History Files

Please help the History Files

Contributed: 175

Target: 400

Totals slider

The History Files still needs your help. As a non-profit site, it is only able to support such a vast and ever-growing collection of information with your help, and this year your help is needed more than ever. Please make a donation so that we can continue to provide highly detailed historical research on a fully secure site. Your help really is appreciated.

Gaelic British Isles & Ireland

Kingdoms of Caledonia


Early Modern Scotland (United Kingdom Westminster Government)
AD 1707 - 1837

Today's nation of Scotland was forged in the ninth century following the union of Dal Riada and the Picts, plus the later addition of Strathclyde. The House of Alpin formed the first dynasty, with Malcolm Canmore's House of Atholl subsequent supplying more than two centuries of relative stability. Crisis in 1286 saw the House of Balliol dominated by Edward I of England, the 'Hammer of the Scots'.

Robert II, the first Stewart king, oversaw a return to stability after a century of strife. This dynasty bore the name of Robert's ancestor, a former high steward of the palace under David I of the twelfth century House of Atholl. The title of steward became the family name of Stewart (a common medieval occurrence and the source of a great many modern surnames). On his mother's side, Robert II was directly descended from King David via Robert the Bruce, giving legitimacy to his claim to the throne.

Scotland under the Stewarts had continued to be a troublesome kingdom to govern. With the accession in 1603 to the English throne of King James VI of Scotland, a Scots king sat on the throne in London. However, although the crowns of England and Scotland were held by the same king, it was in the form of a personal union. This distinction became somewhat indistinct during the Commonwealth period, but the two crowns were anyway generally moving ever closer together in terms of their politics. The formal union of the crowns of England and Scotland was enacted in 1707, establishing in fact the union which had existed in name since 1603 (albeit with the countries having their own parliaments and laws).

The idea of a formal union had been recommended by William III, but it took a while to get that idea through the official process of agreement and drawing up legislation. It was only during the reign of Queen Anne that it was finally ratified. Primarily, perhaps, it was seen as a method of preventing the possibility of Scotland going its own way, especially as within a few years the Scottish parliament would refuse to endorse the Hanoverian succession.

The joint kingdoms remained governed from a single Parliament at Westminster in London. In the year following union, 1708, an attempted invasion of Scotland by James Francis Stuart - the 'Old Pretender' - at the Firth of Forth was defeated at sea. This was only the start of Jacobite attempts to regain their 'lost' throne, though. The Jacobite pretenders to the English and Scottish thrones are shown below with a shaded background.

Hadrian's Wall

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from History of the Rebellion of 1745-6, Robert Chambers (W & R Chambers, 1869), from The Jacobites: Britain and Europe, 1688-1788, Daniel Szechi (Manchester University Press, 1994), from The Royal House of Stuart: The Descendants of King James VI of Scotland (James I of England), Arthur C Addington (Charles Skilton, 1969-76), from The Lion & the Lilies: The Stuarts and France, Eileen Cassavetti (Macdonald & Jane's, 1977), from A New History of Scotland Vol 1 - From the Earliest Times to 1603, William Croft Dickinson, from Scottish Kings, Gordon Donaldson, from Scotland - The Making of the Kingdom Vol 1, A A M Duncan, and from External Link: Royal Stuart Society.)

1702 - 1714


Stuart queen of Great Britain.

1707 - 1766

James VIII (III) Francis 'Old Pretender'

Son of James II. Prince of Wales. Involved in 1716 rebellion.

1714 - 1727

George I

Elector of Hanover. Great-grandson of James I Stuart.

1715 - 1716

Having lost a vote in 1713 to repeal the union with England, the Jacobites rise in the First Jacobite Rebellion in support of James Edward Francis Stuart, the 'Old Pretender'.

Hanoverian King George I
Following the Welsh-descended Tudors and the Scots-descended Stuarts, the German Hanoverians created links with continental Europe which would survive until the First World War forced them to be broken off

Seeking to overthrow George I, they want to replace him with James III. A force of about ten thousand is assembled, mostly made up of Highlanders, and this marches southwards after some delays which allow the crown time to assemble a response.

Reinforcements of two thousand men are defeated at the Battle of Preston on 15 November 1715, and the main force fights the duke of Argyll's smaller force of 3,500 at Sheriffmuir on 13 November. The outcome is indecisive but this, along with the defeat at Preston, is enough to herald the rebellion's collapse.

1727 - 1760

George II

Son. Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg. Died aged 77.

1745 - 1746

Bonnie Prince Charlie lands at Eriskay in the Hebrides, Scotland, to lay claim to the British throne. Fighting in his still-living father's name, he raises his standard at Glenfinnan, Scotland on 19 August, igniting the Second Jacobite Rebellion.

On 21 September, his Jacobite forces defeat English forces at the Battle of Prestonpans, but in December the future Landgrave Frederick II of Hessen-Kassel lands on the Scottish coast with six thousand troops to support his father-in-law, George II.

The following year, in 1746, in the last battle fought on British soil, the Jacobites are routed by the duke of Cumberland at Culloden. The Jacobite cause effective dies (along with well over a thousand Highlanders), but Charles Edward's claim is passed on, first through his brother, Henry, in 1788, and then the Savoyard kings of Sardinia from 1807.

The Battle of Culloden
The Battle of Culloden saw the destruction of the clans in Scotland at the hands of Britain's modern army


Britain switches from the outdated Julian calendar to the Gregorian one, 'losing' twelve days in the process and moving the start of the year from 25 March to 1 January (except for the tax office, which refuses to budge, up to and including the present day).

1760 - 1820

George III

Son of Frederick. The 'Mad' King.


The first Tory and first Scottish-born MP to hold office in Parliament, the earl of Bute's eleven month term of office ends the Seven Years' War against France. Unpopular because he is a Scot at a time in which the Jacobite Rebellion is still fresh in people's minds, he resigns after a spate of verbal and physical attacks upon his person.

1766 - 1788

Charles III Edward 'Young Pretender'

Son of James Francis Stuart. Also 'Bonnie Prince Charlie'.

1788 - 1807

Henry I (IX) Benedict Cardinal Stuart

Son of James Francis Stuart. Last Jacobite claimant.


With the death of the unmarried Henry, the Jacobite claim for the English and Scottish thrones (or at least the Scottish throne) effectively dies. Although his successors have a technical claim, none of them attempt to enforce it.

Next in line to take up the claim is the Savoyard King Charles Emanuel IV of Sardinia, a descendant of Charles I of England and Scotland through Henrietta Anne, the latter king's youngest daughter. Henrietta Anne's daughter, Anne Marie of Orleans, had married King Victor Amadeus II of Sardinia.

Roman Turin
The Savoyard capital of Turin would briefly become the capital of a newly reunited Italy in 1861, until succeeded by Florence in 1864

1807 - 1819

Charles IV

Charles Emanuel IV of Savoy & Sardinia (1796-1802).

1819 - 1824


Victor Emanuel I of Savoy & Sardinia (1802-1821).

1820 - 1830

George IV

Son of George III. Prince Regent (1810-1820).

1824 - 1840

Mary III (II)

Daughter of Victor Emanuel. Maria Beatrice of Savoy.

1830 - 1837

William IV

Brother. Childless. Last Hanoverian king.


In extremely ill health, William's wish is that he survives for long enough that his chosen successor, the seventeen year-old Victoria, should reach the age of eighteen so that her manipulative and incompetent mother will have no power over her or the throne.

Railway accident 1830
The 1830s saw astonishing advances, although the remarkable inaugural day of running on the Manchester to Liverpool railway line was marred by a dreadful tragedy (click or tap on image to read more on a separate page)

Victoria is the daughter of Edward, duke of Kent, a younger brother William's who had died within a couple of years of her birth. William succeeds in his wish, with the result that Victoria is able to succeed as the first monarch of the soon-to-be Saxe-Coburg-Gotha dynasty which governs England, Scotland, and Wales, plus its other domains and territories.

Images and text copyright © all contributors mentioned on this page. An original king list page for the History Files.