Welcome to the second of my Period Style guides. This one focuses on the period immediately following the Tudor era; Jacobean and Caroline. I have split the seventeenth century roughly in half, with events and architecture up to the outbreak of the English Civil War covered in part 1, and will cover the Restoration up to Queen Anne in part 2.
Before I move on to architecture and interiors of the period, I'd like to give you a brief history of England at that time.
|James I of England and Ireland; James VI of Scotland|
The seventeenth century was to prove an eventful period for England (and to a large extent Scotland too). It was a century that saw two countries sharing a monarchy; high treason; civil war; a Republic England; a restored monarchy, and a great fire that destroyed much of London, among much else.
Architecture was to change too, as we shall see. The Renaissance finally came to England in this period. There were advances in art, science, music, medical research. The seventeenth century can perhaps be described as bridging the gap between the older medieval country that England was, and the country of Enlightenment and invention it was to become in the following centuries.
Houses would become more comfortable, better heated, with more light, finer furnishings and decoration (at least for the wealthy). And thanks to the Great Fire of London in 1666, the capital would be transformed (but not as much as it might have been; more on that later!!)
|James I; Note the building through the window!!|
The Jacobean period began in 1603, when Queen Elizabeth I died and her Scots cousin took over the throne. James VI of Scotland was the great-grandson of Henry VIII’s sister Margaret. The two countries were not yet united and James served as king of both countries. In England (and Ireland) he was James I.
The term Jacobean derives from the Latin Jacobaeus for James. Technically, the period after James I’s death in 1625, when he was succeeded by his second son Charles (his first son having died of typhoid fever in 1612), is the Caroline period, again derived from the Latin for Charles.
|Anne of Denmark|
|The men behind the Gun Powder Plot|
James I had not been on the English throne for many years before there was a plot to assassinate him. Roman Catholics had long had their religion repressed in England, and hopes that this would ease under James I were short lived. A plot was developed to kill the king by blowing up the Houses of Parliament on the state opening of Parliament on 5th November 1605, by a group of Catholic gentlemen.
|The original letter Informing Lord Monteagle of the Gun Powder Plot|
|The gruesome end of Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators|
Another long lasting legacy of James I’s reign was the Authorised Version of the Bible, completed in 1611. Also known as the King James Bible; it was to become the standard version of scripture for English speaking scholars.
|The King James Bible|
King James tried, unsuccessfully, to marry his son Charles to the daughter of Philip III of Spain, the Infanta Maria Anna of Spain. This arrangement went against the wishes of the English Parliament, and Maria Anna wasn’t too impressed by the prospect either. This situation was to leave a bitter taste in the mouth between the Monarchy and Parliament in England. Charles was later married to Henrietta Maria of France in 1625.
|Henrietta Maria of France|
1625 was also the year that James I died and Charles became King. Charles I’s reign was beset with quarrels with his Parliament. The Monarchy and Parliament had different opinions on foreign policy, and the King’s apparent sympathies with Catholicism were widely condemned in England. Charles built up large debts, and levied heavy taxes without the consent of Parliament. Charles was brought up to believe that his Royal Prerogative had been ordained by God, and could not be questioned. Many English subjects saw Charles as a tyrant and were unhappy with his taxes and religious interference with the Churches of England and Scotland. The struggle for power between Monarch and Parliament was to come to a head in 1642 when Charles attempted to overrule Parliamentary Authority.
|The Royal Family, with Prince Charles (later Charles II) by his father's knee.|
The battles that followed became known as the English Civil War, where Charles and subjects loyal to the King fought with the forces of the English and Scottish Parliaments. The first battle was at Edgehill in 1642 was inconclusive, with both the Royalists (sometimes known as the Cavaliers) and the Parliamentarians (sometimes known as the Roundheads, after the helmets that they wore) claiming a victory. There were subsequent battles in 1643 and 1644 until the balance tipped in favour of Parliament at Naseby in 1645.
However, this was not the end of the Civil War. Charles was held under siege at Oxford, until he escaped in 1646 and gave himself up to Scottish troops. The Scots delivered Charles back to the English Parliament. Charles was held prisoner in various parts of the country before ending up confined in Carisbrooke castle on the Isle of Wight, where Charles was able to draw up a bargain with Scotland.
By promising church reforms to the Scots, Charles was able to drum up support from them to invade England and restore him to the throne there. This led to the Second Civil War in 1648, culminating in a victory for Parliamentarian troops led by Oliver Cromwell, at the Battle of Preston.
|Oliver Cromwell: I think he looks like a character from the board game Cluedo in this picture!|
In 1649 an Act of Parliament was passed which allowed the trial of Charles. After the first Civil War, Parliament accepted the notion that the king, had perhaps been able to justify his fight, and that he would still be entitled to limited powers as King under a new constitutional settlement. However, it was now felt that by provoking the second Civil War, even while defeated and held in captivity, Charles was responsible for unjustifiable bloodshed. His secret treaty with the Scots was considered particularly unpardonable and any further negotiations with the King were no longer supported.
The indictment held against the King was that “[he was] guilty of all the treasons, murders, rapines, burnings, spoils, desolations, damages and mischiefs to this nation, acted and committed in the said wars, or occasioned thereby.”
Charles was declared guilty and sentenced to death for High Treason in 1649. He was beheaded on 30th January 1649 and England became a Republic, known as the Commonwealth of England. The rest of the Royal Family were forced to live in exile in Europe.
|The execution of Charles I. Again, note the building behind the action.|
|Oliver Cromwell (so I'm told) at the coffin of Charles I|