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REPUBLICAN AND RESTORATION BRITAIN

The Parliament brought Charles I to court found him guilty of making "war against his kingdom and the Parliament". King Charles was executed.

From 1649 till 1660 Britain was a republic, but the republic was not a success. Cromwell and his friends created a government far more severe than Charles's had been. They had got rid of the monarchy, and they now got rid of the House of Lords and the Anglican Church.

From 1653 Britain was governed by Cromwell alone. He became "Lord Protector", with far greater powers than King Charles had had. In fact, Cromwell established military dictatorship. His efforts to govern the country through the army were extremely unpopular, and the idea of using the army to maintain law and order in the kingdom has remained unpopular ever since. Cromwell's government was unpopular for other reasons. For example, people were forbidden to celebrate Christmas and Easter, or to play games on a Sunday.

When Cromwell died in 1658 Charles II was invited to return to his kingdom. The republic was over. But Restoration did not mean a return to the old order. Charles II knew that he ruled by permission of the landlords and merchants and could be dismissed as easily as he had been invited to return.

In 1688 the Parliament offered the crown to Mary who was a Protestant and married to the Protestant ruler of Holland, William of Orange. William insisted to be crowned too.

The Glorious Revolution, as the political results of the events of 1688 were called, was completely unplanned and unprepared for. It was hardly a revolution, more a coup d'etat by the ruling class. But the fact that Parliament made William king, not by inheritance but by their choice, was revolutionary.

Parliament was now beyond question more powerful than the king, and would remain so. Its power over the monarch was written into the Bill of Rights in 1689. The king was now unable to raise taxes or keep an army without the agreement of Parliament, or to act against any MP for what he said or did in Parliament.

In 1701 Parliament finally passed the Act of Settlement, to make sure only a Protestant could inherit the crown. Even today, if a son or daughter of the monarch becomes a Catholic, he or she cannot inherit the throne. The Act showed a further weakening of king’s power and it led to a collapse of feudalism and beginning of capitalism. Constitutional Monarchy was shaping in England.

 


Date: 2015-01-02; view: 1961


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