Constitution Text Notes (got 93% on the test)

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Louisiana State University
Political Science
POLI 2052

CHAPTER II CONSTITUTIONAL FOUNDATIONSI Foundations of Political Rights The Influence of 17th Century EnglandADivine Right of KingsDuring the 1600s English Kings James I Charles I and Charles II in particular subscribed to the Divine Right of KingsRoyal rulers were not subject to the will of the peopleor even to the will of the aristocracy the feudal barons or in the case of Protestant England to the Roman Catholic Churchbut derived their power from God and answered only to GodAny attempt to overthrow or protest could be interpreted as an act against GodA good illustration of this is the words of King James I in 1609Kings are iustly called Gods for that they exercise a manner or resemblance of Diuine power vpon earth For if you wil consider the Attributes to God you shall see how they agree in the person of a King God hath power to create or destroy make or vnmake at his pleasure to giue life or send death to iudge all and to bee iudged nor accomptable to none To raise low things and to make high things low at his pleasure and to God are both soule and body due And the like power haue Kings they make and vnmake their subiects they haue power of raising and casting downe of life and of death Iudges ouer all their subiects and in all causes and yet accomptable to none but God onely They haue power to exalt low things and abase high things and make of their subiects like men at the Chesse A pawne to take a Bishop or a Knight and to cry vp or downe any of their subiects as they do their moneyAnd supporters of the Divine Right of Kings quoted Scripture in support of their argumentProverbs 81516 By me kings reign and princes decree justice By me princes rule and nobles even all the judges of the earthRomans 1312Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers For there is no power but of God the powers that be are ordained of God Whosoever therefore resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnationIt was not surprising that these three Kings in particular pointed to Divine Right as the foundation of their legitimacyThe Church of England had been established by Henry VIII 14911547 less than a century beforeKings after the Henrican Reformation were Anglican Protestants ruling not by authority of the Pope but rather as the head of the Anglican ChurchThe theory of divine right therefore justified a kings argument that he was unanswerable to elected officialsbut without relying on papal authorityAnd it was particularly appealing to English Kings who so often found themselves asking the House of Commons for money Henry VIII raised money by selling land seized from the Roman Catholic Church during the English Reformation and selling nobility titlesAnd Elizabeth I 15331603 enjoyed the relatively unusual benefit of a war with Spain that actually brought money into the coffers of BritainBut by 1581 whenJames I 15661625 took the throne there were few obvious ways to raise revenueand ever more pressure to protect ones authority to ruleBJames I 15661625James was more of a philosopher and a writer than his predecessor Elizabeth I and he welcomed debateparticularly debate that involved his own oration that allowed him to showcase his rhetorical talentsNonetheless he saw himself as the sole authorityhe saw himself as father husband head of the body politic of a unified Great BritainJames I clearly welcomed the opportunity to be the leader of a national church in an England where there was no distinction between state and churchAs he proclaimed in an early conference on the Protestant religionno bishop no kingConsequently James had no interest in any reform that moved the Anglican Church away from uniform national practice and connection to the royal ruleFew changes in the Anglican Church were made during Jamess reignmuch as it had during Henrys reign and during Elizabeths reign it continued to mix the principles of Calvinism with the grandeur symbols and ceremony of Roman CatholicismThe Reformation in England the Henrican Reformation was far more conservative than much of the Reformation in Europe or the Puritan Revolution that divided England in the 1600sThe conservative nature of the Henrican Reformation and the Anglican Church led to the establishment of multiple separatist congregationsall a challenge to the English throneThe Puritan movement had begun during the reign of Elizabeth I as a group that advocated for a congregational rather than episcopal structure of the church and continued during the reign of James I with the Millenary Petition of 1603 a manifesto demanding various reforms of the Anglican ChurchJames I was willing to debate the possibility of reformindeed in 1604 he called what came to be known as the Hampton Court ConferenceThe Puritans won some victories at the Conference including the publication of the Bible in everyday Englisha version that came to be known as the King James VersionBut generally the Anglican Church remained relatively consistent with a clear hierarchy of bishops the King as the head of the Church a standard liturgy and many of the rituals of the Catholic Church The threat that James faced from some Catholics was even greater than the threat that he faced from Puritansand is perhaps best illustrated by the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 when Guy Fawlkes was found in the basement of the House of Lords guarding 36 barrels of gunpowderenough to reduce Parliament to rubbleGiven the challenges James was a successful KingHe kept both dissident Protestant and Catholics largely at bayJames was successful at the balancing act necessary to handle Parliaments criticisms of the cost of war even as Parliament often advocated for decisive military action and to maintain the crown and the Anglican Churchs authority to ruleBut the challenges faced by Jamess son Charles as king were even greater the greatest diplomat military strategist and orator would likely not have been successful and Charles had few of those talentsHe had in common with his predecessors a belief in his authority to rule by divine rightbut he lacked the pragmatic wisdom of Henry Elizabeth or JamesC Charles I 16001649Charles I took the throne in 1625 upon the death of his fatherIn the years leading up to Jamess death events unfolded which made the new Kings success very unlikelyThe Thirty Years War part of a larger series of religious wars across Europe disrupted commercial social and political life in Europethe trade routes that had provided the English King with at least some however inadequate supply of financial resources the precarious religious balance the balance between the proSpanish and proDutch forces and the very ability of James to use his family to strengthen the position of EnglandIn 1619 Jamess Protestant soninlaw Frederick V foolishly accepted the crown of Bohemia but was soon ousted by the Catholic Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand IIstrengthening the position of SpainParliament refused to fund Jamess request for a military campaign to aid Frederickbut at the same time expected a fullfledged attack directly on SpainDuring this time James had been negotiating with Spain to marry Charles to the Spanish Infanta Maria but Parliament by 1621 demanded that Charles now 21 marry a Protestant and that James additionally provide stronger enforcement of antiCatholic policyJames refused and Parliament in response wrote up a protest of their rights James tore the protest out of the record book and dissolved ParliamentJames had written decades earlier about the divine right of kings and his struggles with Parliament did little to dissuade him on this matter but as always his need for money weakened his claim of divine authority no matter how sincerely madeAn early illustration of Charless inability to gauge the political climate occurred even before he was crownedJames had been negotiating for years to marry Charles to the Spanish princessbut somewhat impulsively Prince Charles had travelled on his own to Spain in 1620
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