Presentation on theme: "Charles II, Charles I’s son, had spent his exile in France, and he had French tastes. However he was clever enough to avoid his father’s inflexibility."— Presentation transcript:
Charles II, Charles I’s son, had spent his exile in France, and he had French tastes. However he was clever enough to avoid his father’s inflexibility. The Court was devouted to pleasure, fashion and gossip replacing religious debate. The King supported the revival of drama and music. The landowners, both nobles and gentry, resumed their leadership of society and the newly elected Parliament punished the Puritans, excluding them from public office.
It was a period of dichotomy in society; dignity coexisted with excess, purity with immorality, simplicity with ornamentation, self-respect alongside obsession with appearance. Although Charles II was able not to quarrel with Parliament, Parliament was still concerned to avoid Roman Catholicism and despotism.
The discovery of unsuccessful “Popish Plots” favouring Charles’s openly Catholic brother, James, led to the emergence of two factions in Parliament. One was nicknamed “Tory” and consisted of the supporters of the King and his legitimate successors, the church of England and the landed gentry. The other was nicknamed “Whig” and consisted of both nobles and merchants, who did not want absolute power in the monarchy, and preferred religious toleration of protestant dissenters.
Charles II died without any legitimate heir, so his brother James II succeeded him on the throne. At first he was supported by the Tories, until he began to place Catholics in positions of authority in the army and university. James was a widower and his heirs were his two Protestant daughters, Mary and Anne, who were married to the rulers of Holland and Denmark.
James had remarried the Catholic Mary of Modena, and in 1688 he became the father of a Catholic son and heir. The Whigs and even the Tories were alarmed; another civil war could happen. Parliament and William of Orange, Mary’s husband, negotiated secretely and James, his wife and baby son were forced to escape to France.
On 28th January William and Mary became joint monarchs at the request of Parliament. A revolution had taken place ; the monarch had been chosen by Parliament, not by divine right. This revolution had been without any fighting – it was known as the “Bloodless” or “Glorious Revolution”. With the Bill of Rights the parliament alone had the right to raise taxes, pass laws and control an army. With the Act of Settlement of 1701, Parliament also decided on the succession – if William and Mary died childless, Anne was to follow and James’s son was excluded.
The first half of the 17th century in Europe had represented a critical stage in the replacement of one world view with another. Scholasticism had produced a durable structure of thought based on ancient observations, on assumptions and above all, on logic. It had provided a convincing and satisfying theory of the nature of the universe as ordered, teleological, that is, designed to fulfil a particular purpose, and geocentric.
From the middle of the century onwards, a major current of thought, called “Natural philosophy”, had started exploring the universe to explain its mysteries. England had a singular position in this field since the new rationalistic spirit and science were not seen as a challenge to religion, as in Europe, but rather as a means to a better understanding of the order and harmony of a God-created universe.
Science supported politics as it showed a God who was not an arbitrary monarch, but bound by his own wonderful laws. All the great scientists of the period were, in fact, men of faith and science at the same time. The universe, now heliocentric, was no longer seen as organic and theological, but as mechanical and matter-based. This change was achieved by a new method of inquiring into nature, based not on accepted authorities but on the mathematical –physical experimental method.
The reign of Charles’s II saw a powerful surge of scientific achievement. The King granted a charter to a group of scientists to found the Royal Society on 22 April 1662. The Philosophical basis of the Royal Society differed from previous philosophies such as Scholasticism, which established scientific truth based on deductive logic, concordance with divine providence and the citation of such ancient authorities as Aristotle. The society’s aim was to overcome the mysteries of all the works of nature and to apply that knowledge for the benefit of human life.
The first members were men of different talents and interests, but all united by the common bond of classical education as much as by their interest in the new enquiries. One of the efforts made by the Royal Society was the removal of language barriers within the Sciences so as to create an Empire of Learning, a sort of imaginary network of shared knowledge across the globe. The Royal society encouraged the free circulation of information and the spread of communication. Among the current activities of the Royal Society are funding scientific research, publishing, providing science advice, including education, and increase public interest in science.
The rational tendencies of the Restoration were to be seen both in the works of the rationalist philosophers John Locke and Thomas Hobbes and in the studies of Isaac Newton. Locke, in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690), insisted that the prime and fundamental source of human knowledge of the world outside was individual experience, gained through the senses and not innate. Experience and reason could not be separated.
Hobbes defended absolute monarchy in Leviathan in the belief that private individual selfishness had to be controlled by public force. Newton’s Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687) put science in the top ranks of learning.