re: I need help with my Western Civ Final.(Posted by Hawgon on 12/12/12 at 1:17 pm to Patrick O Rly)
I'm not too much of an expert on France, but I can give you England in a nuttshell:
In the very late 15th Century the War of the Rose ended and Henry VII consolidated power monarchy and brought the aristocracy to check. His son, the famous Henry VIII continued this process and finally made the monarchy the more or less supreme power in England when he broke from the Catholic Church and the pope over the matter of his divorce from Ann Bolyne and made himself head of the Church of England. This action started the Protestant Reformation in England and Henry's son Edward VI, further brought England under the sway of the Protestants.
After Edward's early death at the age of sixteen, his sister, Mary spent most of her rule trying to make England Catholic again and even married the very Catholic Phillip II of Spain. After Mary's death most likely from stomach or uterine cancer, Henry VIII's last child, Elizabeth I became queen.
Elizabeth's reign was a golden age in England that saw its emergence as a power on the world stage, first as thorn in the side of the Spanish, and then as a genuine power with the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. Prominent names like Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Francis Drake entered the lexicon of the English language during her reign.
Elizabeth was known as the Virgin Queen because she never married and she died childless in 1603. Her cousin by way of descent from one of Henry VIII's sisters, was James VI of Scotland. Upon her death, be became king of England as James I.
James I was protestant but was sympathetic to a degree to Catholics, until one of them (Guy Fawkes) tried to kill him in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. It was during his reign that the King James Bible was written.
James had a contentious relationship with Parliament and this continued when his son, Charles I became king after his death in 1625.
By the time Charles I became king, England was deeply and radically protestant. Charles, while nominally protestant, was known to be sympathetic to Catholics and suspicioun against him was heightened because he was married to a Catholic princess. So, his reign was marred by religious conflict throughout and from the beginning. Further, he did not aid European protestants in their continental wars against Catholics.
Finally, in 1642, things boiled over. Charles I entered Parliament by force in an attempt to arrest six members for treason. He failed and had to flee London where he set up court in Oxford and began raising an army. Parliament began raising an army as well and civil war was afoot.
Eventually, after several starts and stops, truces, and broken agreements, Parliament won the war and Charles was arrested. The leading general of the parliamentary forces was Oliver Cromwell and he had been largely responsible for the radically protestant and largely professional New Model Army of parliament. And in 1649, after a short trial, Charles Stuart, as he was styled in his death warrant, was beheaded on a scaffold in front of Whitehall.
This lead to a period where England was a Commonwealth and Oliver Cromwell was the Lord Protector of England. As Lord Protector, Cromwell was the virtual dictator of England. Cromwell ruled until his death in 1658. He was an effective ruler and did some really nasty things in Ireland after invading it.
Upon his death, Cromwell's son Richard came into power, but as happens so many times, the son was not up to snuff compared to his father and the Long Parliament was reseated and officially asked Charles' son to come back and rule England as king and Charles II in 1660. One of the first things the Royalist did upon returning to power was to dig up the corpse of Oliver Cromwell, hang it in chains, and behead it.
Charles II was no more successful in his dealings with Parliament than his beheaded father had been. And his reign was tulmultuous in that respect. His court was known to be rather hedonistic. He died in 1685 and his son, James II, took over as king.
James II's reign was to be short. He was both pro Catholic and pro French, and thus, very unpopular in England. Further, he was abrasive and strongly believed in the divine right of kings. Finally, in 1688, Parliament rebelled and asked Prince William of Orange and his wife, Mary to come over from Holland be the joint rulers of England as king and queen.
James II fled to France without a fight when William landed in England. The events of 1688 are known as The Glorious Revolution of 1688 and it forever cemented the supremacy of Parliament in governing England and from that moment, monarchs in England, served at the pleasure of Parliament.
So, it can be said in a nutshell that the 16th and 17th centuries in England saw power consolidated in a central government and then it saw a struggle as to whether this power was to be wielded and controlled by an absolute monarch or Parliament with Parliament being victorious in the end. Further, it was a period of religious strife between Catholic and Protestant with protestants being victorious in the end as well in England.