TV, Radio & Podcasts
Presented by Dr Clare Jackson of Cambridge University, this three-part series argues that the Stuarts, more than any other, were Britain’s defining royal family.
Available on DVD
A two-part sequel to ‘The Stuarts’ series, these films about ‘The Stuarts in Exile’ focus on the Jacobite Rebellions of 1715 and 1745, confirming how seriously the Jacobite alternative was taken by contemporaries in Britain and Continental Europe.
Available on DVD
Other Shows and Clips
Adventurer Bear Grylls discovers the stories behind the top secret documents hidden in his grandfather’s wartime trunk and is delighted by a Scottish royal connection.
For the first time, the inner secrets of the gunpowder plotters are dramatised using the actual words of their most senior captured leader Thomas Wintour, Guy Fawkes and state interrogators investigating the 18-month conspiracy in which a family circle of militant Catholic gentlemen tried to blow up King and Parliament.
In 1603 James VI of Scotland becomes the first of seven Stuarts to rule the three separate Kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland. The border town of Berwick was one of the first places to feel the impact of the Union of the Crowns.
In 1625 England, Scotland and Ireland are all defined and separated by religious difference. Charles I pursues a strategy to make Presbyterian Scotland more like Anglican England. The Scots rebel.
The threat to Protestant England from Catholic Europe allowed James VI of Scotland to believe that he could one day rule in England. His belief was underpinned by his Tudor heritage.
When James arrived in London in early 1604, it was as James VI of Scotland and James I of England. But James didn’t want to stop at that. He planned a complete Union of Scotland and England, to create a new country called Great Britain.
At his death in 1625 James VI and I’s reign is celebrated for its political and unifying success. In contrast his son, Charles I, appears to have Catholic sympathies and there is concern about the new king’s remote and insular approach to rule.
Charles I returns to Scotland for his coronation in 1633. His subjects dislike his authoritarian attitude. His formal attempts to rule them through the Scottish Parliament are met with resistance from the Presbyterian Kirk.
The Scottish Kirk and their congregations reject the 1637 Book of Common Prayer that Charles I has instructed them to adopt. In the following year the Scottish National Covenant is drawn up and signed by Presbyterians throughout Scotland. It commits them, under God, to preserving the purity of the Scottish Kirk.
The Battle of Edgehill in 1642 traditionally marks the start of the English Civil War. Yet England was the last of the three Kingdoms to enter this civil conflict which started with Scottish rebellion in 1639.
After being held as prisoner at Carisbrooke Castle Charles I is put on trial in 1649. He refuses to acknowledge his accusers right to judge him but nevertheless he is condemned to death.
News of his father’s execution reaches Charles II in Holland. A law passed on the day of the execution prevents anyone succeeding to the English throne. However both Scotland and Ireland recognise Charles II as King. This leads to renewed conflict between Ireland, Scotland and the new Commonwealth of England.
In March 1649, the English Parliament commissioned Oliver Cromwell to lead an army of invasion into Ireland. The massacres at both Drogheda and Wexford have defined contemporary attitudes within Ireland to this day.
After signing the National Covenant Charles II was allowed to land in Scotland. The Scottish army was defeated by Cromwell and Charles II escaped to England. In England he hoped to raise a Royalist army to his cause and win back his crown. His hopes were dashed at the Battle of Worcester.
In 1689 James VII and II’s with the backing of France lands in Ireland to start his campaign to wrestle back his thrones from William of Orange. This attempt ended in defeat at the Battle of the Boyne. James escaped back to France where he lived out the rest of his days as the ‘King across the water’.
In response to the Act of Settlement the Scottish parliament passed an Act of Security. This warned the English parliament that, on Queen Anne’s death, Scotland reserved the right to find their own protestant monarch.
BBC Radio 3
Rana Mitter talks to three historians, Jonathan Healey, Anna Keay and Clare Jackson, about politics, religion and divisions in 17th-century England.
An interview with Dr Clare Jackson, the winner of Wolfson History Prize 2022 about her book, ‘Devil-Land:
England Under Siege, 1588-1688′.
Will the United Kingdom stay together? What have England’s politicians got wrong that Scotland’s have got right? We put these questions to the historian and documentary-presenter Clare Jackson, whose widely acclaimed BBC series on the Stuart dynasty was broadcast in the run-up to Referendum last year.