Constitutional Monarchy and Regime in the British Empire
Religion and politics have continued to be an important theme in the political philosophy of England dating back in the sixteenth century, despite the emergence of consensus over the right to freedom and the need for separation of powers between the state and the church. The imminent relationship between religion and political wellbeing of the individuals foretold the sobriety of social relations depicted by people in England during the sixteenth century. Queen Elizabeth I was the first queen to intermingle her social and political welfare to incorporate and validate the title of ‘Supreme Governor’ in the sixteenth century. Supreme Governor is a tittle unto which all the British monarchs have to state an oath of allegiance to, and it was first granted to Queen Elizabeth I after she successfully passed the act of supremacy which in turn required all officials serving in the church of England to state an oath of allegiance to her. Queen Elizabeth preferred this title as opposed to the ‘supreme head’ because she wanted to be addressed and acknowledged as the supreme Governor of the Church of England in line with all spiritual matters. Interestingly, she preferred this title because as a woman she couldn’t have been properly called the ‘supreme head’. In the pursuit to be called Governor, she ordered all the prelates, bishops and archbishops of the kingdom, and even the ecclesiastics, under the direst penalties to make an abominable and solemn oath unto her. The current Queen of the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth II assumed the title from her predecessor.
The way in which power is distributed among any two or more rival groups or levels of governance predetermines the unity and sense of togetherness portrayed in any given setting. Tensions between parliament and the king in England was deeply rooted throughout the seventeenth century. Moreover, in the 1640s, this dispute escalated into a civil war and Charles I who lost during the war was beheaded in the year 1649. His only two sons, James and Charles II, fled to France and Oliver Cromwell who emerged victorious was handed the mantle to rule England in the 1650s. Cromwell later died in 1659 creating a power vacuum, thus prompting the parliament to invite the sons of Charles from exile, restoring the English monarchy through the coronation of Charles II in the year 1660. However, in 1688 there arose a Glorious Revolution which enabled William of Orange to secure the throne from James II. This revolution brought with it a permanent realignment of power within the English political lineage, with the new co-monarchy of Queen Marry II and King William III who accepted more constraints from the parliament than how the previous monarchs had. The new constitution reaffirmed this and constituted a future expectation that all other future monarchs would as well be constrained by parliament hence ‘parliamentary monarchy’.
Throughout the Imperial history of Britain in the eighteenth century, a constitutional monarchy was deeply rooted except at the last phase when democracy reigned. Constitutional regime insinuated that the rule of law supersedes the rule of man. This rule of law in itself provided a philanthrope basis of founding a just and an organized society capable of handling external threats. Again, the founding constitutional principle promoted social relationships between individuals since it was sane and humane. It disregarded the slave trade and slavery and even provided freedom from arbitrary judicial killings and extrajudicial punishments. This enabled trading activities to flourish thus, promoting economic development. It is in this line that the British managed to build their first Empire. The British became a superpower because the Empire always sought for wealth rather than power. The empire was entirely based on trade and not conquest.
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