Ch 07 Origin of the English Revolution

CHAPTER VII: ORIGIN OF THE ENGLISH REVOLUTION

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SECTION 3: CROWN AND PARLIAMENT

SIX YEARS BEFORE THE DEATH OF ELIZABETH, THE LONG WORKING AGREEMENT BETWEEN PARLIAMENT AND THE CROWN WAS DISTURBED BY AN ATTACK ON THE PRACTICE OF GRANTING MONOPOLIES. THIS WAS HIGHLY SIGNIFICANT, AS THE RIGHTS OF INDIVIDUALS OR COMPANIES TO SELL A PARTICULAR ARTICLE, SUCH AS PAPER OR SOAP, WERE THREATENED.

 

IT WAS A WAY OF RAISING REVENUE AND REWARDING FAVOURS.

IN 1600, ELIZABETH’S REFUSAL TO RENEW MONOPOLIES LED TO A CRAZY REBELLION.
THE CROWN DEFENDED ITS ACTIONS AND PROMISED AN INQUIRY, BUT WHEN NOTHING WAS DONE THE ATMOSPHERE CHANGED.

 

JAMES WAS A FOREIGNER, HALF SCOTTISH, HALF FRENCH, AND TRUST WAS BROKEN.

 

RELIGION REARED ITS HEAD AGAIN, AND THE ISSUE BECAME REAL WHEN JAMES, WHO CAME FROM A POOR COUNTRY TO A RICHER ONE, REGARDED HIS WEALTH AS UNBOUNDED.

HOWEVER, REVENUE WAS SCARCE AND THE CROWN NEEDED PARLIAMENT TO INCREASE TAXES AND GRANTS.

 

JAMES’S FIRST PARLIAMENT SET THE TONE FOR THE NEXT 40 YEARS.

ONLY PART OF THE MONEY HE NEEDED WAS VOTED, WHILE PARIAMENT SPENT MUCH TIME DISCUSSING DOMESTIC AND FOREIGN POLICY.

JAMES ORDERED PARLIAMENT TO LEAVE AFFAIRS OF STATE TO THE KING.

 

FROM 1610 TO 1621, ONLY ONE PARLIAMENT WAS CALLED AS MEMBERS DISCUSSED THEIR RIGHT TO “DEBATE FREELY ALL MATTERS, WHICH PROPERLY CONCERN THE SUBJECT AND HIS RIGHT OR STATE.”

PARLIAMENT WAS EFFECTIVELY DISSOLVED.

 

JAMES TRIED TO BALANCE HIS BUDGET WITH SALES OF TITLES, FORCED LOANS AND CUSTOM DUTIES.

PEACE WAS ESSENTIAL TO HIM, BUT HE BECAME UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF SPAIN. HE TRIED TO MARRY CHARLES OFF TO A SPANIARD, AND MATTERS GOT DIFFICULT FOR CAMPAIGNS IN EUROPE WHEN HE ASKED PARLIAMENT FOR £500,000.

PARLIAMENT VOTED HIM £150,000 AND DEMANDED WAR WITH SPAIN AND THE IMPEACHMENT OF FRANCIS BACON, THE LORD CHANCELLOR, ON A CORRUPTION CHARGE.

JAMES NEXT ASKED FOR £900,000 AND WAS VOTED £70,000. THE SPANISH MARRIAGE WAS ATTACKED AND AGAIN PARLIAMENT WAS DISSOLVED.

A COUNCIL MANAGED AFFAIRS, AND WHEN EVENTUALLY A NEW BUT ILL INFORMED PARLIAMENT VOTED, WAR AND £300,000 WAS AGREED.

THE WAR THAT FOLLOWED WAS A FIASCO. THE ARMY UNTRAINED, THE NAVY ILL PREPARED. CHARLES HASTILY MADE THE PEACE WITH FRANCE AND SPAIN.

 

THE STRUGGLE WITH PARLIAMENT CONTINUED AFTER JAMES’S DEATH IN 1625.

 

IT REFUSED TO VOTE MORE MONEY. IT WAS DISSOLVED AND RECALLED WHEN CHARLES I NEEDED MONEY.

PARLIAMENT BECAME STUBBORN, FILLED WITH A NEW SENSE OF POWER. IT WAS PREPARED TO IMPEACH BUCKINGHAM, A FRIEND OF CHARLES, AND WAS AGAIN DISSOLVED.

 

GOVERNMENT RAISED FORCED LOANS AND SUBSIDIES AND IMPRISONED OR PRESSED DISSENTORS INTO THE ARMY.

THE REMNANTS OF THE OLD ARMY LOOTED, AS THEY WERE UNPAID, AND VIOLENCE BROKE OUT, WHICH MILITARY TRIBUNALS IGNORED.

 
IN 1628, CHARLES CALLED PARLIAMENT FOR A THIRD TIME. IT WAS STILL STUBBORNLY UNCOMPROMISING AND HELD CLEARER IDEAS ABOUT ITS DEMANDS.
PARLIAMENT WAS POWERFUL.

THE COMMONS OWNED THREE TIMES MORE THAN THE LORDS, WHO WERE NOT AN INDEPENDENT FORCE BUT ACTED FOR THE KING.

 

PARLIAMENT DEMANDED A DOCUMENT KNOWN AS THE ‘PETITION OF RIGHT’.

 

IT DEMANDED CONTROL OF THE ARMY AND THE PRACTICE OF KEEPING ARRESTED PERSONS IN PRISON “WITHOUT BEING CHARGED WITH ANYTHING TO WHICH THEY MIGHT MAKE AN ANSWER TO THE LAW” SHOULD CEASE AND THAT “NO MAN HEARAFTER BE COMPELLED TO MAKE OR YIELD ANY GIFT, LOAN OR BENEVOLENCE, TAX OR SUCH CHARGE WITHOUT COMMON CONSENT BY ACT OF PARLIAMENT.”

MOST OF THESE THINGS HAD BEEN CARRIED OUT FOR CENTURIES BY THE CROWN, WHICH CLAIMED THAT IT WAS ITS ABSOLUTE POWER.

 

PARLIAMENT’S DEMANDS WERE A CHALLENGE TO ABSOLUTE RULE BY THE MONARCH.

 

PARLIAMENT SWEETENED THE PILL WITH A PROMISE OF £350,000, AND, AFTER HAGGLING, CHARLES ASSENTED. BUT WHEN PARLIAMENT WENT ON TO CALL FOR THE REMOVAL OF BUCKINGHAM, THE PETITION WAS PROROGUED.*

 

BEFORE THE NEXT SESSION IN 1629, BUCKINGHAM WAS MURDERED AND GREATER DEMANDS WERE MADE ON THE ‘PETITION OF RIGHT’, GIVING PARLIAMENT CONTROL OF ALL FINANCE.

CHARLES REFUSED AND PARLIAMENT DID NOT MEET FOR 11 YEARS. MANY PARLIAMENTARIANS WERE THROWN IN JAIL OR DIED.

CHARLES AND ADVISORS SET TO WORK TO RAISE FUNDS BUT MERCHANTS REFUSED TO PAY UNVOTED TAXES.

MONEY WAS RAISED BY THE SALE OF MONOPOLIES, AND SHIP MONEY WAS USED TO REPAIR THE NAVY.

 

CLEARLY, THE INTENTION WAS TO MAKE GOVERNMENT PERMANENTLY INDEPENDENT OF PARLIAMENT.

 

HAMPDEN REFUSED TO PAY TAXES IN 1636. THE TRIAL THAT FOLLOWED WAS IMPORTANT AS A FOCUS OF OPPOSITION.

 

THERE HAD BEEN LITTLE DISSENT AND OPPOSITION WAS WEAK, AS INDIVIDUALS NEEDED A CENTRAL FOCUS SUCH AS PARLIAMENT.  LACKING A PARTY, THEY GRUMBLED THAT SOME DAY THE KING WOULD NEED TO RECALL PARLIAMENT. THE CALL CAME FROM A DISPUTE IN SCOTLAND.


TO UNDERSTAND THIS DISPUTE, IT IS NECESSARY TO KNOW ABOUT THE NATURE OF PURITANISM AND ITS RELATION TO THE STRUGGLE FOR POLITICAL CONTROL IN THE 17th CENTURY.

 

*PROROGUED

The difference between prorogued and dissolving parliament is that after dissolution a general election must be called before parliament meets again.

 

'Proroguing' parliament means 'closing' a 'session' of parliament.

 

Next THE PURITANS
FUNDAMENTAL ISSUES IN THE ENGLISH REVOLUTION

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