1 CM 3 The Seventeenth Century: 1603-1660
On March 24, 1603, the last day of the year under the old Julian calendar, Queen Elizabeth I died in sleep, “mildly like a lamb”. She was uneventfully succeeded by her northern kinsman James, son of Mary, Queen of Scots. In Scotland he was James VI, but in England he became James I. He had ruled in Scotland for twenty years already and wouldconstantly played with his codpiece. His tongue appeared to be too large for his mouth.
colonisation, the rising bourgeois class in the cities, the printing press and the expansion of literacy... But this century, and the changes it brought to the worldview, can also be seen as
revolutionary spirit and the trial, the conviction and execution of an anointed (divine) king, produced seismic changes inconsciousness.
Soon after James I’s accession, the Elizabethan stability in church and state began to totter. Unlike Elizabeth, the Stuarts kings, James I and his son Charles I, were unable to maintain control over the Parliament and to retain the loyalty and devotion of their subjects. By contrast with Elizabeth’s, James’s court was disorderly and indecorous, marked by
against; fromthe other side, Puritans (those Protestants who were closer to Calvinism) pressed for more reformation. The ascent of Charles I to the throne in 1625 brought a palpable change in
monarchical style: Charles was inflexible about royal absolutism and the divine right of kings. He dissolved Parliament and began a “personal rule”. His appointment of William Laud as archbishop of Canterbury in 1633was his final mistake. The archbishop of Canterbury is the equivalent of the Pope for the Anglican Church: the highest ecclesiastical authority of the kingdom; and William Laud was much too close to the Roman Catholic Church to be
returned. From one side, Roman Catholics were often, sometimes violently, discriminated
still accommodated both Catholic and Protestant quitecomfortably; but later divisive tensions
During the first decades of James’ reign, the national church established by Elizabeth
widespread rumours of homosexual activities involving the king himself.
hard drinking and late-night feasting, a craze for hunting, and great extravagance—as well as
the beginning of the modern period:Galileo’s astronomy, Bacon’s empiricism, Milton’s
cultural movement associated with the Renaissance: the Reformation, exploration and
From a broad perspective, the Seventeenth century continues the broad political and
He was not the most visually appealing of men. He was graceless and more or less
reign in England for twenty-two more.
2accepted by many subjects. Riots in London streets and the Scots occupation of several English cities marked the beginning of the English Revolution. The early 17th century brought old and new ideas about the nature of things into sharp opposition. An inherited body of concepts and images was still used by some: the Ptolemaic universes with its 9 spheres, a fixed Earth at the centre; the fourelements (fire, air, water, earth) that formed the matter of all things ; the four humours of the body (choler, blood,
scientists: by Francis Bacon’s emphasis on scientific method, by Gabriel’s Harvey’s discovery of the circulation of the Blood, by Galileo’s telescope—and these new ideas found
assumes that knowledge of psychology, not natural science, is humankind’s greatest need. His enormoustreatise The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621) analyses in encyclopaedic details
contemporary humour theory, by an excess of black bile. Burton was a scholar and cleric who lived in Christ Church College, Oxford, all his life: he never married, never travelled,
work contains a utopia, a treatise on climatology, discourses on geography and meteorology and many medical, psychological, and literary...
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