What are the two principal factors that are behind the events of 17th century Great Britain?
The seventeenth century extends from the accession of the first Stuart king (James I and VI) in 1603 to the coronation of the third (Charles II) in 1660. Between these two reigns massive political and social events took place that bridge the gap between the Tudor “tyranny by consent” of the sixteenth century and the constitutional monarchy of the eighteenth century. Yet, all these events had not occurred if it were not for the two main factors that make society move and develop: sovereignty and religion. It is out of these two factors the British Empire is going to emerge.
To start with, in the late 16th century, the Spanish Armada invaded England with the papal consent, in an attempt to prevent the country from becoming to Protestantism again. Despite the very preparation Spain had, the English were victorious over the “Invincible Armada”, and this victory was seen as a sign of divine approval of the Protestant cause. But establishing Protestantism in England not only provided independence from the Church of Rome, but also emphasized the figure of the monarch, the absolute sovereign, as he had the right to choose the religion of those he represented. In addition, this brought a movement of strong nationalism and paved the way for progress, including scientific and philosophical inquiry, given the fact that the alleged truths could now be questioned.
In the next century, there were other numerous events caused by religious and political dissidence, including the Gunpowder Plot, which was an unsuccessful Catholic conspiracy to blow up parliament. But the most striking event of the time was the English Civil War which was also caused, unsurprisingly, by a matter of power and religion. On the one hand there was the struggle for power, which consisted mainly in supporting either the divine right of the Kings, meaning nobody had the right to question them, or the...
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