How did England become a constitutional monarchy?

How did England become
a constitutional monarchy?
The Magna Carta
Signed in 1215 by King John
Limited the monarch’s
Granted rights to the
nobility – “well known”
landed individuals
Changes in England
Created Tension
During the reign of Queen Elizabeth (1533 – 1603)
new groups developed that began to demand more
political power.
The Puritans – who wanted to “purify” the Anglican
Church of any remaining Catholic traditions.
The Gentry – who were wealthy from agriculture and
wanted more influence in the government.
James I (1603 – 1625) Makes
After Elizabeth I died without a son, the crown passed to a
distant Scottish cousin, James Stuart who was the first a
new royal family.
Because of continued war with Spain, King James I came
to the throne with a huge debt (£ 400,00).
He also believed he should have unlimited power, which
further irritated the Puritans and Gentry.
To control the legal system, James I used a royal court
known as the Star Chamber and ignored England’s
common law which were laws that had been developed
over hundreds of years of court cases and acts of
Problems Continue Under
Charles I
Jame’s son Charles I (1625 – 1649) agreed to
the Petition of Right in (1629) hopes of
gaining funds from Parliament.
The petition demanded an end to
imprisonment without proof, taxation
without approval from Parliament, and to
the housing of troops with civilians.
Charles later broke his word and dissolved
(shut down) Parliament.
However, when rebellion broke out in
Scotland, Charles I was forced to call back
The Long Parliament
In 1640, Charles I was forced to call back
Parliament which stayed in session for 13 years.
It instituted several reforms:
Eliminated royal courts
Habeas Corpus – need for evidence to keep
someone in prison
No taxation without approval of Parliament
Civil War or English
When Charles I thought the
people were back on his side he
tried to arrest some of his
political enemies in Parliament.
This split the country into
Royalists and Antiroyalists
The Puritan, Antiroyalist Oliver
Cromwell eventually seized
control with his army and had
Charles I executed.
Problems With the New Government
Cromwell removed many royalists from
Parliament and was never able return the
power of government to Parliament,
instead choosing to run the country as a
military dictator to maintain stability.
After Cromwell’s death, English generals
invited Charles II to return to England
as monarch in order to prevent chaos.
However, he returned with the limited
powers that were set out in the Petition
of Right
James II Makes a Major Mistake
Charles II was able to rule without
major problems with Parliament,
but his son, James II, was not.
James II tried to promote the
Catholic Religion without support
from Parliament angering Puritans
and the gentry.
Glorious Revolution
Some member of Parliament reacted by
inviting James’ sister Mary and her husband
William of Orange (from the Netherlands)
to become the new monarchs, which they
did in 1689.
However, as a precondition the William and
Mary had to agree to the English Bill of
This was known as the Glorious Revolution
because it was relatively peaceful and
ensured the rights for the English people,
and a constitutional monarchy – powers of
the rulers restricted by law

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