2.1 The Stuart Dynasty
"The Tudor period reconstructed English civilization" wrote one historian. The same Dynasty not only accomplished a social revolution but also achieved an ecclesiastical revolution. The Church and Baronage were great powers on which the medieval civilization in England had revolved. Both these were overthrown by the Tudor dynasty.
After the death of Elizabeth I, James I became the King of England. It was the beginning of Stuart Dynasty in England.
The Line of the Stuarts stretched from 1603 to 1714 AD. The following are the English rulers of this period.
1) James I (1603-1625 A.D)
2) Charles I (1625-1649 AD)
3) Commonwealth Interlude (1649-1660 AD)
4) Charles II (1660-1685 AD)
5) James II (1685-1688 AD)
6) William and Mary (1689-1702 AD)
7) Queen Anne (1702-1714 AD)
2.1a Conflicts of Stuarts with their Parliaments
According to the historian Southgate, "The
history of England in Stuart times is the story of a struggle between
the Kings and the Parliaments of the period. In the middle of the
century this struggle developed into open warfare, and a King was
beheaded, but the contest had begun many years before the actual
outbreak of war, and it did not end even when Charles I was executed.
There were many issues upon which the King and the Parliament quarreled,
but the real cause of the struggle is not to be found merely by
considering these points. It was a struggle for supremacy."
Before the advent of the Stuarts, the Tudors who were despotic rulers
had ruled for England more than a century. They tactfully manipulated
popular support. This is why during the Tudor period not a single
instance of any serious conflict was reported between the Parliament
and the Monarchy. On the contrary, the Stuart Kings, who were themselves
Scots, could not understand the temper of the English people. They
were frank and straightforward in their opinions and possessed no
political skill or tact like the Tudors to humor the Parliament
or the people. Therefore, several crises occurred during the whole
period of Stuart rule from 1603 to 1688. Ultimately, the Parliament
achieved its final victory in 1688 with the Glorious Revolution.
2.1b The Theory of The Divine Rights of Kings
James I was the first ruler of the Stuart period. He was a Scot and was considered as the ’wisest fool’ in Europe. He had the notion that the King derived his authority from god and was answerable only to him.
Certain historians have formulated the theory of the Divine Rights of the King on the basis of the beliefs of various despotic rulers. According to them the Theory maintained:
That the Supreme Being regarded hereditary monarchy
as opposed to other forms of Government with peculiar favor;
That no human power could deprive a legitimate
prince of his rights;
That the authority of such a prince was necessarily
That the laws, in England and other countries,
were to be regarded merely as concessions which the sovereign
had freely made and might, at his pleasure, resume;
That any treaty which a King might concede to
his people was merely a declaration of his present intentions
and not a contract of which the performance could be demanded.