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The English Civil War (Final B)

The English Civil War (Final B) - Eric Gordon Final Essay...

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Eric Gordon Final Essay HST-231 Due: 12/16/11 The English Civil War: Causes and Responsibility Despite the dynastic change that occurred after her death, there was a steadily growing conflict between the monarchy and parliament ever since the rule of Queen Elizabeth. However, while Elizabeth was able to offset criticism through legislative political and economic success, the kings of the succeeding Stuart line continually widened the schism until it broke out into civil war. Although parliament did little to attempt to mediate the conflict, their actions were always reactionary. The kings James I and Charles I were the main sources of trouble. They started a conflict in which each side was too proud to concede or even to negotiate with the other. The nature of the conflict was both economic and religious. These were, somewhat ironically, the two areas of Elizabeth’s rule where she was particularly brilliant. With her high precedent set, the failure of the Stuart Kings is what initiated the eruption into civil war showing the increase in parliamentary power that took place in the seventeenth century. King James I, although he did not cause any civil war to break out, began the process of strengthening Parliament against the monarchy. By the seventeenth century, when James rose to the throne, Parliament was a well-established and highly respected institution in the English political atmosphere. James showed an immediate disrespect for this foundation by quickly declaring divine right, a doctrine of royal absolutism. He had previously published a book on the subject, The True Law of Free Monarchies which laid out the belief that the monarch drew authority from god himself and that the monarch should be free from both parliamentary and church restraints. 1 This declaration was medieval in nature and it offended parliament for several 1 R.R. Palmer, Joel Colton, Lloyd Kramer, A History of the Modern World 10 th ed ., (McGraw-Hill Companies Inc., 2007) p. 157.
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reasons. First, James was considered a foreigner. Therefore his outrageous claim could be taken as a threat and an insult to all of England. This king was not a part of some long lived English dynasty. He was Scottish. Also, this declaration was egotistical, selfish, and humanistic. In 1609 speech to parliament James announced, “Kings are not only god’s lieutenants on earth, and sit upon god’s throne, but even by god himself are called gods”.
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