Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

process; third, that soldiers should not be quartered

subjected to martial law. These were not new claims. The second and fourth were as old as Magna Charta ; the first was older still. But the people now were enlightened enough and strong enough to insist upon them.

At one time, Charles governed for eleven years The Long Par. without a parliament, raising money by liament.

the most illegal and oppressive methods. When, in 1640, he summoned another, a majority were Puritans. They had always been foremost in opposing the absolute policy of the kings, and many of them now had come to be Independents. This Long Parliament, as it is called, because existing twelve years, carried at the outset two measures of the utmost importance in restraining the arbitrary rule of the king. One law ordained that Parliament should not be dissolved without its own consent; the other abolished the Court of Star Chamber, a body of judges wholly under the king's control, by which all the constitutional modes of administering justice had been set aside, and which had been the instrument of all the kings in disposing of obnoxious personal enemies. Charles was compelled to assent to these measures ;

but when the parliament demanded the The Civil War.

* control of the army he resisted, and both parties took up arms (1642). The king was supported by most of the nobility, by the Catholics, and by the Church party. The parliamentary side was taken by the Puritans and by the middle and lower classes of the people. During the war the Episcopal Church was overthrown, and a Presbyterian form of worship and church

government prevailed. The king finally fell into the hands of the parliament, by whom he was tried and executed for treason (1649).

The Commons then abolished the House of Lords, and vested the supreme executive power The Commonin a council of state of forty members. wealth. In 1653 Cromwell dissolved the parliament by force. Another parliament gave to him the supreme power with the title Lord Protector. He summoned and dissolved one parliament after another, ruling quite absolutely until his death in 1658. The triumph of the Commons, instead of establishing the government on a firm basis, and securing that civil and political liberty for which they had been struggling so long, only introduced a period of greater contention, of which the people became thoroughly tired.

Cromwell was succeeded by his son Richard, who could not exercise his father's sway, and resigned his place. The control of affairs -

The Restoration. fell into the hands of a few military leaders; and in 1660 the people gladly received as king Charles II., who had been in exile during the existence of the Commonwealth. This event is known in English history as the Restoration. The government was re-established on its old basis, the episcopal system again set up, and for a time the parliament was submissive to the king ; but his favor to the Catholics, and other measures, alienated the people from him. His brother Arbitrary Rule James, who succeeded him (1685), at- of James. tempted to re-establish the absolutism that had characterized the Tudors. He claimed the power to set aside acts of Parliament; he purposed to repeal the Habeas Corpus act, passed in the preceding reign; he wished to

Billo

establish Catholicism as the state religion ; he interfered in the election of members of Parliament; and he assumed the control of ecclesiastical affairs. These arbitrary measures alarmed and exasperated the

people, and after reigning four years James The Revolution.

" was compelled to fly from the country. The crown was then offered to William of Orange and his wife Mary, the daughter of James. This event is known as the Revolution (1689). Its consequences were most important. On the accession of William and Mary, a parliament

was summoned which passed the famous Bill of Rights.

de Bill of Rights, which has been called the third bulwark of English liberty. The other two are Magna Charta and the Petition of Right. This bill declared it illegal for the sovereign to suspend the laws, or dispense with their execution, or to levy money without grant of Parliament, or to keep a standing army without the consent of Parliament. The bill declared the right of the subjects to petition the king, to bear arms in their own defence, to be exempt from excessive bail and fines, and from cruel and unusual punishments. It also declared that parliaments should be held frequently, that the election of members should be free, and that the members should have freedom of speech in their debates.

During this reign, considerable progress was made toward securing religious toleration and freedom of the press; and a limited term was fixed for the duration of Parliament. The mutual relations of king and Parliament became definitely settled, and the constitution has undergone but slight changes since.

SUMMARY.

1. Under the Saxon kings, the government was limited in two directions: first, by the county courts, in which the freemen administered their own local affairs; and, second, by the great council, whose consent was necessary for taxation.

2. Under the Normans, the feudal system gave more power to the crown. The arbitrary exercise of this power was the origin of the first formal declaration of civil liberty in Magna Charta.

3. The House of Commons originated in a desire of the crown to make itself independent of the nobility by creating a new party in its own interests.

4. This body acquired the right to frame statutes, to originate money bills, to examine into the public expenditure, to hold the king's ministers responsible.

5. The separation of the Church of England from Rome was effected by Henry VIII.

6. The change from the Catholic to the Protestant faith was effected during the reign of Edward VI.

7. The Puritans were Protestants who were dissatisfied with the moderate policy of reform adopted by Edward and afterward by Elizabeth, and urged the entire abolition of Catholic forms.

8. Some of the Puritans were driven by persecution to adopt new principles of ecclesiastical polity, and advocated the right of Christians to organize their own churches and choose their own officers, without dictation or control by any external authority. These people were called Separatists.

9. Most of the Puritans believed in a union of church and state.

10. The Puritans became the chief opponents of the arbitrary political measures of the Stuarts.

11. During the reign of James I. and Charles I., there was a continual struggle between the Commons and the king, about taxation, and freedom of speech in Parliament. Charles assented to the Petition of Right. The quarrel ended in the civil war, in which the king was defeated, and in consequence of which he lost his life.

12. For a few years the monarchy was abolished, and the Commons ruled under the guidance of Cromwell. This was the period of the Commonwealth.

13. A reaction followed in favor of royalty: the restoration of the Stuarts took place, and liberty was again restricted.

14. Arbitrary rule again excited discontent, and brought about the Revolution, in which James II. was compelled to leave the throne, and the crown was given to William and Mary.

15. A bill of rights was passed, which became one of the chief safeguards of English liberty.

IMPORTANT DATES.
1066. Norman Conquest.
1215. Magna Charta.
1517. Lutheran Reformation.
1649. Execution of Charles I.
1660. The Restoration.
1689. The Revolution.

SOVEREIGNS OF ENGLAND.

Normans.
William I. 1066–1087.
William II. 1087-1100.
Henry I. 1100-1135.
Stephen, 1135–1154.

House of Plantagenet.
Henry II. 1154-1189.
Richard I. 1189–1199.

1199-1216.
Henry III. 1216-1272.

John,

« AnteriorContinuar »