How did Stuart monarchs destroy the Elizabethan political order?  

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larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Stuarts became English monarchs when James VI of Scotland became James I of England on the death of Elizabeth I. James did not have Elizabeth's charisma and did not command the respect of the English people as she had. In fact, when he was crowned, his advisors told him to wave to the crowd who was cheering him. His replay was that he was tired and perhaps he should drop his breeches and they can "cheer my arse."

The chief offender here was Charles I, son of James I. Elizabeth had carefully crafted a religious compromise in attempts to mollify both Anglican and Puritan believers. Charles appointed William Laud as Archbishop of Canterbury. He attempted to impose two new elements on the church in Scotland: A new prayer book modeled after the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, and imposition of bishoprics on the Scottish church. Laud’s efforts caused a revolt in Scotland, and Charles was forced to recall Parliament for financial aid in fighting the war.

Charles made every attempt to raise money without convening Parliament. In 1625, he decreed a forced loan on landowners, which were to be paid within three months, a period of time which made it almost impossible to comply. When a number of gentlemen, including five prominent knights, refused to honor his demand, Charles had them imprisoned. Desperate for money, Charles convened three Parliaments within four years, but dismissed each when they refused to levy taxes unless he met their demand for fiscal reform.

When a revolt broke out in Scotland over Laud's policies,Charles was forced to call a new Parliament. This new Parliament, called the "long Parliament," sat twenty years. It passed the Triennial Act which required the King to summon Parliament every three years, impeached Archbishop Laud, and abolished the Court of High Commission. Charles was fearful of a Scottish invasion and accepted the terms. Even so, there was no peace between King and Parliament. Radical members of Parliament pushed increasingly severe measures which the King would hardly accept, and Charles attempted to renege on the concessions he had already made. The end result was the English Civil War between those loyal to the King and those loyal to Parliament. Charles ultimately was captured by the Scots who turned him over to Parliamentary forces led by Oliver Cromwell. He was tried for treason and beheaded on January 30, 1649. The nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty mocks Charles' failure as King.

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