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Seventeenth-Century Chronology

Some English Sovereigns

The Tudors:

      monarch reigned

Henry VII     1485-1509

Henry VIII     1509-1547

Edward VI     1547-1553

Jane     1553-1553

Mary I     1553-1558

Elizabeth I     1558-1603

The Stuarts:

      monarch reigned

James I     1603-1625

Charles I     1625-1649 (executed)

Oliver Cromwell (Lord Protector)     1653-1658

Richard Cromwell (Lord Protector)     1658-1659

Charles II     1660-1685

James II     1685-1688 (deposed)

William III     1689-1702


Mary II     1689-1694

    (rule jointly)

Anne     1702-1714

Political and Religious Chronology of the English Seventeenth Century

1603 Elizabeth I dies. Many feel that with her dies a great era of English political power, arts, and literature.

1603 James I succeeds to English throne. Stuart line begins. Jacobean malaise a theme for many writers. Era of Elizabeth I often glorified.

1604 Enforcement of conformity to the Anglican Church, and for use of its Book of Common Prayer. Many Puritan ministers are forced from their congregations, and Catholics are persecuted. Note: The hyperlinked version of The Book of Common Prayer is the 1662 version, slightly modernized, although earlier versions are contrasted on Lynda Howell's Web site.

1605 Gunpowder Plot (fails) to blow up Houses of Parliament. Causes widespread anti-Catholic sentiment for the entire Century.

1607 James I forces English bishops on the Church of Scotland. Enhances tensions between the two realms.

1611 King James Bible published. The work of 47 scholars and a marvel of clarity and high style, it helps to establish specific literary qualities in English poetry and prose. Based largely on the humanist William Tyndale's translation (begun 1523), it rivals several other famous English translations. Because the Protestant Reformation of 1517 - the date Martin Luther made public his anti-Church sentiments - had established individual faith and religious judgment as central to the religious life, the reading of the Bible increased in importance. Therefore, translation and Biblical interpretation (called exegesis) made vernacular translations crucial to faith. A useful electronic version of the King James Bible may be read or searched at the Bible Browser Note: An important research starting point is Resource Pages for Biblical Studies

1619 Calvinism, related in religious style to the English Puritan movement, increases its power on the Continent.

1622 James I dissolves Parliament, which had been meeting for only a year since the last time it was dissolved (1614).

1625 Charles I succeeds to English throne. War with Spain (ends in 1630).

1628 Petition Of Right issued by Parliament against the perceived tyranny of Charles I, who, failing to increase the King's funds through Parliament, dissolves Parliament and pursues his own means to raise funds.

1629 Charles I rules autocratically from a room called the "Star Chamber." Censorship of press increases dramatically.

1630 The "Great Migration" to New England increases numbers of Puritans and seekers of religious freedom there. In this year, John Donne preaches his final sermon, Death's Duel, before Charles I at Whitehall Palace.

1634 Archbishop Laud increases religious conformity. Witch trials in Lancashire, England. Charles I secretly negotiates with Spain, a key Catholic stronghold, against Holland, and carries on diplomacy with the Vatican in the following year.

1637 Press censorship reinforced once more. John Milton wrote a speech, Areopagitica, on the freedom of the press.

1639 Scottish (many being Catholic) refuse to adopt mandatory use of Anglican Prayer Book. War with England begins, called "The First Bishops' War."

1640 Scottish invade England. Long Parliament summoned. "Second Bishops' War" begins. In the next year, Parliament passes many reforms against the King's religious and economic policies.

1641 Scottish armies withdraw from England.

1642 Charles I calls leaders of Parliament rebels and traitors, attempts to arrest five members, but soon flees London. English Civil War begins. A complex series of changes follow, including the abolition of Episcopacy. The war is, in part, a war led by the English Puritan factions, but its complex causes transcend religious impulses alone. London theaters closed.

1643 "The Solemn League and Covenant" was a partially successful four-year attempt by an intolerant faction of the Puritans to create a centrally controlled Presbyterian Church of England.

1645 The New Model Army (reorganized with abler leadership and bettwe tactical design) is established by Oliver Cromwell, with General Fairfax their greatest field general. The Army is victorious in an important battle near Naseby. Book of Common Prayer forbidden. Witch hunt resumes.

1646 Charles I surrenders to the Scottish in an attempt to escape the English pursuit.

1647 The so-called Rump Parliament (the remnant of Charles the First's Parliament) established. House of Lords abolished and Presbyterians removed from House of Commons.

1648 Charles I captured by army. End of English Civil War. Cromwell the Commonwealth, and the English Revolution begins. The Interregnum period (1649-1660) begins. John Milton appointed Secretary of Foreign Tongues to Council of State - effectively to write state correspondence.

1649 Charles I executed on the scaffold. The Scottish proclaim Charles II King.

1652 Worried that a Parliamentary-authorized committee might convince Parliament and Oliver Cromwell to fund a Presbyterian form of churches, and in favor of a complete separation of church and state, Milton wrote a responding sonnet, On the proposals of certain ministers at the Committee for Propagation of the Gospel.

1653 Cromwell dissolves Rump Parliament, and assumes title of Lord Protector of England.

1657 Parliament offers kingship to Cromwell - who declines.

1658 Oliver Cromwell dies, succeeded by his son, Richard Cromwell.

1660 Richard Cromwell, plagued by dissent with Parliament, by wars, and by economic woes, is overthrown by army under General Monk. The "Puritan Revolution" ends. Rump Parliament meets again. Charles II invited to restore monarchy. Theaters reopen. Regicides are punished - Milton barely escapes with his life (probably saved by Andrew Marvell), and continues to write anti-monarchical treatises. Legislation of Cromwellian government repealed.

1662 The Church of England (Anglican Church) is restored.

1662 Great Plague in London. This is the infamous Annus Mirabilis, or "miraculous year," depicted by Pepys, Defoe, and Dryden.

1662 Great Fire destroys City of London.

1685 Upon the death of Charles II in this year, James II succeeds to English throne.

1688 William and Mary invited by Parliament to remove James II. They do so in a bloodless revolution called the "Glorious Revolution."

1689 Parliament declares William and Mary joint monarchs. Parliament passes the Act of [Religious] Tolerance.

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