The Puritan age
James I was a great lover of the theatre and he created the company of kingsmen. His son, Charles I represent a step further, as he embodies the absolute power, and decided to dissolve the parliament in 1629 breaking the long tradition of listening and working with the parliament even if England wasn’t a parliamentary monarchy yet.
Anyway in his point of view, the only reason for call the parliament was to ask for money to spend in wars.
The Augustan age
Charles the I is the only king executed in English history, and this disclose the passage from the divine power to the parliament that overthrows the monarch. From this moment, the king could not rule as an absolute figure.
Socially speaking, a totally new middle class, based on commerce was coming up.
The slow shift from agriculture-based country to the most industrialized country in the world happened in this period. There is a big gap between social classes: great opportunities and innovation from one side, but also awful misery from the other one.
Enclosures were huge quantities of land, cultivated with crop rotation, and not with onecrop production anymore, that allows the soil to regenerate, and give more products. The increase of yield came also from the introduction of machines, that reduced the manpower need, with the effect of force the workers to look for an employ in cities. We can see a great ship of people, that caused overcrowding and hygens problems. There were a lot of subsequent poor laws, that tried to solve this problem also because they rose very often revolutions, but didn’t managed to stop the problem from degenerating more and more.
The textile industry was the first field that known a big increase of production, thanks to the cotton from American colonies, but the most productive country in the world could not take all those workers.
In the Victorian age the government tried to improve the condition of life of lower classes giving little by little, in order to keep them calm. Some acts were social or educational, like to limit the hours of work or take an edge for the age of these workers, while other injunction put standards on buildings, for example how many people could live in a certain area.
It is a well known fact that in this period gin was cheaper than bread as corn price was kept artificially high by land owners, with the aim of improve the gain.
London was subdivided in areas, like nowadays, but in those days even if there were no physical barriers it was not possible to move from a block to the other.
people of certain classes lived all their lives without moving, as for poor was forbidden to enter rich neighborhood, and rich people did not want to go in smelly dirty poor places.
the most important events that took place in this period were lots of controversies between Catholics and Anglicans and certainly the great fire of London of 1666.
Nevertheless, this disaster had the positive effect to free once for all the city from a even bigger catastrophe. We’re speaking about the plague, that took to death more than a hundred thousand people, and took place the year before of the fire. In this sense, it helped clay and purify the city, but most of the houses, that were made of timber wood caught fire very easily, also thanks to the very strong wind that spread fire throughout narrow alleys.
It’s told that the fire started from a baker in the city center, and as houses were nearby it lasted 6 days.
The city had to be rebuilt, and what we see today dates back to that period. Two important architects of this period are Inigo Jones and Christopher Wren.