3.2. England  and the parliamentary system

the Engish King Charles I was an absolute monarch. As he needed to raise money, he summoned Parliament (an assembly of the kingdom’s representatives) to increase taxes.

However, Parliament demanded restrictions to the king’s power.

Consequently, a civil war broke out between the king’s and Parliament’s supporters. Parliament was victorious, the king was executed and England became a republic. Its leader was Oliver Cromwell, who would become a dictator years later. The monarchy was reinstated in England in 1660.

Parliament consisted of the Puritan bourgeoisie and Anglican nobles. therefore, when King James II tried to reinstate Catholicism, there was another uprising, resulting in the Glorious Revolution in 1680.

Parliament expelled the king and replaced him with William III. this new monarch was willing to obey parliament. In 1689, he signed the Bill of Rights, recognising Parliament’s authority, private property and restrictions to royal power.

In Europe, republics governed by a parliament had already been established. However, England was the first parliamentary monarchy, meaning that the king’s power was restricted and the country was governed by a parliament.

The English Parliament consisted of two chambers. Later on two political groupings emerged: the tories and the whigs. the to chambers were:

  • The house of lords, which represented the higher nobility.
  • The house of Commons, which represented yhe bourgeoisie.

Freedom of the press was respected and positions were allocated through a voiting system. However, it was not a democratic system, as only the nobles and the rich bourgeoisie were allowed to participate.

4.1 The lesser Habsburgs

Felipe III (1598-1621)

During Felipe III’s reign, his valido, the Duke of Lerma, governed. Spain was bankrupt, so to reduce expenses the armed conflicts were ended, a peace treaty was signed with England and a truce was declared with the Protestants in the low countries. IN 1609, the expulsion of the moriscos was ordered. they were accused of being fake christians and of practising their own religion in secret. felipe III wished to demonstrate his commitment to catholicism and compensate for ceding to the protestant in the low countries. in addition, the moriscos were considered untrustworthy by the rest of the population. this expulsion had an extremely negative effect on the spanish economy, particularly in agriculture.

Felipe IV (1621-1665)

felipe IV delegated powet to his valido, Count- Duke of olivares, who attempted to regain power over Europe. tho achieve this, Spain took part in new wars,  such as the Thirty Years’ war. olivares attempted to introduce centralising reforms to increase tax collection.

One of these reforms was the union of arms, which proposed that all the kingdoms ruled by the spanish monarchy provide soldiers and funds to cover the cost of the European wars. In the crown of aragón’s kingdoms, the cortes opposed this idea and the proposal failed. SPAIN  went bankrupt several times and  after many years at war, the toll it was taking provoked numerous domestic rebellions. the most serious ones were in catalonia and portugal. In portugal, the nobility managed to appoint a Portuguese King. Conspirancies also occured in andalucía and aragón, as well as revolts in Naples and sicily.

following the peace of westphalia, spain focused on controlling its domestic revolts, while simulltaneously resuming its war against france.

in 1652, the royal army took control of barcelona and ended the revolt in catalonia. however, felipe IV’s stroops were defeated by the french army, and sapin was forced to sign a peace treaty with france, the treaty of the pyrenees, in 1659.

the consequences of the treaty of the pyrenees were the following:

france renounced catalonia but gained the catalonian territories of roussilon and cerdanya.

a marriage was arranged between Louis XIV, king of france, and Maria theresa, archduchess of austria and the daughter of felipe IV, king of spain.

meanwhile, the war against portugal continued with the support of england and france. in 1668, spain recognised portugal’s independence

carlos II (1665-1700)

carlos II was a minor when he came to the throne, and was also suffering from an illness. different validos took power durign his reign.

france continued its hostilities against a weak spain, gaining more territories. carlos II left no heirs, creating a serious conflict over the succession when he died.

1.1 Philosophy

philosophical thought conttinued along the path established during the renaissance. there were two main theoretical approaches which began to gain importance and spread

  • The Frenchman rené descartes founded rationalism, the philosophy that reality could only be understood through reason. it recommended doubting all claims that had not been subjected to deep analysis. following the rationalist method, the dutch philosopher baruch spinoza reached the conclusion that god and naturre were identical, because all forms of reality were part of an independent group. this belief isknown as pantheism.
  • Empiricism, supported by the englishmen francis bacon and john locke, maintained that knowledge could only be confirmed through experimental verfication.   

1.2 science

rationalism and empiricism were the basis of the new method, the scientific method, which started to be used by  scientists to reach their conclusions and that the followed these steps:

  • observing nature
  • reflecting to find an explanation, known as hypothesis
  • deducing whar should happen in nature if this hypothesis was correct
  • verifying this through an experiment.