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The Political and Religious Winds of the Seventeenth Century from Charles I

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Essay title: The Political and Religious Winds of the Seventeenth Century from Charles I

The Restoration, a period of constantly changing ideals, shows how the change in government from Charles I to Oliver Cromwell affected the people of that time. Also showing the shift in winds of religion, compares and contrasts Absolutism and Constitutionalism, shows how the influence of the English people on the world, and shows a new era being heralded in without which we would not exist. The seventeenth century started with the Ascension of Charles I to the throne of his father James II. It was a relatively stable period under Charles I, yet it soon became engrossed in a civil war, of which. Oliver Cromwell and Dissenters led. They formed an improvised republic, which later collapsed. This led to restoration of Charles II, whose new models of government helped to change ideals in religion not only in Europe, but also in the world.

James I handed the reigns of the commonwealth to his only male heir Charles, who at the age of 25 still had no wife, and therefore was not bringing any legitimate heirs to the throne with him. Charles I was a firm believer in divine right. As stated by Donald Kagan: During his reign he rarely asked for help, believing his decisions as those ordained by God (Kagan pg.451). As stated by Howard Tomlinson: "The most high and sacred order of kings is of divine right, being the ordinance of God himself, founded in the prime laws of nature, and clearly established by expressed texts both of old and new testaments."(Tomlinson pg.21) During the reign of Charles I problems with parliament escalated to a point at which confusion erupted. Problems with money had plagued this monarchy for several centuries, though later it would see wealth coming from its colony .The Tudors (before the Stuarts) were better able to confront parliament, and had much more success in doing so. After the Scottish rebellion the crown needed money again, and since money could not be raised without the consent of parliament, parliament began to stay in session more. The foreign policy Charles was able to implement helped the royal family get out of a financial bind. The family was known to be protestant yet nearing the end of his reign there is evidence to prove Charles I was a Roman Catholic at heart. This Catholic influence would continue to play a role in the lives of the rest of the monarchy. During January of 1629, it was decided by parliament to legally try to reduce the power held by the crown. In so doing it was found that Popery and placing taxes on the people without their consent was treason. Popery was especially bad in England because it was in England that the king was also the head of the church and could make any religious policies he desired.

When parliament declared Charles I guilty of treason England was full of mixed emotions. Those who followed the king believed that only through submission to divine authority could they be true Christians. As stated by Howard Tomlinson: "Dissenters were able to gain control thus beheading Charles, and unknowingly creating a dictator."(Tomlinson pg.339) Royalists were those who supported the king. Their name was derived from Caballeo (Spanish) this term denoted someone who was Catholic and had an extreme dislike for Protestants. Roundheads were those who supported anyone but the king. Their name referred to the apprentices of the day; these apprentices caused conflicts to escalate into violence and in turn caused many people to flee the cities. With compromise now nearly impossible parliament was not about to change. As stated by John Buchan: "It could not change because Parliament was already so far ahead, Religion could be used to control and sway the people, and Charles was stubborn." (Buchan pg.237)

Oliver Cromwell emerges as the leader of the dissenters and quickly takes control of a volatile situation. Authority was clearly being questioned. The time parliament was in control was useless, because now they could not agree with Oliver Cromwell. They had established the Instrument of Government which is referred to as the first constitution, done in contemporary style it would later be the backbone of the United States Constitution, though it helped England very little. This Instrument of Government was passed by parliament, yet it still gave the people of England very little, so it had to be maintained by force. This Cavalier Parliament brought with it strict Protestant rules, it unified the Squire and Parson of the time. They now had one goal to spread their religion. There was dissention even among the dissenters, who could not agree on religious authority.

Which brought upon The English Civil War: a complicated, intellectual war between the two most powerful forces in England Parliament and the King. Conflicts between the two powers began when King Charles I dissolved Parliament in 1625 because they would not give him the money he demanded to fund his war against Spain. As stated by Esmond

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