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17th Century England

James A. Watkins is an entrepreneur, musician, and a writer with four non-fiction books and hundreds of magazine articles read by millions.

King James I

The Virgin Queen Elizabeth died in 1603, after ruling England forty-five years. Queen Elizabeth employed an astrologer, John Dee (1527-1608), and it was he who invented the term "Great Britain."

The English throne passed to King James Stuart of Scotland, 36 years old, and the son of Elizabeth's cousin and former rival, Mary Queen of Scots. This brought Scotland under the English Crown without a shot being fired. The Stuarts had ruled Scotland since 1371.

James, an erudite man who loved to pontificate, had been King of Scotland since he was one year old. One of his first acts as King of England was to have his mother's body dug up and reburied in Westminster Abbey next to Queen Elizabeth.

James was highly intelligent and a learned theologian, but he was also vain and lazy.



Guy Fawkes

English Catholics rejoiced when King James I was crowned. They had high hopes he would be a friendly monarch to Catholics. Instead, James, who was raised a Calvinist (Presbyterian), clamped down on them as never before.

Catholic Mass was outlawed. Hearing the Mass would bring a jail sentence. Catholic priests survived in "priest holes" hidden in the homes of wealthy Catholics. Universities were closed to those who practiced Catholicism.

In reaction to these developments, Guy Fawkes and his band of a dozen young Catholics schemed to blow up the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, and Whitehall with 5,500 pounds of gunpowder they hid below Parliament in 1605.

If the explosives had not been discovered, the dead would have included the King and his family; the Royal Council; and all of the members of Parliament.

Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators in the "Gunpowder Plot" were caught, convicted of treason, and summarily hung, drawn and quartered. To this day, the foiling of this scheme is celebrated as "Bonfire Night."

The tragic result of this plot was that all English Catholics were demonized as potential traitors; they were banned from voting, could no longer practice law, and precluded from becoming officers in the armed forces.



Blarney Stone

In Ireland, Lord Mountjoy of England (Charles Blount) put down a long rebellion with a scorched earth policy in 1600. England proceeded to systematically colonize Ireland. Irish customs and language were curtailed; Irish law was abolished.

In 1602, Cormack McCarthy, Lord of Blarney in County Cork, delayed the surrender of his castle to the English through a series of parleys, promises, queries, and time-wasting speeches.

Thus "Blarney" passed into the common parlance as a synonym for miraculous powers of speech, or the "gift of gab." Visitors to Blarney Castle today, kiss the Blarney Stone to acquire this gift of persuasiveness.




When our modern ears hear the word "Puritan" the idea that immediately comes to mind is that of a killjoy. But this is a caricature.

The Puritans wished to purify the Church of England by eliminating Roman Catholic rites. They emphasized preaching, prayer, worship, and the Gospel. Of course the Gospel enjoins good behavior and a morally conscious attitude to living. But the Puritans were never against pleasure or the arts. They relished and cultivated music, poetry, and the other arts.

Social prophets today issue warnings about the coming of a new Puritanism. They point to the crusade against cigarettes, as well as the outcry by believers in God against sexual licentiousness and obscene art.

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The Puritans did not outlaw booze and tobacco. They shut down theatres not because of the plays, but because of prostitution that led to a wave of venereal disease.

The Puritans desired a better church and a better state; a better society and a stronger economy; Liberty and Freedom. The Puritans pointed out that human institutions were a matter of choice, designed for a purpose, and maintained by custom.

Nature is the twin of reason. Both are given. Man is a reasoning creature by nature, and nature is ready made to be reasoned about. Nature acts apart from the will and wishes of man. Puritans believed that God was to be known in and through nature.

The Puritans believed that government must be based on nature—the nature of man. They wanted a republic with the vote for all adults; the abolition of rank and privilege; equality before the law; and free trade. All men were born equal and free.






Conscience is self-consciousness about morality. The sharper the individual conscience, the keener is its judgments of human behavior and beliefs, including its own.

The Puritans had faith that was both intellectual and visceral. They loved truth and hated sin. Their great worry was that the toleration and spread of immorality imperiled other innocent souls. Immorality is infectious and if not checked can produce an epidemic.

Therefore, religious persecution is a health measure to stop the spread of contagious disease—disease of the soul more than the body, and the soul is immeasurably more important.

God expects His faithful to defend His truth against invasion by dark spiritual forces. It is their duty, which if neglected will endanger their neighbors, community, and society.


King Charles I

Charles I became King of England in 1625 at the age of 25. He was 5'4" tall; a man of grit, principle, piety, and taste.

Charles was a devoted husband and father, and a sincere Christian. He loved beautiful things. He had no sense of humor.

Charles would become perhaps England's greatest royal patron of the arts. But he was also obstinate, and insisted on the Divine Right of Kings, stating: "The King is above the law." One of his first moves was to dissolve Parliament.

By 1628, the English Treasury was broke, which prompted Charles to reinstate Parliament. The House of Commons coerced him into signing the Petition of Right, which gave Parliament the exclusive right to tax the populace, and forbade arbitrary imprisonment.

King Charles dissolved Parliament again in 1629, this time for eleven years. Art, music, and drama flourished.

In 1634, the Puritan lawyer William Prynne denounced as immoral the court masques that were beloved by the King and his wife. The King's Star Chamber ordered his ears be cut off. Prynne became a folk hero through an early version of newspapers—printed newsletters.

Parliament was back in business by 1640; recalled by Charles because Scotland was in revolt. The "Grand Remonstrance" of 1641 soon followed, which listed 204 complaints against King Charles I, most egregiously: taxation without representation. The "Long Parliament" went on to impeach and arrest the chief ally of the King for treason, the Archbishop of Canterbury William Laud.

King Charles responded by becoming the first English King to interrupt a session of the House of Commons, in an attempt to arrest five members of Parliament. This made things worse.

Mobs in London of up to 100,000 threatened the safety of the King and his family. In 1642, the King's wife fled to Holland with the Crown jewels (hoping to sell them). Charles rode to York to raise an army to crush his foes.

War broke out between King Charles and Parliament in 1642. It could have been avoided. Nine times King Charles was offered the chance to keep his throne. He only had to reach some sort of compromise on the original 19 demands of Parliament. He refused to budge an inch.





The English Civil War

The English Civil War did not start in England and was not confined to England. It was really three civil wars combined, in Scotland, Ireland, and England. The destruction was to be immense.

150 whole towns were destroyed; 11,000 homes burned; 55,000 people made homeless. 4 percent of the population of England died—over 200,000 people.

During the English Civil War a new word was brought over from Germany—plunder—to refer to the activities of the loot-happy troops of King Charles (the Cavaliers).

Worse than the battles were the sieges of towns. This is where most casualties took place, from starvation and plague, followed by massacres of even women and children.

The English Civil War is often called a religious war. The opponents were all of the same religion. There was a religious aspect to the feelings on both sides, but the war was really about sovereignty; about who holds the power in England to tax and wage war—the King or Parliament.

Moreover, the fear of Catholic control of England was more political and economic than religious. The Catholic nations—Spain, France, and Austria—had been continually plotting with Ireland and Scotland to invade and conquer England. Surely a Catholic King might throw open the gates of the realm.





Oliver Cromwell

Those against the King became known as the Roundheads. Their leader was Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658), who may be the most remarkable man in English History.

One could liken Oliver Cromwell to Julius Caesar. One similarity between them is their clemency. After the English Civil War ended, Cromwell welcomed his former enemies to join him in governance. This is the mark of a true statesman—he knows he must govern the whole country, not just his own party and good friends.

Oliver Cromwell was a stocky, plain-spoken, gentleman farmer with a bulbous nose and large, striking blue eyes. He was neither ambitious, nor distinguished academically. He excelled at—and loved—history and mathematics.

Cromwell was happily married, and happily a Calvinist. His neighbors sent him to Parliament to represent their interests. Cromwell stood up for the poor man—even went to jail for them once.

But Oliver Cromwell was destined to become a formidable military commander. He was a superior organizer, and he formed a "New Model Army." Cromwell would prove to be an invincible general.

Oliver Cromwell formed an army that would feature 22,000 professionally trained soldiers, which supplanted the old system of regional militias. This highly disciplined army sang hymns together, abstained from alcohol, and loved to hear sermons. Cromwell posted a military record of thirty wins and no losses in battle.

The Roundheads captured King Charles in 1646. By 1647, the war was over with the final defeat of the Cavaliers. Then came a dramatic break between the winning army and Parliament.

Parliament voted to disband the army without the pay they were owed, and were negotiating with Charles to restore him to the throne. The army responded "We were not a mere mercenary army, hired to serve any arbitrary power of the state, but were called forth to the defense of the people's just rights and liberties."

King Charles I of England was put on trial and convicted as a "Tyrant, Traitor, Murderer, and Public Enemy to the good people of this nation." Charles refused to recognize the authority of the court that tried him, and thus made no defense.

The king was publicly beheaded in 1649 for making war on his own people. This may be the most remarkable event in English History. The monarchy, as well as the House of Lords, was abolished. England was declared a "Commonwealth."

It was against the backdrop of these turbulent times that England founded colonies in America.







The Commonwealth of England

The English tried to rule Ireland by turning Irish chiefs into Earls and Barons. Resistance continued. In 1651, Oliver Cromwell brutally conquered Ireland and it was annexed by England. Also in that year, Cromwell triumphed over a revolt by the Scots.

In 1653, Oliver Cromwell was proclaimed Lord Protector of England. He accepted this newly created post in humble dignity, dressed in a plain black outfit.

The Puritans on the winning side of the English Civil War banned swearing, maypoles, theatre, Christmas, and Easter. Also banned on the Sabbath (Sunday) were sports, including horseracing, cockfighting, bear-baiting, bowling, shooting, dancing, and wrestling. Many taverns were closed and most churches were stripped of their Catholic art and ornamentation.

The Puritans brought in modest apparel and more rigorous good manners. Fornicators were sent to jail. Adultery was punishable by death for the first time in England.

But when it came to the faith inside a man's heart and head, the Puritans held that freedom of worship was paramount for all Christians. Oliver Cromwell said "The most mistaken Christian who should desire to live peaceably and quietly under you, and soberly and humbly desire to live a life of godliness and honesty, has a natural right to liberty of conscience."

By 1656, this freedom of worship had been extended to Jews. They started to openly worship in their own synagogue on Cheechurch Lane. Portuguese Jews immigrated to London, where they took up banking, as well as dealing in gold and gemstones.

Cromwell's economic policies, centered on free trade, made England prosperous. He rid the Mediterranean of pirates for English shipping to flourish.

Oliver Cromwell died of malaria in 1658, which occasioned dancing in the streets of London. His statue stands today outside the Houses of Parliament—sword in one hand and the Bible in the other. More streets in England are named after Oliver Cromwell than anyone besides Queen Victoria. He could be called the founder of the British Empire.





Thomas Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes was a political theorist whose great work of philosophy is entitled Leviathan.

Hobbes wrote that human life was "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."

His view was that humans needed a strong ruler to impose order on their unruly natures.

The Great Fire of London

The summer of 1666 had been long and hot. Global Warming, I suppose. The wood and wattle houses of London, roofed with straw, were tinderbox dry, and a warm easterly wind was blowing.

Twenty barrels of tar exploded below Pudding Lane, which catapulted their burning debris into the stables of the inn next door, and set fire to the hay stored there.

The flames made their way to the wooden wharves and warehouses that were stacked to the rafters with tallow, oil, coal, and timber on the side of the Thames River. This became an inferno that burnt down a third of the houses on London Bridge.

King Charles and his brother James personally fought the fire ferociously for nineteen hours straight, on the streets with buckets of water. Before the Great Fire of London was put out; 13,200 homes were destroyed, along with 87 churches. The flames could be seen as far away as Oxford, fifty miles away. 100,000 people were suddenly homeless, many left destitute since this preceded the invention of insurance.



Charles II

No suitable successor appeared who could fill the shoes of Oliver Cromwell. In 1660, Charles II, the 30 year old son of the slain King, ascended to the throne and the English Monarchy was restored. First, an agreement was reached that kings must rule jointly with Parliament, and that all Christians would have Liberty of Conscience. Oliver Cromwell was hanged and beheaded—posthumously. Theatres and taverns reopened.

King Charles II had been crowned King of Scotland ten years earlier. He was the proud father of 14 bastard children. The "Merry Monarch" had countless mistresses, but his favorite was the red-haired actress Nell Gwynne. Charles was a shrewd politician and a great liar. He was charming and possessed a vast sense of humor.

The marriage of King Charles II was childless. The line of succession thus went to his brother James, Duke of York. Charles was secretly a Catholic. James was openly a Catholic. Thus the heir to the throne of England was a publicly declared Roman Catholic. And the English Army of 30,000 men was decidedly Protestant.

In 1670, Charles made a secret deal with the French, whereby he and they agreed to wage war together on the Dutch. In return, Charles promised to publicly declare himself a Catholic sometime soon.





1667 was a Pivotal Year

John Milton wrote Paradise Lost in 1667, which is the living embodiment of the battle of ideas in his time.

Richard Lower performed the first human blood transfusion that same year.

And it was the year that the Dutch fleet sailed up the Thames and destroyed half the English Navy with fire ships.

King James II

In 1685, James II, 52 years old, became the last Catholic king of England. This aroused the passions of the Puritans against him. Those opposed to King James II were called "Whigs," a term for Scottish outlaws; those who favored James were called "Tories," from a Gaelic word meaning "Catholic bandits."

James II was a competent man, serious and hardworking. But he was also impatient, arrogant, and somewhat silly. He was a poor judge of character, had little interest in arts or science, and mostly just loved sex. Perhaps a bit of a coward, too.

The daughters of King James II, Mary and Anne, were both staunch Protestants. Mary had married a Dutch Protestant hero, William of Orange (Avignon), who also had a tenuous claim to the English throne.

King James II staffed his army with Catholics, causing alarm among Protestants as to his intentions. Then, in 1688, James had a son. Now he had an heir who would be reared a Catholic, and keep England a Catholic nation for perhaps decades to come.



John Locke

John Locke, a devout Christian, published Treatises on Civil Government in 1690, which put forth the notion that rulers and the ruled should have some sort of contract. He was already famous for his book An Essay on Human Understanding.

John Locke argued that the state had no business patrolling spiritual beliefs. The state should confine itself to "civil interests" that he defined as "life, liberty, health, indolency of body, and the possession of outwardly things such as money, land, houses, furniture, and the like."



The Glorious Revolution

William III (1650-1702) was of the House of Orange, which is not of Dutch origin but from what is modern day France. His great-grandfather once granted a pardon to his adulterous second wife's lover, who then fathered Peter Paul Rubens.

William was the head of state in the Netherlands. He was also slightly hunchbacked, as well as asthmatic. His wife Mary was very pretty.

William III and his wife Mary, the daughter of King James II of England, were followers of John Calvin. They were invited by the enemies of King James II to come over from Holland to establish a new monarchy in 1688.

They did so—with 40,000 troops and 463 warships. The leading officers of the English Army deserted their posts, and the Royal Navy declared allegiance to William. James II, debilitated from nosebleeds and insomnia, fled England and ran to France, throwing the Great Seal of England in the Thames as he left.

In 1689, William and Mary accepted the Crown of England and agreed to a "Bill of Rights" demanded by Parliament. This is known as the "Glorious Revolution."

Under the terms of the Bill of Rights, the new King agreed that from then forward, kings would have no right to levy taxes, erect special courts, or maintain an army.

Additionally, there were guarantees of Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Petition, and measures to restrict cruel and unusual punishments and excessive bail.

The Toleration Act of 1689 guaranteed Freedom of Worship for all Christians, except Catholics and Unitarians.






In 1690, King William III of England gathered his troops on the north bank of the River Boyne, thirty miles north of Dublin, Ireland. On the south bank stood the troops commanded by none other than the former King of England, James II.

James had come back from his exile in France with a crack team of French troops, buttressed by Irish Catholic soldiers, to recapture Ireland for Catholicism, and then to retake England and once again reign as its King. Louis XIV of France backed James as part of his plan to once again assert Catholic dominance of Europe.

King William was triumphant over the "Jacobites," so named for their support of James—Jacob in Hebrew and Latin. William was a gracious victor. He allowed 11,000 Jacobite soldiers to go free to France, where they became known as the "Wild Geese," a foreign legion of mercenaries who later fought for the Catholic armies of Europe.

To be fair and balanced in my reportage, prior to this battle the Catholics had mercilessly persecuted the Protestant minority in Ireland. Under the army of James they had taken all land from Protestants south of Ulster, today's Northern Ireland, and had isolated Protestants to the town of Derry, which they besieged for 105 days.

After the victory of King William, Irish Protestants took revenge by excluding Catholics from serving in the army and in government.

The English mistreated the Irish, whom they thought a lazy, brawling, irrational, lascivious people.  The Irish were handsome and gay, had the gift of gab, and were noted for excellent horsemanship and their fine sense of humor.  Irish peasants knew not how to hitch an ox to a plow, and instead tied the instrument to the animal's tail.  They would put fresh milk in filthy buckets, and knew nothing about agriculture, depending on amulets, spells and enchantments.  They had more feast days than work days. The English sought to civilize the Irish.






English traders had been trading cloth, guns, brass, knives, beads, mirrors, pots, beer, cider, brandy, and horses to African chiefs since 1663 for people the African chiefs had captured and enslaved. Thus began the so-called "Triangular Trade."

The traders carried the African slaves to the Caribbean Islands, and later to North America, where they traded them for sugar, coffee, or tobacco. This slave trading route became known as the "Middle Passage" where Africans were transported in appalling barbarity, including being branded with hot irons.

The slaves were stacked on ships like books in a library, in unspeakable squalor in the dark and fetid holds of the slave ships. One in eight died during the voyage.

The slaves were infected by the urine and excrement in which they lay. Other ships were careful to stay upwind of the slave ships to avoid their noxious stink.

African slaves provided cheap, sturdy labor. England had developed a "sweet tooth" along with addictions for coffee, tobacco, and rum. Only muscular young men who were acclimated to working in a tropical climate could handle the back-breaking labor of the plantations that produced sugar, tobacco, and cotton.



Tolerance Today

A lot is said about how "intolerant" people were back then. The most intolerant people of the 20th century were the Atheist regimes of Marxist governments. They ruthlessly repressed even the slightest murmur of dissent. A careless word, or mistimed joke, could mean the concentration camp or execution.

The same spirit holds sway in the "political correctness" culture of America today. So far, the penalties have yet not included death or the Gulag. But they have included the loss of Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Association, and Freedom of Thought.

The PC crowd has been successful at punishing offenders with public opprobrium, loss of employment, and virtual exclusion from one's profession—for even the most casually spoken words.

Toleration does not guarantee social peace. Toleration has no logical limits. What level of obscene public behavior should be tolerated?

People who believe in God see tolerance of immorality as a sign that their government that lost its moral authority; that their society has defined deviance down. Secularists practice their own form of intolerance, working overtime to exclude faith in God from the public schools, and even the public square.

I have two quotes from Samuel Coleridge from 1834 & 1836:

"A right to tolerance seems to me a contradiction in terms. Some criterion must in any case be adopted by the state; otherwise it might be compelled to admit whatever hideous doctrines and practice any man might assert."

"We are none of us tolerant in what concerns us deeply and entirely."

My sources for this article include: Great Tales from English History by Robert Lacey; From Dawn to Decadence by Jacques Barzun; Europe by Norman Davies; and The Kings & Queens of England by Antonia Fraser.




James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 28, 2011:

johncimble— Thank you! Thank you very much. :D

johncimble from Bangkok on December 27, 2011:

Great hub!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 06, 2011:

no body— The scarlet thread, yes. We can surely follow it. Perhaps that is what I am up to. Speaking of Martin Luther, you may have seen these but if not I published two Hubs about him:

Thank you for your support, affirmation, and encouragement Brother Robert.

Robert E Smith from Rochester, New York on January 05, 2011:

Who can say anything about our brother in Christ Martin Luthur? And I know there are so many others you have mentioned that were true men of faith. God has used so many different people from all faith names over the years and that is one thing I love about your hubs, Jim. You mention an individual that was a man of salvation rather than just part of a group that did this or that. We can follow that scarlet thread of faith throughout history.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 04, 2011:

no body— I think you are right on track, brother. This is a very complicated issue. But I believe one thing we should never do is deprecate the sacrifices our old Catholic brothers and sisters made for the salvation we cherish today.

Thank you ever much for reading my article. I apreciate your deep and wise comment and question. God Bless You!

Robert E Smith from Rochester, New York on January 04, 2011:

Hey Jim, am I wrong in my belief that as far as the scarlet thread of gospel bearing is concerned the first church in name to do that was the Catholic church? They having many many monks and priests that preached the gospel of Salvation by grace through faith alone to their parishioners. Then as time went on they pulled away from that Salvation by grace through faith alone and the burden past to another group name] with a time of bearing that teaching. Until today Salvation by grace through faith is scattered through many different [name] churches.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 18, 2010:

DeBorrah K. Ogans— There is no one I would rather see in my comments than you, my dear. It is always a pleasure to hear your voice.

This that you wrote bears repeating:

"In the quest for the government and some of the clergy to get others to conform rather than be “transformed from the renewing of their minds by the Holy Spirit…

It would have been far better to encourage a personal relationship with the Lord through Jesus Christ and HIS principles as a daily lifestyle…!"


Thank you for coming by and granting me your gracious accolades. And you are most welcome. :D

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 18, 2010:

stars439— Hello my brother! Thank you for reading my article. I am glad you gave recognition to the photographs, too. God Bless You!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 18, 2010:

Nayothara— You are welcome! Thank you so much for your kind words and the "awesome vote!" I appreciate this visit from you. Welcome to the Hub Pages Community!

Elder DeBorrah K Ogans on December 17, 2010:

James A Watkins, Fascinating history on the 17th century! Your work is implausible and thorough as always! Great tutorial professor quite instructive!

A wealth of historical events to ponder and learn from… If one could only take heed and learn from the experiences of our predecessors that have come before us we would be so much farther ahead… Interesting to see how the enforcement of rigid religious ritualistic practices caused so much turmoil… So many innocent lives lost…. In the quest for the government and some of the clergy to get others to conform rather than be “transformed from the renewing of their minds by the Holy Spirit…

It would have been far better to encourage a personal relationship with the Lord through Jesus Christ and HIS principles as a daily lifestyle…! This is still the purpose of God’s Church History continues to repeat itself! It boils down to control and oppression...

Thank you as always for sharing. In HIS Grace, Joy, Love & Blessings!

stars439 from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State. on December 17, 2010:

GEEZ ! Jam packed with information. There is a lot to learn about England. How in the world you do all this I will never know. Wonderful work ,and beautiful artistic photographs. GBY.

Nayothara on December 17, 2010:

WOW I have learnt many new things with your HUB. Thank you so much for that. I vote AWESOME! And I will read more of your HUB, got so much to learn from you.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 15, 2010:

CMHypno— Thank you! It was a pleasure to research and write. So you know all about Guy Fawlkes Day! Or Bon Fire Night, I suppose. Bully for you. I appreciate the visit and your comments! :D

CMHypno from Other Side of the Sun on December 15, 2010:

Interesting hub on 17th century England James. It's not so common now, but when I was a child all the kids would make a 'guy' to burn on the bonfire on 5th November out of rags and stuff and go around the streets asking for 'a penny for the guy'. Another ditty was 'Remember, remember the 5th of November, gunpowder treason and plot!'

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 14, 2010:

tonymac04— You are welcome, Tony. I am glad you enjoyed most of it. Your Hub on the history of South Africa was also quite interesting. The "rant" came from Jacques Barzun. He digressed in his history book I credited as one of my sources into a discussion of tolerance and pointed out that the most intolerant of all people ever were the communist atheistic regimes of the 20th century.

Love and Peace to You


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 13, 2010:

fi fi— Thank you!! Thank you very much! :D

Tony McGregor from South Africa on December 13, 2010:

Good read, James, thank you. I enjoyed it all until I got to the rant about tolerance! And I must say I think you rather gave the Catholic Irish the short end of the stick.

The English part was great, though. Good to be able to read the whole story like that - usually I have found that the details get in the way of the sweep of it.

Love and peace


fi fi from Niagara, Canada on December 13, 2010:

Great read :)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 12, 2010:

Amy Becherer— That is an interesting theory. I have read a lot about the original decision against contraception, and frankly, there is a lot more to it than that. I don't have the time to get into it deeply, but it involves God's greatest gift to man: to reproduce himself. And that that gift should not be thrown away. I don't agree with them. But they do actually have a very deep and profound argument to make. Thank you for visiting and commenting. I hear what you're saying. :-)

Amy Becherer from St. Louis, MO on December 11, 2010:

The birth control issue and the Vatican's absolute ruling, in my opinion, is about securing the financial future of the Catholic Church. Every child born in a Catholic family is another dollar in the basket and tuition in their parochial, private schools. The Vatican has rules regarding couples of mixed religions, in that the children must be baptized and raised Catholic. What a gig...Like most big business, it's all about the almighty dollar.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 11, 2010:

Nell Rose— Hello! Good to see you here, my dear. I am well pleased that you found this article interesting. I have read that the Great Fire of London was a blessing in disguise. Because of it, Christopher Wren got to plan a new London, right? And yes, I suppose it did get rid of the plague. I hadn't thought of that but I believe you're right. Brilliant point!

Thank you for visiting, Nell. And you are welcome. :D


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 11, 2010:

Wesman Todd Shaw— Thank you very much for your kind compliments. You are right about the length of Hubs. I shoot for 1500 words, which I think is just right. I usually go over. This one is way over—4,000 words I think. Which means a lot of folks won't read it. But it might get picked up by some students studying the period. We shall see.

Nell Rose from England on December 10, 2010:

HI, fascinating history, I do agree that the English have fought and conquered countries that we should have kept out of, but of course the same has happened to us too. The french just never got the hint! lol but this was really interesting, and as I have said before it is good to see it all in one place. the great fire of London was in fact a blessing because England had been covered in plague at that point and with the fire wiping out so much of the city, it got rid of the plague, so small mercies there! thanks again for a great piece of writing, cheers nell

Wesman Todd Shaw from Kaufman, Texas on December 10, 2010:

You Sir, do some fantastic work here. More often than not I fail to match your efforts, as I start thinking that the darn thing is long enough already.

Honestly, I was of the opinion that the typical internet reader gets tired after about two thousand words, but perhaps I was wrong.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 10, 2010:

Hello, hello,— Thank you! Thank you very much. And you are welcome. :D

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 10, 2010:

Lady Wordsmith— You are welcome, Linda. Thank you for taking the time to read my Hub, which is one of my longest. I had a lot of information to pack in there. And yes, it is very time consuming. :)

I find your country's history particular fascinating. As you imply though, the whole of history is interesting. I sincerely appreciate your gracious compliments. Welcome to the Hub Pages Community!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 10, 2010:

JannyC— Thank you for the kind compliments. It is good to see you again. I appreciate the visit! :-)

Hello, hello, from London, UK on December 10, 2010:

It was a great history lesson, James, splendidly written. Thank you

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 09, 2010:

C. J. Wright— I did get your email, and I sent you a reply in which I asked for links to the articles that stole my writings. I can't find them.

So they piss on the Blarney Stone!? Yuck! I will not kiss it, that's for sure, after learning this.

Thank you for visiting and commenting. :)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 09, 2010:

carolina muscle— I'm glad you found this interesting, my friend. Thanks for coming by and letting me know. It's always good to hear from you.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 09, 2010:

Molly— I'm not sure what you mean "Who told on James?" Did somebody tell on me for something? I haven't heard about it.

I am glad you enjoyed my article. Thank you for visiting and commenting. :-)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 09, 2010:

akirchner— Yea, I think we are better off living today than in those times. What with no internet and all. And they had that global warming to contend with. Let's not forget that.

Thank you for coming! I enjoyed your comments. :D

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 09, 2010:

prasetio30— You are welcome, my friend. It is a pleasure to see your face again and hear your voice. Thank you for the accolades and the "vote up!" I also appreciate you sharing this Hub with your friend.

I have been to England and I hope you get to go. It is a marvelous country to see. Love and peace to you, Prasetio.


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 09, 2010:

ama83— You are welcome. That's OK. I appreciate you coming to read my work now. :)

You know, I didn't think about the germs on that Blarney Stone. Yuck!

Thank you for coming by and leaving the good word.

Linda Rawlinson from Lancaster, UK on December 09, 2010:

Well, you've covered just about everything in the whole of 17th Century England there ;)

Like, itakins, I did find that the hub was lacking some balance, but as you say, you have written it from the perspective of the English (although, there were many, many viewpoints to choose from in England - as there always are in any country, in any century, of course). I will look forward to reading more historical hubs, when you can find the time - very time-consuming type of hub, I would imagine.

England in the 1600s in a nutshell - very informative, and reminds me of a favourite period of history that I haven't read about for a long time. Time to refresh my memory soon I think. Wow, my country's history is enormous! (What a stupid thing to say, Linda - the history of every country is enormous!!!)

Thanks james :)


JannyC on December 09, 2010:

Beautifully written. I love history and you write it so refreshingly.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 09, 2010:

GusTheRedneck— I can always count on you to find the humor in nearly all topics. It is refreshing. Thank you brother!


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 09, 2010:

lcg4jc— You are quite welcome. Thank you for the gratifying accolades! Makes a man feel good. :-)

Welcome to the Hub Pages Community!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 09, 2010:

CMerritt— You are most welcome. I love the History of England, and History in general. I am working on a Hub about 17th Century America right now.

I sure appreciate your kind comments. Thank you!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 09, 2010:

Amy Becherer— I am glad you enjoyed my work. Thank you very much for the laudatory remarks. It is good to have you visit.

That Vatican ruling was quite puzzling to me. I do like some of the stances the Vatican makes on modern culture, vice, and virtue. But birth control . . . for married people at the least . . . I never could get the opposition.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 09, 2010:

gracenotes— How nice to see you again, my dear! So kissing the Blarney Stone doesn't work? :(

I agree about that button alright. And I surely appreciate the "awesome" grade. Thank you!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 09, 2010:

TheManWithNoPants— Thank you, Jim. I hope it was not too long or boring. I appreciate you taking the time to read my "tome." For a Hub, it was about double length.


C.J. Wright on December 09, 2010:

Oh, BTW during a visit to Ireland I was told by locals not to kiss the Blarney Stone. They said it was common for locals to urinate on the stone!LOL

C.J. Wright on December 09, 2010:

Nice work James. As usual. Did you get the message I sent regarding your hubs?

carolina muscle from Charlotte, North Carolina on December 08, 2010:

I often think that this is the most interesting period in English history. Nice job, James!

Pollyannalana from US on December 08, 2010:

This was interesting, and in school I just never liked history but I memorized dates, I got my A's. If they had made it interesting I may have remembered it, and to find out black slavery didn't start in America. BTW who told on James?

Audrey Kirchner from Washington on December 08, 2010:

That's frightening - even in 1666 they had global warming! Seriously, James - what lovely pictures and as usual your writing is just superb. I love history especially when it's served up so deliciously. I often think I would have loved to have lived in some of these times but then again, it may be better to embrace the present!

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on December 08, 2010:

I'll share this to my friend who study in England right now. I believe he will liked this information. You always come up with the greatest history again and again. In my opinion all your work so special, like this one. I hope I can visit England someday. Thank you very much. I give my vote special for you, James. Love and peace!


ama83 from San Jose, CA on December 08, 2010:

Though much of England's history is intriguing, I have to admit that the Blarney stone catches my interest most. I always wonder how much germs have to be on that stone :)

Thank you for another informative hub. Sorry I have been slow at my reading lately :(

Gustave Kilthau from USA on December 08, 2010:

Hi James - Many of those about whom you wrote here remind me of some of the bosses I have had in the past.

Gus :-)))

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 08, 2010:

H P Roychoudhury— It is always a distinct pleasure to hear from you, my friend. Your remarks are brilliant and incisive. I enjoyed reading them. Next time I return to England will be for the 18th Century. But I'll wait a while before proceeding. I have too many other subjects to cover first. :D

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 08, 2010:

edelhaus— Thank you for recognizing the amount of time it takes to put these Hubs together. I'm going to have to take a break from Hubbing soon and get back to finishing my book. I am grateful to you for your warm words. I'm feeling pretty good after reading them. :)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 08, 2010:

GPAGE— What a pleasure to see you here! You are welcome, and I thank you for the accolades, my dear.

I knew you lived in England for a while. I love it over there. I've yet to visit Ireland, but it is on my bucket list. I can always use some positive thoughts sent my way. Good to hear from you again. :D

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 08, 2010:

drbj— You are quite welcome. I suppose many politicians, Charles included, read Machiavelli. :-)

I sincerely appreciate your laudations. Thank you for coming by to visit my Hub.

lcg4jc on December 08, 2010:

Powerful fact-filled hub with beautiful pictures, maps, charts, posters, paintings ... just beautiful. Thank you for specifying that this is the point of view from the English. When it comes to history, as in all things, we must be balanced and look at both sides. God bless you for a job well done

Chris Merritt from Pendleton, Indiana on December 08, 2010:

I think the comment made that "God expects His faithful to defend His truth against invasion by dark spiritual forces" has been the dominating factor throught GB's history, is the reason why they have managed to stay in existence of as long as they have....and that truth was brought over here and holds it's value, even though both countries make you wonder sometimes...

James, I have learned more about england since I have been here than I have through most of my life.



James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 08, 2010:

itakins— Yes, you are right. Had I been writing a history of Ireland, which I may do in the future, this would have had a different slant. Admittedly, this is the English point of view of the events. As you said:

"that the land actually belonged to the Irish Catholics in the first place -it was stolen from them(us) -the best land taken by the English . . . The Irish were defending their country from invaders."


You wrote: "Some may see Cromwell as a a military genius and a defender of his peculiar orthodoxy. History suggests that ,for the Irish ,seeking to defend their land ,and their religion-the expression of who they were-he was a butcher and was responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent Irish people."

I know that Crowwell may be the most hated man in Ireland. And what you say about him is true.

You wrote: "after 800 years of invasion,plunder,theft ..including our mother tongue...and death for practicing our religion.

They had no business being here in the first place.

Should my countrymen /ancestors have sat back and taken it on the chin?"

No, they should not. All of your points are well received. Thank you for adding much needed balance to this Hub.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 08, 2010:

Paraglider— I enjoyed that little ditty. Never heard it before. :D

I did note that in the "political correctness" in America today the penalties have yet not included death or the Gulag.

Thank you for visiting and commenting. Always good to read your words.

Amy Becherer from St. Louis, MO on December 08, 2010:

And history just keeps repeating itself. Different people, different language, but the same basic issues.

Religion continues to illustrate the dicotomy of ideals and the demons that human nature struggles with. Recent changes from the Vatican on the use of condoms, still demonized in the name of procreation, but now approved for homosexual, prostitute activites is one more man made stance distancing me from organized religion. Your piece is a fascinating, compelling, stirring, well written, important history that I truly enjoyed. I will come back and read it again.

gracenotes from North Texas on December 08, 2010:

I voted this awesome. I have been to Blarney Castle and kissed the stone, and after 25 years, I'm still waiting for it to take effect on my speech and rhetoric.

Heh heh. We need a button to click on HubPages called "The Blarney Click", don't you think?

TheManWithNoPants from Tucson, Az. on December 08, 2010:

James, you leave no stone unturned, and I admire your attention to detail my man.


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 08, 2010:

Vladimir! You are welcome, my brother. Thank you for coming by and letting me know you liked it. Good man.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 08, 2010:

lionswhelp— Thank you for taking the time to read my Hub. I appreciate your kind comments. You made valid points.

H P Roychoudhury from Guwahati, India on December 08, 2010:

James, this is marvelous and fascinating leading to the birth of British Empire. It brings the human though of the people of three hundred years earlier engaging in power struggle with facts of sentiments of religious belief. But there were people who brought England to the glory of fortune amidst the loss of human life in civil war, are pious and more than God who should be honored rightly and should set a model for the future rulers.

edelhaus from Munich, Germany on December 08, 2010:

I'm always blown away by the breadth and detail of your hubs! Stunning pictures and beautiful prose. Where do you find the time? Keep up the good work (I'm sure I don't have to tell you that).

GPAGE from California on December 07, 2010:

JAMES! I always love learning from your articles/hubs. You always make history so interestng. After living in England for a year, it was really hard to remember everything. There is so much to learn and see! Thank you for once again writing something great! I'm always sending posiive thoughts your way. G

drbj and sherry from south Florida on December 07, 2010:

Fascinating retelling of history, James. Bravo. When reading your description of Charles II as "a shrewd politician and a great liar," for some reason, many of the names comprising our current leadership in the U.S. popped into my mind. Amazing, no?

Thanks for this comprehensive and well-written summary of 17th century English leaders.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 07, 2010:

Coming of Age— Good evening! Thanks for coming by to visit. I appreciate your gracious compliments. I see I had a little typo there. It has since been fixed. :D

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 07, 2010:

Kaie Arwen— Thank you for being my first visitor! Yes, King James II was very fond of them. I am glad to see you here. I appreciate your laudations. Thank you for coming!


itakins from Irl on December 07, 2010:

''To be fair and balanced...... Under the army of James they had taken all land from Protestants south of Ulster, today's Northern Ireland, and had isolated Protestants to the town of Derry, which they besieged for 105 days.''

James- Let's get this straight.You must remember that the land actually belonged to the Irish Catholics in the first place -it was stolen from them(us) -the best land taken by the English and what they couldn't use was given to Scottish Presbyterians-the Irish were exiled-in their own country- to have the worst land.... ''To hell or to Connaught'' .The Irish were defending their country from invaders.

Some may see Cromwell as a a military genius and a defender of his peculiar orthodoxy.History suggests that ,for the Irish ,seeking to defend their land ,and their religion-the expression of who they were-he was a butcher and was responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent Irish people.

Interesting hub -but a bit biased ,I fear.We only achieved independence less than 90 years ago,(at the price of forfeiting 6 of our 32 counties,which they had heavily planted with English and Scottish people) after 800 years of invasion,plunder,theft ..including our mother tongue...and death for practicing our religion.

They had no business being here in the first place.

Should my countrymen /ancestors have sat back and taken it on the chin?

Dave McClure from Worcester, UK on December 07, 2010:

The Puritans, of course, famously substituted gluttony for for the entertainments and pleasures they denied themselves, hence the old couplet:

If you'd enjoy gay nights and pleasant dinners

Then you must dine with saints and bed with sinners.

I'm not sure you can really compare Political Correctness with setting fire to people of different denominations though. That's stretching a point to far for the sake of your familiar personal agenda ;)

Vladimir Uhri from HubPages, FB on December 07, 2010:

I do appreciate this Hub as well as all you wrote. Thanks

lionswhelp on December 07, 2010:

Great Hub James. We humans just keep on stumbling and bumbling along in the ways that seem right to us,Proverbs 14:12 Jeremiah 17:9-13. Even the English, Scots and Irish seem at lost to bring true peace on earth. They have the manual of peace, th Bible, but just can't seem to get it right yet. The time is will arrive when they will, Revelation 22:10-12.

Coming of Age from Rocky Mountains on December 07, 2010:

Good morning James-

I like the tie-in to the PC crowd, and the intolerance of our own times.

I was surprised at your comment about James II..."mostly just loved ___"

When it comes to the scorn of a woman...I am a bit of a coward myself, so I am not repeating the "blank", and if the furious scorn comes down, I'm planning to just stand back and watch. LOL

Great Article James

Kaie Arwen on December 07, 2010:

James- What a wealth of fantastic information! I had absolutely no idea that King James II had such an overwhelming love of cats ;-) This was FABULOUS......... I enjoyed ~ Kaie