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The Stuarts

Elizabeth having died childless, the crown went to James VI of Scotland, now James I of England. He strongly believed in the “Divine Right of kings”: a king received authority from God alone. The result of this was the conviction that the monarchy had absolute powers. However, it must be remembered that James kept his coronation oath to rule according to the English laws, and also managed to lessen religious passion and bring domestic peace to his kingdom.
His son Charles I ruled with absolute powers, and pursed his choices without feeling bound to explain or justify his actions. When the first disagreements with Parliament began over the question of taxation, the king simply dissolved it. When, in the end, the need for money compelled him to recall Parliament the Petition of right (1628). This petition denied the king the right to collect taxes without the approval of Parliament, or to imprison a freeman without trial. Charles dissolved Parliament.

The result of these disagreements was a Civil War (1642), which saw the opposition of two factions, one siding with the king and one with Parliament. The Royalists, who controlled the upper classes and the country gentry, while those who supported Parliament, called “Roundheads” owing to their short haircuts, controlled London and the east and were mainly from the Puritan middle classes.
A member of Parliament, Oliver Cromwell, realised that they needed a better army: he gave his soldiers – united by the same strong religious zeal – proper training and, above all, a regular wage. His famous New Model Army was born, and defeated the Royalists in 1645. The king was captured and execute in 1649, and the remander of the royal family escaped to France.

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