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Hertfordshire

Saxe-Coburg


The name Saxe-Coburg-Gotha came to the British Royal Family in 1840 with the marriage of Queen Victoria to Prince Albert, son of Ernst, Duke of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha. Queen Victoria herself remained a member of the House of Hanover.

The only British monarch of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was King Edward VII, who reigned for nine years at the beginning of the modern age in the early years of the 20th century. King George V replaced the German-sounding title with that of Windsor during the First World War. The name Saxe-Coburg-Gotha survived in other European monarchies, including the current Belgian Royal Family and the former monarchies of Portugal and Bulgaria.


The following is a very brief outline of the main royal houses of England:

Royal Houses  Saxon Rulers  Norman Rulers  Angevin Rulers  Plantagenet Rulers  Lancaster Rulers  York Rulers  Tudor Rulers Stuart Rulers Commonwealth & Protectorate  Hanover Rulers  Saxe-Coburg Rulers  Windsor Rulers

Saxon


In the Dark Ages during the fifth and sixth centuries, communities of peoples in Britain inhabited homelands with ill-defined borders. Such communities were organised and led by chieftains or kings. Following the final withdrawal of the Roman legions from the provinces of Britannia in around 408 AD these small kingdoms were left to preserve their own order and to deal with invaders and waves of migrant peoples such as the Picts from beyond Hadrian's Wall, the Scots from Ireland and Germanic tribes from the continent. (King Arthur, a larger-than-life figure, has often been cited as a leader of one or more of these kingdoms during this period, although his name now tends to be used as a symbol of British resistance against invasion.) The invading communities overwhelmed or adapted existing kingdoms and created new ones - for example, the Angles in Mercia and Northumbria. Some British kingdoms initially survived the onslaught, such as Strathclyde, which was wedged in the north between Pictland and the new Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria.

By 650 AD, the British Isles were a patchwork of many kingdoms founded from native or immigrant communities and led by powerful chieftains or kings. In their personal feuds and struggles between communities for control and supremacy, a small number of kingdoms became dominant: Bernicia and Deira (which merged to form Northumbria in 651 AD), Lindsey, East Anglia, Mercia, Wessex and Kent. Until the late seventh century, a series of warrior-kings in turn established their own personal authority over other kings, usually won by force or through alliances and often cemented by dynastic marriages.

According to the later chronicler Bede, the most famous of these kings was Ethelberht, king of Kent (reigned c.560-616), who married Bertha, the Christian daughter of the king of Paris, and who became the first English king to be converted to Christianity (St Augustine's mission from the Pope to Britain in 597 during Ethelberht's reign prompted thousands of such conversions). Ethelberht's law code was the first to be written in any Germanic language and included 90 laws. His influence extended both north and south of the river Humber: his nephew became king of the East Saxons and his daughter married king Edwin of Northumbria (died 633).

In the eighth century, smaller kingdoms in the British Isles continued to fall to more powerful kingdoms, which claimed rights over whole areas and established temporary primacies: Dalriada in Scotland, Munster and Ulster in Ireland. In England, Mercia and later Wessex came to dominate, giving rise to the start of the monarchy. Throughout the Anglo-Saxon period the succession was frequently contested, by both the Anglo-Saxon aristocracy and leaders of the settling Scandinavian communities. The Scandinavian influence was to prove strong in the early years. It was the threat of invading Vikings which galvanised English leaders into unifying their forces, and, centuries later, the Normans who successfully invaded in 1066 were themselves the descendants of Scandinavian 'Northmen'.




































1698 Thomas Savery, a Devon man, was the first to combine the force of steam and the pressure of the atmosphere. He was granted a patent in 1698 for "Raising water by the impellent force of fire". Savery's "engine" comprised a boiler and a receiver. Steam from the boiler filled the receiver. Cold water poured over the receiver condensed the steam causing a vacuum. Atmospheric pressure forced water up a suction pipe connected to the receiver, which became full of water. Steam from the boiler at pressure blew the water out of the receiver up a delivery pipe and also refilled the receiver with steam. The cycle was then repeated. Valves were fitted in pipes to control the steam and to prevent the water, which was being raised, from going the wrong way. In time the boiler became empty. To refill it with water meant drawing the fire and relieving the boiler of its pressure.


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Royal Houses


History

Angevin


Henry II, the son of Geoffrey Plantagenet and Henry I's daughter Matilda, was the first in a long line of 14 Plantagenet kings, stretching from Henry II's accession through to Richard III's death in 1485. Within that line, however, four distinct Royal Houses can be identified: Angevin, Plantagenet, Lancaster and York.

The first Angevin King, Henry II, began the period as arguably the most powerful monarch in Europe, with lands stretching from the Scottish borders to the Pyrenees. In addition, Ireland was added to his inheritance, a mission entrusted to him by Pope Adrian IV (the only English Pope). A new administrative zeal was evident at the beginning of the period and an efficient system of government was formulated. The justice system developed. However there were quarrels with the Church, which became more powerful following the murder of Thomas à Becket.

As with many of his predecessors, Henry II spent much of his time away from England fighting abroad. This was taken to an extreme by his son Richard, who spent only 10 months of a ten-year reign in the country due to his involvement in the crusades. The last of the Angevin kings was John, whom history has judged harshly. By 1205, six years into his reign, only a fragment of the vast Angevin empire acquired by Henry II remained. John quarrelled with the Pope over the appointment of the Archbishop of Canterbury, eventually surrendering. He was also forced to sign the Magna Carta in 1215, which restated the rights of the church, the barons and all in the land. John died in ignominy, having broken the contract, leading the nobles to summon aid from France and creating a precarious position for his heir, Henry III.


Plantagenet


The Plantagenet period was dominated by three major conflicts at home and abroad. Edward I attempted to create a British empire dominated by England, conquering Wales and pronouncing his eldest son Prince of Wales, and then attacking Scotland. Scotland was to remain elusive and retain its independence until late in the reign of the Stuart kings. In the reign of Edward III the Hundred Years War began, a struggle between England and France. At the end of the Plantagenet period, the reign of Richard II saw the beginning of the long period of civil feuding known as the War of the Roses. For the next century, the crown would be disputed by two conflicting family strands, the Lancastrians and the Yorkists.

The period also saw the development of new social institutions and a distinctive English culture. Parliament emerged and grew. The judicial reforms begun in the reign of Henry II were continued and completed by Edward I. Culture began to flourish. Three Plantagenet kings were patrons of Geoffrey Chaucer, the father of English poetry. During the early part of the period, the architectural style of the Normans gave way to the Gothic, in which style Salisbury Cathedral was built. Westminster Abbey was rebuilt and the majority of English cathedrals remodelled. Franciscan and Dominican orders began to be established in England, while the universities of Oxford and Cambridge had their origins in this period.

Amidst the order of learning and art, however, were disturbing new phenomena. The outbreak of Bubonic plague or the 'Black Death' served to undermine military campaigns and cause huge social turbulence, killing half the country's population. The price rises and labour shortage which resulted led to social unrest, culminating in the Peasants' Revolt in 1381.

York


The Yorkist conquest of the Lancastrians in 1461 did not put an end to the Wars of the Roses, which rumbled on until the start of the sixteenth century. Family disloyalty in the form of Richard III's betrayal of his nephews, the young King Edward V and his brother, was part of his downfall. Henry Tudor, a claimant to the throne of Lancastrian descent, defeated Richard III in battle and Richard was killed. With the marriage of Henry to Elizabeth, the sister of the young Princes in the Tower, reconciliation was finally achieved between the warring houses of Lancaster and York in the form of the new Tudor dynasty, which combined their respective red and white emblems to produce the Tudor rose.


Tudor


The five sovereigns of the Tudor dynasty are among the most well-known figures in Royal history. Of Welsh origin, Henry VII succeeded in ending the Wars of the Roses between the houses of Lancaster and York to found the highly successful Tudor house. Henry VII, his son Henry VIII and his three children Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I ruled for 118 eventful years.

During this period, England developed into one of the leading European colonial powers, with men such as Sir Walter Raleigh taking part in the conquest of the New World. Nearer to home, campaigns in Ireland brought the country under strict English control.

Culturally and socially, the Tudor period saw many changes. The Tudor court played a prominent part in the cultural Renaissance taking place in Europe, nurturing all-round individuals such as William Shakespeare, Edmund Spenser and Cardinal Wolsey. The Tudor period also saw the turbulence of two changes of official religion, resulting in the martyrdom of many innocent believers of both Protestantism and Roman Catholicism. The fear of Roman Catholicism induced by the Reformation was to last for several centuries and to play an influential role in the history of the Succession.


Stuart


The Stuarts were the first kings of the United Kingdom. King James I of England who began the period was also King James VI of Scotland, thus combining the two thrones for the first time.

The Stuart dynasty reigned in England and Scotland from 1603 to 1714, a period which saw a flourishing Court culture but also much upheaval and instability, of plague, fire and war. It was an age of intense religious debate and radical politics. Both contributed to a bloody civil war in the mid-seventeenth century between Crown and Parliament (the Cavaliers and the Roundheads), resulting in a parliamentary victory for Oliver Cromwell and the dramatic execution of King Charles I. There was a short-lived republic, the first time that the country had experienced such an event. The Restoration of the Crown was soon followed by another 'Glorious' Revolution. William and Mary of Orange ascended the throne as joint monarchs and defenders of Protestantism, followed by Queen Anne, the second of James II's daughters.

The end of the Stuart line with the death of Queen Anne led to the drawing up of the Act of Settlement in 1701, which provided that only Protestants could hold the throne. The next in line according to the provisions of this act was George of Hanover, yet Stuart princes remained in the wings. The Stuart legacy was to linger on in the form of claimants to the Crown for another century.



Commonwealth & Protectorate


INTERREGNUM (1649-1660) Cromwell's convincing military successes at Drogheda in Ireland (1649), Dunbar in Scotland (1650) and Worcester in England (1651) forced Charles I's son, Charles, into foreign exile despite being accepted as King in Scotland.

From 1649 to 1660, England was therefore a republic during a period known as the Interregnum ('between reigns'). A series of political experiments followed, as the country's rulers tried to redefine and establish a workable constitution without a monarchy.

Throughout the Interregnum, Cromwell's relationship with Parliament was a troubled one, with tensions over the nature of the constitution and the issue of supremacy, control of the armed forces and debate over religious toleration. In 1653 Parliament was dissolved, and under the Instrument of Government, Oliver Cromwell became Lord Protector, later refusing the offer of the throne. Further disputes with the House of Commons followed; at one stage Cromwell resorted to regional rule by a number of the army's major generals. After Cromwell's death in 1658, and the failure of his son Richard's short-lived Protectorate, the army under General Monk invited Charles I's son, Charles, to become King.

The "Great Civil War" is a term the Victorians used to refer to what today we call the "English Civil War". The Victorians were not being politically correct: the wars began in Scotland, triggered by events in Ireland, and engulfed every part of the British Isles from the Shetlands to the Channel Islands. So the appropriate terms were: the "Great Civil War" or the "Great Rebellion" (to distinguish the upheavals of the 1630s to 1650s from the other, lesser, civil wars that have periodically convulsed these islands since the beginning of recorded time). However, the term: "English Civil War" has taken such a grip on the public consciousness that we continue to use it to describe the period of on-again off-again campaigning that took place from 1642 to 1651.

Cromwell had grown to manhood during the reign of James I (King of England 1603-25) and to maturity during that of Charles I (King from 1625). Historians suggest that England was experiencing problems over this period, though they disagree about their nature and seriousness and the degree to which they contributed to the crisis of the 1640s.

Some emphasise long-term issues: social tensions resulting from a rapidly expanding population, which caused worsening unemployment, poverty and disorder; class-based tensions caused by the increasing affluence of the middle classes or the declining position of the old aristocracy; constitutional tensions between a crown which was anxious to retain and extend its powers and a parliament which wanted more power for itself and greater rights and liberties for the people; political tensions, caused especially by the failure of royal income to keep up with expenditure and by the attempts of various monarchs to raise extra money; and religious tensions, resulting from the desire by an active minority within the state church, the Church of England, to remove some of the ceremonial elements and to create a simpler, 'lower' form of worship.

Other historians stress more immediate and shorter-term problems caused by the political errors and in-fighting of the 1620s and 1630s, especially the mistakes and incompetence of Charles I, who stirred up opposition by his tactless handling of parliaments, by ruling throughout the 1630s without calling a parliament, by taking an authoritarian line and exploiting to the full the fiscal and other powers of the crown, and by seeking to impose upon the Church of England a more elaborate and ceremonial form of religion.

When, in the late 1630s, Scotland rose up against the King's religious policies and defeated his English army, Charles was forced to call parliament in 1640 and to make concessions to it, reversing some of his earlier policies. But the political crisis in England continued, for many within parliament pushed for further political, constitutional and religious reforms which Charles, now winning some sympathy and support within the country, would not accept. In 1642, as both King and parliament gathered bodies of armed supporters, the unresolved political crisis deteriorated into an armed confrontation and civil war.


Hanover


The Hanoverians came to power in difficult circumstances that looked set to undermine the stability of British society. The first of their Kings, George I, was only 52nd in line to the throne, but the nearest Protestant according the Act of Settlement. Two descendants of James II, the deposed Stuart King, threatened to take the throne and were supported by a number of 'Jacobites' throughout the realm.

The Hanoverian period for all that, was remarkably stable, not least because of the longevity of its Kings. From 1714 through to 1837, there were only five, one of whom, George III, remains the longest reigning King in British History. The period was also one of political stability, and the development of constitutional monarchy. For vast tracts of the eighteenth century politics were dominated by the great Whig families, while the early nineteenth century saw Tory domination. Britain's first 'Prime' Minister, Robert Walpole, dates from this period, while income tax was introduced. Towards the end of the reign, the Great Reform Act was passed, which amongst other things widened the electorate.

It was in this period that Britain came to acquire much of her overseas Empire, despite the loss of the American colonies, largely through foreign conquest in the various wars of the century. At the end of the Hanoverian period the British empire covered a third of the globe while the theme of longevity was set to continue, as the longest reigning monarch in British history, Queen Victoria, prepared to take the throne.

Norman


The Normans came to govern as a result of one of the most famous battles in English history, the Battle of Hastings in 1066. From 1066 to 1154 four kings ruled. The Domesday Book, that great source of English landholding, was published, the forests were extended, the Exchequer was founded and a start was made on the Tower of London. In religious affairs, the Gregorian reform movement gathered pace and forced concessions, while the machinery of government developed to support the country while Henry was fighting abroad. Meanwhile, the social landscape was altered, as the Norman aristocracy came to prominence. Many of the nobles struggled to keep a hold on both Normandy and England, as divided rule meant the threat of conflict.

This was the case when William the Conqueror died. His eldest son, Robert, became Duke of Normandy, while the next youngest, William, became king of England. Their younger brother Henry would become king on William II's death. The uneasy divide continued until Henry captured and imprisoned his elder brother.

The question of the succession continued to weigh heavily over the remainder of the period. Henry's son died, and his nominated heir Matilda was denied the throne by her cousin, Henry's nephew, Stephen. There then followed a period of civil war. Matilda married Geoffrey Plantagenet of Anjou, who took control of Normandy. The duchy was therefore separated from England once again. A compromise was eventually reached whereby the son of Matilda and Geoffrey would be heir to the English crown, while Stephen's son would inherit his baronial lands. All this meant that in 1154 Henry II would ascend to the throne as the first undisputed King in over 100 years - proof of the dynastic uncertainty of the Norman period.

Lancaster


The accession of Henry IV sowed the seeds for a period of unrest which ultimately broke out in civil war. Fraught by rebellion and instability after his usurpation of Richard II, Henry IV found it difficult to enforce his rule. His son, Henry V, fared better, defeating France in the famous Battle of Agincourt (1415) and staking a powerful claim to the French throne. Success was short-lived with his early death.

By the reign of the relatively weak Henry VI, civil war broke out between rival claimants to the throne, dating back to the sons of Edward III. The Lancastrian dynasty descended from John of Gaunt, third son of Edward III, whose son Henry deposed the unpopular Richard II. Yorkist claimants such as the Duke of York asserted their legitimate claim to the throne through Edward III's second surviving son, but through a female line. The Wars of the Roses therefore tested whether the succession should keep to the male line or could pass through females.

Captured and briefly restored, Henry VI was captured and put to death, and the Yorkist faction led by Edward IV gained the throne.

Windsor


The House of Windsor came into being in 1917, when the name was adopted as the British Royal Family's official name by a proclamation of King George V, replacing the historic name of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. It remains the family name of the current Royal Family.

During the twentieth century, kings and queens of the United Kingdom have fulfilled the varied duties of constitutional monarchy. One of their most important roles was national figureheads lifting public morale during the devastating world wars of 1914-18 and 1939-45.

The period saw the modernization of the monarchy in tandem with the many social changes which have taken place over the past 80 years. One such modernization has been the use of mass communication technologies to make the Royal Family accessible to a broader public the world over. George V adopted the new relatively new medium of radio to broadcast across the Empire at Christmas; the Coronation ceremony was broadcast on television for the first time in 1953, at The Queen's insistence; and the World Wide Web has been used for the past four years to provide a global audience with information about the Royal Family. During this period British monarchs have also played a vital part in promoting international relations, retaining ties with former colonies in their role as Head of the Commonwealth.

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