Britain at Mid

Britain at MidCentury
Chapter 5 Section 3
pp. 154-157
Rise to Global Power
• Geography
• Location placed England in a position to control trade during the Renaissance. In the 1500’s
and 1600’s, English merchants sent ships across the world’s oceans and planted outpost in the
West Indie, North American and, and India .
• Success In War
• In the 1700’s Britain was generally on the winning side in European conflicts. Each victory
brought valuable rewards. With the Treaty of Utrecht, France gave Britain Nova Scotia and
Newfoundland in North America. Britain also monopolized the slave trade in Spanish America.
The slave trade brought enormous wealth to British merchants. In 1763, the Treaty of Paris
ending the French and Indian War and the Seven Years’ War brought Britain all of French
Canada. Unlike its European rivals, Britain had no large standing army. Instead, it built up its
fleet. By 1763 Britain had developed a more powerful navy than its greatest rival, France.
• A Favorable Business Climate
• England offered a more favorable climate to business and commerce than did its European
rivals. Although England followed mercantilist policies, it put fewer restrictions on trade than
Rise to Global Power
• Union With Scotland
• At home, England expanded by merging with its neighbor, Scotland. In 1707, the Act of Union
joined the two countries in the United Kingdom of Great Britain. The UK also included Wales.
The union brought economic advantages to both lands. Free trade between the two created a
larger market for farmers and manufactures. Many Scots, however, resented the union. On
two occasions they supported the claims of Stuart princes who sought to regain the British
throne. Eventually, though, growing prosperity made the union more acceptable.
• Ireland
• England had controlled Ireland since the 1100’s.In the 1600’s English rulers tried to subdue
Catholic Ireland by sending Protestants from England and Scotland to settle there. They gave
Protestant settlers title to Irish Catholic’s lands. The Irish fiercely resisted Protestant rule.
Uprisings let to increased repression. Catholics were forbidden to own weapons, marry nonCatholics, or teach.
Growth of Constitutional Government
• In the century following the Glorious Revolution, three new political institutions arose in Britain:
Political parties, the cabinet, and the office of prime minister. The appearance of these institutions
was part of the evolution of Britain’s constitutional government-A government whose power is
defined and limited by law. The British constitution is not a single document. Instead, it consists of
all acts of Parliament over the centuries. It also includes documents such as the Magna Carta and
Bill of Rights, as well as unwritten traditions that protect citizen’s rights.
• Political Parties
• Two political parties emerged in England in the late 1600’s-Tories and Whigs. Tories were
generally landed aristocrats who sought to preserve older traditions. They supported broad
royal powers and a dominant Anglican Church. Whigs backed the policies of the Glorious
Revolution. They were more likely to reflect urban business interests, support religious
toleration, and favor Parliament over the crown.
• The Cabinet System
• George I spoke no English and relied on the leaders in Parliament to help him rule. Under
George I and his German-born son George II, a handful of parliamentary advisers set policy.
They were called the cabinet, because they met in a small room, or “cabinet”. In time the
cabinet gained official status. It was made up of leaders of the majority party in the House of
Commons. The cabinet remained in power so long as it enjoyed the support of the commons.
Growth of Constitutional
• The Prime Minister
• Heading the cabinet was the prime minister-the leader of the majority party in Parliament
and in time the chief official of the British government. From 1721 to 1742, the able Whig
leader Robert Walpole molded the cabinet into a unified body, requiring all members to agree
on major issues. Although the title was not yet used, Walpole is often called Britain’s first
prime minister.
Politics and Society
• The age of Walpole was time of peace and prosperity. But even as Parliament and the cabinet
assumed new powers, British government was far from democratic. Rather, it was an oligarchy- a
government in which the ruling power belongs to a few people. In Britain, landowning aristocrats
were seen as the “natural” ruling class. They highest nobles held seats in the House of Lords.
Other wealthy landowners and rich business leaders in the cities controlled elections to the House
of Commons.
• The right to vote was limited to a relatively few male property owners, and their votes were
bought openly. The lives of most people contrasted sharply with those of the ruling elite. The
majority made a meager living from the land. In the 1700’s even that poor existence was
threatened. Wealthy landowners bough up farms and took over common lands, evicting tenant
farmers and small landowners. A small but growing middle class included successful merchants
and manufactures. Some improved their social standing by marrying into the landed gentry. They
middle class also produced talented inventors and entrepreneurs who helped usher in the
Industrial Revolution.
George III Reasserts Royal
• In 1760, George III began a 60-year reign. Unlike his father and grandfather, the new king was
born in England. He spoke English and loved Britain. He wanted to end Whig domination, choose
his own ministers, dissolve the cabinet system and make Parliament follow his will.
• Personal Rule
Gradually George found seats ii Parliament for ‘the king’s friends.” Then with their help, he began to assert his
leadership. Many of his policies, however, would prove disastrous. After the Seven Years’ War, George and his
advisers decided that English colonists in North America must pay the costs of their own defense. When
colonists protested, Parliament passed harsh measures to force them to obey.
• Cabinet Rule Restored
Britain’s loss of its American colonies discredited the king. Increasingly, too, he suffered from bouts of mental
illness. In the crisis of leadership that followed, cabinet rule was restored in 1788. In the decades ahead,
revolution engulfed France, and Napoleon Bonaparte’s armies stormed across Europe dragging Britain into
long wars. During that time, the cabinet controlled the government. The British came to see the prime
minister as their real political leader.
Identify and Define
• Act of Union
The joining of England and Scotland with the United Kingdom and Great Britain.
• Tories
Political party of aristocrats who sought to preserver older traditions.
• Whigs
Political party , backed the policies of the Glorious Revolution.
• Robert Walpole
Molded the cabinet into a unified body, often called Britain’s first prime minister.
• George III
Was the king of The United Kingdom for 60 years, was eager to recover the powers the crown had lost.
• Constitutional Government
A government whose power is defined and limited by law.
• Cabinet
A handful of parliamentary advisers.
• Prime Minister
The leader of the majority party in Parliament and in time the chief official of the British government.
• Oligarchy
A government in which the ruling power belongs to a few people.
Review Questions
• This King of England dissolved his cabinet, made colonists pay for war debts, and suffered from
mental illness later in life: George III
• Who were the land owning aristocrats in England that wanted to keep the old ways and
supported the crown? Tories
• This group of people in England backed the policies of the Glorious Revolution and Parliament:
The Whigs
• What country became a global power in the 1700s because of its rich resources? Britain
• A cabinet and a Prime Minister were new features of the government in what country? Britain
• A __________ government is one in which power is defined and limited by law. Constitutional
• What is a handful of Parliamentary advisers that help set policy called? A cabinet
• What is a government in which the ruling power belongs to a few people called? Oligarchy
• What is the name for the person in Great Britain that is the leader of the Majority party in
Parliament, and is the chief executive? Prime Minister
• This act brought Scotland and England together as the United Kingdom of Great Britain: The Act of

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