Absolutism in the English society in the seventeenth century

Essay by Anonymous UserA, November 1996

download word file, 10 pages 3.8

In the seventeenth century, there were several important factors that led the English to move from absolutism to a government in which the monarch had little power and Parliament had more power. The factors that led to this include the events during the reign of the Stuart kings, James I and Charles I; religious problems and diversity; and Oliver Cromwell's absolutist rule. James I, the founder of the Stuart line of English kings, was a firm believer in the divine right of kings, as was his son, Charles I, who ruled for eleven years without ever summoning Parliament. Simultaneously, the religious situation in England had many problems. One of these was opposition to the Church of England from the Puritans, Calvinists, and the Roman Catholics. After the execution of Charles I, Cromwell governed England essentially as an absolutist ruler. Unlike the English, the goal of the French rulers at this time was to achieve absolutism.

The French also became the dominant power in Europe, mainly because of their strong monarchs and ministers, Louis XIII and his chief minister Cardinal Richeleiu, and Louis XIV. By the end of the 1600's, many events brought about the belief that Parliament should be recognized as the ruling group of the people and that even the king should be subject to the laws of Parliament.

The first of the Stuart kings was James I (r.1603-1625), successor to Elizabeth I. James lacked common sense. Henry IV of France called him 'the wisest fool in Christendom.' As a strong believer in the divine right of kings, he thought that his word should not be questioned by anyone. He went as far as to state 'A deo rex, a rege lex.', which means 'the king comes from God, law comes from the king.' Also, James wrote...