Seven Steps to a Limited Monarchy

  • James VI Takes the Throne

    James VI Takes the Throne
    James VI, the son of Mary, Queen of Scots, succeeded Elizabeth I as James I of England. He wanted to face the debt and divided church completely on his own, free of any intervention on Parliament's part. At this point, England seemed to be relying heavily on its monarchy, which didn't sit well with the rest of the country, perhaps foreshadowing future problems with the monarchy's power.
  • Petition of Rights

    Petition of Rights
    Charles I tried to undercut Parliament's power by collecting money through forced loans and new tariffs. Enraged, Parliament forced Charles to sign this Petition that forbade loans or taxation without Parliament's consent. Charles subsequently dissolved Parliament until it met again in 1640. This event shows the constant power stuggle between the monarchy and the political body; the government's shift of power was too dynamic for absolutism to ever settle fully.
  • The Long Parliament

    The Long Parliament
    The landowner and merchant classes, normally represented by Parliament, were not pleased with the Charles's financial and overpowering methods. The Long Parliament met in 1640 until 1660, acting with widespread support and general unanimity than before. During this time period, Parliament abolished the courts that had enforced royal policy and prohibited the levying of new taxes without its consent. This conflict reflected the country's distrust of an absolute monarchy.
  • Charles II Becomes King

    Charles II Becomes King
    While he still summoned and dissolved Parliament, made all appointments in the bureaucracy, and signed every law, he couldn't arrest a member of Parliament, nor could he create a new seat in the Commons. There was a balance of power between the monarchy and a political body, paving a road away from absolutism and towards a limited monarchy.
  • The Whigs and the Tories

    The Whigs and the Tories
    Two political parties emerged during Charles II's reign. The Whigs opposed royal prerogatives and Catholicism and were largely responsible for the attempt to later exlcude James II from the throne. The Torries, on the other hand, stood for independence and authority of the crown. These two parties acted as a checks and balances system, making sure neither side had too much power. Political power never stayed with one ruler or group for very long, leaving no room for absolutism to step in.
  • The Gentry Takes Control

    The Gentry Takes Control
    About 20,000 families out of 5 million were onsidered gentry, or local leaders thorughout England without a title of nobility or special privileges. The English revolution gave the upper class gentry a voice. The Commons came to be heavily persuaded by the gentry and its opinions, incorporating more diverse ideas into the government.
  • James II Rules and Runs

    James II Rules and Runs
    James II succeeded Charles in 1685. He offered Catholics the very encouragement that the gentry was worried about. He challenged the power of the gentry, leading them to invite the rival Protestant ruler William III to invade and take over the throne. James did not even stay to battle; he fled to France. This event shows how England would not lie down and do nothing if it did not agree with a ruler, making it almost impossible for absolutism to overtake England.