3 minutes 9 seconds
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In the mid-17th century, England experimented with republicanism. This experiment was the outcome of
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a clash of ideas. Over the divine right of kings, the authority to tax and the separation of powers, and soon the separation of King Charles' head from his body. And after this, England spent over a decade without a monarchy before restoring Charles' son as King Charles II. But given that the country had been run without a king for all of this time, why did Parliament and the people feel the need to restore the monarchy? So throughout Charles I's reign, he and Parliament had a difficult relationship.
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Charles believed that as God's chosen ruler of these lands, everyone who lived there had a duty to shut up and do exactly as he said, all of the time. Many of those in Parliament felt differently. Most of the arguments that Charles had with Parliament throughout his reign were over taxation, specifically whether or not the King had the authority to levy taxes alone. But there were also arguments over matters of religion, particularly over tolerance of Catholics and how to approach the governance of Ireland. The King dismissed Parliament several times over the course of his reign when he didn't get his way, and after Ireland rebelled some in Parliament believed that Charles was working with the Catholic rebels there to destroy Parliament, and thus make himself an absolute monarch in the same way as Louis XIII for France were.
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The King worried that his opponents were plotting to oust him and so tried to have them arrested. He failed and so he bravely fled London. As a result Parliament demanded limits on his power, he shockingly said no, and so it was time for war. Long story short, Parliament won, Charles was captured, he incited rebellion and was tried for treason. The King was found guilty and in 1649 he was beheaded.
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There was another war, Parliament won again, and by 1653 England was run by a Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell, at the head of a military dictatorship. But a mere 7 years later, in spite of how much was done to remove the monarchy, it was back. So why? Well, there were many reasons. The first was that Cromwell was the person who kept it all together and after his death, his son became Lord Protector.
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And Richard Cromwell, unlike his father, was not well respected, and many felt that his weak hand would lead to another civil war which everybody wanted to avoid. Furthermore, the English parliament was fractured and so no business was getting done, and many just wanted a return to stability. The second reason was that many of those in charge were Puritans, and they had a very strong sense of moral righteousness and cracked down on activities they felt were immoral, such as drunkenness or most notably the celebration of Christmas. This wasn't much fun for those who had to live under the rules but may have disagreed with them, and so for those the restoration of a leader who would leave them alone was a positive. The third reason was that Charles Stewart made it clear that the overwhelming majority of those who fought against his father would be forgiven, and that those in positions of power would retain their positions and unlike his father he would govern as a monarch bound by the wishes of Parliament.
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These things combined were why in 1660 Charles Stewart returned to England from the Netherlands, and both sides agreed to act as if the Civil War and following regicide never happened. Until some of the same problems cropped up again a couple of decades later. I hope you enjoyed this episode with a special thanks to my Patrons James Bizonette, Kelly Moneymaker, Korsha Wolf, Sky Chappell, Katowice, Alex Schwin, Adam Stalter, Rod D. Martin, AF Firefly, Jordan Longley, Jerry Lambdin, Wyan Hockey, Marcus Sarsna, Spencer Lightfoot, Captain Psydog, Marvin Casale, Miss Iset, Camoon Yoon, Winston Cawood, Boogalewoogalee, The McWhopper, Aaron The White, Gustav Swan, Maggie Patskowski, Anthony Beckett, Shue-En-In, Spinning 3 Plates, Copper Tone, Daniel Tobian, Charles I, and Words About Books Podcast.
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