Some English Sovereigns
Henry VII 1485-1509
Henry VIII 1509-1547
Edward VI 1547-1553
Mary I 1553-1558
Elizabeth I 1558-1603
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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Last modified: 2/3/2003
Maintained by Stephen Gottlieb. E-mail ... Prof. Emeritus Stephen A. Gottlieb