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Britain, Hanover and the Protestant Interest, 1688-1756

Britain, Hanover and the Protestant Interest, 1688-1756

Andrew C. Thompson
Copyright Date: 2006
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 284
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  • Book Info
    Britain, Hanover and the Protestant Interest, 1688-1756
    Book Description:

    Religious ideas and power-politics were strongly connected in the early eighteenth century: William III, George I and George II all took their role as defenders of the protestant faith extremely seriously, and confessional thinking was of major significance to court whiggery. This book considers the importance of this connection. It traces the development of ideas of the protestant interest, explaining how such ideas were used to combat the perceived threats to the European states system posed by universal monarchy, and showing how the necessity of defending protestantism within Europe became a theme in British and Hanoverian foreign policy. Drawing on a wide range of printed and manuscript material in both Britain and Germany, the book emphasises the importance of a European context for eighteenth-century British history, and contributes to debates about the justification of monarchy and the nature of identity in Britain. Dr ANDREW C. THOMPSON is Lecturer in History, Queens' College, Cambridge.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-451-5
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface and acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-ix)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. x-x)
  5. Glossary
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. [Maps]
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  7. [Illustrations]
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  8. Introduction
    (pp. 1-24)

    Charles Whitworth had been busy throughout the summer of 1719. As minister plenipotentiary to Berlin, he had been involved in protracted negotiations with Frederick William I, the Prussian monarch. Whitworth had returned to Hanover several times to consult his master, George I, who was visiting his electoral domains. Early in August, Whitworth informed James Craggs, one of the secretaries of state, of the conclusion of a Prussian alliance, remarking that ‘the King of Prussia by a little good management and complaisance may be secured in measures more suitable to the state of Religion, and the common tranquillity of Europe’.¹ Six...

  9. 1 The balance of power, universal monarchy and the protestant interest
    (pp. 25-42)

    This chapter explores changes in the international system in the first half of the eighteenth century. It throws new light on the balance of power, one of the models most commonly used to describe international relations in the period. Some critics dispute whether this model actually ‘works’ because the balance of power meant different things to different people. However, this chapter describes a particular understanding of what the balance of power meant to a particular group of people at a particular time. It is assumed here that the perceptions of those involved in debates are as revealing as the...

  10. 2 Britain, Hanover and the protestant interest prior to the Hanoverian succession
    (pp. 43-60)

    The confessional politics of George I and George II were crucial to British and Hanoverian foreign policy in the first half of the eighteenth century. A sense of confessional unity brought Britain and Hanover together and also provided a justification for British involvement in continental politics. Concern with the protestant interest and the desirability of protestant monarchy did not begin in 1714, however. Rather George I and George II were part of the continuing drama of the protestant succession in Britain. This chapter considers both William III, a model protestant hero, and the changes which the Glorious Revolution of 1688...

  11. 3 The Palatinate crisis and its aftermath, 1719–1724
    (pp. 61-96)

    At the beginning of September 1719 the reformed protestants of the Palatinate found themselves in difficulties. Earlier in the year the catholic elector, Karl Philipp, had banned the use and publication of the Heidelberg catechism. The catechism had irritated the elector for two reasons. First, he felt that the description of the catholic mass in the eightieth question and accompanying gloss was deeply offensive and secondly, he was annoyed that editions of the catechism had been printed bearing his coat of arms without his permission. The ecclesiastical authorities, the Kirchenrat, claimed to their supporters outside the Palatinate that the arms...

  12. 4 The Thorn crisis and European diplomacy, 1724–1727
    (pp. 97-132)

    The ‘massacre’ at Thorn, a small town in Royal (Polish) Prussia, occurred after an incident in July 1724. On 16 July, Thorn’s catholics held a procession. Protestants alleged that Lutheran students who refused to bow before the host were forced to do so by students from the Jesuit Gymnasium. The catholics maintained that a Lutheran student had not removed his hat and had mocked the host. A scuffle ensued. Civil order broke down and prisoners were taken by both sides – catholics were dragged to the town hall and protestants to the Jesuit Gymnasium. A protestant mob stormed the Gymnasium to...

  13. 5 George II and challenges to the protestant interest
    (pp. 133-167)

    George I died on 22 June 1727 at Osnabrück. He was returning to Hanover for his customary summer visit. Some hoped that the new reign would bring a change of administration, and even an end to tory proscription. George II, however, retained most of his father’s ministers.¹ Townshend and Newcastle remained as secretaries of state and Robert Walpole also retained his influence.² This chapter explores whether a continuity of personnel resulted in a continuity of policy. There were certainly policy changes in the period but whether they arose from George II’s personal predilections and prejudices remains an open question.³


  14. 6 Walpole, the War of the Polish succession, and ‘national interest’
    (pp. 168-187)

    The 1730s can appear as an interlude between more turbulent and interesting times. Historians focused on conflict move quickly over this decade in eager anticipation of Frederick the Great’s dramatic arrival on the international scene in 1740. Within Britain too, with the exception of the Excise crisis, there seems little of historical note. Sir Robert Walpole was at the height of his power and his support for low taxes, trade and peace meant that the British ship of state sailed smoothly onwards. Or at least, that is the received view.¹

    Sir Robert has often been regarded as central to saving...

  15. 7 The decline of the protestant interest?
    (pp. 188-228)

    The final chapter traces the interaction of the protestant interest and foreign policy to the outbreak of the Seven Years War. It is a story of partial decline: within diplomatic correspondence, and more popular discussions of policy, the linkage of the protestant interest and the balance of Europe observed in earlier chapters occurs less frequently. Phrases such as the ‘common cause’ and the ‘Old System’ appear instead. The chapter explores why this shift happened. The explanation partly lies in structural alterations to the international system. International relations were becoming more complicated as the number of ‘great powers’ increased. Prior to...

  16. Conclusion
    (pp. 229-237)

    Foreign policy in Britain and Hanover in the eighteenth century was based on ideas, not just immediate interests. Reconstructing the history of diplomatic thought throws valuable light on how Britons and Hanoverians thought about themselves and their rulers. It is common to regard the eighteenth century as characterised by the ‘enlightened’ diplomacy of the balance of power. Yet it is important to remember that the balance of power could mean different things to different people at different times. This does not render it meaningless. Rather, the historian must locate the specific meanings of the term. For the early eighteenth century,...

  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 238-262)
  18. Index
    (pp. 263-272)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 273-273)