Monday, 27 February 2012



  VIDEO 1 



Task 1. Video 2  The king on trial - Fill in the gaps while listening and watching

Charles I: " I must  1. ............... you all, these many a day all  2. ................ have been taken away from me but that which I 3. ................... more dear to me than my 4. ................... : my conscience and my honour.
If I had more 5. .................. to my life than the 6. ..................... of my kingdom, I should have made a defence for 7.  ............................ that might leastwise have 8. ................................ the ugly sentence that I 9. will pass on me.
I know it is in vain to dispute with you. I cannot 10. .................... the power you have. I have   nothing more to say". 



I hope these notes  about the Stuart Dynasty I used in our lessons can help you to prepare your next oral reports or  tests about British History
 (N.B. They are simply notes! You have to organize your speech starting from them ...)

When Queen Elizabeth I died with no heir in 1603, James VI of Scotland became King of England. It was the beginning of the Stuart Dynasty.

  • James was the son of Mary Stuart who had been condemned to death by Elizabeth I in 1587
  • As James the VI of Scotland he united the two kingdoms of England and Scotland under one crown with the name of James I
  • He was a protestant, unlike his mother
  • Like the Tudors, he worked with a small council of ministers
  • He only summoned Parliament to ask for money
  • He surrounded himself with Scottish favourites and his court was disreputable, corrupt
  • That caused a pessimistic view of human nature we can recognize in the works of two famous playwrights of the time, Ben Jonson and William Shakespeare (especially in his last works: Henry VIII , Othello, Macbeth, The Tempest)

  • Catholics and Puritans disapproved King James: Catholics were fined if they did not attend the Church of England. Puritans, instead, had a high sense of duty and morality, they were against any form of entertainment and preferred a direct contact with God (no rituals). Their motto was "hard work and prayer".
  • Catholics tried to get rid of king James with the so-called "Gunpowder Plot" (1605) . Guy Fawkes, the leader of the Catholics, was caught and executed. (National English Festival : Guy Fawkes' Night, every year on 5th of November)

  • James I made peace with England's historical enemy, Spain, because wars were expensive and he did not want to depend on Parliament (asking them for money)
  • England's power declined because the King neglected the navy and was not interested in foreign policy
  • Thanks to peace with Spain the English could lay foundations of their colonial possessions in North America ( the Pilgrim Fathers landed in what is now Massachussetts and founded New Plymouth - 1620)
Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers


  • Charles I succeded his father, James I
  • He had  strong contrasts with the Puritan party: they were greatly influential in Parliament and  wanted a true balance of power between the king and Parliament
  • Charles firmly believed he was King by divine right
  • Parliament refused to pay him large amount of money for his home and foreign policy (costly failures were his wars against Spain and his expeditions to France)
  • 1628 - Parliament brought out the Petition of Rights to limit the power of the king
  • 1629 - the king dissolved Parliament and ruled without for 11 years
  • 1640 - Charles I summoned Parliament again to ask for money (to subdue a religious rebellion in Scotland)
  • 1642 - Parliament asked Charles I to give up the command of the armed forces, he refused, the Civil War broke out.

Oliver Cromwell and the Puritan Commonwealth

  • Charles I was made prisoner
  • Oliver Cromwell took control of London and expelled or arrested more than 100 members of Parliament
  • Charles I was executed on 30th January 1649
  • Monarchy was abolished and the country was ruled as a republic called Commonwealth
  • 1653 - Oliver Cromwell was appointed Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland
  • After his death, his son Richard, proved unable to control the army commanders who had started to fight among themselves
  • 1660 - Parliament invited Charles II, Charles I 's son, to return to his kingdom from his exile in France.
Literature in the Puritan Age
John Donne and The Metaphysical poets
John Milton - Paradise Lost

 “... No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;...Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee”. (J. Donne, from Devotions upon emergent Occasions) 


(1660 - 1685)
  • The "merry monarch", witty, pleasure-loving, with French tastes and sympathies, reigned for 25 years supported by a royalist Parliament who passed a vindicative legislation against the Puritans
  • Two great catastrophes occurred in that period and Puritans considered them as God's punishment for the king's immorality (Charles II's court was considered the most immoral in English history): 1665 bubonic plague killed more than 100,000 people; 1666 Great Fire of London
  • In order to control the king's interest in the Catholic Church and to reduce the power of the monarchy, the first political parties in Britain were founded: the Whigs - descendants of the Parlamentarians (Civil war 1642 - 1649) , they did not believe in absolute power and were for religious tolerance; the Tories - descendants of the Royalists, they supported the Crown, the Church of England and land gentry, they believed that kings ruled by divine right.

Restoration Drama - William Congreve 

Charles II brought the French taste for Drama to England and allowed women to perform on stage for the first time.

(1685 - 1688)
  • James II succeded his brother, Charles II. Although he was a Catholic, he was supported by the Tories at first
  • Foolishly he decided to impose Catholicism on his kingdom, so he lost the support of the Tory party.
  • He had two daughters from his first wife, Mary and Ann,  who were Protestants but the crown would be inherited by Charles Edward, the son he had had by his catholic wife, Mary of Modena. Both Whigs and Tories did not want a line of catholic monarchs
  • They asked the Dutch William of Orange, James's nephew and Mary's husband,  to move to London in 1688
  • William and his army entered London without firing a single shot, it was called the Glorious or Bloodless Revolution
  • Parliament offered the crown jointly to William and his wife Mary,  they became William III and Mary II
File:Willem II prince of Orange and Maria Stuart.jpg
  • The power of Parliament over the monarchs was established by the Bill of Rights in 1689
  • The Toleration Act was passed: dissenters were not persecuted and Catholics, though not mentioned in the act, were not persecuted either.
  • William and Mary died with no heir so Mary's sister, James II's second daughter, became Queen Anne  (1702 -1714)

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