Transition to the Modern Age (1455-1688)
I. Transition to the Modern Age (1455-1485)
The Wars of Rose
The name Wars of the Roses was refer to the battles between the House of Lancaster, symbolized by the read rose, and that of York, symbolized by the white, from 1455 to 1485. Henry Tudor, descendant of Duke of Lancaster won victory at Bosworth Fireld in 1485 and put ht country under the rule of the Tudors. From these Wars, English feudalism received its death blow. The great medieval nobility was much weakened.
II. The English Reformation
Henry VIII was above all responsible for the religious reform of the church. There were three main causes: a desire for change and reform in the church had been growing for many years and now, encouraged by the success of Martin Luther, many people believed its time had come; the privilege and wealth of the clergy were resented; and Henry needed money.
The reform began as a struggle for a divorce and ended in freedom from the Papacy. Henry VIII wanted to divorce Catherine of Aragon but the Pope refused. Henry's reforms was to get rid of the English Church's connection with the Pope, and to make an independent Church of England. He made this break with Rome gradually between 1529 and 1534. He dissolved all of England's monasteries and nunneries because they were more loyal to the Pope than to their English kings. The laws such as the Act of succession of 1534 and the Act of Supremacy of 1535 made his reform possible. He established the church of England as the national church of the country, and he made himself the supreme head of the church of England.
Henry VIII's reform stressed the power of the monarch and certainly strengthened Henry's position; Parliament had never done such a long and important piece of work before, its importance grew as a result. His attack on the Pope's power encouraged many critics of abuses of the Catholic Church. England was moving away form Catholicism towards protestaintism.
III. Elizabeth I (1558-1603)
Elizabeth's religious reform and her foreign policy
Elizabeth's religious reform was a compromise of views. She broke Mary's ties with Rome and restored her father's independent Church of England, i.e. keeping to Catholic doctrines and practices but to be free of the Papal control. He religious settlement was unacceptable to both the extreme Protestants known as Puritans and to ardent Catholics.
For nearly 30 years Elizabeth successfully played off against each other the two great Catholic powers, France and Spain, and prevented England from getting involved in any major European conflict. Through her marriage alliances which were never materialized, Elizabeth managed to maintain a friendly relationship with France. So England wad able to face the danger from Spain.
IV. The English Renaissance
Distinctive features of the English Renaissance
1) English culture was revitalized not so much directly by the classics as by contemporary Europeans under the influence of the classics;
2) England as an insular country followed a course of social and political history which was to a great extent independent of the course of history elsewhere in Europe;
3) Owing to the great genius of the 14th century poet Chaucer, the native literature was sufficiently vigorous and experienced in assimilating for foreign influences without being subjected by them;
4) English Renaissance coincided with the Reformation in England.
VI. The Civil Wars and their consequences
Because of the absolute rule of Charles, the confrontation between Charles I and the parliament developed into the civil war. The war began on August 22,1642 and ended in 1651. Charles I was condemned to death.
The English Civil War is also called the Puritan Revolution. It has been seen as a conflict between the parliament and the King, and a conflict between economic interests of the Crown. The economic interests of the urban middle classed coincided with their religious ( Puritan) ideology while the Crown's traditional economic interests correspondingly allied with Anglican religious belief. The English Civil War not only overthrew feudal system in England but also shook the foundation of the feudal rule in Europe. It is generally regarded as the beginning of modern world history.
When Oliver Cromwell died in 1658 and was succeeded by his son, Richard, the regime began to collapse. One of Cromwell's generals George Monck, occupied London and arranged for new parliamentary elections. The Parliament thus was elected in 1660 resolved the crisis by asking the late King's son to return from his exile in France as king Charles II. It was called the Restoration.
The Glorious Revolution of 1688
In 1685 Charles II died and was succeeded by his brother James II. James was brought up in exile in Europe, was a Catholic. He hoped to rule without giving up his personal religious vies. But England was no more tolerant of a Catholic king in 1688 than 40 years ago. So the English politicians rejected James II, and appealed to a Protestant king, William of Orange, to invade and take the English throne. William landed in England in 1688. The takeover was relatively smooth, with no bloodshed, nor any execution of the king. This was known as the Glorious Revolution.
The Gunpowder Plot of 1605
The Gunpowder Plot of 1605 was the most famous of the Catholic conspiracies. On Nov. 5,1605, a few fanatical Catholics attempted to blow King James and his ministers up in the House of Parliament where Guy Fawkes had planted barrels of gun-powder in the cellars. The immediate result was the execution of Fawkes and his fellow-conspirators and imposition of severe anti-Catholic laws. The long-term result has been an annual celebration on Nov. 5, when a bonfire is lit to turn a guy and a firework display is arranged.