Author Topic: Stuart Political Questions  (Read 4498 times)

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Offline Prince_Lieven

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Stuart Political Questions
« on: November 30, 2006, 07:35:14 AM »
Sorry for the rather vague title of this thread, but I didn't know what else to call it. There are one or two points about Stuart politics I'd like explained, if possible.

Firstly, I've often read about Stuart monarchs 'proroguing' parliament. As far as I know, the difference between this and dissolving parliament is that after a dissolution, a general election must be called before parliament meets again. 'Proroguing' parliament means 'closing' a 'session' of parliament, I think. But I'm curious - for how long could parliament be progrogued? I read that Charles II prorogued it five times to prevent discussion of the exclusion bill - can I assume, then, that the King or Queen (up till, say William and Mary's time) could close a session of parliament whenever they wanted? And I know a big issue about dissolving parliament was that a monarch had to have money to do it - when parliament was prorogued, were the monarch's funds cut off too?

Just one other thing - when William and Mary were proclaimed, it was decided 'the sole and full exercise of the regal power be only in and executed by the said Prince of Orange in the names of the said Prince and Princess during their joint lives.' If William had predeceased Mary, what would have happened? Would the 'regal power' have then been vested in her?

Thanks!
"How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?"
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bell_the_cat

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Re: Stuart Political Questions
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2006, 04:12:56 PM »
Ooh that's a hard one!

Basically, the monarch could prorogue parliament when he/she wanted - it meant that there wouldn't have to be new elections. You are right that this depended on whether the monarch had enough funds. To impose new taxes, the monarch required the agreement of parliament, and the Stuarts were more often broke than not!

The answer to the second question is easy. When William died Mary would have been Queen alone.

Hope that's right - feel free to disagree! ;)

Offline Prince_Lieven

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Re: Stuart Political Questions
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2006, 08:27:48 AM »
Thank you, Bell.  :) About proroguing parliament - assuming the monarch had cash, could they close parliament for as long as they wanted? I know that the dissolution of parliament was governed by the Triennial Act (the first one, in Charles I's reign, said parliament had to be called at least every three years, whereas the second, in Charles II's time, said parliament could meet every three years, if the king wanted  ::)) but was there any kind of similar law governing how long parliament could be prorogued for?
"How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?"
-Sherlock Holmes

"Men forget, but never forgive; women forgive, but never forget."

ilyala

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Re: Stuart Political Questions
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2006, 03:06:49 AM »
up to the time of william the 3rd the monarchy was absolute - in theory. the only law that was governing the monarchy was 'no tax without representation'.

in short, it wasn't that the parliament cut the king's money rather that the king had no right to impose a tax on the people unless it was voted by the parliament. that meant, that without parliament the king would have to make sure to have enough money for his expenses - generally they came from the king's lands. for example, king henry 7th was rather unimpressed with the parliament - because he had money of his own. king henry 8th made money by selling the lands of the church. queen elizabeth was herself rather frugal in tastes - however she was in a bit of financial trouble by the end of her reign.

james 6th had the misfortune of being a big spender. his lands were not enough to support his favorites and his balls. he dealt with it for a while - although he was in debt - but when the 30 years' war started, he had to ask for money to support his son-in-law. and that kind of money required the parliament.

charles 1st was also quite a spender. he dealt with the whole situation by reviving old medieval sovereign rights - his vassals had to pay taxes for marrying, giving birth, inheriting bla bla bla. but when the scottish war began - he again had to ask for money.

as for the parliament - yes, basically, the king could prorogue the parliament how he pleased but he could not impose a tax without it being voted by the parliament. that meant some financial troubles were ahead - and one of them happened when charles 1st tried to impose a tax like that (the ship money, i believe). a rich man (who was also cromwell's cousin, i can't remember his name now) refused to pay: it was obviously not a question of money because he could afford it, but the guy argued that the tax was ilegal. there was a trial and charles won with 5 votes to 4 (i believe) - which meant that the jury did what the king said but there was trouble ahead.

bell_the_cat

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Re: Stuart Political Questions
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2006, 03:46:42 PM »
Yes, I agree pretty much with all you say, Ilyala. I find the use of the word "absolute" a bit odd, but then it's really how you are looking at it. The Stuarts regarded themselves as "absolu" in the sense that God had absolved them for having to explain their actions to their subjects. Many of their subjects saw things as more of a contract between people and king (I think the same was true in France).

As long as they had enough sources of money they could rule as they liked. Unfortunately, the Stuarts, unlike their French cousins had three kingdoms to run (with different customs). Keeping them all under control was an expense which sucked all the resources at their disposal. This is basically what happened to Charles I in 1639-41.

The triennial Act was a regarded by Charles II as rather a nuisance. He didn't like to be seen to be taking it too seriously. In fact when he died he was well over the three year limit!

Offline Prince_Lieven

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Re: Stuart Political Questions
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2006, 04:40:37 PM »


The triennial Act was a regarded by Charles II as rather a nuisance. He didn't like to be seen to be taking it too seriously. In fact when he died he was well over the three year limit!

It was a farce of an act - what was the point of saying that parliament had to be called every 3 years, but only if the king wanted it? It boggles the mind!  ;D
"How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?"
-Sherlock Holmes

"Men forget, but never forgive; women forgive, but never forget."

ilyala

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Re: Stuart Political Questions
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2006, 02:13:09 AM »
Yes, I agree pretty much with all you say, Ilyala. I find the use of the word "absolute" a bit odd, but then it's really how you are looking at it.

it was absolute in the sense that it was not constitutional. there was no law limiting the power of the king except for the magna carta and i don't think anyone made a big fuss over the magna carta up to the times of james 1st. actually i believe there was some guy in tudor times who wrote a speech against the magna carta! (i don't remember when i read that one, but it struck me as quite odd)