During the seventeenth century, England underwent several political changes to become a constitutional monarchy. Power has been something that has always been fought over and one power struggle was that of the English monarchy and Parliament. Under the Stuart rule, Parliament was dissolved and restored, there was a civil war, kings lost their thrones as well as their heads, and there was a military dictatorship, a secret alliance and a king fleeing to another country. These clashes between king and Parliament resulted in a revolution. The Glorious Revolution transformed England from an absolute monarchy to a limited constitutional monarchy as Parliament assumed political, economic, and legal power.
Absolute monarchy is a form of government in which sovereignty is vested in a single person, the king or queen; absolute monarchs in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries based their authority on the theory of the divine right of kings.1
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which power is limited by law and balanced between the authority and power of the government on the one hand, and the rights and liberties of the subject or citizen on the other hand.2
Queen Elizabeth I was the last of the Tudor monarchs; her successor was her cousin James Stuart, as James I, since she had no children and thus had no heir to the throne when she died in 1603. James Stuart was also King of Scotland as James VI and although he had experience as a king, he was unfamiliar with the English ideas and found the English hostile to his ideas of the divine right of kings.34 James’s ideas conflicted with English liberties and resulted in conflicts with the House of Commons as he believed it was he who had the authority to levy taxes, rather than Parliament.56 James passed down his beliefs to his son, Charles I, who became king in 1625. Charles I ruled without Parliament from 1629 to 1640, financing his government in such ways that were of questioning legality. 7
These tensions between the king and Parliament led to the English civil war in 1642, a dispute over who had ultimate power.8 This was never determined since Charles I refused to admit defeat. Charles was captured by the parliamentary army led by Oliver Cromwell in 1647 and tried for treason and convicted, losing both his throne and his head in 1649. The English monarchy was replaced with a commonwealth government which became the Protectorate, a military dictatorship under the rule of Oliver Cromwell in 1653. The monarchy was not restored until 1660 when Charles II was brought to the throne by Parliament.
Religious conflict and the relationship between the king and Parliament still troubled England. Charles II worked well with Parliament until 1670 when Parliament granted him with an insufficient income.9 Charles made a secret alliance with his cousin, the King of France, agreeing that in exchange for money Charles would support the French and attempt to re-Catholicize England. This caused fear in his Protestant subjects along with the fact that Charles would be succeeded by his Catholic brother, James II.10 James II inherited the throne upon his brother’s death in 1685 and continued to try to restore the Catholic faith.
When James II produced a male heir, fear of the establishment of a Catholic dynasty led Parliament to…