Lesson 1: A Timeline of English Law and World Events up to the Puritan Movement

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A Timeline of English Law and World Events

Further setting the stage for our Constitutional and Early American History study

King Henry I of England

1041 – England – Common Law (Anglo-Saxon Tribal System) – Most complex government in the world.


1066 – Battle of Hastings, William the Conqueror becomes King of England. William hates England, replaces Judges and Priests and rewrites English law with his foreign law.

1100 – “Charter of Liberties” (Coronation Charter). Signed by Henry I, son of William to appease the people for the suspicious circumstances of his brother, King William II’s death during a joint hunting accident.  With their other brother Robert on the first crusades Henry was able to take the throne.  Henry had been educated in Latin, as well as English law and natural history.

1199 – Despite an unsuccessful rebellion to take the throne from his Brother Richard I, while King Richard was on the third crusades, John becomes King and immediately introduces an income tax.

You may recognize the story of Robin hood.  Liberals and Progressives like to hold-up Robin hood as a hero of the people, stealing from the rich and giving it to the poor.  But that’s not what he did.  He took from the King, that money which the King had illegally stolen from the people, according to English law, and gave it back to the people.

1215 – John refused the peoples choice for Arch Bishop. Ignoring the 1100 “Charter of Liberties” that said the church will be free from government intrusion.
In response to King John, 25 barons got together to create the “Magna Carta” and then forced King John, at the point of a sword, to sign it.  Some of the ideas reaffirmed and solidified were:

The Protestant Reformation

A rough summary of the Catholic division

1378 to 1417 – The Western-Schism finds the Catholic church struggling under 3 different Popes.  This weaken national support for the Catholic church throughout Europe.  As a result of the charges of church corruption, wars between princes and uprisings among the peasants became widespread.

1440 – Further weakening the political bond the church previously experienced, was the introduction of Johannes Gutenberg‘s Bible.  This provided the means for the

rapid dissemination of religious materials in the common languages for the first time.

We are going to fast forward a bit to the 16th Century

1517 – By the 16th century, following the efforts of earlier reformers such as those of Jan Hus, Peter Waldo, and John Wycliffe, the Protestant Reformation takes center stage with Martin Luther’s The Ninety-Five Theses.  Martin Luther was a German Professor of theology and a priest.  In his Ninety-Five Theses he expresses his doubts over the Popes indulgences and even went as far as to denounce the Pope as the Antichrist.  The Lutheran movement influenced Germany, Denmark, and Scandinavia.

Influencing France, England, the Netherlands, and Hungary was a French contemporary of Martin Luther by the name of John Calvin. Like Luther, Calvin was also a pastor and theologian.  His followers, known as Calvinists, eventually evolved into the Congregational movements, the Presbyterians, and the Puritan movement in England.

In the late 16th to early 17th century a colonial “space race” was afoot, between the wolds leading powers, to control the resources of the new world.

1564 – France tried, unsuccessfully to stake their own claim with, Fort Caroline. It failed when destroyed by Don Pedro Menéndez de Avilés of Spain.

Historical References

  • Ferdinand Magellan
  • Martin Luther
  • Ivan the Terrible
  • Nicklaus Copernicus
  • Queen Mary of Scott’s
  • Galileo Galilei
  • John Calvin
  • William Shakespeare
  • Leonardo da Vinci
  • Michelangelo

Spanish and French Motivation for Colonizing the New World:  

  • Spanish Colonizing effort of this time were primarily to exploit the wealth, with settlements primarily military in nature.
  • France had similar ambitions, establishing more trade posts than actual settlements, sending traders and merchants.
  • Any religious effort from the French and Spanish was focused on the conversion of the native American’s to Christianity.

The Geopolitical world of the 16th Century

  • Spanish Kingdom dominated much of the new world, including south and central America (except Brazil) and the West Indies (the Caribbean)
  • Portugal stakes it’s claim to Brazil
  • England:
    • Through Italian courtiers, the Renaissance reaches England
    • Competing with Spain, England founds Roanoke.
      England competes with the Dutch and French in the East – The East India Company.
    • England breaks communion with the Catholic Church – Church of England
    • England and Wales joined
    • American Indians kill Spanish missionaries in what would later be Jamestown, Virginia.
  • Other Nations:
    • The Holy Roman Empire
    • The Ottoman Empire
    • The Commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania
    • The Russian Empire
    • Kingdom of Sweden

1607 – Adventures (ie Captain John Smith) and Investors, seeking riches, establishing English dominion in America, and advancing Protestant Christianity, establish James Town.

  • Jamestown managed to barely hang on long enough, and with divine intervention, to create Virginia Colony.
  • The colony initially practiced an early form of socialism with each receiving according to their needs, but only contributing in accordance to class status.
  • Given the limited resources and constant trouble with the natives, this mode of government almost destroyed the colony.
  • It wasn’t until captain John Smith took control as governor of the colony, and a few miracles, that things changed. Smith imposed a strict rule, to eat you worked.
  • This was the start of American industrialism of hard work.

The Puritans and the English Civil War

1620 – Charles I, is king, the Paris Hilton of his time, a massive spender.  The main difference, instead of his inheritance, he spends the peoples money (taxes).  This over spending upsets Parliament.  To solve the conflict, King Charles simply dissolves parliament.  Thinking himself clever, knowing English law prohibited new taxes without representation, and having just disbanded Parliament, he passes a “forced loan” law (Colorado recently went through a similar experience). 7 knights refused to pay and died in prison.  These deaths, and the Kings action resulted in the creation of the “Petition of Rights” A list of charges against Charles I for violating English law.  Preamble to the Petition reads:

“Liberty is the inherent possession of men, and not the gift of government.”

1630 – Among the Puritan movement was a sub-movement that believed that the Church in England could not be cleaned and that separation was the only option.  This groups became known as separatist.  The Pilgrims, due to navigational problems, were delivered to Massachusetts instead of Virginia Colony.  As a result, they found themselves no longer bound by the original contract.

They therefore setup a different form of government than that dictated by the original contract. A government based on free and open elections, called the Mayflower Compact.

In setting up the government, William Bradford and others created a nation highlighted by a “Covenant” with God, specifically in bonding the settlers with God for the advancement and Glory of God and the Christian Faith, in other words, a Covenant Nation.

1641 – The Grand Remonstrance was a list of grievances presented to King Charles I of England by the English Parliament. Example of grievances (see if these violations sound familiar today):

  • Taking private land and creating “national forest”, aka environmental protection;
  • He also took England off gold and silver and onto fiat paper money.

Are you by any chance starting to see a pattern?  The King violates English Law, a list of grievances and a write up reaffirming the laws violates follows, and English law is more firmly written down.  Watch for this pattern when we discuss the Declaration of Independence.

1653 – These Violations, ultimately lead to an English Civil war.  The Parliamentarians was ultimately victorious, with Charles I being executed, and the kingdom replaced by the Commonwealth. The leader of the Parliament

forces, Oliver Cromwell declared himself Lord Protector.

1688 – James II is King.  After he married a foreign princess from Rome (2nd wife), they replaced the judges, instituted oppressive taxes, placed government agents in the church’s, took land and gave it to the queens friends, replaced English law with foreign law, etc…  Several Protestant church ministers petitioned the King and ended up in jail.  Resulting in a revolution bringing about the English Bill of Rights.  Another list of violations to the above English Laws and rights.


Historical References

  • Rene Descartes
  • Robert Hooke discovers cells
  • Sir Isaac Newton
  • John Locke
  • Oliver Cromwell
  • Johannes Kepler

World Leaders

  • England
  • France
  • The Dutch
  • The Expansion of Prussia
  • The Holy Roman Empire
  • The Ottoman Empire
  • The Russian Empire
    • (Peter the great takes the throne)
  • Kingdom of Sweden

The Geopolitical world of the 17th Century

  • Portugal is recognized as an independent country
  • Dutch
    • Dutch East India Company grows
    • New Amsterdam founded by Dutch West India Co.
  • England:
    • Scotland and England joined under King James
    • Ireland joins under William
    • After the loss of Roanoke, Jamestown and Plymouth established.
    • Harvard University founded in Cambridge, MA
    • English Civil War – Temporarily disbanding the Monarchy
      • Cromwellian conquest of Ireland
    • City of Charleston if founded
    • Salem, MA witch trials
  • France
    • New France and Quebec City founded
  • Spain
    • New Mexico and the city of Santa Fe Established
    • End of the 30 years war marks an end to Spain and Holy Roman Empire as major European powers
  • Other Nations:
    • The Commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania in decline

The stage is now set for the First Great Awakening and our next lesson.

Midnight Rider

Served a mission in Ukraine for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In collage, served in the Guard as a Russian Linguist; deployed in ’03 to Iraq. Founded a Tea Party, have been a PCP and vice-chairman of a local republican party. Active in the BSA, Freedom First Society & home-schooling. Husband & father.

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