March 25th, 2012 at 2:19 am (09. Stuarts)
The tumultuous Stuart dynasty comes to an end in this episode with Queen Anne, but otherwise it's an era of new beginnings. John Churchill (Duke of Marlborough) leads England to military glory against Louis XIV, particularly at Blenheim, while at home the Act of Union with Scotland sees the creation of Great Britain. In many ways a glorious reign, and yet Anne's reputation has never been very good. Has she been unfairly sullied by her once best friend, Sarah Churchill, or is history right to forget the last of the Stuarts?
March 3rd, 2012 at 12:58 pm (09. Stuarts)
With the removal of James II in 1688 in the Glorious Revolution came the unusual position of joint rulers: the husband and wife team of William III and Mary II. William held executive power and spent most of his time fighting wars against his arch nemesis, Louis XIV of France (the Sun King), as well as stopping James II clawing his way back to England. As well as the wars, this was a period of significant constitutional and economic development that would be vital in forming the modern British state. William and Mary may have shared the throne, but will they be able to share the Rex Factor?
February 10th, 2012 at 1:17 am (09. Stuarts)
The monarchy was left in a pretty good state by Charles II in 1685, but the trickiest part of his reign had been to prevent Parliament excluding his Catholic brother, James, from the throne, so how would Parliament react to its first Catholic ruler since Mary I? James's life and reign proved to be somewhat turbulent and to a large degree the difficulties were of his own making. Would he be able to persuade his anti-Catholic Parliament to grant religious toleration to Catholics? Would he be want to emulate the absolutist monarchy of Louis XIV? And what is his son-in-law, William of Orange, doing with all those troops in the Netherlands?
January 28th, 2012 at 3:13 pm (09. Stuarts)
After the republican interlude of the Commonwealth, Charles II leads the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. After an adventurous youth alongside his father in the Civil War and a thrilling escape from Cromwell's clutches in 1651, Charles was intent on having a good time and taking things easy. However, increasing tensions around foreign policy and religion (specifically the Catholicism of Charles's brother, James) saw the country once more in fear of civil strife. Will Charles II succeed where his father failed? Will he be able to put out the Great Fire of London? And most importantly, will he win the Rex Factor?
January 10th, 2012 at 8:55 pm (09. Stuarts)
The execution of Charles I in 1649 created something of a dilemma for England, needing to find a completely new way to govern itself. Various parliamentary outfits were tried, but throughout it all one man dominated until in 1653 he officially became the Lord Protector for the Commonwealth and Free State of England. This man was from the lower gentry, at one time a farmer, and little known until the Civil War when he became a renowned cavalry leader. He would become perhaps England's most powerful ruler, the conqueror of England, Scotland and Ireland (where he is still reviled as a mass-murdering monster) and the displayer of the most famous warts in history. He is, of course, Oliver Cromwell. But can a man who abolishes the institution of the monarchy be eligible to win its greatest award in the Rex Factor?
December 20th, 2011 at 1:48 pm (09. Stuarts)
Charles I's accession in 1625 would prove a momentous moment in English history, leading to numerous conflicts with Parliament which resulted in civil war and the abolition of the monarchy. Charles's early years were blighted by military failures under the Duke of Buckingham and conflict with Parliament, leading to the Personal Monarchy where he ruled by his own stead. Conflict with Scotland forced the recall of Parliament in 1640 and after two years of tensions the civil war broke out, finishing with Charles's execution and the end of the monarchy. Is there a reputation to be salvaged from this disastrous course of events?
December 2nd, 2011 at 10:08 am (09. Stuarts)
The Tudor dynasty came to an end in 1603 to be replaced by the Stuarts, headed by James VI of Scotland (now James I of England). James had much promise as an experienced king in Scotland with a tendency towards religious toleration, peaceful rule and informality. However, he inherited numerous problems from Elizabeth, in particular a powerful parliament with various grievances and an empty treasure chest. A reign of mixed fortunes saw James survive the Gunpowder Plot, patronise the King James Bible and struggle in vain to convince Parliament to stop being so difficult and let him have more money. But will the first Stuart be able to shine out from the shadow of the Tudors to win the Rex Factor?