Make your own free website on Tripod.com

The Enlightenment in England

     During the Enlightenment, England was very unstable and was changing radically.  English government was becoming unlike any other European government.  Conflicts over money and religion revolutionized England.  The English form of government changed from a conservative, powerful monarchy to a Protestant, limited monarchy.  Also, the English Parliament gained a lot of power over the course of the Enlightenment.

        James I became the king of England in 1603.  James did not support the Puritans or Calvanists and made it clear that he would stand behind the religious conservatives.  James I spent extravagantly, like his son did, Charles I.  in 1628, Parliament forced Charles to sign the Petition of Rights, a document that stated no money could be "borrowed or raised through taxes" without the permission of Parliament.  Charles then dissolved Parliament for twelve years.  After the Scots rebelled when England tried to impose the English Church on them, Charles had to summon the Parliament.  In 1640, the Parliament made it illegal to raise taxes without their permission, ensured that Parliament would meet at least once every three years, and issued the Militia Ordinance.  The Militia Ordinance put the army under the rule of Parliament.  This all led to the English Civil War which lasted from 1642 to 1646.  The Parliamentary Army, led by Oliver Cromwell, fought against the Royal Army in 1645.  Charles I surrendered one year later however, he did not lose his title.  Charles was later arrested and publicly executed by Parliament.
 
        Oliver Cromwell held power and dissolved Parliament in 1653.  He established a Puritan Republic.  Cromwell had literally become England's monarch.  He conquered Ireland and Scotland, creating Great Britain.  In 1658, Oliver Cromwell died and was replaced by his inadequate son.  Parliament reconvened in 1660, restored the king and restored the Anglican Church.  Charles II, son of Charles I, ruled England from 1660 to 1685.  In 1672, Charles II issued the Declaration of Indulgence, a document that gave religious freedom to Catholics and Protestants.  Parliament then passed the Test Act that prevented the Catholic brother of Charles, James II, from inheriting the throne.
 
        However, upon the death of Charles II in 1685, James did come to power.  James tried to instill religious toleration in the English government, but failed.  Parliament then asked William of Orange and his wife Mary, the sister of James, to invade England and rule because they were Protestant.  James II quickly fled to France.  This was called the "Glorious Revolution" because it was a bloodless one.   Parliament then created a Bill of Rights that limited the power of the monarchy.


                                                           Back to Other Countries