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We have reached an interesting point in this series. Although, as we shall see, the House of Stuart will have its difficult times on and off the thrones of England and Scotland, we have reached a period of relative stability as far as legal successions are concerned. There will be a few more crises for the throne but we will not see civil wars and usurpations like we have had in the past. In the next section of this topic we will see the rise of Parliament and the battle with the Crown over the power within the government. I will examine how this conflict actually helped stabilize the Crown and the succession to the throne.

James I-VI, King of England and King of Scots (when still only King of Scots) married Princess Anne of Denmark in 1589, the daughter of King Frederik II of Denmark and Norway and his wife, Sophie of Mecklenburg-Güstrow. They would have seven children, three sons and four daughters, and only three of them surviving childhood. The eldest son, Prince Henry Frederick, was created The Duke of Rothesay as heir to the Scottish throne in 1594. Upon his father’s accession of the English throne in 1603 Henry Frederick automatically became Duke of Cornwall. In 1610 his father created him The Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester. Although young, Henry Frederick displayed great promise in leadership and his sudden death from Typhoid at the age of 18 dashed the hopes of many.

This left his rather sickly brother, Charles, Duke of Albany, as heir to his fathers kingdoms. In the due corse of time Charles became King of England and King of Scots when his father passed away on March 27, 1605. The same year of his succession King Charles married Henrietta Maria de Bourbon of France, daughter of King Henri IV of France and Navarre and his second wife, Marie de’ Medici. This marriage returned England to the problems between Protestants and Catholics.  Henrietta Maria was a Catholic and for that reason she was distrusted at court. Her Catholicism influenced both her two eldest sons, the future King Charles II and King James II-VII. These conflicts over religion would have implications on the legal succession.

Charles I had a difficult reign. He ruled for 11 years without Parliament and only reluctantly called Parliament because he needed to raise money for war. I will not focus on the English Civil Wars for that is a complex topic for another day. However, the Civil War did lead to Charles I being arrested, tried and convicted of treason and on January 30, 1649 he was beheaded and the monarchy was abolished. England was declared a Commonwealth and power was assumed by a Council of State, which included Lord Fairfax, then Lord General of the Parliamentary Army, and Oliver Cromwell.

As noted other places in when there is a war the victor gets to rewrite the laws and rules. In reality at that moment in time the throne was gone and the Commonwealth was the successor to the Kingdom of England. To his supporters Charles, Prince of Wales, was now the pretender to the extinct throne. He was a man with a high price tag on his head and spent many years on the run. He was crowned King of Scots in 1651 but with Cromwell’s army on his heels his stay in Scotland was brief. The next part will examine how Charles II became the legal King of England and King of Scots. I will also examine how his childless marriage and his brother’s Catholicism created a conflict for the throne.