How far did changes in political thought 1642-1690 reflect the reality of political developments?

Essay by SillyboyUniversity, Bachelor'sC+, June 2005

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Between the years 1642 and 1690 there was a great deal of change in the political landscape. It was a period of upheaval and development. In essence the way the country was ruled during the period went full circle. It begins at the end of the reign of Charles I, heading through the Puritan regime until the monarchy was restored in 1660. By 1690 the "Glorious Revolution" had taken place and William of Orange had taken the throne as William III with his wife Mary. With regards to political thought and the change of the political picture in England there are several issues that can be discussed. It is useful to know in the first instance what the political theories that took shape actually were. It is then interesting to take these theories and assess whether they actually relate to the reality. Was it theory that led to political change or was it the situation of government that gave rise to the theories? This is the main issue that shall be discussed in this essay.

It is sensible to begin at the beginning of the period in question with the English Civil War. The Civil War was a catalyst for political change. The 17th century 'saw the beginning of modern public opinion' (Bowle 1947 p333) . Public opinion is a key factor in the development of a strong political theory. If the theory is to have any long-term future it must satisfy the public or face being rejected by the majority. This is especially true in a full democracy. In the 1640's however the Puritan regime was in a very strong position and full franchise certainly did not exist. It is therefore misleading to emphasise the role of public opinion in the creation of political theory during this...