Picking up where we left off

English Revolution

Highlight: Basically, this period was one long contest between the king and Parliament to determine what role each should play in governing England (cough cough, Trump vs judicial branch).

Queen Elizabeth (her father was Henry VIII who made the switch to Protestantism in England and then her sister was Queen but died and Elizabeth took over) – she never married or had children. So when she died, her cousin James I took the throne in 1603, beginning a new family dynasty (going from the Tudors to the Stuarts). He believed in the divine right of kings (aka they can do anything because they got their power from God and answer only to him — cough cough, kind of like Trump who doesn’t have to answer to anyone because God kept it from raining on his inauguration). Parliament obviously wasn’t too keen on this idea because they were supposed to rule together. They’d co-existed since 1295 after all! Also not excited about this idea were the Puritans who were more influenced by Calvinist ideas and didn’t want the Church of England to be so similar to the Catholic Church. The Puritan land-owners made up a significant portion of the lower house of Parliament (House of Commons). In order to remind King James I of his place, Parliament passed a Petition of Right to limit his ability to tax, imprison citizens without cause, quarter troops, and institute martial law. It was basically the opposite of his divine right of kings idea. When James I was replaced by his son, Charles I, Charles initially pretended to go along with the Petition of Right but then basically ignored it. He also tried to add more ritual back into the Church of England (making it more like Catholicism). Aaaaand that’s when loads (thousands) of Puritans left for America. It’s allll connected!

Photo by Keith Allison – originally posted to Flickr

Eventually it was all too much and civil war began in 1642 between the Cavaliers (loyal to King Charles I, like @kingjames — Lebron James — who is on the Cavaliers – get it?!) and the Roundheads (loyal to Parliament and also had short hair instead of ringlets…don’t ask me why). Oliver Cromwell led the New Model Army of Roundheads with new military tactics and defeated the Cavaliers and the king. He “purged Parliament of any members who had not supported him” (yikes!) and then had King Charles I beheaded! Parliament abolished the monarchy and the House of Lords and declared England a commonwealth (by and for the people) led by Cromwell. Buuuuut Cromwell didn’t get along well enough with the Parliament (even after the purge) so he got rid of them too and became a military dictator! England did not see that coming!

When Cromwell died in 1658, the army was like “uhhh, you can have it back” and restored the monarchy to Charles I’s son (creatively named Charles II). But don’t worry, Parliament still kept a lot of the power it had gained in the civil war (before Cromwell went power crazy). Charles II had a brother (James II, of course) who was Catholic so he was a little friendlier with Catholicism than Parliament appreciated. Keep in mind, it has now been 100 years since the last time England was Catholic (under Queen Mary). So when Charles II tried to suspend laws discriminating against Catholics and Puritans, Parliament thought he was moving in the wrong direction toward Catholicism and said “no, thank you” and passed a law saying only members of the Church of England could be in the military or have government jobs (called the Test Act). Yeah, this looks like a power move, not a religious conviction. When Charles II died in 1685, his brother James II took over and gave high positions of power to Catholics. Parliament figured he was too old to bother fighting, though, so they waited for one of his daughters or his wife to take over when he died. But surprise! He had a last minute son (when he was 55). Minor complication.

King James II and Anne Hyde in the 1660s, by Sir Peter Lely 

Some of the English nobles couldn’t handle it, so they asked the Dutch leader, William of Orange, to go ahead and invade England. (WHAT!) It was a bit awkward because William of Orange was married to Mary, King James II’s daughter. Ummm. Basically King James II gave up without fighting back. He and his family fled to France and William and Mary took the throne. At the same time, the Bill of Rights was established – it “set forth Parliament’s right to make laws and to levy taxes,” “made it impossible for kings to oppose or to do without Parliament by stating that standing armies could be raised only with Parliament’s consent,” gave citizens the right to keep arms and to have a trial by jury. Lastly, it created a “system of government based on the rule of law and a freely elected Parliament” and “laid the foundation for a limited, or constitutional, monarchy.” They also passed the Toleration Act which gave Puritans freedom of public worship (but not for Catholics) – basically ending religious persecution in England. And by doing all this, Parliament proved that the divine right of kings was not actually a thing. And that, my friends, was the Glorious Revolution!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s