The Kingdom of Great Britain, officially called simply Great Britain, was a sovereign state in western Europe from 1 May 1707 to 31 December 1800. The state came into being following the Treaty of Union in 1706, ratified by the Acts of Union 1707, which united the kingdoms of England (which included Wales) and Scotland to form a single kingdom encompassing the whole island of Great Britain and its outlying islands, with the exception of the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. It also did not include Ireland, which remained a separate realm. The unitary state was governed by a single parliament and government that was based in Westminster. The former kingdoms had been in personal union since James VI, King of Scots, became King of England and King of Ireland in 1603 following the death of Queen Elizabeth I, bringing about the "Union of the Crowns". Also after the accession of King George I to the throne of Great Britain in 1714, the kingdom was in a personal union with the Electorate of Hanover.
The early years of the unified kingdom were marked by Jacobite risings which ended in defeat for the Stuart cause at Culloden in 1746. In 1763, victory in the Seven Years' War led to the dominance of the British Empire, which was to become the foremost global power for over a century and slowly grew to become the largest empire in history.
The name Britain descends from the Latin name for the island of Great Britain, Britannia or Brittānia, the land of the Britons via the Old French Bretaigne (whence also Modern French Bretagne) and Middle English Bretayne, Breteyne. The term Great Britain was first used officially in 1474.
The use of the word "Great" before "Britain" originates in the French language, which uses Bretagne for both Britain and Brittany. French therefore distinguishes between the two by calling Britain la Grande Bretagne, a distinction which was transferred into English.
The Treaty of Union and the subsequent Acts of Union state that England and Scotland were to be "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain", and as such "Great Britain" was the official name of the state, as well as being used in titles such as "Parliament of Great Britain". Both the Acts and the Treaty describe the country as "One Kingdom" and a "United Kingdom", which has led some much later publications into the error of treating the "United Kingdom" as a name before it actually came into being in 1801. The websites of the Scottish Parliament, the BBC, and others, including the Historical Association, refer to the state created on 1 May 1707 as the United Kingdom of Great Britain. The term United Kingdom was sometimes used during the 18th century to describe the state, but was not its name.
The kingdoms of England and Scotland, both in existence from the 9th century (with England incorporating Wales in the 16th century), were separate states until 1707. However, they had come into a personal union in 1603, when James VI of Scotland became king of England under the name of James I. This Union of the Crowns under the House of Stuart meant that the whole of the island of Great Britain was now ruled by a single monarch, who by virtue of holding the English crown also ruled over the Kingdom of Ireland. Each of the three kingdoms maintained its own parliament and laws. Various smaller islands were in the king's domain, including the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.