Ch 07 Origin of the English Revolution

CHAPTER VII: ORIGIN OF THE ENGLISH REVOLUTION

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SECTION 5: FUNDAMENTAL ISSUES IN THE ENGLISH

REVOLUTION

TUDOR ABSOLUTISM WAS BY CONSENT.

 

THEY NEVER POSSESSED A STANDING ARMY, A POLICE FORCE OR MORE THAN THE SKELETON OF BUREAUCRACY.

THEY NEVER COMMANDED A REVENUE MORE THAN REQUIRED, AND RULE WAS BY BALANCE OF POWER.

THE SQUIRES WERE THE JUSTICES OF THE PEACE, AND THEY PERFORMED THE ROLE OF A CIVIL SERVICE.

ELIZABETH WAS FRIENDLY TO THE BANKERS, WHO WERE THE LONDON GOLDSMITHS.

THE MONARCHY HAD A POSITIVE ROLE IN THE DESTRUCTION OF FEUDALISM, AS LONG AS THE MIDDLE CLASSES WERE CONTENT.

 

BUT THE MONARCH WAS FEUDAL, AND, WITH STARTLING SUDDENNESS, ITS OBJECTIVE CHARACTER UNDERWENT COMPLETE TRANSFORMATION, AND IT APPEARED AS THE MAIN OBSTACLE TO BOURGEOISIE REVOLUTION.

 

IN THS RESPECT, THE REVERSAL OF ATTITUDES BY THE CATHOLICS AND PURITANS TO THE CROWN AND OPPOSITION TO IT BECOMES FULLY SIGNIFICANCE.

 

TO MEN OF THE 17th CENTURY, THIS SITUATION WAS NOT OF COURSE AS OBVIOUS IN SO SIMPLE A WAY, BUT NECESSITY FORCED THE ISSUE, AND A WHOLE CLASS MOVED FORWARD.

THE TUDOR EQUILIBRIUM ENDED IN 1600, AND THE STATE MACHINE GREW INADEQUATE TO COPE WITH THE COMPLEXITY OF NATIONAL LIFE.

 

THE QUESTION WAS WHO WOULD CREATE AND CONTROL THE NEW ORDER.

 

ALL OVER EUROPE, FEUDALISM GAVE WAY TO BUREAUCRATIC DESPOTISM. THE STUARTS FULLY AWARE OF THIS WERE DETERMINED TO FOLLOW THE FRENCH KINGS.

PARLIAMENT WAS LESS THAN FULLY AWARE OF THIS DANGER BUT WAS DETERMINED TO AVERT IT, AND THIS WORKED POWERFULLY IN THEIR FAVOUR.

FIRST, ENGLAND HAD FOUGHT MAINLY AT SEA, AND THERE WAS NO STANDING ARMY.

SECOND, THE TUDOR MONARCH WAS FOUNDED ON A GENUINE ALLIANCE WITH THE MIDDLE CLASSES.

 

HOWEVER, THE BELIEF IN THE SANCTITY OF PRIVATE PROPERTY HAD GROWN, AND ONLY BY ATTACKING IT COULD THE STUARTS CREATE A NEW STATE APPARATUS NEEDED FOR THOROUGH DESPOTISM. ANY SUCH ATTACK COULD ONLY LEAD TO A CLASS BATTLE.

 

THIS IS THE WHOLE REASON FOR THE CONFLICT BETWEEN PARLIAMENT AND THE STUARTS.

 

THE CROWN CLAIMED RIGHTS TO LEVY TAX, AND PARLIAMENT (THE COMMONS) CLAIMED RIGHTS TO PAY ONLY WHAT IT THOUGHT FIT.

ESSENTIALLY, IT WAS A DEMAND FOR DIRECT POLITICAL POWER, SINCE PARLIAMENT WAS ONLY PREPARED TO GOVERN THE WAY IT WANTED, OR IT WOULD REFUSE TO PAY FOR ANYTHING.

HAMPDEN’S REFUSAL TO PAY SHIP MONEY CLEARLY SHOWED THE KING’S WEAKNESS.


ACTS OF PARLIAMENT TO TAKE AWAY THE ROYAL POWER IN DEFENCE OF HIS KINGDOM ARE VOID.

NO ONE IN 1640 FORESAW OR COULD FORESEE A PARLIAMENTARY MONARCHY LIKE THAT WHICH EMERGED BETWEEN 1660 AND 1688. NOR WAS IT APPARENT WHEN THE LONG PARLIAMENT ABOLISHED THE STAR CHAMBER, WHICH RULED IN PARLIAMENT’S ABSENCE, THE SUBSEQUENT DEVELOPMENT OF COURT OF HIGH COMMISSION AND OTHER PEROGATIVE COURTS.

 

ALL OF THIS WAS INTENDED WAS TO DESTROY BODIES THAT HAD BECOME INSTRUMENTS OF ROYAL TYRANNY.

 

A NEW STATE APPARATUS HAD TO BE CREATED, NOT AROUND THE KING BUT AROUND A CABINET RESPONSIBLE TO PARLIAMENT.

THE PRACTICAL MEN, PYM, VANES, FAIRFAX AND CROMWELL, WERE CONTENT TO DEFEND THEIR EARTHY POSSESSIONS, TAKING JUST ONE STEP AHEAD AT A TIME.

THEIR RELIGIOUS CONVICTIONS WERE IMPORTANT, GIVING THEM CONFIDENCE IN THEIR BELIEFS.

IN THE FINAL ANALYSIS, THE CIVIL WAR WAS ESSENTIALLY A CLASS STRUGGLE AND WAS BOTH REVOLUTIONARY AND PROGRESSIVE. A ROYALIST VICTORY WOULD HAVE MEANT A DEAD HAND IMPOSED UPON THE COUNTRY’S DEVELOPMENT.

 

WE DO NOT NEED TO IDEALISE THE BOURGEOISIE OF THE 17th CENTURY, WHO HAD CERTAINLY FAULTS. HOWEVER, IT IS ALSO POSSIBLE TO ARGUE THAT, AS A HISTORICALLY PROGRESSIVE CLASS OF THEIR TIME, WHILE FIGHTING FOR THEIR OWN RIGHTS AND LIBERTIES, THEY ALSO FURTHERED THE RIGHTS AND LIBERTIES OF HUMANITY AS A WHOLE.

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