The Stuart family were an ancient dynasty who had ruled Scotland for over 300 years. The last Stuart ruler of only Scotland was the famous Mary, Queen of Scots, a cousin to Queen Elizabeth I. Mary's only child James united the thrones of England and Scotland when he succeeded Elizabeth in 1603.
Print showing Stuart family, Anonymous, AD 1702.
James became king of Scotland when he was a baby aged 13 months. When James was crowned in London aged 37 he switched from being King James VI of Scotland to King James I of Britain. He and his wife Anne of Denmark had seven children, and their second son Charles became the heir to the throne.
Print showing James, Anne and Charles, AD 1612-19.
Charles I had strong opinions about what a king should be allowed to do. People who opposed him said that Parliament, lead by Oliver Cromwell, should also help to run the kingdom. Civil war broke out and Charles’s royal army was eventually beaten by Cromwell’s ‘roundheads’. Charles was executed in 1649.
Page from broadsheet showing Charles I, London AD 1745.
Oliver Cromwell never ruled as a king. After the death of Charles I, Cromwell was offered the crown but refused, preferring to rule as Lord Protector. When he died his son Richard was in charge for just nine monthes before Prince Charles – the eldest son of Charles I – was invited back from exile in France.
Death mask of Oliver Cromwell, England, AD 1658-1753.
Charles II had moved to Europe when his father Charles I was executed. He lived there for nine years before retuning to England on his 30th birthday to become king. He and his wife, Catherine of Braganza, had no children though Charles had 12 children with his many girlfriends who included Nell Gwynne.
Mug showing Charles II, London, AD 1662.
James II was the brother of Charles II. When he became king he already had two daughters – Mary and Anne. Everybody though Mary would be the next Queen. When James’s second wife had a baby boy and heir, Mary and her husband William of Orange (the Netherlands) forced James to hand them the throne.
James II by Frederick de Wit, Holland, AD 1685-1706.
Despite relinquishing the throne, James continued to claim that he was the proper king. His grandson Charles, also known as Bonnie Prince Charlie, tried to invade England and regain the throne in 1745. He failed and his part of the Stuart family lived in exile until they died out.
Punch bowl showing Bonnie Prince Charlie, England, AD 1749.
Mary and her husband Prince William of Orange (the Netherlands) became joint monarchs. It was the first time that Britain had had a king and a queen at the same time. After Mary died William continued to rule as king by himself for another eight years. He had no surviving children so his sister-in-law Anne succeeded him.
Print of William and Mary by Robert White, AD 1689.
Anne married Prince George of Denmark when she was still a princess. By the time she became queen her young son William had died aged just 12. Anne was a popular quuen. During her reign Scotland and England were officially jointed together as a single kingdom so she was the last queen of Scotland.
Delftware dish showing Queen Anne, London AD 1702-15.
When Queen Anne died in 1714 the rule of the Stuarts came to an end. Anne had no surviving children (despite having had 17 pregnancies) so the throne went to the German Prince George of Hanover; Anne's second cousin. George travelled to Britain and was crowned King George I.
George I, George II & Queen Carolina, by John Simon, AD 1725.