Stuart Monarchy Replaces Tudor Monarchy

James I

When Elizabeth I died in 1603, she was replaced by James I who was also the King of Scotland (James VI), thereby becoming the first King of the United Kingdom.  James was the son of Mary, Queen of Scots, a Roman Catholic forced to flee to England for her beliefs and subsequently executed under Elizabeth as a potential threat to the throne.

James I firmly believed in the Divine Right of kings and sought to strengthen the Church of England as a pillar of his monarchy, a unified church being essential for a stable state.   He enforced conformity through measures like the Hampton Court Conference (1604), which promoted stability and unity within the Church of England, but alienated Puritans and contributed to rising tensions that would lead to the English Civil War later in the century.

The most memorable moments of his reign were the

James I’s religious background and policies deeply shaped the Church of England’s trajectory in the early 17th century, leaving a lasting impact on its identity and its relationship with the English state. Even so, the Stuarts’ (James I and Charles I) on the absolute power of monarchy produced some of the darkest times in england.

Charles I

Charles I replaced his father on the English Throne in 1625. Like his father, he sought absolute authority, angering Parliament with his reign ending in revolution, charges of treason, and his execution. Educated by Protestant tutors, Charles was exposed to both Calvinist and Arminian theology. However, he was also influenced by his mother, Queen Anne, who held Catholic sympathies. He was personally devout, engaging in daily prayer and reading Scripture and emphasizing individual piety and moral uprightness.

Charles’ hostility to Parliament and his insistence of absolute power led to Parliament’s Petition of Right in 1628, demanding individual liberties and limitations on the king’s power.  While he reluctantly assented, he largely ignored its principles.

The King’s subsequent appointment of William Laud to Archbishop of Canterbury and Laud’s imposition of ornate rituals, vestments, and high church practices further antagonized the Puritans who saw the appointment as a move to Catholicism.  Charles reacted by imposing mandatory religious practices and suppressing Puritan dissent.

Religious hostilities broke into the open when Charles attempted to force a new Book of Common Prayers on the Scottish Church.  The Scots rebelled, sparking the Bishops’ Wars (1637-1639) and ultimately, the English Civil Wars between the Royalists and the Parliamentarians. His reign marked a turning point in English history. His commitment to absolute monarchy and religious uniformity led to widespread conflict and eventually, the abolition of the monarchy during Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth period.