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Britain at Mid-Century
Transcript of Britain at Mid-Century
Rise to Global Power
-Its location put England in a position to control trade during the Renaissance.
-In 1500's and 1600's English merchants sent ships across world's oceans and planted outposts in the West Indies, North America, and India.
-From these tiny settlements, England would build a global empire.
In 1700's Britain was generally on the winning side in European conflicts.
Each victory brought rewards.
With Treaty of Utrecht, France gave Britain Nova Scotia and Newfoundland in North America.
Monopolized slave trade in Spanish America.
In 1736 Treaty of Paris ended the French and Indian War, Seven Years War brought Britain all of French and Canada.
Built up its fleet.
By 1763 Britain had developed a more powerful navy than France.
A Favorable Business Climate
England offered a more favorable climate to business and commerce than its European rivals.
Although England followed mercantilist policies, it put fewer restrictions on trade than France.
While British nobles looked down on trade some engaged in business activites.
Union With Scotland
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.
United Kingdom included Wales.
Free trade between the two created a larger market for farmers and manufacturers.
Many Scots resented the Union.
On two occasions they supported the claims of Stuart princes who sought to regain the British throne.
Growing prosperity made the union more acceptable.
Success in War
Growth of Constitutional Government
In the century following the Glorious Revolution, 3 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.
British constituion 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, and unwritten traditions that protect citizens rights.
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 Catholics lands.
The Irish fiercely resisted Protestant rule.
Uprisings led to increased repression.
Catholics were forbidden to own weapons, marry non-Catholics, or teach.
Two political parties emerged in England in the late 1600's- Tories and Whigs.
Tories- generally landed aristocrats who sought to preserve older traditions.
Whigs- backed the policies of the Glorious Revolution, more likely to reflect urban business interests, support religious toleration, and favor Parliament over the crown
Early politiccal parties were unlike the party organizations that we know today.
The represented exclusive social circles among rich, powerful men in Parliament.
The modern political party which represents groups of voters and has a distinct platform, did not appear until the 1800's.
The Cabinet System
The cabinet, another new feature of government, evolved in the 1700's after the British throne was inherited by a German Protestant prince.
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."
Cabinet gained offical status- made up of leaders of the majority party in the House of Commons.
If the Commons voted against a cabinet decision, the cabinet resigned.
This cabinet system was later adopted by other countries.
Heading the cabinet was the prime minister.
Prime minister was 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
As Parliament and the cabinet assumed new powers, British government was far from democratic.
It was an oligarchy- a government in which the ruling power belongs to a few people.
The highest nobles held seats in the House of Lords.
Other rich landowners and business leaders in the cities controlled elections to the House of Commons.
The majority made a meager living from the land.
Wealthy land owners bought up farms and took over common lands, evicting tenant farmers and small landowners.
Many landless families drifted into towns, where they faced harsh existence.
Middle class included merchants and manufacturers.
Controlled affairs in the towns and cities.
Middle class also produced talented inventors and entrepreneurs who helped usher in the Industrial Revolution.
George III Reasserts Royal Power
In 1760 George III began a 60 year reign, and was born in England.
Was eager to recover the powers the crown had lost.
He wanted to end Whig domination, choose his own ministers, dissolve the cabinet system, and make Parliament follow his will.
Gradually George found seats in Parliament for the kings friends.
Many of his policies however would prove disastrous.
After the Seven Years War George and his advisers decided that English colonists in North America needed to pay the costs of their own defense.
In 1775 other conflicts triggered the American Revolution which ended in a loss for Britain.
Cabinet Rule Restored
Britain's loss of its American colonies discredited the king.
In the crisis of leadership that followed, cabinet rule was restored in 1788.
Revolution engulfed France, and Napoleon Bonaparte's armies stormed across Europe, dragging Britain into long wars.
During that time, the cabinet controlled the government.
British came to see the prime minister as their real political leader.
King of England who dissolved his cabinet, made colonists pay for war debts, and suffered from mental illness later in life- King 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.
What country became a global power in the 1700's because of its rich resources?- Great Britain.
What is a government that is one in which power is defined and limited by law?- Constitutional.
What is a handful of Parliamentary advisers that help set policy called?- Cabinet.
What is a government in which the ruling power belongs to a few people called?- Oligarchy.
Whats the name for the person in Great Britain thats the leader of the Majority party in Parliament, and is the chief executive?- Prime Minister.