England Divided: Parliament and the Monarchy Fight for Power


The Tudors Rule England

1485 - 1603

The Tudor monarchs, especially Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, control Parliament tactfully, recognizing and respecting its role in government.

Stuart King James I Rules

1603 - 1625

James I becomes king and immediately classes with Parliament. In 1621, James scolds Parliament for usurping royal power and Parliament responds with a declaration of its own rights.

Stuart King Charles I Rules

1625 - 1649

Charles dissolves Parliament when it tries to expand powers to deal with an economic crisis. The Parliament of 1628 produces the Petition of Right. This document prohibited the king from 1. raising taxes without the consent of Parliament, 2. imprisoning subjects without due cause, 3. housing soldiers in private homes, 4. imposing martial law in peacetime. Charles did sign the petition but then dissolved Parliament in 1629 for 11 years. During this time, he ignored the promises made in the petition and ruled the nation without Parliament.

The Long Parliament Meets

1640 - 1653

Faced with economic problems and invasions by Scotland, Charles is forced to call Parliament. The Long Parliament, as it became known, worked to steadily expand their powers during this time. Parliament tried and executed several of Charles I's chief ministers and declared that Parliament could not be dissolved without its own consent. Charles responded by leading troops into the House of commons to arrest its most radical leaders in 1642. The clash now moved to the battlefield.

The English Civil War Rages On

1642 - 1649

War breaks out between Parliament's Roundheads and Charles I's Cavaliers. Individuals who remained loyal to Charles were called Royalists/Cavaliers. Roundheads, named for their haircuts, were supporters of Parliament who opposed the king. The leader of the Roundheads was Oliver Cromwell, whose New Model Army helped to turn the tide of the war in their favor beginning in 1645.

The English Commonwealth

1649 - 1660

Abolishing the monarchy and the House of Lords, Parliament rules as a commonwealth (a republican form of government) with Cromwell as the leader. In 1653, Cromwell sent home the remaining members of Parliament and rules as a dictator until his death in 1658. Cromwell's government soon fell apart and a new Parliament was selected. Parliament voted to ask the older son of Charles I to rule.

Charles I is Put on Trial and Executed

1649 - 01/30/1649

in 1649, Charles I was put on trial for treason against Parliament. They found him guilty and sentenced him to death. The execution of Charles was a momentous event, as it was the first time that a reining English monarch faced public trial and execution.

The Restoration

1660 - 1685

Charles II was a popular ruler who accepted the Petition of Right. He shared his father's belief in absolute monarchy but he shrewdly avoided his father's mistakes in dealing with Parliament.