Thursday, 6 February 2014

A day for king and queen making

February 6th has had a profound influence on the throne of Great Britain.  It is the starting point for several reigns and, for one monarch, it was a beginning and an end for their career as a king.  In the 20th and 21st centuries it is most remembered as the day George VI died and Elizabeth II became Queen.  But in the 17th century, it was hard to find a king or queen who didn't have a link to the day.

The Queen with her children, Charles and Anne, in 1955 - her life as a young mother and heiress changed forever on February 6th 1952

Elizabeth II marks the anniversary of her accession today.  On February 6th 1952, she started the day as a princess and ended it as the sixth queen regnant of Great Britain.  The date also goes down in history as the end of the reign of her father, George VI.  But it wasn't the first time that February 6th had seen the passing of a king and the accession of a new monarch.  In 1685, Charles II's successful reign and roller coaster of a royal life came to an end and the throne passed to his younger brother who became James II.  And the crown passed from relatively peaceful times into turbulence.

Charles II died on February 6th 1685 bringing to an end a reign that had lasted nearly 25 years since the restoration of the monarchy in May 1660

The date of Charles' own accession, in his lifetime, was different depending on who was giving it.  Some marked his reign as starting on January 30th 1649 - the day his father, Charles I, was executed.  Most picked a day in May 1660 - Charles was recognised as king by parliament on May 2nd, declared monarch in London on May 8th and met with parliament as their king on May 29th 1660, the date most often given as the beginning of the Restoration.  But for some, Charles' reign as a king began on February 6th 1649 when the Parliament of Scotland declared him King of Great Britain - England and Ireland didn't.  For those who held Charles to have been king since then, his death on the same date completed a reign of 36 years.  For most people, and for historians afterwards, the Merry Monarch died a few months short of his 25th jubilee.

James II, King of Great Britain, became monarch on the anniversary of the Parliament of Scotland declaring his older brother, Charles II, king in 1649 although the restoration of the monarchy didn't take place until 1660

James II's reign, which began on February 6th 1685, would be brief and troubled and almost four years to the day since his proclamation as king, parliament declared he had forfeited his throne and offered it to his daughter, Mary, and her husband, William.  The joint monarchs had no children and little hope of having any.  Parliament was also quite clear that none of the children of James II's second marriage to Maria of Modena would take the throne that had once belonged to their father.  And when Mary died in 1694, the only possible heir became her sister, Anne, who had been born on February 6th 1665.  For the Stuarts, February 6th really was a day for beginnings and endings.

Anne, Queen of England from 1702 to 1714 was born on February 6th 1665

No comments:

Post a Comment