Absolutism & Constitutionalism Part I

History M01B - Krister Swanson - Moorpark College


Two types of Government:

  • end of 1500s- Eng. strong (EI), Fr. weak (H4)
  • nat’l cultures developing

In the 1600s we’ll see:

  • absolute monarchy- all power to king (France)
  • constitutional monarchy- power of king checked by constitution (GB)
  • both can be effective

England (Cons.)    France (Abs.)


Puritan Hassles

Liberty & Par.

war debt=need $$

king threatens nobles for income


Civil War (Ang/Mon vs. Pur/Con)

Glorious Revolution


Prot. Squashage

EG is weak

private $ for conflict

king assures nobles’ power


one king, one faith, one state

Greatest nation!?!


  • 1603- James I succeeds EI - start of Stuart line
  • outsider who believes in Divine Right vs. strong Parliament (prosperous, sense of liberty)
  • faces debt from war with Spain and divided church
  • uses impositions to raise $$ without Parliament
  • disagrees with Puritan expectations (they hoped he would reform COE) & view of man
  • sides w/ COE – likes centralized control of church
  • lavishness & corruption in court (Buckingham), plays favorites
  • Hard time being a peacemaker, lots of suspicion that he favors Catholicism

Charles I (r.1625-1649)

  • inherits war with Spain, which Par. won’t fund, uses forced loan & 1/4ing troops
  • 1628- Parliament issues Petition of Right (all taxes Ok’d by Par)
  • 1629- Charles disbands Par. (until 1640)
  • Tries to rule w/out Par (Thorough)  & fails miserably
  • 1637- Charles &  Laud force episcopal system on Scotland  Scots rebel
  • Charles needs $$ è calls Par. in 1640


  • they demand redress of grievances
  • disbanded in one month (Short Par.)

Long Par. (1640-1660):

  • wide base of support
  • outlaw parts of thorough (king must call Par.)
  • Advisors Stafford & Laud are impeached & executed

Conflict Heats Up

  • divisions over religion (COE vs. Puritans) decentralization, Book of CP
  • 1641- rebellion in Ireland leads to:
  • Grand Remonstrance
  • Charles invades Par. & forms his own army
  • Militia Act allows Par. to form their own army


  • King & COE or Par. & Puritans?
  • Par. aligns with Scotland (Presbyterians)
  • New Model Army wins with toughness & tactics, so...
  • Charles tries to win over Pres & Scots
  • 1648 - “Rump Par.” after Pride’s Purge

Rump Parliament

  • all Puritan Parliamentarians
  • 1649- Charles I tried and fried (regicide)
  • abolishes monarchy, HOL & Ang. Church
  • Cromwell conquers Ire. & Scot. (GB)
  • Royalists flee to France

Cromwell’s Military Dictatorship

  • 1653 - he disbands Par., rules as “Lord Protector”
  • rules by districts through generals
  • tries many systems of gov’t, commerce suffers, Puritanical views
  • Levellers oppose & demand rights
  • Crom dies in 1658, by 1660 GB’s ready for monarchy again...

The Restoration

  • Charles II (r.1660-1685) returns from France
  • “merry monarch”- revives outlawed practices
  • influenced by cousin Louis XIV (frenchification)
  • tries to get along with Par.
  • he believes in religious toleration for loyalists, but Par. passes
  • Clarendon Code: No non-Angs in public life (backlash against Puritans)
  • renews Nav. Acts & war with Dutch
  • aid from Louis XIV, promises to be pro-RC, revives fears of RC
  • 1673- Parliament passes Test Act aimed at James II (RC)
  • Eng. divides: anti-royal Whigs & royalist Tories
  • “attempted” assassination scandal
  • Whigs want J II out of line
  • 1681-1685 rules without Par

James II (r.1685-88, RC geezer)

  • stirs up same probs. that started the ECW
  • grabs for absolute power
  • infant son?  RC dynasty?
  • Whigs want Mary, Tories so freaked they join Whigs

Enter William & Mary

  • 1688- Mary’s & William III of Orange “invade” by invitation & James II flees (Glorious Rev.)
  • crowned joint monarchs
  • 1690- defeat Irish/French force trying to restore James
  • accept Bill of Rights & terms of cons. Monarchy, defer to Par. On many key issues