When life is busy it becomes hard to separate the wood from the trees. I think it is important to step back and reflect on the journey of humanity as we stumble towards a greater understanding of truth. In this post I want to reflect on the mid 17th century British political evolution and what I have learned from this period of history.
This era saw great political change and it laid the foundation for the political structures of the Crown in Parliament. The death of Elizabeth I brought the Scottish King James to the throne. While in this time England, Scotland and Ireland were different Kingdoms they were United by one King. James I and his son Charles ruled by divine right. They saw their power as coming directly from God. Parliament and it’s right were important in English history. The clash between Charles and Parliament led to civil war. Political institutions were unstable until the Glorious Revolution put William and Mary on the throne. Britain with the execution of Charles I became a Republic. The inability of parliament to rule saw Oliver Cromwell and the army rising to power. The death of Cromwell and the failure of his son Richard to keep power meant that Charles son Charles I I restored to power in 1660.
An increasing conflict between Charles and his brother James and Parliament led to the Glorious Revolution in 1689.
This time while Britain had the Crown as head Parliament controlled the purse and the armed force through yearly budgets and yearly parliamentary approved of the military. The development of parties insured that the government was controlled by the the majority in Parliament. Over the centuries the expansion of the vote saw Britain evolve into a parliamentary democracy.
The challenge for modern countries to be run democratically is different to the challenges of achient Athens. The larger population means that direct democracy becomes impractical. Parliament and the voting of deputies of the people achieve democratic rule today.
John O Brien.