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The Limits on Absolutism in England

Historically, societies around the world have utilized numerous forms of government with varying degrees of centralization of power; one of them was absolutism. As in many other monarchies of Europe, England had absolutism, but it was also one of the countries that began to limit monarchs’ absolute power. Thus, the prominent role of the parliament in the fights against James VI and the adoption of the Bill of Rights became the primary factors allowing the English to develop limits on absolutism.

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Absolutism began in England with the beginning of the rule of James VI, who was the son of Mary the Queen of Scots. James VI openly expressed his preferences for absolutism which was against the interest and beliefs of the parliament (MacMillan, 2020). Essentially, the English parliament became a significant force that was able to resist the consolidation of power and thus played a major role in the enforcement of limits on absolutism. After the death of James, Charles I took his position as the king of England and began implementing absolutist policies such as the increase of taxes without the consent of the parliament (Kautsky, 2017). Eventually, such conduct angered the Puritans and led to the beginning of the English Civil War, which ended in the capturing and beheading of Charles I. In 1960, the parliament, which once again was able to exercise its power, invited Charles II to rule England (Kautsky, 2017). After the death of Charles II, James II became the monarch, but he was overthrown by the parliament, which this time invited Charles II’s daughter Mary and her husband William to become monarchs.

In order to establish limits on the power of the monarchs, the parliament passed the Bill of Rights. It required the king to cooperate with the parliament, gave financial control to the house of commons, and ensured habeas corpus, stating that no person could be put into prison without being charged with a certain crime (Tugendhat, 2017). Thus, the adoption of the Bill of Rights became a document that openly limited the absolute power of monarchs in England.

England was one of few countries which openly resisted the onset of absolutism and eventually had to experience a civil war to prevent it. As a result, the active involvement of the parliament in the life of the country and the passing of the Bill of Rights allowed England to gain limits on its monarchy.

References

Kautsky, J. (2017). The politics of aristocratic empires. Routledge.

MacMillan, K. (2020). Death and disorder: A history of early modern England, 1485–1690. University of Toronto Press.

Tugendhat, M. (2017). Liberty is intact: Human rights in English law. Oxford University Press.

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StudyCorgi. (2022, November 20). The Limits on Absolutism in England. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/the-limits-on-absolutism-in-england/

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'The Limits on Absolutism in England'. 20 November.

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