Decisive moments in British history: The Act of Settlement, 1701
The Act of Settlement is an Act of the Parliament of England that was passed in 1701 to settle thesuccession to the English and Irish crowns and thrones on the Electress Sophia of Hanover (a granddaughter of James VI of Scotland and I of England) and her non-Roman Catholic heirs. Her mother, Princess Elizabeth Stuart, had been born in Scotland but became famous in history asElizabeth of Bohemia.
The act was prompted by the failure of King William III and Queen Mary II, as well as of Mary’s sisterQueen Anne, to produce any surviving children, and the Roman Catholic religion of all other members of the House of Stuart. The line of Sophia of Hanover was the most junior among the Stuarts, but consisted of convinced Protestants. Sophia died on 8 June 1714, before the death of Queen Anne on 1 August 1714, at which time Sophia’s son duly became King George I and started the Hanoverian dynasty.
The act played a key role in the formation of the Kingdom of Great Britain. England and Scotland hadshared a monarch since 1603, but had remained separately governed countries. The Scottish parliament was more reluctant than the English to abandon the House of Stuart, members of which had been Scottish monarchs long before they became English ones. English pressure on Scotland to accept the Act of Settlement was one factor leading to the parliamentary union of the two countries in 1707.
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