Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Anne Stuart Acceeds to the Throne

Anne Stuart became Queen of England on March 8, 1702; the day on which William III passed.  She reigned only five years, and the issue of her succession was a concern before she gained power.  Walter Scott describes the climate surrounding her accession to the crown in his "Tales of a Grandfather":

‘…These statesmen called themselves the Country Party, as embracing exclusively for their object the interests of Scotland alone. This party, formed upon a plan and principle of political conduct hitherto unknown in the Scottish Parliament, was numerous, bold, active, and eloquent; and as a critical period had arrived in which the measures to be taken in Scotland must necessarily greatly affect the united empire, her claims could no longer be treated with indifference or neglect, and the voice of her patriots disregarded. The conjuncture which gave Scotland new consequence, as as follows: when Queen Anne was named to succeed to the English throne, on the death of her sister Mary, and brother-in-law William III, she had a family. But the young Duke of Gloucester, the last of her children, had died before her accession to the crown, and there were no hopes of her having more; it became, therefore, necessary to make provision for the succession to the crown when the new Queen should die. The titular Prince of Wales, son of the abdicated James, was undoubtedly the next heir; but he was a Catholic, bred up in the court of France, inheriting all the extravagant claims, and probably the arbitrary sentiments, of his father; and to call him to the throne, would be in all likelihood to undo the settlement between king and people which had taken place at the Revolution. The English legislature, therefore, turned their eyes to another descendant of King James VI, namely, Sophia, the Electress Dowager of Hanover, grand-daughter of James the First of England and Sixth of Scotland, by the marriage of his daughter, Elizabeth, with the Prince Palatine. This Princess was the nearest Protestant heir in blood to Queen Anne, supposing the claims of the son of James II were to be passed over. She was a Protestant, and would necessarily, by accepting the crown, become bound to maintain the civil and religions rights of the nation, as settled at the Revolution, upon which her own right would be dependent. For these weighty reasons the English Parliament passed an Act of Succession, settling the crown, on the failure of Queen Anne and her issue, upon the Princess Sophia, Electress Dowager of Hanover, and her descendants. This act, most important in its purport and consequences, was passed in June, 1700…’

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