Sunday 14 July 2013

More thoughts on 'stability' in history.

Further to my thoughts on 'stability'.
This comes for the 'Official' site for the 'British Monarchy'

"The Hanoverians came to power in difficult circumstances that looked set to undermine the stability of British society.

The first of their Kings, George I, was only 52nd in line to the throne, but the nearest Protestant according to the Act of Settlement. Two descendants of James II, the deposed Stuart king, threatened to take the throne, and were supported by a number of 'Jacobites' throughout the realm.

For all that, the Hanoverian period was remarkably stable, not least because of the longevity of its kings. From 1714 through to 1837, there were only five monarchs, one of whom, George III, remains the longest reigning king in British History.

The period was also one of political stability, and the development of constitutional monarchy. For vast tracts of the eighteenth century, great Whig families dominated politics, while the early nineteenth century saw Tory domination.

Britain's first 'Prime' Minister, Robert Walpole, dates from this period, and income tax was introduced. Towards the end of the Hanoverian period, the Great Reform Act was passed, which amongst other things widened the electorate.

It was also in this period that Britain came to acquire much of her overseas empire, despite the loss of the American colonies, largely through foreign conquest in the various wars of the century. By the end of the Hanoverian period, the British Empire covered a third of the globe.

The theme of longevity was set to continue, as the longest reigning monarch in British history, Queen Victoria, prepared to take the throne."

So, under 'political stability' it was possible to 'lose' the 'American colonies' and 'acquire' much of an 'overseas empire' 'largely through foreign conquest' 'in various wars'.

I'm not sure what 'stability' means in this context - apart from the mostly trivial fact that the same family passed the crown down through its immediate descendants. Even by this account, it was a period of the most extraordinary upheaval in an area described as the 'third of the globe'. As it happens, the process was one of  appalling exploitation and oppression involving slavery, mass death and terrible hardship.