Question Jamie Education

Which Stuart Monarch had the most Harmonious Relationship with Parliament?

Which Stuart Monarch had the most harmonious relationship with parliament?

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The period of the Stuart dynasty, whose reign over England and Scotland began in 1603 and ended definitively in 1714, was one of enormous political and religious upheaval, characterised by tensions between the monarchy and the parliament which culminated in the English Civil War in the mid-17th century (The Royal Household, 2016). Of the five Stuart monarchs - James I (1603-1625), Charles I (1625-1649), Charles II (1660-1685), James II (1685 to 1689) William and Mary (1689 to 1702) and Anne (1702 to 1714) - it was Charles II who arguably had the most harmonious relationship with Parliament (Stoyle, 2011; Seaward, 2016).

Under first James I and then Charles II tensions between Parliament and the monarchy over control of taxation and the direction of the Church of England grew ever greater (Seaward, 2016). In 1642 the civil war broke out between Charles and the parliamentarians, with Charles eventually killed in 1649 and a republican regime led by Oliver Cromwell was installed. The republic soon disintegrated however, and Parliament invited Charles I's son to resume his father's throne in 1660 (Stoyle, 2011). Following the civil war, Parliament had now established supremacy over the Monarch and Charles II appeared content with this situation, preferring to pursue personal pleasures rather than political or religious principles (Stoyle, 2011). The harmonious nature of Charles II's relationship with Parliament is evident in the fact that he retained the 1661 Parliament for 18 years without calling a general election (Seaward, 2016).

Upon Charles II's death, his succession by his son James, openly a Catholic, meant familiar religious disputes returned to characterise relationships between the final three Stuart monarchs and Parliament (Seaward, 2016).


Seaward, P (2016) 'Stuarts: Parliament and politics from 1603 to 1714', The History of Parliament (website). Available here: (Accessed: 31 October 2016)

Steyn, M (2011) 'Overview: Civil War and Revolution, 16013-1714', BBC (website). Available here: (Accessed: 31 October 2016)

The Royal Household (2016) 'The Stuarts'. (Online) Available here: (Accessed: 31 October 2016)