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Constitutionalism England 1603 1649
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  • 1. English Constitutionalism: Royal Absolutism 1603-1649
  • 2. English Society in the 17th Century
    • Capitalism played a major role in the high degree of social mobility
    • Gentry --wealthy landowner in the countryside dominate politics in the House of Commons
      • Relied heavily on legal precedent to limit the power of the king on economic and political matters
    • Religion
      • Calvinist comprised the largest percentage of the population
      • Puritans sought to “purify” the Church of England
      • “ Protestant work ethic”
      • Calvinists highly opposed to any influence by the RCC
  • 3. Problems for the Monarchy in 17th c
    • Stuarts ruled England for most of the 17th c
      • Exhibited absolutist tendencies but restrained by the growth of Parliament
    • Two major issues prior to Civil War
      • King vs Parliament
      • Anglican Church follow established hierarchical form or acquire a presbyterian form
  • 4. James I (r. 1603-1652)
    • Believed in “Divine Right”
    • Twice dissolved Parliament over issues of taxation and parliamentary demands for free speech
    • “ I am surprised that my ancestors should ever be permitted such an institution to come into existence. I am a stranger, and found it here when I arrived, so that I am obliged to put up with what I cannot get rid of!”
  • 5. Gunpowder Plot, 1605
    • An attempt by some provincial Catholics to kill King James I and most of the Protestant aristocracy
    • Blow up the House of Lords during the state opening of Parliament
    Guy Fawkes
  • 6. Charles I (r. 1625-1649)
    • Sought to rule without Parliament and control the Church of England
    • Tax issues pitted Charles I against Parliament
    • Petition of Right (1628)
      • Parliament attempted to encourage the king to grant basic legal rights in return for granting tax inceases
    • Charles dissolved Parliament in 1629 rules without it until 1640
      • “ Ship Money”
  • 7. The “Short Parliament” 1640
    • Scottish military revolt because of English Prayer Book
    • Needed new taxes to fight the war against Scotland
    • Re-convened Parliament but did not accept the rights outlined in Petition of Right
    • Disbanded Parliament after one month
  • 8. “ Long Parliament” (1640-1648)
    • Desperate for money after Scottish invasion of N. England, Charles agrees to certain demands by Parliament
      • Could not be dissolved without its own consent
      • Meet a minimum of once every three years
      • “ Ship Money” abolished
      • Leaders that persecuted Puritans were executed
      • Star Chamber abolished
      • Common Law courts were supreme to kings courts
      • Refused funds to raise army to defeat the Irish revolt
    • Puritans represented the majority against kings Anglican supporters