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Humanities Libertexts

Section 3: England and Parliamentary Monarchy

Elizabeth I and English Patriotism

The reign of Elizabeth I was marked by the restoration of the Protestant Church of England and competition with a powerful Spain, both of which fueled a sense of modern English national identity.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

Identify some of the highlights from Queen Elizabeth I’s reign

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Key Points

  • Elizabeth I (1533–1603) was Queen of England and Ireland from 1558 until her death in 1603. She succeeded her Roman Catholic half-sister, Mary to the throne. Elizabeth never married nor had children and thus was the last monarch of the Tudor dynasty.
  • Mary’s marriage to Philip II of Spain contributed to the complex relations between England and Spain that after Mary’s death dominated Elizabeth’s reign in the realm of international relations.
  • Elizabeth’s efforts led to the Religious Settlement, a legal process by which the Protestant Church of England was restored and the queen took the title of Supreme Governor of the Church of England.
  • Elizabeth’s foreign policy was largely defensive. While she managed to establish diplomatic relations with some of the most powerful contemporary empires and supported Protestant struggles across Europe, her greatest foreign policy challenge was Catholic Spain and its Armada, over which England eventually triumphed.
  • Establishing the Roanoke Colony and chartering the East India Company during Elizabeth’s reign was an onset of what would turn into the powerful British Empire.
  • The Elizabethan age inspired national pride through classical ideals, international expansion, and naval triumph over the Spanish.

Key Terms

  • Anglo-Spanish War: An intermittent conflict (1585–1604) between the kingdoms of Spain and England that was never formally declared. The war was punctuated by widely separated battles, and began with England’s military expedition in 1585 to the Netherlands in support of the resistance of the States General to Spanish Habsburg rule.
  • French Catholic League: A major participant in the French Wars of Religion, formed by Henry I, Duke of Guise, in 1576. It intended the eradication of Protestants—also known as Calvinists or Huguenots—out of Catholic France during the Protestant Reformation, as well as the replacement of King Henry III. Pope Sixtus V, Philip II of Spain, and the Jesuits were all supporters of this Catholic party.
  • Religious Settlement: A legal process by which the Protestant Church of England was restored. It was made during the reign of Elizabeth I in response to the religious divisions in England. Described as “The Revolution of 1559,” it was set out in two acts of the Parliament of England. The Act of Supremacy of 1558 re-established the Church of England’s independence from Rome, while the Act of Uniformity of 1559 outlined what form the English Church should take.
  • Spanish Armada: A Spanish fleet of 130 ships that sailed from A Coruña in August 1588 with the purpose of escorting an army from Flanders to invade England. The strategic aim was to overthrow Queen Elizabeth I of England and the Tudor establishment of Protestantism in England.
  • Roanoke Colony: A colony established on Roanoke Island, in what is today’s Dare County, North Carolina, United States. It was a late 16th-century attempt by Queen Elizabeth I to establish a permanent English settlement. The colony was founded by Sir Walter Raleigh. The colonists disappeared during the Anglo-Spanish War, three years after the last shipment of supplies from England.

Elizabeth I of England

Elizabeth I (1533–1603) was Queen of England and Ireland from 1558 until her death in 1603. She was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, his second wife, who was executed two and a half years after Elizabeth’s birth. Anne’s marriage to Henry VIII was annulled and Elizabeth was declared illegitimate. In 1558, Elizabeth succeeded her Roman Catholic half-sister, Mary. She never married nor had children and thus was the last monarch of the Tudor dynasty.

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The “Darnley Portrait” of Elizabeth I of England, National Portrait Gallery (c. 1575)

The portrait was named after a previous owner. Probably painted from life, it is the source of the face pattern called “The Mask of Youth,” which would be used for authorized portraits of Elizabeth for decades to come. Recent research has shown the colors have faded. The oranges and browns would have been crimson red in Elizabeth’s time.

Mary I and Philip II of Spain

In 1554, Queen Mary of England married Philip, who only two years later began to rule Spain as Philip II. Under the terms of the Act for the Marriage, Philip was to enjoy Mary I’s titles and honors for as long as their marriage should last, and was to co-reign with his wife. Although Elizabeth initially demonstrated solidarity with her sister, the two were sharply divided along religious lines. Mary, a devout Catholic, was determined to crush the Protestant faith, in which Elizabeth had been educated. After Mary married Philip, who saw the protection of Catholicism in Europe as his life’s mission, Mary’s popularity ebbed away,  and many looked to Elizabeth as a focus for their opposition to Mary’s religious policies. In 1555, Elizabeth was recalled to court to attend the final stages of Mary’s apparent pregnancy. When it became clear that Mary was not pregnant, no one believed any longer that she could have a child. Elizabeth’s succession seemed assured.

King Philip acknowledged the new political reality and cultivated his sister-in-law. She was a better ally than the chief alternative, Mary, Queen of Scots, who had grown up in France and was betrothed to the Dauphin of France. When his wife fell ill in 1558, Philip consulted with Elizabeth. By October 1558, Elizabeth was making plans for her government. On November 6, Mary recognized Elizabeth as her heir. On November 17, Mary died and Elizabeth succeeded to the throne.

Religious Settlement

In terms of religious matters, Elizabeth was pragmatic. She and her advisers recognized the threat of a Catholic crusade against England. Elizabeth therefore sought a Protestant solution that would not offend Catholics too greatly while addressing the desires of English Protestants, but she would not tolerate the more radical Puritans, who were pushing for far-reaching reforms. As a result, the parliament of 1559 started to legislate for a church based on the Protestant settlement of Edward VI, with the monarch as its head, but with many Catholic elements. Eventually, Elizabeth was forced to accept the title of Supreme Governor of the Church of England rather than the more contentious title of Supreme Head, which many thought unacceptable for a woman to bear. The new Act of Supremacy became law in 1559. All public officials were to swear an oath of loyalty to the monarch as the supreme governor or risk disqualification from office. The heresy laws were repealed to avoid a repeat of the persecution of dissenters practiced by Mary. At the same time, a new Act of Uniformity was passed, which made attendance at church and the use of an adapted version of the 1552 Book of Common Prayer compulsory, though penalties for those who failed to conform were not extreme.

Foreign Policy

Elizabeth’s foreign policy was largely defensive. The exception was the English occupation of Le Havre from October 1562 to June 1563, which ended in failure when Elizabeth’s Huguenot (Protestant) allies joined with the Catholics to retake the port. After the occupation and loss of Le Havre, Elizabeth avoided military expeditions on the continent until 1585, when she sent an English army to aid the Protestant Dutch rebels against Philip II. In December 1584, an alliance between Philip II and the French Catholic League undermined the ability of Henry III of France to counter Spanish domination of the Netherlands. It also extended Spanish influence along the channel coast of France, where the Catholic League was strong, and exposed England to invasion. The siege of Antwerp in the summer of 1585 by the Duke of Parma necessitated some reaction on the part of the English and the Dutch. The outcome was the Treaty of Nonsuch of August 1585, in which Elizabeth promised military support to the Dutch. The treaty marked the beginning of the Anglo-Spanish War, which lasted until the Treaty of London in 1604.

After Mary’s death, Philip II of Spain had no wish to sever his ties with England, and sent a proposal of marriage to Elizabeth, but was denied. For many
years, Philip maintained peace with England and even defended Elizabeth from the pope ‘s threat of excommunication. This was a measure taken to preserve a European balance of power. Ultimately, Elizabeth allied England with the Protestant rebels in the Netherlands (which at the time fought for independence from Spain). Further, English ships began a policy of piracy against Spanish trade and threatened to plunder the great Spanish treasure ships coming from the new world. However, the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1587 ended Philip’s hopes of placing a Catholic on the English throne. He turned instead to more direct plans to invade England, with vague plans to return the country to Catholicism. In 1588 he sent a fleet, the Spanish Armada, across the English Channel. The Spanish were forced into a retreat, and the overwhelming majority of the Armada was destroyed by the harsh weather.

Elizabeth also continued to maintain the diplomatic relations with the Tsardom of Russia originally established by her deceased brother. During her rule, trade and diplomatic relations developed between England and the Barbary states as well. England established a trading relationship with Morocco in opposition to Spain, selling armor, ammunition, timber, and metal in exchange for Moroccan sugar, in spite of a papal ban. Diplomatic relations were also established with the Ottoman Empire with the chartering of the Levant Company and the dispatch of the first English ambassador to the Porte, William Harborne, in 1578.

The Onset of the British Empire

After the travels of Christopher Columbus electrified all of western Europe, England joined in the colonization of the New World. In 1562, Elizabeth sent privateers Hawkins and Drake to seize booty from Spanish and Portuguese ships off the coast of West Africa. Spain was well established in the Americas, while Portugal, in union with Spain from 1580, had an ambitious global empire in Africa, Asia, and South America; France was exploring North America. England was stimulated to create its own colonies, with an emphasis on the West Indies rather than in North America. From 1577 to 1580, Sir Francis Drake circumnavigated the globe. Combined with his daring raids against the Spanish and his great victory over them at Cadiz in 1587, he became a famous hero, but England did not follow up on his claims. In 1583, Humphrey Gilbert sailed to Newfoundland, taking possession of the harbor of St. John’s together with all land within two hundred leagues to the north and south of it. In 1584, the queen granted Sir Walter Raleigh a charter for the colonization of Virginia; it was named in her honor. Raleigh sent others to found the Roanoke Colony (it remains a mystery why the settlers there all disappeared). In 1600, the queen chartered the East India Company. It established trading posts that in later centuries evolved into British India, on the coasts of what is now India and Bangladesh. Larger-scale colonization began shortly after Elizabeth’s death.

Nationalism

Elizabeth established an English church that helped shape a national identity and remains in place today. Though she followed a largely defensive foreign policy, her reign raised England’s status abroad. Under Elizabeth, the nation gained a new self-confidence and sense of sovereignty, as Christendom fragmented. She was the first Tudor to recognize that a monarch ruled by popular consent. She therefore always worked with parliament and advisers she could trust to tell her the truth—a style of government that her Stuart successors failed to follow. The symbol of Britannia was first used in 1572, and often thereafter, to mark the Elizabethan age as a renaissance that inspired national pride through classical ideals, international expansion, and naval triumph over the Spanish.

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Britannia depicted on a half penny of 1936

Britannia was the Greek and Roman term for the geographical region of Great Britain that was inhabited by the Britons and is the name given to the female personification of the island. It was during the reign of Elizabeth I that “Britannia” came to be viewed as a personification of Britain.

The First Stuarts and Catholicism

Believing that their power was God-given right, James I and his son and successor, Charles I of England, reigned England in the atmosphere of repeated escalating conflicts with the English Parliament.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

Describe the tensions between the Stuart kings and Parliament over religion

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Key Points

  • James I and his son and successor, Charles I of England, reigned England in the atmosphere of repeated escalating conflicts with the English Parliament.
  • James I believed that he owed his superior authority to God-given right, while Parliament believed the king ruled by contract (an unwritten one, yet fully binding) and that its own rights were equal to those of the king.
  • A failed assassination attempt in 1605 against King James I of England and VI of Scotland by a group of provincial English Catholics led by Robert Catesby fueled anti-Catholic sentiments in England. By the 1620s, events on the continent had stirred up anti-Catholic feeling to a new pitch, and James was forced to declare war on Catholic Spain.
  • Charles I, married to a Catholic and reluctant to collaborate with or listen to Parliament, reigned in the atmosphere of constant, escalating conflicts with a consistently anti-Catholic Parliament.
  • After an eleven-year period of ruling without Parliament, the Long Parliament assembled in 1640 and quickly began proceedings to impeach the king’s leading counselors for high treason.
  • The escalating conflict between the king and the Parliament resulted in what is known as the English Civil War (1642–1651). A series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians (“Roundheads”) and Royalists (“Cavaliers”) ended in, among other things, the prosecution of Charles I.

Key Terms

  • English Civil War: A series of armed conflicts and political machinations between English Parliamentarians (“Roundheads”) and Royalists (“Cavaliers”) over, principally, the manner of its government. The first (1642–1646) and second (1648–1649) wars pitted the supporters of Charles I against the supporters of the Long Parliament, while the third (1649–1651) saw fighting between supporters of King Charles II and supporters of the Rump Parliament.
  • eleven years’ tyranny: The period from 1629 to 1640, when King Charles I of England, Scotland, and Ireland ruled without recourse to Parliament. The king was entitled to do this under the Royal Prerogative. His actions caused discontent among the ruling classes, but the effects were more popular with the common people.
  • Gunpowder Plot: A failed assassination attempt in 1605 against King James I of England and VI of Scotland by a group of provincial English Catholics led by Robert Catesby. The plan was to blow up the House of Lords during the State Opening of England’s Parliament on November 5, 1605, as the prelude to a popular revolt in the Midlands during which James’s nine-year-old daughter, Princess Elizabeth, was to be installed as the Catholic head of state.
  • Thirty Years’ War: A series of wars in Central Europe between 1618 and 1648. Initially a war between various Protestant and Catholic states in the fragmented Holy Roman Empire, it gradually developed into a more general conflict involving most of the great powers.
  • Long Parliament: An English Parliament that lasted from 1640 until 1660. It followed the fiasco of the Short Parliament, which had been held for three weeks during the spring of 1640, and which in its turn had followed a parliamentary absence of eleven years.

Background: Reformation in England in Scotland

The separation of the Church of England (or Anglican Church) from Rome under Henry VIII brought England alongside a broad Reformation movement, but the English Reformation differed from its European counterparts. Based on Henry VIII’s desire for an annulment of his marriage, it was at the outset more of a political affair than a theological dispute. The break with Rome was effected by a series of acts of Parliament, but Catholic Mary I restored papal jurisdiction in 1553. However, Mary’s successor, Elizabeth I, restored the Church of England and reasserted the royal supremacy in 1559. After she died without an heir, James VI, her cousin and King of Scots, succeeded to the throne of England as James I in 1603, thus uniting Scotland and England under one monarch (the Union of the Crowns).  He was the first of the Stuart dynasty to rule Scotland and England. He and his son and successor, Charles I of England, reigned England in the atmosphere of repeated escalating conflicts with the English Parliament.

James I and the English Parliament

James developed his political philosophy of the relationship between monarch and parliament in Scotland, and never reconciled himself to the independent stance of the English Parliament and its unwillingness to bow readily to his policies.
The crucial source of concern was that the king and Parliament adhered to two mutually exclusive views about the nature of their relationship. James I believed that he owed his superior authority to God-given right, while Parliament believed the king ruled by contract (an unwritten one, yet fully binding) and that its own rights were equal to those of the king.

On the eve of the state opening of the parliamentary session on November 5, 1605, a soldier called Guy Fawkes was discovered in the cellars of the parliament buildings guarding about twenty barrels of gunpowder with which he intended to blow up Parliament House the following day. A Catholic conspiracy led by a disaffected gentleman called Robert Catesby, the Gunpowder Plot, as it quickly became known, had in fact been discovered in advance of Fawkes’s arrest and deliberately allowed to mature in order to catch the culprits red-handed and the plotters unawares.

By the 1620s, events on the continent had stirred up anti-Catholic feeling to a new pitch. A conflict had broken out between the Catholic Holy Roman Empire and the Protestant Bohemians, who had deposed the emperor as their king and elected James’s son-in-law, Frederick V, Elector Palatine, in his place, triggering the Thirty Years’ War. James reluctantly summoned Parliament as the only means to raise the funds necessary to assist his daughter Elizabeth and Frederick, who had been ousted from Prague by Emperor Ferdinand II in 1620. The Commons on the one hand granted subsidies inadequate to finance serious military operations in aid of Frederick, and on the other called for a war directly against Spain. In November 1621, led by Sir Edward Coke, they framed a petition asking not only for a war with Spain but also for Prince Charles to marry a Protestant, and for enforcement of the anti-Catholic laws. James flatly told them not to interfere in matters of royal prerogative and dissolved Parliament.

The failed attempt to marry Prince Charles with the Catholic Spanish Infanta Maria (known as the Spanish match), which both the Parliament and the public strongly opposed, was followed by even stronger anti-Catholic sentiment in the Commons that was finally echoed in court. The outcome of the Parliament of 1624 was ambiguous; James still refused to declare war, but Charles believed the Commons had committed themselves to financing a war against Spain, a stance which was to contribute to his problems with Parliament in his own reign.

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James I of England, Portrait attributed to John de Critz, c. 1605

King of Scotland as James VI from 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the Scottish and English crowns in 1603 until his death.

Charles I and the English Parliament

With the failure of the Spanish match, Charles married French princess Henrietta Maria. Many members of the Commons were opposed to the king’s marriage to a Roman Catholic. Although he told Parliament that he would not relax religious restrictions, Charles promised to do exactly that in a secret marriage treaty with Louis XIII of France. Moreover, the treaty placed under French command an English naval force that would be used to suppress the Protestant Huguenots at La Rochelle. Charles was crowned in 1626 at Westminster Abbey without his wife at his side because she refused to participate in a Protestant religious ceremony.

Domestic quarrels between Charles and Henrietta Maria were souring the early years of their marriage. Despite Charles’s agreement to provide the French with English ships, in 1627 he launched an attack on the French coast to defend the Huguenots at La Rochelle. The action, led by Buckingham (James and Charles’ close collaborator; hated by Parliament), was ultimately unsuccessful. After Buckingham was assassinated in 1628, Charles’s relationship with his Catholic wife dramatically improved.

Although the death of Buckingham effectively ended the war with Spain and eliminated his leadership as an issue, it did not end the conflicts between Charles and Parliament. In January 1629, Charles opened the second session of the English Parliament. Members of the House of Commons began to voice opposition to Charles’s policies. Many MPs viewed the imposition of taxes as a breach of the Petition of Right. When Charles ordered a parliamentary adjournment on March 2, members held the Speaker down in his chair so that the ending of the session could be delayed long enough for various resolutions, including Anti-Catholic and tax-regulating laws.  The provocation was too much for Charles, who dissolved Parliament. Shortly after the prorogation, without the means in the foreseeable future to raise funds from Parliament for a European war, Charles made peace with France and Spain. The following eleven years, during which Charles ruled England without a Parliament, are referred to as the “personal rule” or the “eleven years’ tyranny.”

The Long Parliament, which assembled in the aftermath of the personal rule, started in 1640 and quickly began proceedings to impeach the king’s leading counselors for high treason. To prevent the king from dissolving it at will, Parliament passed the Triennial Act, which required Parliament to be summoned at least once every three years, and permitted the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal and twelve peers to summon Parliament if the king failed to do so.

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Charles I of England, portrait from the studio of Anthony van Dyck, 1636.  Studio version of much copied original in the Royal Collection, Windsor Castle.: After his succession, Charles quarreled with the Parliament of England, which sought to curb his royal prerogative. Charles believed in the divine right of kings and thought he could govern according to his own conscience. Many of his subjects opposed his policies, in particular the levying of taxes without parliamentary consent, and perceived his actions as those of a tyrannical absolute monarch.

The English Civil War

The escalating conflict between the king and Parliament resulted in what is known as the English Civil War (1642–1651). It was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians (“Roundheads”) and Royalists (“Cavaliers”) over, principally, the manner of its government. The first (1642–1646) and second (1648–1649) wars pitted the supporters of Charles against the supporters of the Long Parliament, while the third (1649–1651) saw fighting between supporters of King Charles II and supporters of the Rump Parliament. The war ended with the Parliamentarian victory at the Battle of Worcester on September 3, 1651.

The overall outcome of the war was threefold: the trial and execution of Charles I; the exile of his son, Charles II; and the replacement of English monarchy with, at first, the Commonwealth of England (1649–1653), and then the Protectorate (1653–1659) under Oliver Cromwell’s personal rule. The monopoly of the Church of England on Christian worship in England ended with the victors consolidating the established Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland. Constitutionally, the wars established the precedent that an English monarch cannot govern without Parliament’s consent, although the idea of Parliament as the ruling power of England was legally established as part of the Glorious Revolution in 1688.

Charles I and the Power to Tax

Charles I’s attempt to impose taxes not authorized by Parliament contributed to the ongoing conflict between the king and Parliament and eventually resulted in the passing of the 1628 Petition of Right.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

Analyze why the power to determine taxation was so important

 

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Key Points

  • Charles I of England continued his father’s policy and decided to support Christian IV of Denmark and Frederick V, Elector Palatine, during the Thirty Years’ War, which caused major tensions with a Parliament that refused to finance the war.
  • After the Commons continued to refuse to provide money and began investigating the Duke of Buckingham, Charles I dissolved Parliament. By 1627, with England still at war, Charles decided to raise “forced loans,” or taxes not authorized by Parliament.
  • To cope with the ongoing war situation, Charles had introduced martial law, which, as then understood, was not a form of substantive law, but instead a suspension of the rule of law.
  • Charles decided that the only way to prosecute the war was to again ask Parliament for money, and Parliament assembled in 1628. As a result, a series of parliamentary declarations establishing a series of personal liberties known as the Resolutions were prepared after tense debates.
  • In the end, a suggestion to pass the Resolutions as a petition of right won. A committee produced a petition covering discretionary imprisonment, non-Parliamentary taxation, martial law, and forced billeting.
  • The 1628 Petition of Right marks the founding of the United Kingdom’s modern constitutional monarchy.

Key Terms

  • habeas corpus: In medieval Latin it means literally “You may have the body,” a recourse in law whereby a person can report an unlawful detention or imprisonment before a court, usually through a prison official.
  • Tonnage and Poundage: Certain duties and taxes first levied in Edward II’s reign on every tun (cask) of imported wine, which came mostly from Spain and Portugal, and on every pound weight of merchandise exported or imported. Traditionally it was granted by Parliament to the king for life until the reign of Charles I.
  • Thirty Years’ War: A series of wars in Central Europe between 1618 and 1648. Initially a war between various Protestant and Catholic states in the fragmented Holy Roman Empire, it gradually developed into a more general conflict involving most of the great powers.
  • Petition of Right: A major English constitutional document that sets out specific liberties of the subjects that the king is prohibited from infringing. Passed in 1628, it contains restrictions on non-Parliamentary taxation, forced billeting of soldiers, imprisonment without cause, and the use of martial law.

Charles I of England and the English Parliament

In 1625, King James I of England died and was succeeded by his son, who became Charles I. Along with the throne, Charles inherited the Thirty Years’ War, in which Christian IV of Denmark and Frederick V, Elector Palatine, who was married to Charles’s sister Elizabeth, were attempting to take back their hereditary lands and titles from the Habsburg Monarchy. James had caused significant financial problems with his attempts to support Christian and Frederick, and it was expected that Charles would be more amenable to prosecuting the war responsibly. After he summoned a new Parliament to meet in April 1625, it became clear that he was not. He demanded over £700,000 to assist in prosecuting the war. The House of Commons refused and instead passed two bills granting him only £112,000. In addition, rather than renewing the customs due from Tonnage and Poundage for the entire life of the monarch, which was traditional, the Commons only voted them in for one year. Because of this, the House of Lords rejected the bill, leaving Charles without any money to provide to the war effort.

After the Commons continued to refuse to provide money and began investigating the Duke of Buckingham, Charles’s favorite, Charles dissolved Parliament. By 1627, with England still at war, Charles decided to raise “forced loans,” or taxes not authorized by Parliament. Anyone who refused to pay would be imprisoned without trial, and if they resisted, would be sent before the Privy Council. Although the judiciary initially refused to endorse these loans, they succumbed to pressure. While Charles continued to demand the loans, more and more wealthy landowners refused to pay, reducing the income from the loans and necessitating a new Parliament being called in 1627.

Martial Law

To cope with the ongoing war situation, Charles had introduced martial law to large swathes of the country, and in 1627 to the entire nation. Crucially, martial law as then understood was not a form of substantive law, but instead a suspension of the rule of law. It was the replacement of normal statutes with a law based on the whims of the local military commander. However, Charles decided that the only way to prosecute the war was to again ask Parliament for money, and Parliament assembled in 1628. As a result, a series of Parliamentary declarations known as the Resolutions were prepared after tense debates. They held that imprisonment was illegal, except under law; habeas corpus should be granted to anyone, whether they are imprisoned by the king or the Privy Council; defendants could not be remanded in custody until the crime they were charged with was shown; and non-Parliamentary taxation such as the forced loans was illegal (the first three later became the foundations of the Habeas Corpus Act 1679). The Resolutions were unanimously accepted by the Commons in April, but they met a mixed reception at the House of Lords, and Charles refused to accept them.

The Petition of Right

The conflict between the king and Parliament escalated. A number of possible alternatives to the Resolutions were debated, but finally Sir Edward Coke made a speech suggesting that the Commons join with the House of Lords and pass their four resolutions as a petition of right (although he was not the first to do so). The idea of a petition of right was an established element of Parliamentary procedure, and in addition, had not been expressly prohibited by Charles. A committee produced a petition containing the same elements as the Resolutions, covering discretionary imprisonment, non-Parliamentary taxation, martial law, and forced billeting.

The Commons accepted the recommendations on May 8, and after a long debate that attempted to accommodate the hostile king, the House of Lords unanimously voted to join with the Commons on the Petition of Right, while passing their own resolution,  assuring the king of their loyalty.
Following the acceptance of the Petition by the House of Lords, Charles sent a message to the Commons “forbidding them to meddle with affairs of state,” which produced a furious debate. On June 7, Charles capitulated and accepted the Petition. After setting out a list of individual grievances and statutes that had been broken, the 1628 Petition of Right declares that Englishmen have various “rights and liberties,” and provides that no person should be forced to provide a gift, loan, or tax without an Act of Parliament, that no free individual should be imprisoned or detained unless a cause has been shown, and that soldiers or members of the Royal Navy should not be billeted in private houses without the free consent of the owner. It also restricts the use of martial law except in war or direct rebellion and prohibited the formation of commissions.

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The Petition of Right, 1628, Parliament of England

The Petition of Right, a major English constitutional document that sets out specific liberties of the subject that the king is prohibited from infringing. Drafted by a committee headed by Sir Edward Coke, it was passed and ratified in 1628.

Significance

Some historians have argued that the passage of the Petition of Right marks the founding of the United Kingdom’s modern constitutional monarchy. The Petition of Right also marked a substantial cooperative work between individual parliamentarians and between the Commons and Lords, something that had previously been lacking and that in the end led to the formation of political parties. Within what is now the Commonwealth of Nations, the Petition was also heavily influential. It remains in force in both New Zealand and Australia, as well as the United Kingdom itself. The Petition also profoundly influenced the rights contained by the Constitution of the United States.

Cromwell and the Roundheads

The escalating conflict between Charles I of England and the English Parliament resulted in the English Civil War, in the aftermath of which monarchy disappeared for over a decade and Oliver Cromwell ruled  as Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

Explain how Cromwell rose to power.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Key Points

  • Charles I’s belief, inherited from his father, that the power of the crown is God-given and that the king does not have to respect the position of the English Parliament, shaped his reign and led to a political crisis that in the end would cost him his own life.
  • After the 1628 Parliament drew up the Petition of Right, Charles I avoided calling a Parliament for the next decade, a period known as the “personal rule” or the “eleven years’ tyranny.” During this period, Charles’s lack of money determined policies.
  • Charles finally bowed to pressure and summoned another English Parliament in November 1640. Known as the Long Parliament, it passed laws that strengthened the position of and protected Parliament.
  • Charles and his supporters continued to resent Parliament’s demands, while Parliamentarians continued to suspect Charles of wanting to impose episcopalianism and unfettered royal rule by military force. After Ireland first descended into chaos, cities and towns declared their sympathies for one faction or the
    other.
  • The English Civil War (1642–1651) pitted the supporters of King Charles I and later his son and successor, Charles II, against the supporters of Parliament. Its outcome was threefold: the trial and execution of Charles I, the exile of Charles II, and the replacement of English monarchy with, at first, the Commonwealth of England (1649–53), and then the Protectorate (1653–59) under Oliver Cromwell’s personal rule.
  • In 1653, Cromwell was invited by his fellow leaders to rule as Lord Protector of England (which included Wales at the time), Scotland, and Ireland. As a ruler, he executed an aggressive and effective foreign policy.

Key Terms

  • Cavaliers: A name first used by Roundheads as a term of abuse for the wealthier male Royalist supporters of King Charles I and his son Charles II of England during the English Civil War, the Interregnum, and the Restoration (1642–c. 1679). It was later adopted by the Royalists themselves.
  • Rump Parliament: The English Parliament after Colonel Thomas Pride purged the Long Parliament on December 6, 1648, of those members hostile to the Grandees’ intention to try King Charles I for high treason.
  • eleven years’ tyranny: The period from 1629 to 1640, when King Charles I of England, Scotland, and Ireland ruled without recourse to Parliament. The King was entitled to do this under the Royal Prerogative. His actions caused discontent among the ruling classes, but the effects were more popular with the common people.
  • Long Parliament: An English Parliament that lasted from 1640 until 1660. It
    followed the fiasco of the Short Parliament, which had been held for three
    weeks during the spring of 1640, and which in its turn had followed eleven years of parliamentary absence.
  • Roundheads: The name given to the supporters of the Parliament of England during the English Civil War. Also known as Parliamentarians, they fought against Charles I of England and his supporters, the Cavaliers or Royalists, who claimed rule by absolute monarchy and the divine right of kings. Their goal was to give the Parliament supreme control over executive administration.
  • New Model Army: An army formed in 1645 by the Parliamentarians in the English Civil War and disbanded in 1660 after the Restoration. It differed from other armies in the series of civil wars referred to as the Wars of the Three Kingdoms in that it was intended as an army liable for service anywhere in the country (including in Scotland and Ireland) rather than being tied to a single area or garrison. Its soldiers became full-time professionals rather than part-time militia.
  • Petition of Right: A major English constitutional document that sets out specific liberties of the subjects that the king is prohibited from infringing. Passed in 1628, it contains restrictions on non-Parliamentary taxation, forced billeting of soldiers, imprisonment without cause, and the use of martial law.
  • tonnage and poundage: Certain duties and taxes first levied in Edward II’s reign on every tun (cask) of imported wine, which came mostly from Spain and Portugal, and on every pound weight of merchandise exported or imported. Traditionally it was granted by Parliament to the king for life until the reign of Charles I.
  • Thirty Years’ War: A series of wars in Central Europe between 1618 and 1648. Initially a war between various Protestant and Catholic states in the fragmented Holy Roman Empire, it gradually developed into a more general conflict involving most of the great powers.

Background: The Stuarts and the English Parliament

Elizabeth I’s death in 1603 resulted in the accession of her first cousin twice-removed King James VI of Scotland to the English throne as James I of England, creating the first personal union of the Scottish and English kingdoms. As King of Scots, James had become accustomed to Scotland’s weak parliamentary tradition, and the new King of England was genuinely affronted by the constraints the English Parliament attempted to place on him. Despite tensions between the King and Parliament, James’s  peaceful disposition contributed to relative peace in both England and Scotland. However, his son and successor, Charles I of England, did not share his father’s personality, and engaged in even more tense conflicts with Parliament. Charles’s belief, inherited from his father, that the power of the crown is God-given and that the king does not have to respect the position of the English Parliament, shaped his reign and led to a political crisis that in the end would cost him his own life.

Having dissolved Parliament in 1627 after it did not meet the king’s requirements and threatened his political allies, but unable to raise money without it, Charles assembled a new one in 1628. The new Parliament drew up the Petition of Right, and Charles accepted it as a concession in order to obtain his subsidy. The Petition did not grant him the right of tonnage and poundage, which Charles had been collecting without parliamentary authorization since 1625. Charles I avoided calling a Parliament for the next decade, a period known as the “personal rule” or the “eleven years’ tyranny.” During this period, Charles’s lack of money determined policies. First and foremost, to avoid Parliament, the king needed to avoid war. Charles made peace with France and Spain, effectively ending England’s involvement in the Thirty Years’ War.

Charles finally bowed to pressure and summoned another English Parliament in November 1640. Known as the Long Parliament, it proved even more hostile to Charles than its predecessor, and passed a law that stated that a new Parliament should convene at least once every three years—without the king’s summons, if necessary. Other laws passed by the Parliament made it illegal for the king to impose taxes without parliamentary consent and later gave Parliament control over the king’s ministers. Finally, the Parliament passed a law forbidding the king to dissolve it without its consent, even if the three years were up.

Charles and his supporters continued to resent Parliament’s demands, while Parliamentarians continued to suspect Charles of wanting to impose episcopalianism and unfettered royal rule by military force. Within months, the Irish Catholics, fearing a resurgence of Protestant power, struck first, and all of Ireland soon descended into chaos. In early January 1642, accompanied by 400 soldiers, Charles attempted to arrest five members of the House of Commons on a charge of treason, but failed to do so. A few days after this failure, fearing for the safety of his family and retinue, Charles left the London area for the north of the country. Further negotiations by frequent correspondence between the king and the Long Parliament proved fruitless. As the summer progressed, cities and towns declared their sympathies for one faction or the other.

The English Civil War

What followed is know as the English Civil War (1642–1651), which developed into a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians (” Roundheads “) and Royalists (“Cavaliers”). The first (1642–1646) and second (1648–1649) wars pitted the supporters of King Charles I against the supporters of the Long Parliament, while the third (1649–1651) saw fighting between supporters of King Charles II (Charles I’s son) and supporters of the Rump Parliament. The war ended with the Parliamentarian victory at the Battle of Worcester on September 3, 1651.

The overall outcome of the war was threefold: the trial and execution of Charles I, the exile of Charles II, and the replacement of English monarchy with, at first, the Commonwealth of England (1649–1653), and then the Protectorate (1653–1659) under Oliver Cromwell’s personal rule. The monopoly of the Church of England on Christian worship in England ended with the victors consolidating the established Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland. Constitutionally, the wars established the precedent that an English monarch cannot govern without Parliament’s consent, although the idea of Parliament as the ruling power of England was legally established as part of the Glorious Revolution in 1688.

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Battle of Naseby, artist unknown: The victory of the Parliamentarian New Model Army over the Royalist Army at the Battle of Naseby on June 14, 1645, marked the decisive turning point in the English Civil War.

Oliver Cromwell’s Rise

Oliver Cromwell was relatively obscure for the first forty years of his life. He was an intensely religious man (an Independent Puritan) who entered the English Civil War on the side of the “Roundheads,” or Parliamentarians. Nicknamed “Old Ironsides,” he was quickly promoted from leading a single cavalry troop to being one of the principal commanders of the New Model Army, playing an important role in the defeat of the royalist forces. Cromwell was one of the signatories of King Charles I’s death warrant in 1649, and he dominated the short-lived Commonwealth of England as a member of the Rump Parliament (1649–1653). He was selected to take command of the English campaign in Ireland in 1649–1650. His forces defeated the Confederate and Royalist coalition in Ireland and occupied the country, bringing an end to the Irish Confederate Wars. During this period, a series of Penal Laws were passed against Roman Catholics (a significant minority in England and Scotland but the vast majority in Ireland), and a substantial amount of their land was confiscated. Cromwell also led a campaign against the Scottish army between 1650 and 1651.

In April 1653, he dismissed the Rump Parliament by force, setting up a short-lived nominated assembly known as Barebone’s Parliament, before being invited by his fellow leaders to rule as Lord Protector of England (which included Wales at the time), Scotland, and Ireland from December 1653. As a ruler, he executed an aggressive and effective foreign policy. He died from natural causes in 1658 and the Royalists returned to power in 1660, and they had his corpse dug up, hung in chains, and beheaded.

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Oliver Cromwell by Samuel Cooper (died 1672), the National Portrait Gallery, London

Cromwell is one of the most controversial figures in the history of the British Isles, considered a regicidal dictator, a military dictator, and a hero of liberty. However, his measures against Catholics in Scotland and Ireland have been characterized as genocidal or near-genocidal, and in Ireland his record is harshly criticized.

The English Protectorate

Despite the revolutionary nature of the government during the Protectorate, Cromwell’s regime was marked by an aggressive foreign policy, no drastic reforms at home, and difficult relations with Parliament, which in the end made it increasingly similar to monarchy.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

Describe the English Protectorate, along with its successes and failures

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Key Points

  • In 1653 Oliver Cromwell was declared Lord Protector of a united Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland under the terms of the Instrument of Government, inaugurating the period now usually known as the Protectorate.
  • Cromwell had two key objectives as Lord Protector: “healing and settling” the nation after the chaos of the civil wars and the regicide, and spiritual and moral reform. While his domestic policies presumed no radical reforms and many focused on protecting public morality through religion, Cromwell followed an aggressive foreign policy.
  • Cromwell’s over-reliance on the military reopened the wounds of the 1640s and deepened antipathies to the regime.
  • Being aware of the contribution the Jewish community made to the economic success of Holland, then England’s leading commercial rival, Cromwell encouraged Jews to return to England, 350 years after their banishment by Edward I.
  • After Cromwell’s death in 1658, his son Richard succeeded as Lord Protector but was unable to manage the Parliament and control the army. In 1660, monarchy was restored.
  • Cromwell is one of the most controversial figures in the history of the British Isles, considered a regicidal  dictator or a military dictator by some and a hero of liberty by others. His measures against Catholics in Scotland and Ireland, however, have been characterized as genocidal or near-genocidal.

Key Terms

  • Barebone’s Parliament: Also known as the Little Parliament, the Nominated Assembly, and the Parliament of Saints, was the last attempt of the English Commonwealth (1653) to find a stable political form before the installation of Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector. It was an assembly nominated entirely by Oliver Cromwell and the Army’s Council of Officers.
  • Interregnum: The period between the execution of Charles I on January 30, 1649, and the arrival of his son Charles II in London on May 29, 1660, which marked the start of the Restoration. During the Interregnum England was under various forms of republican government as the Commonwealth of England.
  • Rump Parliament: The English Parliament after Colonel Thomas Pride purged the Long Parliament on December 6, 1648, of those members hostile to the Grandees’ intention to try King Charles I for high treason.
  • Third English Civil War: The last of the English Civil Wars (1649–1651), which were a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists. As the Royal army was mostly Scottish, and as the invasion was not accompanied by any major rising or support in England, the war can also be viewed as primarily an Anglo-Scottish War rather than a continuation of the English Civil War.
  • Instrument of Government: A constitution of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Drafted by Major-General John Lambert in 1653, it was the first sovereign codified and written constitution in England.

The Commonwealth of England

The Commonwealth was the period when England, later along with Ireland and Scotland, was ruled as a republic following the end of the Second English Civil War and the trial and execution of Charles I (1649). The republic’s existence was declared by the Rump Parliament on May 19, 1649. Power in the early Commonwealth was vested primarily in the Parliament and a Council of State. During this period, fighting continued, particularly in Ireland and Scotland, between the parliamentary forces and those opposed to them, as part of what is now referred to as the Third English Civil War.

In 1653, after the forcible dissolution of the Rump Parliament, Oliver Cromwell was declared Lord Protector of a united Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland under the terms of the Instrument of Government, inaugurating the period now usually known as the Protectorate. The term “Commonwealth” is sometimes used for the whole of 1649 to 1660—a period referred to by monarchists as the Interregnum—although for other historians, the use of the term is limited to the years prior to Cromwell’s formal assumption of power in 1653.

The coat of arms shows a golden lion on the left wearing a jeweled crown and a red dragon on the right. They stand atop a banner that reads "Pax Quaeritur Bello." The golden lion and the red dragon are holding a shield between them displaying four flags (two English flags, one Scottish flag, and one Irish flag) and a white lion. Above the shield is a gold armored feathered headpiece. Above the crown sits a small gold lion wearing a jeweled crown.

Coat of arms of the Commonwealth of England from 1653 to 1659 during the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell

The Protectorate

The Protectorate was the period during the Commonwealth when England (which at that time included Wales), Ireland, and Scotland were governed by a Lord Protector. The Protectorate began in 1653 when, following the dissolution of the Rump Parliament and then Barebone’s Parliament, Oliver Cromwell was appointed Lord Protector of the Commonwealth under the terms of the Instrument of Government.

Cromwell had two key objectives as Lord Protector. The first was “healing and settling” the nation after the chaos of the civil wars and the regicide. The social priorities did not, despite the revolutionary nature of the government, include any meaningful attempt to reform the social order. He was also careful in the way he approached overseas colonies. England’s American colonies in this period consisted of the New England Confederation, the Providence Plantation, the Virginia Colony, and the Maryland Colony. Cromwell soon secured the submission of these, but largely left them to their own affairs. His second objective was spiritual and moral reform. As a very religious man (Independent Puritan), he aimed to restore liberty of conscience and promote both outward and inward godliness throughout England. The latter translated into rigid religious laws (e.g., compulsory church attendance).

The first Protectorate parliament met in September 1654, and after some initial gestures approving appointments previously made by Cromwell, began to work on a moderate program of constitutional reform. Rather than opposing Parliament’s bill, Cromwell dissolved them in January 1655. After a royalist uprising led by Sir John Penruddock, Cromwell divided England into military districts ruled by Army Major-Generals who answered only to him. The fifteen major generals and deputy major generals—called “godly governors”—were central not only to national security, but also to Cromwell’s moral crusade. However, the major-generals lasted less than a year. Cromwell’s failure to support his men, by sacrificing them to his opponents, caused their demise. Their activities between November 1655 and September 1656 had, nonetheless, reopened the wounds of the 1640s and deepened antipathies to the regime.

During this period Cromwell also faced challenges in foreign policy. The First Anglo-Dutch War, which had broken out in 1652, against the Dutch Republic, was eventually won in 1654. Having negotiated peace with the Dutch, Cromwell proceeded to engage the Spanish in warfare. This involved secret preparations for an attack on the Spanish colonies in the Caribbean and resulted in the invasion of Jamaica, which then became an English colony. The Lord Protector also became aware of the contribution the Jewish community made to the economic success of Holland, then England’s leading commercial rival. This led to his encouraging Jews to return to England, 350 years after their banishment by Edward I, in the hope that they would help speed up the recovery of the country after the disruption of the English Civil War.

In 1657, Oliver Cromwell rejected the offer of the Crown presented to him by Parliament and was ceremonially re-installed as Lord Protector, this time with greater powers than had previously been granted him under this title. Most notably, however, the office of Lord Protector was still not to become hereditary, though Cromwell was now able to nominate his own successor. Cromwell’s new rights and powers were laid out in the Humble Petition and Advice, a legislative instrument that replaced the Instrument of Government. Despite failing to restore the Crown, this new constitution did set up many of the vestiges of the ancient constitution, including a house of life peers (in place of the House of Lords). In the Humble Petition it was called the “Other House,” as the Commons could not agree on a suitable name. Furthermore, Oliver Cromwell increasingly took on more of the trappings of monarchy.

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Cromwell’s signature: Cromwell’s signature before becoming Lord Protector in 1653, and afterwards. “Oliver P,” stands for Oliver Protector, similar in style to English monarchs who signed their names as, for example, “Elizabeth R,” standing for Elizabeth Regina.

After Cromwell’s Death

Cromwell died of natural causes in 1658, and his son Richard succeeded as Lord Protector. Richard sought to expand the basis for the Protectorate beyond the army to civilians. He summoned a Parliament in 1659. However, the republicans assessed his father’s rule as “a period of tyranny and economic depression” and attacked the increasingly monarchy-like character of the Protectorate. Richard was unable to manage the Parliament and control the army. In May, a Committee of Safety was formed on the authority of the Rump Parliament, displacing the Protector’s Council of State, and was in turn replaced by a new Council of State. A year later monarchy was restored.

Cromwell is one of the most controversial figures in the history of the British Isles, considered a regicidal dictator or a military dictator by some and a hero of liberty by others. His measures against Catholics in Scotland and Ireland have been characterized as genocidal or near-genocidal, and in Ireland his record is harshly criticized. Following the Irish Rebellion of 1641, most of Ireland came under the control of the Irish Catholic Confederation. In early 1649, the Confederates allied with the English Royalists, who had been defeated by the Parliamentarians in the English Civil War. By May 1652, Cromwell’s Parliamentarian army had defeated the Confederate and Royalist coalition in Ireland and occupied the country—bringing an end to the Irish Confederate Wars (or Eleven Years’ War). However, guerrilla warfare continued for another year. Cromwell passed a series of Penal Laws against Roman Catholics (the vast majority of the population) and confiscated large amounts of their land. The extent to which Cromwell, who was in direct command for the first year of the campaign, was responsible for brutal atrocities in Ireland is debated to this day.

Restoration of the Stuarts

Over a decade after Charles I’s 1649 execution and Charles II’s 1651 escape to mainland Europe, the Stuarts were restored to the English throne by Royalists in the aftermath of the slow fall of the Protectorate.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

Evaluate why the Stuarts were brought back and restored to the English throne

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Key Points

  • Richard Cromwell was Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland after Oliver Cromwell’s death in 1658, but he lacked his father’s authority. He proved unable to manage the Parliament and control the army and was removed from his office after several months.
  • In the aftermath of Richard’s removal, power struggles ensued, with George Monck emerging as a key figure in the restoration of monarchy and bringing Charles II back to England.
  • On April 4, 1660, Charles II issued the Declaration of Breda, in which he made several promises in relation to the reclamation of the crown of England. Charles entered London on May 29 and was crowned in 1661.
  • The Cavalier Parliament convened for the first time in May 1661, and it would endure for over seventeen years. Like its predecessor, it was overwhelmingly Royalist. It is also known as the Pensionary Parliament for the many pensions it granted to adherents of the king.
  • Many Royalist exiles returned and were rewarded. The Indemnity and Oblivion Act, which became law in August 1660, pardoned all past treason against the Crown, but specifically excluded those involved in the trial and execution of Charles I.

 

Key Terms

 

  • Declaration of Breda: A proclamation by Charles II of England in which he promised a general pardon for crimes committed during the English Civil War and the Interregnum for all those who recognized Charles as the lawful king; the retention by the current owners of property purchased during the same period; religious toleration; and the payment of pay arrears to members of the army and the recommission of the army into service under the crown. The first three pledges were all subject to amendment by acts of parliament.
  • Rump Parliament: The English Parliament after Colonel Thomas Pride purged the Long Parliament on December 6, 1648, of those members hostile to the Grandees’ intention to try King Charles I for high treason.
  • Indemnity and Oblivion Act: A 1660 act of the Parliament of England that was a general pardon for everyone who had committed crimes during the English Civil War and Interregnum, with the exception of certain crimes such as murder, piracy, buggery, rape, and witchcraft, and people named in the act, such as those involved in the regicide of Charles I.
  • Convention Parliament: A parliament in English history which, owing to an abeyance of the Crown, assembled without formal summons by the sovereign. Its 1660 assembly followed the Long Parliament that had finally voted for its own dissolution in March of that year. Elected as a “free parliament,” i.e., with no oath of allegiance to the Commonwealth or to the monarchy, it was predominantly Royalist in its membership.
  • Pride’s Purge of 1648: An event that took place in December 1648, during the Second English Civil War, when troops of the New Model Army under the command of Colonel Thomas Pride forcibly removed from the Long Parliament all those who were not supporters of the Grandees in the New Model Army and the Independents. It is arguably the only military coup d’état in English history.
  • Long Parliament: An English Parliament that lasted from 1640 until 1660. It followed the fiasco of the Short Parliament, which had been held for three weeks during the spring of 1640, and which in its turn had followed an eleven-year parliamentary absence.
  • Committee of Safety: A committee established by the Parliamentarians in July 1642. It was the first of a number of successive committees set up to oversee the English Civil War against King Charles I and the Interregnum. Its last installment was set up in 1659, just before the Restoration, in response to the Rump Parliament, which the day before tried to place the commander of the army Charles Fleetwood as chief of a military council under the authority of the speaker.

Richard Cromwell and the Protectorate

Richard Cromwell (1626–1712) was Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland after Oliver Cromwell’s death in 1658. Richard lacked his father’s authority. He attempted to mediate between the army and civil society and allowed a Parliament that contained a large number of disaffected Presbyterians and Royalists. His main weakness was that he did not have the confidence of the army. He summoned a Parliament in 1659, but the republicans assessed Oliver’s rule to be “a period of tyranny and economic depression” and attacked the increasingly monarchy-like nature of the Protectorate. Richard proved unable to manage the Parliament and control the army. On May 7, a Committee of Safety was formed on the authority of the Rump Parliament, displacing the Protector’s Council of State, and was in turn replaced by a new Council of State on May 19.

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Proclamation announcing the death of Oliver Cromwell and the succession of Richard Cromwell as Lord Protector. Printed in Scotland, 1658. Courtesy of the General Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.

In 1660, Richard Cromwell left for France and later traveled around Europe, visiting various European courts. In 1680 or 1681, he returned to England and lodged with the merchant Thomas Pengelly in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, living off the income from his estate in Hursley. He died in 1712 at the age of 85.

Power Struggles

Charles Fleetwood was appointed a member of the Committee of Safety and of the Council of State, and one of the seven commissioners for the army. On June 9, 1659, he was nominated lord-general (commander-in-chief) of the army. However, his leadership was undermined in Parliament. A royalist uprising was planned for August 1, 1659, and although it never happened, Sir George Booth gained control of Cheshire. Booth held Cheshire until the end of August, when he was defeated by General John Lambert. On October 26, a Committee of Safety was appointed, of which Fleetwood and Lambert were members. Lambert was appointed major-general of all the forces in England and Scotland, with Fleetwood being general. The Committee of Safety sent Lambert with a large force to meet George Monck, who was in command of the English forces in Scotland, and either negotiate with him or force him to come to terms.

It was into this atmosphere that Monck, the governor of Scotland under the Cromwells, marched south with his army from Scotland. Lambert’s army began to desert him, and he returned to London almost alone, though he marched unopposed. The Presbyterian members, excluded in Pride’s Purge of 1648, were recalled, and on December 24 the army restored the Long Parliament. Fleetwood was deprived of his command and ordered to appear before Parliament to answer for his conduct. In March 1660, Lambert was sent to the Tower of London, from which he escaped a month later. He tried to rekindle the civil war in favor of the Commonwealth, but he was recaptured by Colonel Richard Ingoldsby, a participant in the regicide of Charles I, who hoped to win a pardon by handing Lambert over to the new regime. Lambert was incarcerated and died in custody in 1684; Ingoldsby was, indeed, pardoned.

Restoration of Charles II

On April 4, 1660, Charles II issued the Declaration of Breda, in which he made several promises in relation to the reclamation of the crown of England. Monck organized the Convention Parliament; on May 8, it proclaimed that King Charles II had been the lawful monarch since the execution of Charles I on January 30, 1649. Charles entered London on May 29, his birthday. To celebrate his Majesty’s Return to his Parliament, May 29 was made a public holiday, popularly known as Oak Apple Day. He was crowned at Westminster Abbey on April 23, 1661. The Cavalier Parliament convened for the first time in May 1661, and it would endure for over seventeen years. Like its predecessor, it was overwhelmingly Royalist. It is also known as the Pensionary Parliament for the many pensions it granted to adherents of the king.

Many Royalist exiles returned and were rewarded. The Indemnity and Oblivion Act, which became law in August 1660, pardoned all past treason against the crown, but specifically excluded those involved in the trial and execution of Charles I. Thirty-one of the fifty-nine commissioners (judges) who had signed the death warrant in 1649 were living. In the ensuing trials, twelve were condemned to death. In October 1660, ten were publicly hanged, drawn, and quartered. Oliver Cromwell, Henry Ireton, Judge Thomas Pride, and Judge John Bradshaw were posthumously attained for high treason. In January 1661, the corpses of Cromwell, Ireton, and Bradshaw were exhumed and hanged in chains at Tyburn.

Portrait of Charles II

Charles II of England by Peter Lely, 1675, Collection of Euston Hall, Suffolk

King Charles II, the first monarch to rule after the English Restoration.

The Glorious Revolution

The Glorious Revolution was the overthrow of King James II of England by a union of English Parliamentarians with the Dutch stadtholder William of Orange and his wife Mary that resulted in the eventual regulation of the respective powers of
Parliament and the Crown in England.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

Analyze the significant changes the Glorious Revolution made to English government

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Key Points

  • James II ascended the throne upon the death of his brother, Charles II, in 1685. During his short reign, he became directly involved in the political battles between Catholicism and Protestantism and between the Divine Right of Kings and the political rights of the Parliament of England.
  • James’s greatest political problem was his Catholicism, which left him alienated from both parties in England. Amidst continuous tensions between the king and Parliament, matters came to a head in June 1688, when James had a son, James. Until then, the throne would have passed to his daughter Mary, a Protestant.
  • Mary and her husband, William Henry of Orange, both Protestants, appeared as potential rulers who could lead an anti-James revolution and replace the Catholic king. It is still a matter of controversy whether the initiative for the conspiracy to take over the throne was taken by the English or by William and his wife.
  • On June 30, 1688, a group of seven Protestant nobles invited the Prince of Orange to come to England with an army. By September, it became clear that William would invade England. William arrived on November 5.
  • In December, James fled the country, and in 1689 William and Mary were appointed monarchs.
  • In order to regulate the relationship between the monarch and Parliament, the Bill of Rights was passed in 1689. It lays down limits on the powers of the monarch and sets out the rights of Parliament, including the requirement for regular parliaments, free elections, and freedom of speech in Parliament.

Key Terms

  • Test Act: A series of English penal laws that served as a religious test for public office and imposed various civil disabilities on Roman Catholics and Nonconformists. The principle was that none but people taking communion in the established Church of England were eligible for public employment.
  • Penal Laws: A specific series of laws that sought to uphold the establishment of the Church of England against Protestant Nonconformists and Catholicism by imposing various forfeitures, civil penalties, and civil disabilities upon these dissenters. They were repealed in the 19th century during the process of Catholic Emancipation.
  • Divine Right of Kings: A political and religious doctrine of royal and political legitimacy. It asserts that a monarch is subject to no earthly authority, and derives the right to rule directly from the will of God. The king is thus not subject to the will of his people, the aristocracy, or any other estate of the realm, including the Catholic Church.
  • Declaration of Indulgence: A pair of proclamations made by James II of England and VII of Scotland in 1687. It granted broad religious freedom in England by suspending penal laws enforcing conformity to the Church of England and allowing persons to worship in their homes or chapels as they saw fit, and it ended the requirement of affirming religious oaths before gaining employment in government office.
  • stadtholder: In the Low Countries, a medieval function that during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries developed into a rare type of de facto hereditary head of state of the thus crowned republic of the Netherlands. Additionally, this position was tasked with maintaining peace and provincial order in the early Dutch Republic.

James II of England

James II of England (VII of Scotland) was the second surviving son of Charles I; he ascended the throne upon the death of his brother, Charles II, in 1685. During his short reign, James became directly involved in the political battles between Catholicism and Protestantism and between the Divine Right of Kings and the political rights of the Parliament of England. James’s greatest political problem was his Catholicism, which left him alienated from both parties in England. However, the facts that he had no son and his daughters were Protestants were a “saving grace.” James’s attempt to relax the Penal Laws alienated Tories, his natural supporters, because they viewed this as tantamount to disestablishment of the Church of England. Abandoning the Tories, James looked to form a “King’s party” as a counterweight to the Anglican Tories, so in 1687 he supported the policy of religious toleration and issued the Declaration of Indulgence. By allying himself with the Catholics, Dissenters, and Nonconformists, James hoped to build a coalition that would advance Catholic emancipation. Matters came to a head in June 1688, when the king had a son, James. Until then, the throne would have passed to his daughter Mary, a Protestant. The prospect of a Catholic dynasty in the kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland was now likely.

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James II King of England and VII King of Scots, King of Ireland and Duke of Normandy, painting by Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1683

Conspiracy: William and Mary

Mary and her husband, her cousin William Henry of Orange, were both Protestants and grandchildren of Charles I of England. William was also stadtholder of the main provinces of the Dutch Republic. He had already acquired the reputation of being the main champion of the Protestant cause against Catholicism and French absolutism. In the developing English crisis, he saw an opportunity to prevent an Anglo-French alliance and bring England to the anti-French side by carrying out a military intervention directed against James. This suited the desires of several English politicians who intended to depose James. It is still a matter of controversy whether the initiative for the conspiracy was taken by the English or by the stadtholder and his wife.

Invasion

On June 30, 1688, a group of seven Protestant nobles invited the Prince of Orange to come to England with an army. By September, it became clear that William would invade England. William arrived on November 5. James refused a French offer to send an expeditionary force, fearing that it would cost him domestic support. He tried to bring the Tories to his side by making concessions, but failed because he still refused to endorse the Test Act. His forward forces had gathered at Salisbury, and James went to join them on November 19 with his main force, having a total strength of about 19,000. Amid anti-Catholic rioting in London, it rapidly became apparent that the troops were not eager to fight, and the loyalty of many of James’s commanders was doubtful.

Meanwhile, on November 18, Plymouth had surrendered to William, and on November 21, William began to advance. In December, William’s forces met with the king’s commissioners to negotiate. James offered free elections and a general amnesty for the rebels. In reality, by that point he was simply playing for time, having already decided to flee the country. James was received in France by his cousin and ally, Louis XIV, who offered him a palace and a pension.

The Bill of Rights

The status of William and Mary in England was unclear while James, though now in France, still had many supporters in the country. In order to avoid James’s return to the throne, and facing opposition in Parliament, William let it be known that he was happy for Mary to be queen in name and for preference in the succession given to Princess Anne’s (Mary’s sister) children over any of William’s. Anne declared that she would temporarily waive her right to the crown should Mary die before William, and Mary refused to be made queen without William as king. The Lords accepted the words “abdication” and “vacancy” and Lord Winchester’s motion to appoint William and Mary monarchs. The decision was made in light of a great fear that the situation might deteriorate into a civil war. Although their succession to the English throne was relatively peaceful, much blood would be shed before William’s authority was accepted in Ireland and Scotland.

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Detail of William and Mary as portrayed on the ceiling of the Painted Hall of the Greenwich Hospital. Painting: Sir James Thornhill; Photo: James Brittain.

William and Mary were co-regents over the Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Parliament offered William and Mary a co-regency, at the couple’s behest. After Mary died in 1694, William ruled alone until his death in 1702. William and Mary were childless and were ultimately succeeded by Mary’s younger sister, Anne.

The proposal to draw up a statement of rights and liberties and James’s invasion of them was first made in January in the Commons, but what would become the Bill of Rights did not pass until December 1689. The Bill was a restatement in statutory form of The Declaration of Rights presented by the Convention Parliament to William and Mary in February 1689, inviting them to become joint sovereigns of England. The Bill of Rights lay down limits on the powers of the monarch and set out the rights of Parliament, including the requirement for regular parliaments, free elections, and freedom of speech in Parliament. It set out certain rights of individuals, including the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, and reestablished the liberty of Protestants to have arms for their defense within the rule of law. Furthermore, the Bill of Rights described and condemned several misdeeds of James II of England. These ideas reflected those of the political thinker John Locke, and they quickly became popular in England. It also set out—or, in the view of its drafters, restated—certain constitutional requirements of the Crown to seek the consent of the people, as represented in Parliament.

Significance

The Glorious Revolution of 1688 is considered by some as one of the most important events in the long evolution of the respective powers of Parliament and the Crown in England. The passage of the Bill of Rights stamped out once and for all any possibility of a Catholic monarchy and ended moves towards absolute monarchy in the British kingdoms by circumscribing the monarch’s powers. These powers were greatly restricted. He or she could no longer suspend laws, levy taxes, make royal appointments, or maintain a standing army during peacetime without Parliament’s permission. Since 1689, government under a system of constitutional monarchy in England, and later the United Kingdom, has been uninterrupted. Also since then, Parliament’s power has steadily increased while the Crown’s has steadily declined.

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