New Episode Released
A quick overview of what we've covered in English history:
First, Rome's conquest of southern Britain, and the withdrawal of its soldiers in 410, leaving its Roman citizens there and the native Britons to fend for themselves. During the 400s, St. Patrick went to Ireland and converted it to Christianity.
Second, the invasions and/or migration of the Germanic Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, who were probably hired by the Romano-Britons to fight the Picts and other Celtic barbarians.
Third, the conquest of much of England by the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes. The resistance and King Arthur (500ish). Christianity pretty much squashed.
Fourth, Irish missionaries come to England, reconverting it to Christianity. Angles-Saxons gradually merged with the Britons.
Fifth, Vikings start invading, establishing permanent settlements. Alfred the Great breaks them, brings them to treaty, dividing England between Angles-Saxons and the Vikings, which gradually merge under one king.
Sixth, the Battle of Hastings. 1066. England becomes a French vassal state, technically. Intertwining of France and England.
Seventh, the Hundred Years War. England whipping France. Joan of Arc. Treaty in 1453.
And that's where we are picking it up: Middle of the 1400s.
In order to finance the Hundred Years War, the English kings had to go to Parliament for money . . . Repeatedly. In exchange, Parliament kept getting more and more concessions from the kings, giving rise to the most powerful representative government in Europe. The kings' power was greatly limited by Parliament. The kings obviously didn't like this, but there wasn't much they could do about it, but it would drive much of English internal disputes for the next 200 years, until 1688.
Henry VIII grabbed a lot of power in the English Reformation. In fact, a strong argument can be made that his break with Rome was triggered as much by his penis as by his greed. Huge monastic estates and other church holdings were forfeited to the new Church of England, Henry himself, or his allied nobleman. Hilaire Belloc points out in his absolute classic, The Servile State, that the alarmingly wealthy English noble families in the 20th century were formed in this era, when Henry literally gave them massive amounts of wealth after stealing it from the church. When you hear names like, Howards, Cecils, Cavendishes, and Russells, think, “Stinkin' descendants of thieves.” Belloc says there were more than 50 such families that profited to an alarming degree from the rape of the Church.
After Henry VIII, his son, Edward VI, took over. Under Henry VIII, the Anglican Church still felt and smelled Catholic. Under Edward VI, this started to change. It became far more Protestant, but he died after a short reign, then Mary took over. She was fiercely Catholic and took revenge on the apostates. After she died, her half-sister Elizabeth the First, Good Queen Bess, took over. She aggressively, at times violently, reversed Mary's efforts and established the Anglican Church as firmly Protestant, but she also kept much of the Catholic flavor.
This didn't sit well with the Puritans, who were heavily influenced by John Calvin's teachings, but there wasn't a whole lot they could do about. Elizabeth was moderate, judicious, and universally loved. She ruled for almost 50 years, until 1603. She never married, leading to a succession crisis and nearly 100 years of internal feuding in England as the Parliament tried to wrest more control from the kings and the kings tried to reassert the rights commonly associated with kingship.
First, there was James I, which started the Stuart dynasty of English kings.
Then there was his son, Charles I, who really went to battle with Parliament. Literally. The English Civil Wars. Roundheads v. Cavaliers. The Catholic-sympathizer Charles I was opposed by the strongly Protestant, with a lot of Puritanism, Parliament and lost. Twice. He lost to the Protestantizing Parliament, which led to a discussion among Parliament about what to do next, with the Puritans suggested some rather extreme measures. Some members of Parliament and their followers joined the king and the civil war recommenced, but Parliament, this time consisting heavily of Puritans, won. Charles I was executed in 1649.
This brings us the English commonwealth, no king, and Oliver Cromwell.