17th Century

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Submitted By netrok
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The Early Seventeenth Century 1603-1660
Queen Elizabeth died in 1603. The Virgin Queen had not produced a child to inherit the throne, but her kinsman, James Stuart (James VI of Scotland), succeeded her as James I. the relationship between the monarch and his people and the relationship between England and Scotland would be sources of friction throughout his reign.
After James died in 1625 and was succeeded by Charles I, tensions persisted and intensified. Charles attempted to rule without summoning Parliament at all between 1629 and 1638. By 1642 England was up in arms, in a civil war between the king’s forces and armies loyal to the house of Commons. The conflict ended with Charles’s defeat and beheading in 1649.
Although in the early 1650s the monarchy as an institution seemed as dead as the man who had last worn the crown, an adequate replacement proved difficult to devise. Executive power devolved upon a Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell, former general of the parliamentary forces, who wielded power nearly as autocratically as Charles had done.
Yet without an institutionally sanctioned method of transferring power upon Cromwell’s death in 1658, the attempt to fashion a commonwealth without a hereditary monarch eventually failed. In 1660 Parliament invited the eldest son of the old king home from exile. He succeeded to the throne as King Charles II.
From a literary point of view, 1603 can seem a particularly capricious dividing line because at the accession of James I so many writers happened to be in midcareer (Shakespeare, Donne etcetera). The restoration of Charles II, with which this section ends, is likewise a more significant political than literary milestone: John Milton completed Paradise Lost in the 1660s.
State and Church, 1603-1640
Literature and Culture, 1603-1640
The Caroline Era, 1625-1640
The Revolutionary Era, 1640-1660
Literature and…...

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