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The Stuart dynasty

The Tudor line extinguished with the death of Elisabeth I in 1603. The first king of the Stuart dynasty was James VI of Scotland, the son of Mary Stuart and Lord Darnley. Although he was a learned and religious man, he also believed in witchcraft. Unlike is mother, James I was a Protestant. His ruled was based on the assumption of the “divine right of the kings” and he believed that as king he was the representative of God on earth.
James I didn’t have the finances nor the military power of the Tudors and he summoned the Parliament only to ask for money, which was retrieved through taxation only if needed for war. Other than for this, James usually looked for advice and help in small councils of ministers.
His court didn’t have a good reputation; James encircled himself with Scottish and corruption and the search for money and pleasures brought to a negative view of human nature.

From the religious point of view, there were problems between the Catholics and the Puritans. The latter were dissenters and underlined the value of individualism within religion. They disapproved of the rites and bishops of the Church and suggested that the Church should be guided by laic elders. James didn’t agree to this and retained the bishops and a new translation of the Bible was made, King James Bible. The King was decided not to favor either of the two groups, the Catholic or the Puritans.
Because war was expensive and because he didn’t want to be dependent on the Parliament, James was a peacekeeper and made an unpopular peace with Spain. The navy was abandoned and foreign trade policy was uncared for so that England’s power diminished. However, the peace with Spain allowed the beginning of English colonies in North America and this was a period of general progress for the English permanent settlements oversea. The New World was colonized by the Pilgrim Fathers and provided a valuable market for new goods. The first English company was founded in India to commercialize tea, tobacco, spices and cotton.

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