English Economic Life 
Tudors to Stuarts1
Begins a Constitutional Monarchy

1. Economic Overview
2. English Family Life

3. Life Style Improved
4. Relegion
5. Chain of Being Oligarchies

Part 1

Economic Overview
Uneven 1525-1600 Population Growth

1) food shortages caused by bad harvests (1540s, 1550s, 1590s, 1620s, and 1650s) caused high prices led to a few famines) and  2) plague epidemics (sweating sickness or influenza, smallpox, cholera, typhus, typhoid fever, and whooping cough. Population still grew from 2.4 million to over 5.5 million.

The early-modern English economy created winners and losers. Landowners did well because of 1) food shortages, 2) oversupply of tenants causing higher rents and 3) cheap over supplied land caused by monastery dissolution.

Some prosperous yeomen rose in rank See The Three Estates

Economic Structure
The nobility
(comprising dukes, marquesses, earls, viscounts, and barons) was expanded from about 40 families in 1485, to about 130 families by the 1640s. They did well economically from rents and sale of produce grown on their land. But the Tudors had effectively reduced their power by outlawing private armies, replacing great magnates with councils or direct rule, and ruining rebellious peers by attainder, execution, and confiscation of lands. The sheer expense of aristocratic life ruined many.

Gentry included knights, esquires, and plain gentlemen) was expanding in size and wealth, as well as in importance. Monastic land sales swelled their ranks from about 6,500 in 1540 to perhaps 20,000 in 1640, or about 2 percent of the population. Earnings ranged from thousands of pounds a year. The lesser parish gentry, with but one estate, might struggle to make £100. The House of Commons, dominated by the gentry, was becoming the more important of the two Houses of Parliament.

Yeomen were substantial farmers, perhaps 90,000 families in 1600. During this period two groups developed. Greater yeomen profited from inflated value of large estates. They surpassed parish gentry wealth of. Lesser yeomen, who had no tenants made £40 - £200 a year lost ground as prices rose.

Husbandmen held up to 30 acres of land made £15 - £30 a year.

Cottagers, who renting their home, made a few pounds a year, suffered the most from these economic conditions. Many  took on extra work, their wives helped by spinning or weaving wool cloth. Many went into debt to purchase crops or fell behind on their rents. Many during the 1590s, 1620s, and 1650s were unable to pay and thrown off their land. They then joined the ranks of the poor.

Tenants and Landless laborers did poorly. The glut of tenants made replacement of delinquent land renters tenants easier. Many move to cities and towns for more plentiful work but population growth and a decline of the wool trade increased their plight. After 1607 some migrated to colonies in America. Others failed to find jobs, became vagrants and, thus, outlaws.

Very poor were of husbandmen and cottagers who had lost their land or job and they often became migrants.

During this period, the rich were getting richer and the poor, poorer. An increasing cultural  gap, according to some, made nonsense of the old traditions of paternalism and deference.

Part 2

English Family Life
During Economically Troubled 16th Century

Marriage Courtship revolved around community and material circumstances still mattered.

Young people often met while in service, at church, during the harvest ..
Relationship Activities were directed toward marriage with little “casual dating.”
Commoners were below the elites and  were more free to choose their own partners
because there was no property to worry about. Married for love was thus more prevalent.
Women looked for good providers. Men looked for effective managers
Marriage occurred later in life, in the late twenties for men and mid-twenties and for women because they needed time to afford to a household.
Parents and community might be involved to foil an unsuitable match,
that is, one that would  end being supported by the parish poor rate.
Marriage promise to marry was considered a virtual marriage in canon law
meaning physical relations could begin with party agreement.
Pregnant brides were about 20 percent This was frowned
on by the church, but promises were not taken lightly and
to trick the other person into a sexual relationship was rare.
Illegitimacy rate in early modern England was only 2 to 3 percent.

Migration from job loss caused Smaller Later in Life Families With Fewer siblings
English Poor Law of of_1601

Married couples usually  had a child within the first two years of marriage.
Relying on local midwives, and without painkillers or antibiotics made
childbirth difficult but only 4% of the mothers died.
Early menopause and primitive contraception reduced childbearing.
Infant mortality at all ranks was high. One in eight children died within the first year.
Mothers nursing may have facilitated bonding with
children and lengthen intervals between pregnancies.
One-quarter of all children died before age 10
which my have decreased parental bonding.
Husbands ruled over and loved submissive wives as dictated by of Saint Paul,
Physical correction was a last resort and physical abuse was not tolerated.
was expected quickly, especially for a property owing widows. 
Widows were assumed to have sexual experience that had to be channeled.

Heavily physical work from sunup to sundown and
was not highly structured-not timed or pressurized.
plowed, planted, reaped, and repaired fences.
Women milked, weeded, sewed, spun wool, cared for children and
during peak times would join their husbands in the fields.
Children were assigned light tasks according to their ages, mostly helping with animals.

Life at home was marginally more comfortable than it had been in 1485.

Houses and Positions had grown more elaborate.

Yeoman might live in a multi-roomed timber-frame or brick house  with a hall with hearth in the middle
and two wing, one for storage and the other, a parlor.  Bedrooms were upstairs.
Positions included feather beds,
pewter, even silver, and books.

Husbandmen and cottagers lived in houses of two or more rooms.
Possessions included sheets, pots and pans.

Diet had not changed in centuries.
had meat and maybe fish,, wheaten bread, dairy products, and wine and beer.
Husbandmen and cottagers had rye bread, milk and cheese, and beer.

Healthy and a long life, even in good times, were enjoyed by few people
Hygiene and diet's affect on disease were centuries away.
Simple infections could prove fatal, accidents were common,
no one knew how to swim and the few doctors helped little.

Life of education and service for children.

Merchants and yeomen children went to grammar schools until adolescence.
Schools charged high fees, curriculum centered on Latin and English.

Husbandmen and cottagers children went to petty schools until needed on the farm.
Schools were often endowed by the wealthy and staffed with local clergy.
Curriculum centered on reading, writing, and some arithmetic.

By 1600, some 25 percent of males and 8 percent of females could write their names.
Even more could read simple ballads and religious texts.

Outside the family service was experienced by most boys and half the girls.
Boys 14-21 from w
ealthy families went to apprenticeship.
Girls were “farmed out” to other families in the village.

Part 3. Life Style Improved

The rich were getting richer and the poor, poorer. Some historians have argued that this economic gap was mirrored by an increasing cultural distance between aristocratic landlords and their tenants. This made nonsense of the old traditions of paternalism and deference.

Houses were more comfortable than 1485.
Yeoman might have a multi-roomed timber-frame or brick house with a hall containing a hearth plus a storage room and parlor. Upstairs had bedrooms with feather beds
Husbandmen and cottagers lived in houses of two or more rooms.
Ordinary people had more possessions.

Diet had not changed in centuries.
live on meat and fish for the well off, wheaten bread, dairy products, wine and beer.
Husbandmen and cottagers had rye bread, milk and cheese, and beer.

Worrisome Crimes

Violent crime 5% (including murder, assault, rape, and infanticide)

Theft 75%  Theft of about one shilling (about a day’s working man's wage) was punishable by death.

Moral crimes included blasphemy and breaking the Sabbath, keeping an unlicensed alehouse, scolding, fornication, adultery, and witchcraft  all really bothered the poor. Think U.S. Blue Laws and Temperance movement.

Riots against some unpopular ethnic or religious group, calendar riots (around a particular holiday), food or enclosure riots and political demonstrations were generally not punished severely.  The ruling oligarchs allowed people to let off steam.

South Sea Bubble 1 of 5 videos

First Opium War: Trade Deficits and the Macartney Embassy 1 of 4 vidos

Significant Political Questions

Sovereignty of the king in relation to the law and the proper roles of king and Parliament when deciding policy. 132

Government finance concerned the primitive right for the king, should government pay for itself, and the role of finance in national economy.

War, foreign policy and England's role in European relations?

State Religion determination, should other traditions be tolerated, policy origination (king, Parliament, bishops, local communities, or a combination of all four) for England, Scotland and Ireland.

Authority of local communities Scotland and Ireland.

1 https://www.thegreatcourses.com

A History of England from the Tudors to the Stuarts audiobook cover art



Part 4 Relegion




1Difference between Catholics and Protestants from A History of England from the Tudors to the Stuarts

Catholics: found religious truth in Scripture, Tradition, and Papal and Conciliari decree
Salvation required faith and good works, especially the Seven Sacraments ,which forgave sins  and produced grace.

Protestants found religious truth in scriptures
 required faith

Catholics: found religious truth in Scripture, Tradition, and Papal and Conciliari decree
Salvation required faith and good works, especially the Seven Sacraments ,which forgave sins  and produced grace.

Protestants found religious truth in scriptures
 required faith


2. The Pilgrimage of Grace, the worst uprising of Henry VIII’s reign (1501-1547)  was a direct
result of the 
dissolution of the monasteries
which confused and angered most Englishmen.
Beginning in 1536, it was ignited by royal commission was the spark by local clergy.




Failures The Lincolnshire Rising and the Pilgrimage of Grace have traditionally been seen as failures for the following reasons: England was not reconciled to the Roman Catholic Church, except during the brief reign of Mary I (1553–1558). The dissolution of the monasteries continued unabated, with the largest monasteries being dissolved (sold for profit to pay for war) by 1540. Great tracts of land were seized from the Church and divided among the Crown and its supporters.

The steps towards official Protestantism achieved by Cromwell continued, except during the reign of Mary I.

Successes Their partial successes are less known:

The government postponed the collection of the October subsidy, a major grievance amongst the Lincolnshire organisations.

The Statute of Uses was partially negated by a new law, the Statute of Wills. Four of the seven sacraments that were omitted from the Ten Articles were restored in the Bishop's Book of 1537,
which marked the end of the drift of official doctrine towards 
Protestantism. The Bishop's Book was followed by the Six Articles
 of 1539. An onslaught upon heresy was promised in a royal proclamation in 1538.

The Rest of the Story Poor Law of 1601 was needed to replace Roman Catholic assistance and it was part of the Tutor expansion of state power. English State began to take responsibility for citizen wellbeing.


Part 5. Sixteenth Century Oligarchic Control the Great Chain of Being  111
was believed by many and controlled Relegion, poverty, crime and political questions..
Most 1610 Church of England clergymen, including bishops, embraced Puritan theology.
People were conforming members of the Church of England.
Puritans demanded more reform and an aggressive Protestant foreign policy.
Catholics struggled for survival and toleration.
In Scotland, the majority was Presbyterian, with Catholics in the Highlands
In Ireland, the majority was Catholics, but increasingly, the ruling class was “New English”
— Protestants who were either Presbyterians or members of an Anglican-style Church of Ireland.
Some Catholics failed to get full-blown toleration a group of Catholic gentry tried to blow up the king
and both Houses of Parliament failed and anti Catholic laws were tightened.

A. Religious and social tensions caused strain.
refused to accept the Church of England.
demanded further reform, often refusing
to conform to local practice.
political role of the nobility changed.
Gentry was growing in power and wealth
Professionals were growing in wealth.
The Bottom below yeomen were growing poorer.

B. Attitudes changed
Medieval Catholics, wanting salvation through good works believed that the poor were protected by God.  Protestants feared their large numbers thinking they move about the country in lawless, master less bands of potential or actual criminals.

Tutor Poor Law beginning in 1536 divided the poor into the deserving( women, children, the aged, the lame, the sick, and the halt) and  undeserving or sturdy beggars who were able-bodied unemployed men.

Disserving poor were helped when local communities got taxing authority to provide poor relief. In 1563 and 1572 these taxes were made compulsory. Collected by churchwardens, they were administered the by the local JP. Laws in 1572, 1598, and 1601 authorized  public housing, plus workhouses, child schooling and apprenticeships to make the poor more useful.

Undeserving poor were punished by Tudor legislation beginning in 1495 when beggars were placed in the stocks for three days, whipped, and sent back to their home villages. In 1547 Parliament decreed they be branded with a “V” for vagrant, enslaved for two years, and put to death on a third offense. This unenforceable law was repealed. A 1572 law made denial of poor relief easier by requiring help be from their  parish of their birth.

Poor Laws Success depended JP generosity. Some historians feel private charity, especially in the endowment of schools and hospitals  did more good. Others point out that the poor rates got many people through hard winters, especially the working poor. They were the first large-scale government relief attempt since Roman times and may have helped England weathered the famines of the 1590s and 1620s without major peasant revolts, as in France. Many felt that crime went up when religion, paternalism, neighborliness, the Poor Law, and even order itself broke down entirely. But, criminal court records indicate felonies were on fell sharply through the 1660's.

Individualism Slowly Replaced Kinship/Lineage Based Patriarchal Tribalism Centered Took many Centuries to End the Chain of Being Source

Christian Institutional Interests caused the banning of popular marriage customs.
Cross cousin marriage, levirate marriage to a brother's widow, adoption, divorce and concubinage were outlawed. Church Doctrine was not the reason. These limitations were strategies to control property lineage. Women were allowed by church law to own property meaning that because widows often had no heirs, property went to the church.
Church land holdings would double by the end of 9th century and eventually reached 30% in most Medieval Western Europe. Because the Catholic Church was an iatrical part of a social system and there was no developed state, this control of property went unnoticed until the reformation though Pope Gregory VII had some temporary success of curbing  rent-seeking and corruption with his Gregorian Reforms. One of his most successful tools was to more successfully improve the 1000 year often violent process of attempting
clerical celibacy.

Individual Property Rights developed and undermined the linage property rights required for a patriarchal tribal order. Early Feudalism enhanced social ties once provided by tribalism/kinship and provided greater physical protection. A Moneyed family relationship



eventually replaced the Patriarchal family kinship required of tribalism. Social Mores and family rules were governed by the church.

Political change followed. Individualism preceded the development of the state, Marx was wrong. 16th century
capitalism developed where free property already existed and not because of  wealthy unresponsive bourgeoisie.

There was no clan based tribal competition for power but there was a feudal based blood nobility to consider.
Vassalage was a contract with common law legal requirements for both sides. It was an agreement between individuals. Individual with human dignity. Political control over local governmental functions based on centrally controlled royal court Feudal law was more flexible and permanent under feudal contracts. Social hierarchy often influenced 


renegotiation of kinship law was less prevalent under Medieval Centralized Courts. The rise of state power required an educated centralized legally trained bureaucracy. It developed a sustained system of precedents known as stare decisis. Religion was essential to this process of law development.

The King was not above Catholic Church law. He was not above common law. Equal fair application of
justice increased a monarch's legitimacy and foster early state development. This process was different elsewhere.  Much later, the French Revolution began the process in France. Europe coalesce under the Rule of Law happened later. India and China used religion, not law, to check on political power.
In the Middle East, religion never coalesced into a single centralized institution outside the state.

See Quick Notes on 

War of the Spanish Succession England's Hegemony begins

The Tudor Revolution in Government

Christian History  

Luther's American Legacy    

The Growth of Religious Toleration   

Freedom of Religion_Began_in_1636    

War on Terror

Modern Western Civilization Economic History



Although king and Parliament, Anglican and Puritan, landowner

and merchant did seek unity, not conflict or advantage, there were five longterm

areas of tension left over from the Tudors over which they could not agree.

 The problem of sovereignty: Is the king above the law or subordinate

to it? What should be the respective, proper roles of king and

Parliament? When push comes to shove, who decides on policy?

 The problem of government fi nance: Does the king have a

preemptive right to the property of his subjects? How should

the government pay for itself? What role should it play in the

national economy?

 The problem of war and foreign policy: What is England’ proper

role in Europe? Should the English taxpayer support a more

active role?

 The problem of religion: What should the state religion of England

be? Should other faith traditions be tolerated? Who makes religious

policy: king, Parliament, the bishops, local communities, or a

combination of all four? What should be the answers to these

questions for Scotland and Ireland?

 The problem of local control: What is the proper relationship

between the central government in London and the English

localities? What should be the relationship between that government

and those of Scotland and Ireland?




On the question of sovereignty, clearly, Parliament was sovereign. When William and Mary and Anne and George proved unable to have living children, Parliament would once again draw the succession to its liking in the Act of Settlement of 1701.

The English king remained powerful, with most of his executive powers intact. But his fi nancial and diplomatic situation would dictate that he could no longer rule without Parliament. That meant, in turn, that he had to choose ministers with which Parliament could work.

Thus, in 1688, England was well on its way to constitutional monarchy. On the issue of foreign policy, William’s accession would bring the British kingdoms into the fi ght against France. In fact, the ensuing Nine Years’ War would be the fi rst of seven colossal confl icts pitting Britain against France between 1688 and 1815.

Britain would win or draw six of those wars and emerge the most powerful military state, with the greatest overseas empire, and therefore, the richest country, on earth.

On the issue of fi nance, these wars would force Crown and Parliament to

fi nally solve the former’s money problems by tapping the growing wealth of the English economy.

On the issue of religion, clearly, England would not be Catholic. However, Parliament recognized that Dissenters had stayed loyal to Protestantism even when James offered them toleration. As a reward, they were granted the Act

of Toleration, which enabled them to worship openly, in peace. (They were still subject to the Test Act.) In the end, with the pressure off for a Counter Reformation, de facto tolerance would gradually be extended to Catholics, as well.

On the issue of local versus central control, it should be obvious that the landed aristocracy was as powerful as ever.

In the end, the Glorious Revolution marks England’s fi rst successful break from the Great Chain of Being. English men and women, not God, had chosen a king. They were masters of their own property. They could choose their religion (as long as it was Protestant). They could take on the might of France. They could run their localities as they saw fi t. Having broken their chains, they would now begin to fl ex their muscles



The Restoration Settlement—1660–70

Lecture 35

The English people—having killed their king, and having tried a republic

and then a monarchy in all but name under Oliver Cromwell—decided

to try to turn back the clock and restore the very Stuart line that they

tossed out of the country a little more than a decade before. How do

you do that? How do you restore a system that had been haphazardly

dismantled over the course of a decade? Did Restoration mean that the

Civil Wars had settled nothing? What, if anything, had been settled?

The British Civil Wars settled none of the long-term tensions that

produced them, but the English ruling elite did learn three lessons

from the wars: England needed both a king and a Parliament. This

did not, however, settle which should be sovereign. Old Royalists favored

the king as the bulwark of order. Old Roundheads favored Parliament as

the guardian of liberty. Puritans were political and religious radicals, to

be watched as closely as Catholics. Finally, the common people were a

dangerous ally. Never again would the English ruling elite enlist them to

effect political or religious change.

The Restoration settlement of the state was a compromise. Charles II

resumed many of the powers wielded by his father. He could make peace

and war. He could call, prorogue, and dissolve Parliament. He could name

government offi cials. He alone could call out the militia. He could dispense

with the law in individual cases and suspend it in times of emergency. He

received a fi nancial settlement intended to yield £1,200,000 a year to run

his government. However, the Convention Parliament contained many

Presbyterians who had fought against Charles I and had no wish to make

his son absolute. Thus, each of these powers was qualifi ed. The king had no

standing army; Parliament would not vote him the funds for one. (The New

Model Army was paid off.) The Triennial Act still required the king to call

Parliament at least once every three years. Parliament could still impeach the

king’s offi cials and many of the prerogative courts by which he imposed his

will (the Star Chamber, High Commission, and others were never restored).

Local nobles and gentry still raised the militia for the king—or not, as they


were tried and executed for his father’s execution, though Cromwell’s body

was exhumed and mutilated. Living Roundheads were often reappointed to

the offi ces they had held under the Commonwealth and Protectorate. But

old Royalists accused the king of forgetting his friends. Charles II was often

disloyal, unreliable, and self-serving. He was also lazy and indecisive. Above

all, he was a cynic who trusted no one. Who could blame him, given his own

history and that of his family?

This goes far to explain the king’s obsession with diversion and the

extravagance and amorality of his court. The Restoration court was the

greatest center of cultural patronage of its day. It gave rise to many new

fashions: the comedy of intrigue; the fi rst stage actresses; the three-piece suit

for men; and in England, champagne, tea, and ice cream. It promoted the

careers of, among others: Dryden, Etherege, Rochester, and Wycherley in

poetry and drama; Purcell and Blow in music; Lely and Kneller in painting;

Gibbons in carving; and Wren in architecture. The court was a great center

of political intrigue, in which politicians, courtiers, and royal mistresses vied

for power. Among the latter were Barbara Palmer, Countess of Castlemaine;

Louisse de Kerouaille, Duchess of Portsmouth; the actress Nell Gwyn; and

many others, who produced 14 acknowledged

royal bastards.

The time and money spent by the king on

diversion drained the royal Treasury, and

wounded the dignity of the Crown, but made

the court tremendously attractive for anyone on

the make. Unfortunately, the king’s own wife,

a Portuguese princess named Catherine of

Braganza, was incapable of having children. Her infertility and Catholicism

made her unpopular. They also increased the importance, as heir apparent, of

the king’s younger brother, James, Duke of York. Thus, to England’s other

problems can be added a succession crisis.

Clearly, Charles II was ill-fi tted to solve the problems that had led to the

Civil Wars. On sovereignty, he was an absolutist at heart. He admired his

cousin, Louis XIV, who ruled France absolutely. On fi nance, Charles could

not rule without Parliament, or raise an army to intimidate it, such as Louis

had at his disposal, because he spent money on other things. On religion, the

king’s Anglican subjects worried about his apparent tolerance for Catholics

and Dissenters. In fact, although Charles II was impressed by Catholicism’s

emphasis on hierarchy and obedience, he was careful to remain a public

Anglican. But by the early 1670s, just as it became obvious that the king and

his Catholic queen would have no legitimate heir, the Duke of York, next in

line for the throne, began to worship openly as a Catholic.

On foreign policy, early in the reign, England’s principal enemy was the

Dutch Republic. The Dutch were aggressive traders seeking to break the

Navigation Acts and, thus, into England’s overseas empire. The result was

the Second Anglo-Dutch War of 1664–1668. The war began well with

the capture of New Amsterdam, renamed New York, in 1664. It ended

disastrously when Charles II laid up the fl eet to save money, allowing the

Dutch to sail up the Medway, burning English shipping. The war brought

down Lord Chancellor Clarendon and disgraced the new Restoration regime.

Beginning around 1670, Charles II and his new ministry would try to solve

his constitutional, fi scal, religious, and foreign policy problems with a series

of bold strokes.


page 186

At the end of the Glotous Revolution the ruling elite moved quickly to maintain order. In 1688, 300 former MPs and civic leaders concurred. This group agreed to elections for another Convention Parliament, which met on 22 January 1689.

1689, William and Mary were offered the Crown by Parliament, they were presented with a Declaration of Rights, which stated that no king of England could tax without parliamentary permission, use the suspending power or abuse the dispensing power, manipulate the judiciary, or continue a standing army without parliamentary permission.

The Revolution of 1688–1689 was thought of as “glorious” by the Protestant

ruling elite, at least. No blood was shed. Unlike the period 1642–1660, the ruling elite was able to engineer a political revolution without a social one. This time, the lower orders did what they were told. This might cause us, from the viewpoint of the 21st century, to ask what was so glorious about a revolution that did nothing for the great mass of the people and was perpetrated to preserve religious

The Glorious Revolution marks England’s first successful breakfrom The Great Chain of Being. English men and women, not God, had chosen a king. They were masters of their own property. They could choose  their religion (as long as it was Protestant). They could take on the might of France. They could run their localities as they saw fi t. Having broken their chains, they would now begin to fl ex their muscles

The Revolution of 1688–1689 can still be regarded as glorious

because it offered progressive answers to most of the questions that had beset

the Stuarts for nearly a century.

On the question of sovereignty, clearly, Parliament was sovereign. When

William and Mary and Anne and George proved unable to have living

children, Parliament would once again draw the succession to its liking in the

Act of Settlement of 1701. The English king remained powerful, with most

of his executive powers intact. But his fi nancial and diplomatic situation

would dictate that he could no longer rule without Parliament. That meant,

in turn, that he had to choose ministers

King William’s War—1692–1702

Lecture 41


Despite William’s victory in Ireland, the overall situation in 1690–1692 remained grim. Louis XIV’s armies were victorious on the Continent. In June

1690, Louis’s navy beat an Anglo-Dutch fl eet at Beachy Head, thus opening England to invasion. Parliament launched a series of divisive inquiries into the course of the war and how the money allotted for it was being spent.

These inquiries and the conduct of the war pointed out a fundamental shift in the respective roles of the parties after the Revolution.

But the most important member of the Junto was Charles Montagu, First

Lord of the Treasury from 1692, Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1694, and Lord Halifax from 1697. He launched the “Financial Revolution” that enabled England to win the war.

The Nine Years’ War was the most expensive in English history to date, trebling total government expenditure to about £5 million a year. Louis raised funds easily, because he had no Parliament with which to deal. Rather,

he simply taxed the French peasantry at will. William did have to deal with



a Parliament, which only reluctantly voted him a land tax of four shillings in

the pound in 1693. This source was estimated to yield £2 million a year, at

most. Because it was assessed and collected by the landowners themselves,

it never actually reached the estimated yield. Montagu’s idea was to tap

England’s growing commercial wealth. He established a fund out of the land

tax to service loans made to the government, thus initiating England’s funded

national debt. He offered government annuities at 14 percent interest in return

for loans of quick cash. (The principal would be paid back only in peacetime.)

He established government-sponsored lotteries. He established the Bank of

England, which acted as an investment opportunity for subscribers, a source

of loans for the government, and a sort of federal reserve to regulate the

money supply.

The resultant Financial Revolution had far-reaching effects. To secure

Parliamentary approval for these initiatives, William had to make

concessions: In 1691, he agreed to a parliamentary Commission of Accounts

to examine his expenditure. In 1694, he agreed to another, stricter Triennial

Act. In 1701, he agreed to limitations on royal power in the Act of Settlement

(see below). Thus, the Financial Revolution helped advance the work of the

Glorious Revolution in making England a constitutional monarchy.

The Financial Revolution enriched its investors, creating a new class of

“moneyed men” who made money from credit. They embraced the Whigs

and their very profi table war. Tories saw them as parasites, not least because

the security for their speculative endeavors was the land tax. Thus, the

Financial Revolution was yet one more force in English society destroying

the Great Chain of Being.

William’s government raised fabulous sums of money. This enabled him to

fi eld and supply Continental armies and far-fl ung fl eets. In the long run, this

wealth would make the English Crown (as opposed to the English monarch

himself) fabulously wealthy and make England the greatest military power

on earth. The British army grew to 76,000 men. The central administration

increased from about 4,000 offi ces to over 12,000 between 1688 and 1725.

Faced with fi ghting global wars (in Europe, in North America, and on the

high seas), this administration grew more effi cient and professional.



English monarchs would allow the Protestant-dominated Irish Parliament

to pass a series of harsh laws called the Penal Code. The Catholic Irish

were forbidden from voting, holding offi ce, sitting in Parliament, attending

university, practicing law, purchasing land, bearing arms or wearing swords

(a mark of gentility), and owning a horse worth over £5. They were forced to

divide bequests among all their heirs, thus leading to the gradual elimination

of large land holdings. As a result, by 1727, the Catholic Irish amounted to

four-fi fths of the population but owned one-seventh of the land. No wonder

that William’s victory at the Boyne continues to rankle Catholic Irish even as

it is celebrated by their Protestant countrymen.

Despite William’s victory in Ireland, the overall situation in 1690–

Unfortunately, the Junto lacked a general, and William was more brave

than brilliant at strategy. But his unrelenting determination, combined with

British superiority in men and materiel, fi nally ground Louis down. In 1697,

he agreed to the Treaty of Ryswick. Louis recognized William III, not James

II, as the King of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Louis restored nearly all

the European territory he had conquered since 1678. Louis agreed to work

out with William a partition of the Spanish Empire to take effect when

Carlos II died.

After the peace, the Whig government broke up because of internal jealousies

and a reaction in the country toward peace, low taxes, and the Tories. A

Country-Tory ministry and Parliament led by Robert Harley repudiated

the policies of the Junto. They demobilized William’s army and sent home

his Dutch Guards. They confi scated lands William had given to Dutch and

English favorites. They impeached Whig ministers. But their most notable

achievement was the passage of the Act of Settlement in 1701

The Whigs gave William a formidable war ministry, in particular one that was able to tap England’s growing commercial wealth. The result would be a successful conclusion to the war with the Treaty of Ryswick of 1697. That put a stop—temporarily—to Louis XIV’s territorial ambitions. Ironically, the country






The fi nal signifi cance of Marlborough’s victories was that, in convincing

the queen and British voters that the Whigs were right about the war, they

boosted Whig fortunes in government and Parliament. The queen began to

employ more Whigs in offi ce, and they began to win elections. The Tories,

in their frustration, grew desperate in pursuit of their agenda. In 1704,

they offended the queen and nation by attempting to “tack” a bill banning

occasional conformity onto the land tax bill. This attempt to hold funding

for the war hostage to religious intolerance failed miserably. In 1705, they

insulted the queen by moving in Parliament that the Church was in danger

under her administration and that a member of the Hanoverian family

ought to be invited to Britain in case she should grow senile. These moves

convinced Anne that the Tories were irresponsible party ideologues, leading

her to appoint even more Whigs under the ostensibly moderate Marlborough

and Godolphin.

The country followed the queen’s lead, returning Whig majorities in the

elections of 1705 and 1708. Led by Marlborough and Godolphin, who

began to work closely with the Junto, these Whig Parliaments achieved

some notable legislation. They avidly funded the war, thus making possible

Marlborough’s victories. In response to the Tory suggestion of a Hanoverian

visit, the Whigs passed the Regency Act of 1706. This act decreed that

Anne was served by able ministers, for which she deserves some credit. John

Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, Anne’s captain-general, was the greatest

military commander of the age. Sidney, Lord (from 1706, Earl) Godolphin,

her lord treasurer, was a fi nancial genius equal to Montagu. Robert Harley,

from 1704, a secretary of state, was

the period’s greatest pure politician

and a born leader of the House of

Commons. Anne needed these men to

act as managers—on the battlefi eld and

in Parliament—with a view to keeping

her from having to give herself over

entirely to the Whigs or the Tories.

She wanted to preserve her freedom of

action by employing the most moderate

men of both parties, whose loyalty was,

ultimately, to her. But the Whigs and

Tories were bent on forcing the queen to

employ only members of their respective

parties in government.

In Parliament, each party sought


key to securing majorities in the House of Commons (which might lead to

offi ce and creations in the House of Lords) was to win elections. Thanks to

the Triennial Act of 1694, there were 12 general elections between 1689 and

1715. This increased party tensions, focused party organization, and brought

more people into the political process. Some 330,000 males—5.8 percent of

the population—had the vote by 1722, by far the largest electorate in Europe.

Many of these people could be bribed or intimidated by their landlords or

employers, because there was no secret ballot. But the electorate was too

large to be controlled completely. Therefore, both parties had to spend heavy

sums on propaganda.

Both political parties were very sophisticated organizations by 1702. Nearly

every member of the ruling elite aligned with one party or the other, and party

solidarity in Parliament was almost total. The Whig/Tory split permeated

almost every aspect of elite culture. There were Whig and Tory writers,

newspapers, and periodicals; Whig and Tory clubs and coffee houses; and

even different ways in which female party sympathizers wore their makeup!

In the country at large, Whig and Tory peers competed to be lords lieutenants,

which gave them control of the militia. Whig and Tory gentlemen competed

to be JPs, which gave them control of justice, the price of grain, and other

concerns. In towns, Whig and Tory professionals and merchants competed

for places on the corporation, the court of aldermen, and so on. This gave

them control of local government and poor relief.

The great issues that divided Whig from Tory during the reign of Queen Anne

were the succession (which had deep implications for sovereignty), religion,

and the war (which, of course, embraced both foreign policy and fi nance).

The Act of Settlement had decreed in 1701 that Anne would be succeeded

at her death by the Hanoverian family of Germany. Whigs were happy with

Parliament making this choice and with a Lutheran monarch. Tories, on the

other hand, were divided between Hanoverians and Jacobites, who secretly

hoped and worked for the succession of “James III”—sometimes in cahoots

with Louis XIV. Anne was offi cially a Hanoverian, but like Elizabeth

before her, she disliked the subject of her own demise. This silence led

many Jacobites to assume that she was secretly one of them. In the end, the

succession would be determined by the outcome of the war: If the British and

Dutch won, the “winner” would probably be the Hanoverians. If the French

won, the monarch would be James, whom Whigs dubbed the “Pretender.”

The religious question, too, would be partly determined by the war.

There remained a small minority of Catholics who wanted to be left in peace.

But a British defeat in the War of the Spanish Succession would mean the

succession of a Catholic king and, probably, some sort of Catholic restoration.

Given that the war went well, the religious debate centered mostly on the fate

of the Dissenters. Queen Anne, the Tories, and the Anglican majority wanted




Dissenters to remain second-class citizens. Some wanted to roll back the

toleration or pass a bill against occasional conformity. This would hurt the

Whigs, because so many of them were Dissenters. Whigs wanted to extend

the toleration by repealing the Test Act. The war would be determined by

what strategy the allies pursued and how much money England, in particular,

could throw at it.

Whigs were all out for the war. They saw Louis XIV’s France as the chief

danger to the peace of Europe, the Protestant faith tradition, and the English

way of life. They feared that a Bourbon on the throne of Spain would lead to

the subjugation of Europe. They feared that a Catholic Stuart on the throne of

England would undo the Reformation and the Revolution Settlement. Whig

fi nanciers and merchants also benefi ted from

fat war contracts. Thus, Whig ministers and

politicians favored taking the confl ict to Louis

by fi ghting an aggressive—and expensive—

land war on the Continent and supported

the high taxation and fi nancial expedients

necessary to fi ght the war.

Tory politicians and landowners supported

the war reluctantly. They had less fear of

Louis XIV and believed that Dissenters,

not Catholics, were the chief danger to the

Protestant tradition. Their Jacobite wing wanted “James III” restored to the

British thrones. Tory landowners were sick of the land tax and suspicious of a

costly military that seemed to achieve so little. Tory ministers and politicians

preferred, therefore, a “blue-water” naval strategy, which involved attacking

French colonial possessions, to an expensive land war.

Because Anne’s fi rst Parliament and government were dominated by Tories,

the war would start slowly for England. Eventually, the queen would face the

same choice as her predecessor: Temper



The fi nal signifi cance of Marlborough’s victories was that, in convincing

the queen and British voters that the Whigs were right about the war, they

boosted Whig fortunes in government and Parliament. The queen began to

employ more Whigs in offi ce, and they began to win elections. The Tories,

in their frustration, grew desperate in pursuit of their agenda. In 1704,

they offended the queen and nation by attempting to “tack” a bill banning

occasional conformity onto the land tax bill. This attempt to hold funding

for the war hostage to religious intolerance failed miserably. In 1705, they

insulted the queen by moving in Parliament that the Church was in danger

under her administration and that a member of the Hanoverian family

ought to be invited to Britain in case she should grow senile. These moves

convinced Anne that the Tories were irresponsible party ideologues, leading

her to appoint even more Whigs under the ostensibly moderate Marlborough

and Godolphin.

The country followed the queen’s lead, returning Whig majorities in the

elections of 1705 and 1708. Led by Marlborough and Godolphin, who

began to work closely with the Junto, these Whig Parliaments achieved

some notable legislation. They avidly funded the war, thus making possible

Marlborough’s victories. In response to the Tory suggestion of a Hanoverian

visit, the Whigs passed the Regency Act of 1706. This act decreed that

Parliament would remain in session after the death of the queen, and a

Regency Council, composed of Hanoverian supporters from both parties,

and the Revolution. Godolphin and the Whigs believed that a show trial was

necessary to defend themselves and the Revolution. The Tories and most

ordinary people could see only that the Whigs were attacking an Anglican

priest. When his indictment was announced in March 1710, many ordinary

Londoners rioted, attacking Dissenting meeting houses.

Anne was further offended by the Junto’s tendency to ignore her wishes and

attempt to foist a completely Whig ministry on her. By 1708–1709, even such

moderate Tories as Robert Harley had left the ministry. Anne’s friendship

with the Churchills fell apart as they insisted on the Whig point of view.

Following the death of Prince George in the fall of 1708, Queen Anne felt

alone. In the spring and summer of 1710, Anne, following the advice of

Robert Harley, engineered a ministerial coup. She began to work behind

the scenes against her own ministry, urging members of Parliament to vote

against Whig measures and to be lenient with Sacheverell. In April 1710,

she began to remove Whigs one by one. Had Godolphin and the Whigs

resigned en masse, the government would have been paralyzed and Anne

would have had to capitulate. Instead, individual Whigs sought to cling to

power, enabling Anne and Harley to pick them off one by one. In August

1710, Anne removed Lord Treasurer Godolphin in favor of a commission

to run the Treasury, dominated by Robert Harley. Anne may have been a

constitutional monarch, but her


would govern the nation until the arrival of the Elector. It also repealed much

of the anti-monarchical legislation of the Act of Settlement: The Whigs

expected to be in power under a Hanoverian and they did not want to weaken

the executive.

To ensure a Hanoverian succession in both kingdoms, they secured an Act

of Union with Scotland in 1707. The Scots, angry at their second-class

treatment from London, in particular, their exclusion from the trading system

established by the Navigation Acts, threatened in 1703 to name the Pretender

as their next sovereign. When union was proposed, they were reluctant to

give up their national sovereignty, but trading privileges and bribes made the

deal palatable. The result was a new state:

Great Britain.

The Act of Union was the high water mark

of Whig fortunes under Queen Anne. As the

decade drew to a close, the overconfi dent

Whig ministry began to offend both the

queen and the electorate. First, Anne and her

subjects began to wonder why Marlborough’s

recurring victories did not lead to a peace.

The harvests of 1708–1709 were so bad that

the French peasantry could no longer pay taxes and, in March 1709, Louis

sued for peace. He was willing to concede nearly all the allied demands:

Spain, Italy, the West Indies, fortress towns on the Dutch border, and the

Hanoverian succession. But when the Whig diplomats demanded further

that Louis use his own troops to dislodge “Felipe V” from Spain, he decided

that he would rather continue fi ghting the British. The queen and her people

began to believe Tory charges that the Whigs were prolonging the war to

enrich the Duke of Marlborough and government contractors and maintain

a standing army.

The Whigs further offended the country when, in 1709–1710, they prosecuted

an Anglican clergyman, Rev. Henry Sacheverell, on a charge of seditious libel

for an intemperate sermon attacking the Dissenters, the existing government,

the Mediterranean; Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and Hudson’s Bay in

Canada; St. Kitts in the Caribbean; the asiento, that is, the exclusive right

to sell slaves to the Spanish New World; and recognition of the Hanoverian

succession by Louis XIV.

The Whigs believed that these paltry acquisitions after the expenditure of so

much blood and treasure would impeach Oxford in the next reign. But, in

fact, the Treaty of Utrecht was a masterstroke of diplomacy, ensuring British

superiority in Europe and beyond for a generation. It did not matter that a

Bourbon sat on the throne of Spain, because both Spain and France were

exhausted, fi nancially and militarily, after so many years of warfare. Louis

XIV would never again challenge for European supremacy or pose a threat

to the Hanoverian succession.

Britain’s territorial acquisitions sealed her status as the wealthiest trading

nation on earth: Gibraltar ensured strategic control of the Mediterranean

and its trade. The Canadian territories provided furs and Grand Banks fi sh to

clothe and feed Europe. Britain’s Caribbean possessions and dominance of

the slave trade ensured control of the notorious “triangular trade” in slaves,

tobacco, and sugar from the New World. As a result, the British would be

the wealthiest and most powerful nation in Europe: British trade produced

money, which produced military superiority, which produced victory,

which produced colonies, which produced more trade. In other words,

the Commercial Revolution begat the Financial Revolution, which begat

Blenheim, which begat the Treaty of Utrecht, which begat an empire, which

begat more commerce. Eventually, the profi ts from this process would be

invested in the fi rst Industrial Revolution, thus further extending the British

lead. The French never fi gured this out, which explains why they lost or drew

six of seven wars against Britain between 1688 and 1815. It should never be

forgotten that these policies also begat the misery of the Irish people and the

atrocity of the slave trade

This made it diffi cult to prevent that party, led by Henry St. John, Viscount

Bolingbroke, from simply hijacking the ministry on these issues. Thus, while

the Tories pressured Oxford to appoint them

and follow their party line on these issues,

Oxford had to please the queen by trying to

hang onto Whigs.

In the area of religion, the Tories sought

to roll back the toleration, drive Dissenters

(including many Whigs) out of public life,

and restore the monopoly of the Church of

England. Both Anne and Oxford saw this as needlessly divisive. In 1711,

Anne and Oxford agreed to bills to build 50 London churches and to ban

occasional conformity. Far more seriously, in 1714, they agreed to the

Schism Act, forbidding Dissenters from teaching or keeping schools. Not

surprisingly, nearly every Whig had resigned offi ce by 1714. Oxford was

failing the queen in his attempt to maintain a moderate ministry. But it was

the succession that brought Oxford down. That issue began to grow more

pressing after 1710 as the queen’s health began to fail.

The Whigs supported the Hanoverian accession unequivocally. They were in

close contact with the Electress Sophia and, after her death in May 1714, with

her son and successor, the Elector Georg Ludwig. The Tories remained split

between a Hanoverian and a Jacobite wing. The latter still hoped that, on her

deathbed, Anne would restore her half-brother, James. Because the Tories

were by far the largest group in the Commons, Oxford tried to convince both

Hanoverians and Jacobites that he was one of them. He wrote to both James

and Georg Ludwig, promising his support. He made confl icting promises to

supporters of both men. Finally, in the summer of 1714, the queen discovered




BBC. A History of Britain.



 British Broadcasting Corporation Web site; history

to 1603.

———. British History to 1776. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/programmes/


Source for early modern England. http://www.quelle.org/emes/emes.html.


Queen Elizabeth left her success James many problems. He would clashed with his  first 1604 Parliament made more independent by Elixabeth over who had the right to determine the legality of elections to the House of Commons.

These were exacerbated by his financial problems.made worse by a reign bracketed by two periods of famine (the 1590s and 1620s) and subject to rapid inflation. He inherited a corrupt and inefficient administration and revenue system. Unlike Elizabeth, James had a wife and children who would need their own courts. James inherited an expectant and rapacious court, anxious for a more generous royal patron. James inherited a debt of £365,000, or one year’s expenditure.