HISTORY OF BRITISH SOCIAL AND CULTURE Week 7: ENGLISH REFORMATION (Rebellion, Restoration and Unrest)
The Gunpowder Plot
In 1605, a group of Catholics under Robert Catesby and Thomas Percy decided to blow up the Houses Parliament at the state opening on 5 November. The technical expert behind the plot was a man named Guido (Guy) Fawkes, who had served with the Spanish army in the Netherlands, and who understood explosives.
Barrels of gunpowder were smuggled into the cellars of the House of Lords, and Fawkes mounted guard on them. One of the conspirators, however, became worried about the safety of some Catholic friends who sat in the chamber. He wrote to one of them, warning him of the coming explosion.
Fawkes, Guy (1570-1606), English conspirator, born in York. A Protestant by birth, he became a Roman Catholic after the marriage of his widowed mother to a man of Catholic background and sympathies. In 1593 he enlisted in the Spanish army in Flanders and in 1596 participated in the capture of the city of Calais by the Spanish in their war with Henry IV of France. He became implicated with Thomas Winter and others in the Gunpowder Plot to blow up Parliament as a protest against the anti-Roman Catholic laws. On the night of November 4-5, 1605, he was caught in a cellar underneath the House of Lords and arrested. After severe torture he disclosed the names of his accomplices, and with them he was hanged. Guy Fawkes Day is celebrated on November 5 in the United Kingdom and some other parts of the British Commonwealth with bonfires and fireworks.
English Revolution, also called the Puritan Revolution, general designation for the period in English history from 1640 to 1660. It began with the calling of the Long Parliament by King Charles I and proceeded through two civil wars, the trial and execution of the king, the republican experiments of Oliver Cromwell, and, ultimately, the restoration of King Charles II.
OPPOSITION TO THE KING
The English Revolution was provoked by the behavior of Charles I. Charles believed in the divine right of kings and did not hold himself accountable to Parliament. In addition, he supported the Anglican church, alienating many Protestants. Defeated and convicted of treason by Parliament, Charles was beheaded.
The Cause of the Revolution
The causes of the conflict can be traced to social, economic, constitutional, and religious developments over a century or more. Closer at hand were questions of sovereignty in the English state and Puritanism in the church. The immediate cause, however, was Charles’s attempt (1637) to impose the Anglican liturgy in Scotland. The Presbyterian Scots rioted; then they signed the National Covenant and raised an army to defend their church. In 1640 their army occupied the northern counties of England.
Spirit of Puritanism
It emerged in England after Protestant Reformation & Anglican Church in 16th century
From religious movement to opposing movement
A member of England’s Parliament and a Puritan, Oliver Cromwell led his forces to victory against the army of King Charles I. Even though he had no military experience, Cromwell was a brilliant cavalry leader. The defeat and subsequent execution of the king left Cromwell as virtual dictator of England.
The Start of the Revolution
In the 1640s English King Charles I and his Parliament contested with each other for political power. London, which had long been the most important city in England, was at the center of the struggle. The city had more than 400,000 inhabitants, and many took up arms to protect their homes and families from threats both real and imagined.
The Rump Parliament
It was a parliament formed between December 1648 and November 1653 after Pride’s purge of the Long Parliament to ensure a majority in favour of trying Charles I. it was dismissed in 1653 by Cromwell, who replaced it with the Barebones Parliament.
Reinstated after the Protectorate ended in 1659 and the full membership of the Long Parliament restored in 1660, the Rump dissolved itself shortly afterwards and was replaced by the Convention Parliament, which brought about the restoration of the monarchy.
The Rump Parliament
After Charles I, king of England, was executed in 1649, the Rump Parliament prevented Oliver Cromwell from convening an interim council to formulate a new constitution. Cromwell was the dominant figure in the victory over Charles I, but the Rump Parliament was a more conservative assembly than the body that had agreed to execute the king and abolish the monarchy. In 1653, after learning that Parliament was attempting to stay in session despite an agreement to dissolve, Cromwell’s patience ran out. He dismissed the assembled members with this speech. The “shining bauble” referred to is the parliamentary staff, which must be present, by convention, in order for Parliament to sit.
“ In the Name of God, go!”
April 20, 1653
It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonoured by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money; is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? is there one vice you do not possess? ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter’d your conscience for bribes? is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth? ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil’d this sacred place, and turn’d the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress’d, are yourselves become the greatest grievance. Your country therefore calls upon me to cleanse this Augean stable, by putting a final period to your iniquitous proceedings in this House; and which by God’s help, and the strength he has given me, I am now come to do; I command ye therefore, upon the peril of your lives, to depart immediately out of this place; go, get you out! Make haste! Ye venal slaves be gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors. In the name of God, go!
The Killing of the King
In 1649 during the English Revolution, King Charles I was publicly tried and beheaded and the monarchial English government overturned. In this article, Ian Roy, former senior lecturer in history at King’s College, London University, discusses the uniqueness of that usurpation and the events that led to the restoration of the monarchy just 11 years later with the succession of Charles II.
The army, now firmly in control, proceeded to purge Parliament of its Presbyterian members. The remaining Rump, as it was called, created a commission to try the king for treason. Found guilty, Charles was executed on January 30, 1649. The Rump Parliament then abolished the monarchy and the House of Lords, and declared England a Commonwealth. The king’s death deeply affected the people and made the creation of a stable government more difficult.
The first task was to put down the rebellion in Ireland, begun in 1641. This Cromwell and his army did with grim efficiency, killing all who resisted at Drogheda and Wexford. The Scots, meanwhile, had denounced the king’s execution and named his son, Charles II, as his successor. Cromwell subdued the Scots in two battles, at Dunbar (1650) and Worcester (1651). Both Ireland and Scotland then became parts of the Commonwealth.
It was the republican rule of England by Parliament during the Interregnum 1649-60, more precisely the periods of 1649-1653 and 1659-1660 – in the intervening years Oliver Cromwell ruled by direct personal government under the Protectorate. After the abolition of the monarchy in 1649, the Rump Parliament declared England to be a ‘Commonwealth or Free State’. The House of Commons held supreme authority, with the former executive powers of the monarchy being vested in a 4—member Council of State. However, Parliament was not sufficiently radical for the army and was dissolved in May 1653 by Cromwell. In December the hands of Cromwell personally. Cromwell ruled under terms of Protectorate until his death in 1659 when he was succeeded briefly by his son Richard. Richard was unable to provide the strong leadership of his father and in May the army restored the Rump Parliament. However, Parliament and the army were unable to cooperate any better than in the first phase of the Commonwealth and the House of Commons began negotiations for the Restoration of Charles II.
England welcomed Charles II home in May 1660 and attempted to restore things to what they had been in 1642. Only a dozen men were executed for their role in the execution of Charles I. Both the people and Charles had learned the value of moderation, but the issue of sovereignty remained to be resolved.
Parliament restored bishops to the church and expelled Dissenters (Protestants who did not conform to the Church of England), restricting their worship and political activity. In 1673 the Test Act removed Roman Catholics from the royal government. The Popish Plot of 1678 and the move to exclude James, the king's Roman Catholic brother, from the succession revealed the political parties then forming. The Whigs, favoring Parliament and hating “popery,” urged exclusion; the Tories, favoring the kings and the Anglican church, opposed it. When emotions cooled, Charles regained control and ruled without Parliament. He died in 1685, passing the throne to James.
The Restoration was a reaction against Puritanism—in behavior, literature, and drama—yet Paradise Lost, written by John Milton, was published in 1667 and Pilgrim's Progress, by John Bunyan, was published from 1678 to 1684. In 1662 Charles chartered the Royal Society, to promote the study of natural science. In 1665 the last outbreak of bubonic plague occurred. After London burned in 1666, Christopher Wren rebuilt it in beauty and grandeur.
The English Revolution was the first of the so-called great revolutions. It began as a protest against an oppressive and uncompromising government. A moderate constitutional phase was followed by the use of military force, then the violent overthrow of the government, experiments with new institutions, the rule of a virtual dictator, and, finally, a restoration that embodied some new practices within the older tradition. The revolution was important because it generated new political and religious ideas and because it extended the English tradition that the government’s power should be limited.
After eight years in exile, Charles II returned to England in 1660 and was proclaimed king. His reign brought a period of relative stability to a country that had been torn by dissent and uncertainty.