Within different reign stages in the Stuart period, a rise of parliament is in fact present and absent. For example, in some reigns namely Charles II’s, parliament had a significant influence on the way the country was ruled and how finance was dealt with. Whereas, Charles I’s Personal Rule of 1629 to 1640 proved that some monarchs were aspiring towards absolutism within their authority. However, overall, the parliament subtly changed in terms of its status it had, despite its minor inconsistency of extent of influence within this period. It is fair to say that William’s reign saw a renowned rise in parliament, whereas James I’s reign perhaps did not have such a parliamentary influence, even though it was still present.The Restoration of the English monarchy began in 1660 when English, Scottish and Irish monarchies were all restored under Charles II and the Lords were summoned to Parliament again after the previous Interregnum. Charles II’s reign (1660-85) was divided into two parts essentially. In the first part of his reign being 1660-81, the parliament undoubtedly had ascendency. For example, they were responsible for founding admission to the crown and they could suspend laws against Catholics and Protestants. Also, the Exclusion Crisis of 1679-81 meant excluding James from the throne, and parliament destroying divine right. This evidently portrays that the parliament is certainly more dominant within this period. Although, within the period of 1681-85 it is argued that there is a move towards absolutism. For example, within the Declaration of Breda of 1660 of which was manifested by Charles II himself stating the initial terms of the restoration for the monarchy, it outlined that the financial settlement within the Declaration of Breda which was that Charles would receive £1.2 million per annum in the form of crown lands, customs duties and new excise duties. There are also a variety of historian’s interpretations on this period of Restoration that argue whether it was a triumph for the parliament and the monarchy. Typically, Whig historians believe that the restoration was a peaceful progression towards liberal parliamentary democracy, constitutional monarchy and religious liberty. For instance, Whig historian David Ogg condemned Charles II and James II on both moral and political grounds, suggesting both were aiming for absolutism. Ogg, who was writing in the 1930’s, even made comparisons between absolutism and fascism. John Miller argues the Whig’s belief bystating that their view is ‘inherently teleological’. Marxist historian, Christopher Hill implies that the victory was within the parliament as he states that ‘The King had no power of taxation independent of parliament’ and ‘The King became dependent on a parliamentary civil list’. However, this contradicts the revisionist view that the crown inherited many rights and that Charles II inherited a ‘far more rational and efficient’ leadership than his father’s. Charles II clearly neglected the law in his refusal to call Parliament between 1681 and the latter part of his reign. The Triennial Act of 1664, despite being significant in identifying a rise in parliament, actually provided no formal means of enforcing the law that the parliaments had to be summoned every three years.1 At other occasions, Charles kept within the law, for example with resorting to prerogative powers during the Exclusion Crisis with the dissolution. James collapsed the first Exclusion Parliament in 1679 and used the power of postponement seven times during 1679 to 1680 therefore meaning the second Exclusion Parliament was delayed for a year.2 The final suspension took place in January 1681, shortly after their very last meeting in October the year before. He could afford to do this as he had a prospering financial security within his leadership.James II’s reigns parliament was essentially Tory was identified as generous and obedient. However, it was suspended in November after they refused to discharge the Catholics from the Test Act. Continuously after that, he suspended parliament for more than a year and a half before finally dissolving it in July 1687.3 He, much like Charles II, was prepared to use his prerogative powers to overpower the use of parliament. He dissolved it in July 1687 and attempted on creating a new Parliament, one that would be more amicable towards Catholics and Dissenters by ‘actively discouraging Whig candidates’.4 It is argued whether James would have been successful in his efforts to adjourn Parliament since William intervened and James was overthrown. Revisionist historians have come to the conclusion that he was not actually the villain that he was labelled as by Whig historians such as Macaulay. Coward also states that he did not ‘intend to rule without parliament’, he simply desired to ‘establish the rights’ of Catholics within England and for them to be able toworship ‘without prosecution’ and to have a fair contribution to the politics that took place within the country. He achieved this want by repealing the Penal Laws, the Corporation Act of 1661 and the Test Acts of 1673 and 1678.5The Interregnum of Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector occurred within the years 1649 to 1660. This was the period of the death of Charles I in 1649, and the appointment of Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector in 1653. Whig historian Macaulay described him as a ‘practical man’ due to his effectiveness of administration. Gaunt has argued that Cromwell did in fact have a ‘genuine belief in Parliament’ and did attempt at working with it successfully. In September 1654, Cromwell had summoned the First Protectorate Parliament, which was to sit for at least five months after being elected every three years. There were, in fact, episodes of strengthening power of the Parliament, however this was at the expense of Cromwell’s power this therefore concluded Cromwell’s decision to dissolve the parliament straight away in January 1655. Cromwell also felt obliged to establish a military rule rather than in a civilian matter by appointing major generals to rule the country, but this approach was unpopular and thus unsuccessful. Coward views this Cromwellian government as ‘superior to that of the Stuarts’6 due to the successful foreign policy he adopted regarding foreign alliances.James I’s reign is defined as one of desired absolutism, however there were harmonious relations between James and parliament. He believed in Divine Right of Kings meaning that the King was self-sufficient. For example, he was expected to rely upon himself financially and he had secure royal prerogatives. However, there were limitations to this power such as Common Law could not be denied by anyone, and the expectations of him being financially self-sufficient consequently left the Crown in debt in 1603. He potentially needed a stronger, more effective foreign policy. As a cause of this overreaching aim, parliament had the power to grant additional taxation (subsidies) in emergencies. Whig historian, Thomas Macaulay states that ‘James…enraged and alarmed by parliament by constantly telling them that they held their privileges merely at his pleasure’ (1848). James declared at the end of the Parliament of 1621 he no longer wants to be involved with parliament, however, due toan inefficient foreign policy regarding the invasion of Bohemia forced him to recall parliament again. Charles and Buckingham argued that he should turn to parliament for their advice1 and their financial funds for the war in Spain. The Parliament of 1624 was the most successful as there was a continuity of agreements within authority. During James I’s reign, overall, there was not a rise in parliament. This is proven by the fact that parliament was only in practice for thirty-six months throughout James’ twenty-two-year reign. He viewed parliament as an ‘event and not a constitution’7 which evidently suggests that he did not see it as a necessity within authority and believed the country could rely on him entirely. However, he did acknowledge their importance and allowed them to partake in issues such as foreign policy in 1621. The parliament through James’ reign did not see an expansion within its power as to the monarch it was not even identified as an institution.Whig historian, Thomas Macaulay, was a strong believer of how the significance of the past has a positive correlation to the present, which effectively summarises the Whig interpretation of history. History was the record of progress, yet not towards freedom, but greater prosperity.2Despite this school of thought being one of unprecedented strength at its time, many of the historians were actually members of the elite, namely politicians for example. This gave, therefore, an almost biased account of history as its aim was to indicate that parliament were successful in everything they did and what they did led to the stability of government at the time. As well as this, Whig historians were not provided with the sources revisionist historians have nowadays and are therefore reliant on linking events together to thus conclude success. The refusal to admit the autonomy of the past3 and insisting that the past must connect to the present in terms of responsibility is essential to Macaulay’s views and is the reason he has ultimately made some historical errors. The long conflict between the crown and parliament during the seventeenth century was central to the Whig interpretation of history. They viewed the defeat of the crown and the subjugation to parliament as essential to the establishment of a free society.4Revisionism is the name given to the study on this era that was published in the 1970s and 1980s that challenged earlier historians for heightening the long-term causes of conflict and the intensity of revolution in Britain in the seventeenth century. This school of thought has informed historians nowadays on the dangers of allowing hindsight.5 Revisionist History effectively rewrote the traditional Whig interpretations by giving greater attention to the short term causes and argued that concepts like politics and government need revisiting to involve a larger number of people in the country than was usually thought, a concept that has been frequently argued to be a crucial element in the formation of the English State.6Historian, Barry Coward, was the author of the well-known and highly regarded historical text, The Stuart Age, England 1603-1714. With this book came three editions, all revised, to provide historians with the most accurate historical information on the Stuart era. Many of his aims of each edition were to challenge existing historical interpretations of the period that were reflected in the first edition7. Over time he had changed his mind about some of the significant historical questions contemporaneously and had revised his own work so that his views as a historian were clearer and more factual. Coward believes the Form of Apology and Satisfaction was one of the greatest indications of the threats to parliamentary liberties earlier within James I’s reign.It can be viewed that Charles I’s reign conveyed a sharp rise of parliamentary power, particularly between the years 1640 and 1642. Charles’ powers were weakened initially through the use of the short parliament in 1640. He was forced to recall parliament to aid him with the funding of the war with the Scots Covenanters. Parliament was unwilling to grant the King subsidies until their grievances have been heard from the last eleven years. Unable to convince them, Parliament was dissolved by the King. While the King seemed to have maintained his prerogatives, he was in a very weak position. Lacking an army or the money to fund one he was still at the mercy of the Scots. In the same year, Charles had no option but to recall Parliament again, named the Long Parliament. However, Coward described this Long Parliament,, as a ‘significant indication’ that remedies illustrated bylegislations were not effective as they did not achieve to prevent Charles I from redirecting religious and political innovations.8The ‘Glorious Revolution’ of William’s reign is interpreted as the most prominent for a rise of parliament. However, this revolution was not labelled as ‘Glorious’ according to traditional Whig historians, despite it being one of the crucial events that shapes our monarchy today. Such a development of authority was introduced that there was a balance between parliamentary power and royal prerogative. The intensity of the loss of monarchical power should not be exaggerated as the crown still had ‘remaining powers’9 for example, the right to affirm war, the right to declare peace and the right to assemble parliament. In spite of this, evidence highlights that parliament were overall more successful following the Glorious Revolution in terms of extending their privileges. Some of the achievements were through England’s fiscal system, which was ‘fundamental’ for the country as it revolutionised the Crown finance. National revenue increased from three percent after the Revolution in 1626 to seventy six percent 1640 all through parliamentary taxation. The decrease in monarchical influence is also suggested through the Triennial Act of 1694 as it meant that elections were required to take place every three years as well as the sitting of parliament occurring every three years. The monarchy had to be, therefore, effectively reliant upon parliament in order for them to grant subsidies in emergencies, for example regarding foreign policy. This also meant that good relations had to be maintained otherwise the monarchy could perish. Parliament therefore ultimately had the upper hand within authority and used this to their advantage, for instance by overthrowing James II which enabled the institution to use basic issues of the monarchy and change them in their interest. The Bill of Rights in 1689, of which Coward labels it a ‘conservative document’ adapted on this key concept, for example by stating that raising taxes without parliamentary consent was banned. The contemporary parliament did appreciate the power of the monarchy, yet they intelligently ensured that by the end, the monarchy was dependent upon parliament as an institution.The Bill of Rights of December 1689 was a reinstatement of the Declaration of Rights which was presented by Parliament to William and Mary in March 1689 before they were crowned. The Bill was, however, in the form of a parliamentary statue. It attacked James II for seeking to subvert the Protestant Religion and the fundamental laws. Some statements of the parliamentary statue “laws could not be dispensed with or suspended” without parliamentary approval was illegal according to the Articles 1 and 2 of the Bill of Rights, parliaments must be held on a regular basis according to the Articles 13 and 8, and during peacetime no armies could be raised and raising tax money without parliamentary approval was illegal according to Articles 4 and 6. This act is significant because it ensured the government will honour the rights that people should have. It also clearly highlights that the parliament is obtaining more power within authority as it limited constitutional monarchy, essentially nothing was above the law. Revisionists regard this act as nothing but a ‘reaffirmation of ancient rights’10 meaning that there was little change in this respect and it did not revolutionise parliament. Whigs would, on the other hand, suggest that the bill of Rights was a radical step that changed the most significant prerogative power the king possessed.11 This view is expected, however, as traditionally whigs are more supportive of the parliamentary regime and how parliament shaped the successful regime and authority we adopt today.English politician, Colonel John Hutchinson, who sat in the House of Commons of England from 1648 to 1653 and in 1660 has had a diary, a primary source written by his wife, Lucy Hutchinson, that very effectively describes his experience with being a politician and what his personal life entailed. He had fought in a Parliamentary army in the English Civil War and was actually the thirteenth of fifty-nine commissioners to sign the death warrant of King Charles I. He unfortunately died in prison after being accused of being involved in the Farnely Wood Plot. His wife, Lucy Hutchinson, has collected his very memoirs and they inform historians that King Charles would always ‘return to his parliament’12, indicating that despite him having the aspiration for personal rule, he actually was dependent on parliamentary influence and this implies a hierarchical rise for the institution. Because of his status within parliament, his memoirs are a reliable source as he was involved with thehappenings of the country at the time. Additionally, Colonel John Hutchinson goes on to state that the parliament did not have a pleasant experience during Charles’ reign as he mentions that they were ‘beset with so many difficulties’ and they conceived themselves ‘not safe’13. Despite this, Hutchinson does add that the parliament benefits the country through ‘money and plate’ being brought in under their command that significantly increased the ‘public faith’. Within his diary, he includes that towards the end of May, parliament actually requested for the king to rely upon laws and affections.14The trial and execution of the Earl of Strafford also marks a rise in parliamentary power. The Long Parliament targeted ‘evil advisors’ within their aim of dismantling personal monarchy. Its main target was Strafford because of his thorough foreign policy in Ireland. Ultimately they feared he could use the Irish Army against Parliament. Ireland had always been an issue for royal administrator’s contemporary. When parliament met, Strafford was impeached on 11th November and charged with treason after giving advice to Charles after the dissolution of the Short Parliament, to set up royal military dictatorship in order to force continue Personal Rule. Pym, English parliamentarian, resorted to the Act of Attainder which meant parliament had the authority to accuse a person of being guilty. This source needed less evidence, however, was more dubious. On 12th May 1641 the Earl was executed in front of 100,000 people. This very execution alarmed the opposition and sent a message that Charles was vulnerable to such pressure as he had signed the death warrant and could be therefore manipulated into submission. Revisionist Coward describes the execution as not straight forward and it was ‘difficult’ to charge one of treason who has the ‘king’s confidence’15 which evidently suggests that parliament had the effective upper hand in securing their own desires, even when the situation deemed unlikely. Coward also mentions that this execution was an ‘act of necessity’ rather than law. However, the traditional Whig interpretation was that the Whig leaders then saw it as a ‘useful warning’16 indicating that actually this was not about forcing the monarchy into line, it was about ensuring that parliament received the respect and authority Whigs believed they deserved, being in parliament.1 The History of Parliament, Parliaments 1604-1629, The reigns of James I and Charles I 2 Lord Macaulay, Introduction of The History of England, page 37 3 Lord Macaulay, Introduction of The History of England, page 29 4 University of Cambridge, Faculty of History, The Whig Tradition, Macaulay: The History of England 5 The Stuart Age, England 1603-1714, Third Edition, page XV 6 The Stuart Age, England 1603-1714, Third Edition, page XV 7 The Stuart Age, England 1603-1714, Third Edition, page XIIIOn the whole, there was definitely a notable rise of parliament. The beginning of the century marked healthy relations between the crown and parliament yet no significance of status within parliament as by James, the first Stuart monarch, it was seen as an ‘event’. Throughout the midst of the Stuart period, there were rises and downfalls of the parliamentary constitution. For example, Charles I’s personal rule was followed by the Long parliament being called, again followed by the Triennial Act of 1641, yet to be deceased by the debatable Exclusion Crisis. However, towards the end of the renowned Stuart period, it is evident that parliament had gained a higher influence than what was before, such as through the Bill of Rights.


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