Century of progress

In 1707, the Act of Union was passed. Under this agreement, the Scottish parliament was dissolved and some of its members joined the English and Welsh parliament in London and the former two kingdoms became one ´United Kingdom of Great Britain´. However, Scotland retained its own system of law, more similar to continental European system and it does so to this day.

Britain was governed under a mixed constitution, achieved through the Glorious Revolution of 1689. The monarch ruled in conjunction with the two houses of parliament. All three parties were closely involved in political decisions.

Within Parliament, two opponent groups were formed. One group, the Whigs, were the political descendants of the parliamentarians. They supported the Protestant values of hard work and thrift. The other group, the Tories, had a greater respect for the idea of the monarchy and the importance of the Anglican Church. This was the beginning of the party system in Britain.

The monarchs of the eighteenth century were Hanoverian Germans with interests on the European continent. The first of them, George I, Elector of Hanover, became king in accordance with the Act of Settlement, 1702. The act stipulated that, after the death of the childless Queen Anne (the last legitimate Stuart monarch) the British monarchy should be Protestant and Hanoverian. George could not even speak English. Perhaps this situation encouraged the habit whereby the monarch appointed one principal, or prime, minister from the ranks of Parliament to head his government. It was also during this century that the system of an annual budget drawn up by the monarch´s Treasury officials for the approval of Parliament was established.

During the Hanoverian era, Britain experienced considerable demographic growth, the birth of an industrial economy, and extensive social change.