According to allunitconverters, political power passed completely into the hands of the followers of King William, who was careful not to grant the new feudal lords too vast domains (as existed at that time in France and Germany) such as to be able to oppose the royal power, which therefore was very strong at the beginning. Instead, he lost vigor under his successors, as a logical consequence of the struggles between the sons of the Conqueror; wars against the Scots and the French; of the excessive power acquired by the Church on which the first kings had leaned for help against the numerous enemies who threatened the crown; of the same crusade led by Richard the Lionheart – king since 1189 – who, to make money, was forced to sell privileges. The royal power was shaken and after the humiliation of the founder of the Plantagenet dynasty Henry II, following the assassination of the archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket (1170), after the revocation of the statutes of Clarendon which limited the powers of the ecclesiastical feudal lords and finally after the defeat of Bouvines by the French (1214), King John Without Land was forced in 1215 to grant the Magna Carta Libertatum which, while limiting the powers of the king in favor of lay and ecclesiastical feudal lords, gave rise to that Parliament which, starting from 1265, when two representatives from each city were called to be part of it with the aim of containing the power of the barons, in the House of Lords and in the House of Commons. In the international field, Henry II began the conquest of Ireland of which he proclaimed himself lord (1172) and with the marriage with Eleonora of Aquitaine (1152) expanded his power in France: in fact to the domains inherited from his father (Anjou, Maine and Touraine) and from his mother (Normandy) he added Guienna, Poitou, Saintonge, Auvergne, Périgord, Angoumois and the Limousin. This absurd situation for which the king of England was vassal of the king of France, but much more powerful than him, generated a very long conflict that lasted the whole century. XIII, a conflict which, partially subsided during the reigns of Henry III in England and Louis IX in France, one struggling with serious internal problems, the other with the Crusades, and briefly interrupted under the reign of Edward I who he managed to conquer Wales (1283) and subdue Scotland, which was then lost during the reign of Edward II, broke out in all its violence under Edward III, who in 1337 claimed to succeed the crown of France after the direct branch of the Capetians had been extinguished for some years. It was the so-called Hundred Years War which lasted, albeit interspersed with long truces, until 1453 and which must have had so much weight on the political and economic history of the two countries. The defeat suffered in France had very serious repercussions in England as it reopened the road to the claims of a cadet branch of the Plantagenets, the Yorks, who had inherited the rights of the Duke of Mortimer that Richard II, devoid of legitimate heirs, he had designated to succeed him to the throne. Thus the War of the Two Roses broke out between the supporters of Henry VI and the supporters of the Yorks, a war that lasted until 1485, during which most of the great English feudality perished, including many members of the royal family. The York victory with Edward IV, troubled moreover by an ephemeral return of Henry VI who was killed with his son Edward in 1471, barely went beyond his reign because his brother Richard III, made hateful for a series of crimes against him perhaps wrongly all attributed, he was defeated and killed at Bosworth (1485) by Henry VII Tudor (1485-1509), related to the Lancastrians and, after his coronation, husband of the York heiress.


Cromwell’s death (1658) caused chaos and it was once again the army, led by General Monk, who restored order: Parliament dissolved, new elections restored the monarchy in the person of Charles II, the son of the beheaded king. The reign of this sovereign, notable for the moderation he showed at the time of the restoration and for the splendid impulse given to the architecture of the English cities and especially of London, rebuilt after the huge fire that destroyed it in 1666, saw the reconstitution of the Anglican Church, the removal of Puritans and Catholics from command posts, from which the latter were expressly excluded by Parliament (1663), the granting of the Habeas Corpus Act (1679), according to which it was established that no citizen could be arrested without the charge being contested and that the trial had to be celebrated immediately: with which individual freedom was guaranteed against the abominable arrests carried out at the will of the king, as had happened up to then in England and as it continued to happen for several decades in the countries of the European continent. Yet the reign of Charles II was not a quiet period: the religious question always stirred the country and, since the king did not have a legitimate direct descent, the crown belonged to his brother Giacomo that from 1669 had announced his conversion to Catholicism. Even the foreign policy of Charles II, favorable to France, was opposed by public opinion. These ferments exploded in 1688 when James II (1685-88), who in his three years of reign had without any regard favored Catholics, had a male heir: the prospect of a Protestant country ruled by a Catholic dynasty sparked an open revolt.: the king was abandoned by all and his place was taken by his eldest daughter Maria II (who was a Protestant) and by the son-in-law William III, the Dutch statolder. This revolution it was called “glorious”, because it was carried out without bloodshed: James II fled to France, from where he tried repeatedly but in vain to regain the throne. The basis of the operation was Catholic Ireland, particularly affected by a law of 1699 according to which all Catholics who had not sworn obedience to the Act of Supremacy they were stripped of their land holdings in favor of the closest Protestant relative. Instead, the Act of Uniformity was abandoned whereby the dissident Protestants enjoyed equal rights with the Anglicans (1680) and, a new safeguard for freedom, it was established that no judge could be removed from the king, thus implementing the complete independence of the judicial power. Finally it was decided that the male (and therefore Catholic) branch of the Stuarts could not reign and that the crown would be given in order of precedence: to the sons of William III and Mary II; to the children of the latter and of a possible second husband; to Anna, sister of Maria II and her descendants; to the sons of William III born of his eventual second marriage (1689). In 1701, Act of Settlement was designated to the succession of William III the Protestant Sophia of the Palatinate, wife of the elector of Hanover and descendant of James I. In the field of foreign policy William III broke with the policy oriented towards an understanding with France, which was it was the policy of Cromwell and the last two Stuarts, and to save the European equilibrium he became the most implacable opponent of Louis XIV who tried to impose French supremacy on the whole continent; in other words, he transferred to England that anti-French policy which he had been pursuing for twenty years in Holland with far fewer means. John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, at Blenheim, Ramillies, Oudenarde and Malplaquet and, by sea, with repeated victorious battles in America and Europe. Gibraltar (1704) and Minorca (1708) were occupied, which the peace treaty signed in Utrecht in 1713 left to England, which therefore became a Mediterranean power. In America it obtained Newfoundland, Acadia, renamed Nova Scotia, and Hudson Bay.


In 1714, upon Anna’s death, George I of Hanover peacefully succeeded, son of the electric Sofia. In anticipation of this event, to prevent Scotland from rejecting the Hanoverian succession adopted by the Parliament of London, in 1707 there was the merger of England and Scotland that James I had proposed in vain in 1607. It was established that the two states would form one. only one called Great Britain, that the Presbyterian religion would be the only one recognized in Scotland which would have kept its laws and customs and enjoyed the same rights as the English in terms of trade and navigation. It was also decided that the Edinburgh Parliament would be suppressed and 45 deputies (of which two thirds would be chosen by the counties and a third by the boroughs) and 16 lords, chosen by their peers for the duration of a legislature, would sit in the Parliament of London. George II (1727-60), was troubled only in Scotland by a revolt in favor of the Stuartian pretender (1716) and by a naval intervention in 1718 against Spain which had violated the treaties of 1713-14. The power was in the hands of the Whigs, particularly of Sir Robert Walpole who ruled Great Britain from 1721 to 1741, and the royal power was greatly reduced due both to the poor knowledge of Great Britain and of the English language itself by George I, both due to the fact that both he and his successor had often stayed in Hanover. The war resumed in 1739 against Spain for colonial reasons, then against France for the question of the succession to the Habsburg dominions, and was favorable to Great Britain which with the Peace of Aachen (1748) obtained that France expelled the pretender of the Stuarts, Charles Edward, who in 1745, after having raised Scotland, had marched against London but had finally been decisively defeated at Culloden Moor (1746). With the Peace of Paris of 1763, which closed the so-called Seven Years War, Britain, led resolutely by the great statesman William Pitt, obtained far more conspicuous advantages: Canada, eastern Louisiana, Florida, the French possessions in India were ceded to it and the French colonial empire was virtually destroyed while the British one extended over three continents: America, Africa and Asia. A setback was marked, twenty years later, by the revolution of the North American colonies, caused by the heavy taxes that the British government, exhausted by the Seven Years War, had imposed to bleed the treasury. It was a lesson that the English never forgot and served as a guide for their relations with the other colonies in the following century. The most immediate consequence was the transplantation to Canada of the 40,000 American loyalist settlers expelled from the United States, who were settled by dividing Canada into two distinct zones (1791), thus avoiding both the tyranny of the Anglo-Saxon minority over the Catholic majority, as happened in Ireland, both the submission of the former to the latter, which British public opinion could never have endured.

United Kingdom History - the Conflict With France

United Kingdom History – the Conflict With France and the War of The Two Roses
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