European economic policy and discourse from...

 was the basic policy imposed by Britain on its colonies. Mercantilism meant that the government and the merchants became partners with the goal of increasing political power and private wealth, to the exclusion of other empires. The government protected its merchants—and kept others out—by trade barriers, regulations, and subsidies to domestic industries in order to maximise exports from and minimise imports to the realm. The government had to fight smuggling—which became a favourite American technique in the 18th century to circumvent the restrictions on trading with the French, Spanish or Dutch. The goal of mercantilism was to run trade surpluses, so that gold and silver would pour into London. The government took its share through duties and taxes, with the remainder going to merchants in Britain. The government spent much of its revenue on a superb Royal Navy, which not only protected the British colonies but threatened the colonies of the other empires, and sometimes seized them. Thus the Royal Navy captured New Amsterdam
New Amsterdam
New Amsterdam was a 17th-century Dutch colonial settlement that served as the capital of New Netherland. It later became New York City....

 (later New York) in 1664. The colonies were captive markets for British industry, and the goal was to enrich the mother country.

American Revolution


During the 1760s and 1770s, relations between the Thirteen Colonies
Thirteen Colonies
The Thirteen Colonies were English and later British colonies established on the Atlantic coast of North America between 1607 and 1733. They declared their independence in the American Revolution and formed the United States of America...

 and Britain became increasingly strained, primarily because of resentment of the British Parliament's ability to tax American colonists without their consent. Disagreement turned into violence, and in 1775, the American War of Independence began. The following year, the colonists declared the independence of the United States
United States Declaration of Independence
The Declaration of Independence was a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies then at war with Great Britain regarded themselves as independent states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. John Adams put forth a...

 and with economic and naval assistance from France, would go on to win the war in 1783.

Second British Empire


The loss of the United States, at the time Britain's most populous colonies, marks the transition between the "first" and "second" empires, in which Britain shifted its attention away from the Americas to Asia, the Pacific and later Africa. Adam Smith
Adam Smith
Adam Smith was a Scottish social philosopher and a pioneer of political economy. One of the key figures of the Scottish Enlightenment, Smith is the author of The Theory of Moral Sentiments and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations...

's Wealth of Nations, published in 1776, had argued that colonies were redundant, and that free trade
Free trade
Under a free trade policy, prices emerge from supply and demand, and are the sole determinant of resource allocation. 'Free' trade differs from other forms of trade policy where the allocation of goods and services among trading countries are determined by price strategies that may differ from...

 should replace the old mercantilist policies that had characterised the first period of colonial expansion, dating back to the protectionism of Spain and Portugal. The growth of trade between the newly independent United States and Britain after 1783 confirmed Smith's view that political control was not necessary for economic success.

India


During its first century of operation, the focus of the East India Company
East India Company
The East India Company was an early English joint-stock company that was formed initially for pursuing trade with the East Indies, but that ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent and China...

 had been trade, not the building of an empire in India. Company interests turned from trade to territory during the 18th century as the Mughal Empire declined in power and the East India Company struggled with its French counterpart, the French East India Company
French East India Company
The French East India Company was a commercial enterprise, founded in 1664 to compete with the British and Dutch East India companies in colonial India....

 (Compagnie française des Indes orientales) during the Carnatic Wars
Carnatic Wars
The Carnatic Wars were a series of military conflicts in the middle of the 18th century on the Indian subcontinent...

 of the 1740s and 1750s. The Battle of Plassey
Battle of Plassey
The Battle of Plassey , 23 June 1757, was a decisive British East India Company victory over the Nawab of Bengal and his French allies, establishing Company rule in South Asia which expanded over much of the Indies for the next hundred years...

, which saw the British, led by Robert Clive, defeat the French and their Indian allies, left the Company in control of Bengal
Bengal Presidency
The Bengal Presidency originally comprising east and west Bengal, was a colonial region of the British Empire in South-Asia and beyond it. It comprised areas which are now within Bangladesh, and the present day Indian States of West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Meghalaya, Orissa and Tripura.Penang and...

 and a major military and political power in India. In the following decades it gradually increased the extent of the territories under its control, ruling either directly or indirectly via local puppet rulers under the threat of force by its Presidency armies
Presidency armies
The presidency armies were the armies of the three presidencies of the East India Company's rule in India, later the forces of the British Crown in India...

, much of which were composed of native Indian sepoys.

Australia


In 1770, James Cook
James Cook
Captain James Cook, FRS, RN was a British explorer, navigator and cartographer who ultimately rose to the rank of captain in the Royal Navy...

 had discovered the eastern coast of Australia whilst on a scientific voyage
First voyage of James Cook
The first voyage of James Cook was a combined Royal Navy and Royal Society expedition to the south Pacific ocean aboard HMS Endeavour, from 1768 to 1771...

 to the South Pacific. In 1778, Joseph Banks
Joseph Banks
Sir Joseph Banks, 1st Baronet, GCB, PRS was an English naturalist, botanist and patron of the natural sciences. He took part in Captain James Cook's first great voyage . Banks is credited with the introduction to the Western world of eucalyptus, acacia, mimosa and the genus named after him,...

, Cook's botanist on the voyage, presented evidence to the government on the suitability of Botany Bay
Botany Bay
Botany Bay is a bay in Sydney, New South Wales, a few kilometres south of the Sydney central business district. The Cooks River and the Georges River are the two major tributaries that flow into the bay...

 for the establishment of a penal settlement, and in 1787 the first shipment of convicts
Convictism in Australia
During the late 18th and 19th centuries, large numbers of convicts were transported to the various Australian penal colonies by the British government. One of the primary reasons for the British settlement of Australia was the establishment of a penal colony to alleviate pressure on their...

 set sail, arriving in 1788.

Wars with France


At the threshold to the 19th century, Britain was challenged again by France under Napoleon, in a struggle that, unlike previous wars, represented a contest of ideologies between the two nations. It was not only Britain's position on the world stage that was threatened: Napoleon threatened invasion of Britain itself, and with it, a fate similar to the countries of continental Europe that his armies had overrun. The Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

 were therefore ones that Britain invested large amounts of capital and resources to win. French ports were blockaded by the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

.

The French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

 revived religious and political problems in the Kingdom of Ireland
Kingdom of Ireland
The Kingdom of Ireland refers to the country of Ireland in the period between the proclamation of Henry VIII as King of Ireland by the Crown of Ireland Act 1542 and the Act of Union in 1800. It replaced the Lordship of Ireland, which had been created in 1171...

, under the rule of the King of Great Britain. In 1798, Irish nationalists launched the Irish Rebellion of 1798
Irish Rebellion of 1798
The Irish Rebellion of 1798 , also known as the United Irishmen Rebellion , was an uprising in 1798, lasting several months, against British rule in Ireland...

, believing that the French would help them to overthrow the British. William Pitt the Younger
William Pitt the Younger
William Pitt the Younger was a British politician of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He became the youngest Prime Minister in 1783 at the age of 24 . He left office in 1801, but was Prime Minister again from 1804 until his death in 1806...

, the British prime minister, firmly believed that the only solution to the problem was a union of Great Britain and Ireland. Following the defeat of the rebellion which had had some assistance from France, he advanced this policy. The union was established by the Act of Union 1800
Act of Union 1800
The Acts of Union 1800 describe two complementary Acts, namely:* the Union with Ireland Act 1800 , an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain, and...

; compensation and patronage ensured the support of the Irish Parliament
Parliament of Ireland
The Parliament of Ireland was a legislature that existed in Dublin from 1297 until 1800. In its early mediaeval period during the Lordship of Ireland it consisted of either two or three chambers: the House of Commons, elected by a very restricted suffrage, the House of Lords in which the lords...

. Great Britain and Ireland were formally united into a single realm, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

, on 1 January 1801.

Monarchs


  • Anne
    Anne of Great Britain
    Anne ascended the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland on 8 March 1702. On 1 May 1707, under the Act of Union, two of her realms, England and Scotland, were united as a single sovereign state, the Kingdom of Great Britain.Anne's Catholic father, James II and VII, was deposed during the...

     (1707–1714), previously Queen of England
    Queen regnant
    A queen regnant is a female monarch who reigns in her own right, in contrast to a queen consort, who is the wife of a reigning king. An empress regnant is a female monarch who reigns in her own right over an empire....

    , Queen of Scots, and Queen of Ireland since 1702.
  • George I
    George I of Great Britain
    George I was King of Great Britain and Ireland from 1 August 1714 until his death, and ruler of the Duchy and Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg in the Holy Roman Empire from 1698....

     (1714–1727)
  • George II
    George II of Great Britain
    George II was King of Great Britain and Ireland, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and Archtreasurer and Prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire from 11 June 1727 until his death.George was the last British monarch born outside Great Britain. He was born and brought up in Northern Germany...

     (1727–1760)
  • George III
    George III of the United Kingdom
    George III was King of Great Britain and King of Ireland from 25 October 1760 until the union of these two countries on 1 January 1801, after which he was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death...

     (1760–1801), continued as King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death in 1820.

Parliament of Great Britain




The Parliament of Great Britain consisted of the House of Lords
House of Lords
The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster....

, an unelected upper house of the Lords Spiritual
Lords Spiritual
The Lords Spiritual of the United Kingdom, also called Spiritual Peers, are the 26 bishops of the established Church of England who serve in the House of Lords along with the Lords Temporal. The Church of Scotland, which is Presbyterian, is not represented by spiritual peers...

 and Temporal, and the House of Commons of Great Britain
House of Commons of Great Britain
The House of Commons of Great Britain was the lower house of the Parliament of Great Britain between 1707 and 1801. In 1707, as a result of the Acts of Union of that year, it replaced the House of Commons of England and the third estate of the Parliament of Scotland, as one of the most significant...

, the lower chamber, which was elected periodically. In England and Wales
England and Wales
England and Wales is a jurisdiction within the United Kingdom. It consists of England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom...

 the parliamentary constituencies remained unchanged throughout the existence of the Parliament.

During the 18th century, the British Constitution developed significantly.

Peerage of Great Britain



As a result of the Union of 1707, no new peerage
Peerage
The Peerage is a legal system of largely hereditary titles in the United Kingdom, which constitute the ranks of British nobility and is part of the British honours system...

s were created in the Peerage of England
Peerage of England
The Peerage of England comprises all peerages created in the Kingdom of England before the Act of Union in 1707. In that year, the Peerages of England and Scotland were replaced by one Peerage of Great Britain....

 or the Peerage of Scotland
Peerage of Scotland
The Peerage of Scotland is the division of the British Peerage for those peers created in the Kingdom of Scotland before 1707. With that year's Act of Union, the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England were combined into the Kingdom of Great Britain, and a new Peerage of Great Britain was...

. English peerages continued to carry the right to a seat in the House of Lords at Westminster
Westminster
Westminster is an area of central London, within the City of Westminster, England. It lies on the north bank of the River Thames, southwest of the City of London and southwest of Charing Cross...

, while the Scottish peers elected representative peers from among their own number to sit in the Lords. Peerages continued to be created by the Crown
The Crown
The Crown is a corporation sole that in the Commonwealth realms and any provincial or state sub-divisions thereof represents the legal embodiment of governance, whether executive, legislative, or judicial...

, either in the new Peerage of Great Britain
Peerage of Great Britain
The Peerage of Great Britain comprises all extant peerages created in the Kingdom of Great Britain after the Act of Union 1707 but before the Act of Union 1800...

, which was that of the new kingdom and meant a seat in its House of Lords, or in the Peerage of Ireland
Peerage of Ireland
The Peerage of Ireland is the term used for those titles of nobility created by the English and later British monarchs of Ireland in their capacity as Lord or King of Ireland. The creation of such titles came to an end in the 19th century. The ranks of the Irish peerage are Duke, Marquess, Earl,...

, but an Irish peerage gave the holder a seat only in the Irish House of Lords
Irish House of Lords
The Irish House of Lords was the upper house of the Parliament of Ireland that existed from mediaeval times until 1800. It was abolished along with the Irish House of Commons by the Act of Union.-Function:...

.

See also

  • Great Britain in the Seven Years War
    Great Britain in the Seven Years War
    The Kingdom of Great Britain was one of the major participants in the Seven Years' War which lasted between 1756 and 1763. Britain emerged from the war as the world's leading colonial power having gained a number of new territories at the Treaty of Paris in 1763 and established itself as the...

  • Timeline of British history (1700–1799)
  • 1st Parliament of Great Britain
    1st Parliament of Great Britain
    The first Parliament of the Kingdom of Great Britain was established in 1707, after the merger of the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland. No fresh elections were held in England, and the existing members of the House of Commons of England sat as members of the new House of Commons of...

  • 2nd Parliament of Great Britain
    2nd Parliament of Great Britain
    The 2nd Parliament of Great Britain was the first to actually be elected, as the 1st Parliament of Great Britain was drawn from the former Parliament of England and Parliament of Scotland....

  • List of Acts of the Parliament of Great Britain
  • List of Parliaments of Great Britain
  • Early Modern Britain
    Early Modern Britain
    Early modern Britain is the history of the island of Great Britain, roughly corresponding to the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. Major historical events in Early Modern British history include the English Renaissance, the English Reformation and Scottish Reformation, the English Civil War, the...

  • Georgian era
    Georgian era
    The Georgian era is a period of British history which takes its name from, and is normally defined as spanning the reigns of, the first four Hanoverian kings of Great Britain : George I, George II, George III and George IV...

  • Jacobitism
    Jacobitism
    Jacobitism was the political movement in Britain dedicated to the restoration of the Stuart kings to the thrones of England, Scotland, later the Kingdom of Great Britain, and the Kingdom of Ireland...


Further reading

  • Black, Jeremy. Crisis of Empire: Britain and America in the Eighteenth Century (2010) excerpt and text search
  • Black, Jeremy. Culture in Eighteenth-Century England: A Subject for Taste (2007)
  • Colley, Linda. Britons: Forging the Nation 1707–1837 (2nd ed. 2009) excerpt and text search
  • Hilton, Boyd. A Mad, Bad, and Dangerous People?: England 1783–1846 (New Oxford History of England) (2008) excerpt and text search
  • Langford, Paul. A Polite and Commercial People: England 1727–1783 (New Oxford History of England) (1994) excerpt and text search
  • Porter, Roy. English Society in the Eighteenth Century (2nd ed. 1990) excerpt and text search
  • Watson, J. Steven. The Reign of George III, 1760–1815 (Oxford History of England) (1960)
  • Williams, Basil. The Whig Supremacy 1714–1760 (1939) online edition

External links




Preceded by:
Kingdom of England
Kingdom of England
The Kingdom of England was, from 927 to 1707, a sovereign state to the northwest of continental Europe. At its height, the Kingdom of England spanned the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and several smaller outlying islands; what today comprises the legal jurisdiction of England...


c. 927–30 April 1707
Kingdom of Scotland
Kingdom of Scotland
The Kingdom of Scotland was a Sovereign state in North-West Europe that existed from 843 until 1707. It occupied the northern third of the island of Great Britain and shared a land border to the south with the Kingdom of England...


c. 843–30 April 1707
Kingdom of Great Britain
1 May 1707 – 31 December 1800
Succeeded by:
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....


1 January 1801 – 6 December 1922