Room 11: Royalty and Religion in the early 18th century

See the portraits currently on display in Room 11 here

Room 11

© The National Portrait Gallery, London

In 1714, Britain faced a crisis when Queen Anne died, without an heir. To guarantee Britain’s constitutional monarchy and the Protestant succession to the throne, Parliament invited George of Hanover, the great grandson of James I, to king and this began the Hanoverian rule of Britain. Many in favour of the Catholic Stuarts agitated for their restoration and supported the Jacobite uprisings of 1715 and 1745. The Church of England was supreme during this and coexisted with dissenting movement with the Protestant faith.


The Jacobite cause in the 1700s


The Jacobite movement began when the catholic King James II was deposed during the ‘Glorious revolution’ of 1688. The Act of the union of 1707, joining England and Scotland, and the passing of the crown of the protestant Hanoverians in 1715, fuelled Jocabite discontent.

Jacobites considered Prince James Edward Stuart to be the right king. In 1715, after the coronation of George I, an uprising erupted in parts of Scotland and Northern England, Fuelled by separatist Scots and disgruntled Tories. The rebellion was suppressed but later invasion plots, supported by foreign Catholic states, increased fear around Jacobitism.

In 1745, Charles Edward Stuart, celebrated as ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’, landed in Scotland. He rallied thousands of Highlanders and took Edinburgh but, further south, support dwindled amid fears that a Stuart monarchy would undermine England’s religious identity and weaken its commercial and imperial strength. Retreating to Scotland, the Jocobites were crushed at the Battle of Culloden. With the help of flora Macdonald, Charles fled to France ending any serious hope of a Stuart restoration.