Showing posts with label british. Show all posts
Showing posts with label british. Show all posts

Battle of Plassey

Robert Clive of the British East India Company was the winner of the Battle of Plassey, 70 miles north of Calcutta in 1757. At the head of 1,000 English and 2,000 Indian (sepoy) soldiers and with eight pieces of artillery, he routed the 50,000 soldiers and 50 French-manned cannons of his opponent Siraj-ud-Daula, the governor, or nawab, of Bengal. This victory established British primacy in Bengal.
Battle of Plassey

With the Mughal (Mogul, Moghul) Empire in India in rapid decline in the 18th century, Great Britain and France became competitors for control of the subcontinent. Their rivalry was played out by employees of their respective East India Companies and when the War of the Austrian Succession (1740–48) and Seven Years’ War (1756–63) pitted Britain and France on opposing sides, India became a theater of war.

France won the first round when its agent in India Joseph Dupleix captured the British outpost Madras in 1746 and then extended French influence in the Indian state of Hyderabad.

However Dupleix was outmatched by a brilliant young Briton named Robert Clive, who decided to expand British power to the Bay of Bengal and the Ganges River delta during the Seven Years’ War. First he took revenge on the unpopular Mughal governor of Bengal, Siraj-ud-Daula, for the death of many Britons in the infamous “Black Hole of Calcutta.”

He recaptured Calcutta in 1756, then moved upriver and captured the French fort at Chandernagore in the following year. In the next phase of the conflict, the French supported Siraj-ud-Daula, whose oppressive rule had alienated his Muslim noblemen, including the powerful Mir Jaffa. On the other hand Britain had the support of Bengali businessmen and bankers.

These rivalries culminated in the Battle of Plassey, June 23, 1757, which pitted Clive’s 1,000 European soldiers and 2,000 Indian sepoys (no cavalry) and eight cannons against Siraj-ud-Daula’s 50,000 combined infantrymen and cavalry and 50 cannons manned by French soldiers. Mir Jaffa’s neutrality and Siraj-ud-Daula’s flight in the midst of battle caused demoralization and the rout of the latter’s army. Clive lost only 22 European soldiers; fewer than 50 were wounded.

Clive’s victory was a turning point in Indian history. French influence was eliminated from Bengal, and at the end of the Seven Years’ War, from all of India. Britain’s client Mir Jaffa was invested the new governor of Bengal by the Mughal emperor in Delhi, who in turn granted landholder’s rights of 882 square miles around Calcutta to the British East India Company.

Clive remained in Bengal for two years to organize the new administration. In 1759, the Mughal emperor granted land tax rights of all Bengal and Bihar provinces to the British East India Company and made Clive the highest-ranking noble of the Mughal Empire.

The British government made Clive baron of Plassey. Events that developed after Clive’s victory at the Battle of Plassey would change the British East India Company from a trading company to a governing power and draw Britain to conquer the whole of India. Thus the Battle of Plassey was a historic turning point, and its principal participant Robert Clive an empire builder.

William Penn - Colonial Leader

William Penn, a Quaker, founded the English colony of Pennsylvania in 1681. He envisioned his colony as a “holy experiment” where people of different faiths could live in harmony.
William Penn - Colonial Leader

Born in England, William Penn grew up in wealth and privilege. His father, Admiral William Penn, afforded him a university education, several large estates, and important connections to England’s elite. In 1667, Penn became a member of the Society of Friends, a religion founded 20 years earlier by George Fox.

The Friends, called Quakers by their detractors, abandoned formal religious services and sought the “Inner Light” by which God revealed himself to each individual. The Quakers suffered persecution in England, but after his conversion, Penn began to use his wealth and influence to advocate the tolerance of all Protestants in England.

In 1676, Penn looked to America to put his ideas of religious liberty into action when he and several other Quakers became trustees of West New Jersey. However, problems with the charter and the large number of trustees thwarted Penn’s hopes to create a religious refuge. Accordingly, Penn petitioned King Charles II for a land grant of his own.

To cancel the debt of £16,000 that he owed to Penn’s father, the king granted Penn 45,000 square miles of land west of the Delaware River, to be named Pennsylvania (Penn’s Woods). According to the 1681 charter, Penn was made sole proprietor, meaning he could organize Pennsylvania as he wanted so long as it did not violate English law.

Penn dispatched the first settlers in October 1681. This party asserted Penn’s authority over the European colonists and Lenni Lenape (Delaware) Indians already living in the region. They also established the colony’s capital of Philadelphia. Penn arrived in late 1682.

From the start, Penn encouraged a variety of Protestants and Europeans to settle in the colony. At his behest, the nascent Pennsylvania legislature in December 1682 issued a law granting full rights of citizenship to all freemen who declared “Jesus Christ to be the son of God” and “saviour of the world.”

Penn also insisted that his colony have no tax-supported religious establishment, not even for Quakers. This and the economic opportunities available in Pennsylvania caused the population to reach 11,000 in 1690.

Despite Penn’s success at religious toleration, his tenure as proprietor was unsteady. He returned to England in 1684, leaving behind incapable governors, and in 1693, a schism led by George Keith divided the colony’s Quakers. The Crown suspended his charter from 1692 to 1695 “by reason of the great neglects and miscarriages” caused by Penn’s absence.

Penn returned in 1699 but found his colonists contentious and uninterested in paying him quitrents on their lands. Frustrated, Penn left two years later but not before issuing the Charter of Privileges, which granted the colonists considerable latitude in crafting their own laws.

The unprofitability of Pennsylvania and Penn’s penchant for extravagance landed him in debtor’s prison in 1707. In 1712, he suffered a debilitating stroke, leaving his wife, Hannah Callowhill, to manage the colony in his stead. After Penn’s death in 1718, the proprietorship passed to his sons.

Battles of Panipat

Battles of Panipat
Battles of Panipat

There were three battles fought at Panipat, located 70 miles northwest of Delhi, the strategically important city in northern India and capital of many dynasties. The first one was in 1526 between Ibrahim Lodi, Afghan ruler of the Kingdom of Delhi, and Babur from Ferghana in Central Asia via Afghanistan.

The second battle was fought between Akbar’s (grandson of Babur) forces and those of the grandson of Sher Shah (who had driven Humayun, son of Babur, from India). The third battle took place in 1761 when the Afghans under Ahmad Shah defeated the Maratha Confederacy.

First Battle of Panipat

A fugitive from his birthplace Ferghana, Babur led an army variously cited as 12,000 or 25,000 men from Afghanistan into India and met Ibrahim, ruler of the Lodi dynasty (originally from Afghanistan) that ruled north-central India.

Ibrahim headed a much larger army reputedly 100,000 strong with either 100 or 1,000 elephants. At Panipat, Babur prepared for battle by lashing together 700 carts with leather thongs to form a barricade and placing his matchlock men behind them.

Just as Ibrahim’s charging troops were stopped at the barricade and mowed down by the gunfire of Babur’s men, they were set upon on both flanks by arrows from Babur’s cavalry. In the ensuing rout, 20,000 of Ibrahim’s men died, he among them. Babur ordered Ibrahim buried where he fell; his tomb still stands at the site.

That afternoon Babur sent his eldest son, Humayun, to the Lodi capital at Agra to secure its treasures while he marched to Delhi, where he proclaimed himself emperor, founding the Mughal (Mogul, Moghul) dynasty in India.

Second Battle of Panipat

Akbar died in 1530 soon after establishing the Mughal Empire in northern India. His son and successor was Humayun, whose heavy drinking and opium eating habits rendered him unfit to rule. Driven out of India by an able general of Afghan origin, Sher Shah, he found refuge in Persia.

It was only after Sher Shah’s death and with his descendants fighting among one another for the succession that Humayun was able to return to India in 1555, with Persian aid, to restore his fortunes. He died a year later.

On November 5, 1556, Akbar, Humayun’s 13-year-old son, and his mentor, Bairan Khan, met the forces of Hemu, a powerful Hindu general, at the second Battle of Panipat. Hemu was injured, captured, and executed. With that victory Akbar entered Delhi. This battle resurrected the fortune of the Mughals in India.

Third Battle of Panipat

Mughal emperor Aurangzeb (r. 1658–1707) was a devout Muslim and persecutor of Hindus. Hindus of the Deccan rallied around a charismatic leader named Shivaji who was proclaimed king of the Marathas in 1674.

His movement continued to gain momentum after his death in 1680, reaching its zenith in the mid-18th century when the Marathas Confederacy controlled lands extending from Hyderabad in the south to Punjab in the north. But the quest for a restored Hindu empire in India came to an end in 1761 when the Marathas were badly defeated by Afghan forces under Shah Durani at the Third Battle of Panipat.

Although the Afghans retreated from India, the Maratha Confederacy never recovered. The British East India Company was the beneficiary and gradually supplanted the by-now-defunct Mughal Empire and the warring Indian factions.

Isaac Newton

Isaac Newton was born in 1642 at Woolsthorpe, near Grantham, Lincolnshire, England, three months after his father, yeoman farmer Isaac, died. Newton’s mother, Hannah Ayscough, married the Reverend Barnabas Smith and left Newton with his grandparents at age three.

He grew up to hate his stepfather and never psychologically recovered from his mother’s abandonment. By the time Smith died in 1653, Newton’s personality had been forged; he became distrustful, hesitant in dealing with others, and emotionally unstable; these would be lifelong traits.

Newton attended day school in the nearby village and the Kings’s Grammar School at Grantham. He worked on his mother’s farm at age 14 but returned to school in 1660 to prepare for entrance to Trinity College at Cambridge University in 1661.

His mother refused to pay his tuition so Newton served as a subsizar, who performed a variety of jobs for fellow students. Newton did not distinguish himself at Cambridge, but he privately studied and mastered the esteemed works of René Descartes and Euclid.

Newton attended day school in the nearby village and the Kings’s Grammar School at Grantham. He worked on his mother’s farm at age 14 but returned to school in 1660 to prepare for entrance to Trinity College at Cambridge University in 1661. His mother refused to pay his tuition so Newton served as a subsizar, who performed a variety of jobs for fellow students.

Newton did not distinguish himself at Cambridge, but he privately studied and mastered the esteemed works of René Descartes and Euclid. Dr. Isaac Barrow, Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, became his mentor and brought out Newton’s genius.

Avoiding the Plague

Newton returned to his mother’s farm to avoid the plague rampant in Cambridge from 1665 to 1666. Without access to his books, Newton discovered differential calculus, which he called “direct and inverse method of fluxions,” and expansions into infinite series.

He used common arithmetical elements to make them universals. Newton also queried the nature of gravity but realized his experiments required more work and left the persoalan until 1685.

Upon his return to Cambridge in 1667, Newton was shown the work of Nikolaus Mercator (1620–87), who had recently published Logarithmotechnia. This contained some of the methods Newton had used while experimenting on the farm. Newton showed Barrow his own ideas, and this work was published as De analysi per aequationes numero terminorum inifitas in 1711.

After painstaking experiments in 1668, Newton discovered the spectrum, which he deduced was white light made up of colored lights when exposed to a transparent medium. This idea led Newton to perfect a reflecting telescope in 1668; it was six inches long and could magnify 30 times. Prior to Newton’s telescope, only refracting telescopes were used.

Barrow resigned from Cambridge, and Newton obtained the Lucasian Chair in 1669 at age 27 after he earned a master’s degree. He presented lectures on optics that were not published until 1728. By this time, Newton’s work was noticed by such scientific luminaries as Robert Hooke, Christiaan Huygens, James Gregory, and Sir Christoper Wren among others.

Newton became a fellow of the Royal Society in 1671. Controversy erupted over claims by Hooke, who was a powerhouse at the Royal Society, that he was first to invent the “pocket tube” (telescope) in 1664. Gregory the Scot claimed he had discovered calculus. Newton removed himself from the controversy and only published his work Opticks in 1704 after Hooke died.

Newton suffered a mental breakdown in 1675; it took him four years to recover. He then found mathematical proof of planetary ellipses around the Sun. Hooke had also realized these laws but failed to prove them. Edmund Halley (1656–1742), the astronomer and mathematician, met with Newton in 1684.

Halley urged him to publish his findings and financed the book entitled Philosphiae naturalis principia mathematica, better known as Principia, which included his three laws of motion. The third book of Principia appeared in 1687 and turned the natural sciences upside down.

Newton’s theories were taught at Edinburgh by his disciple David Gregory and Cartesian theory was dropped at Cambridge and Oxford; the French would not accede to Newton’s theories until 50 years later. Newton grew tired of life at Cambridge, so he embarked on a career of public service in 1687.

He became a member of Parliament for Cambridge University in 1689. He had another nervous breakdown in 1696. Upon recovering, Newton accepted the job of warden of the Mint in London. He was promoted to master in 1699 and revised Britain’s coinage.

Newton was reelected to Parliament in 1701 but soon lost interest in the position. He became president of the Royal Society in 1703, a position to which he was reelected for 25 years. He was a tyrannical and autocratic president who had favorites and made life torturous for those who dared to disagree with him. Queen Anne knighted him in 1705.


Newton was engaged in two major scientific controversies. The first was from 1705 to 1712 with Astronomer Royal John Flamsteed (1646–1719), whose notes Newton conspired to publish against Flamsteed’s wishes. The second was from 1704 to 1724 with Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (1646–1726), a German mathematician.

Leibniz claimed he had discovered calculus before Newton. It has been proved that Newton discoverd calculus first but did not publish it, while Leibniz did. Leibniz and Johann Bernoulli (1667–1748), who mastered calculus, sent Newton problems they believed no one could solve in months, yet he solved them within hours.

As Newton aged, he spent time rewriting his notes. He had written over 1 million words on fourth- and fifth-century c.e. church history and on the Bible that were never published. His focus was to date biblical events using his mathematical calculations. Newton died in London on March 31, 1727, after suffering through numerous infirmities and various illnesses. He received a magnificent funeral and is buried in Westminster Abbey, London.

New Netherland

New Netherland
New Netherland

This Dutch colonial outpost existed along the Hudson River from 1609 to 1664. A relatively small and ineffectual colony, it was known for its trade and diversity. It was eventually captured by the English and became the colony of New York.

Following its independence from Spain in the 1570s, the Netherlands began constructing a worldwide empire due in large part to its powerful navy and savvy traders. In one of the country’s first colonial ventures, Dutch merchants in 1609 financed Henry Hudson to explore North America and Hudson discovered the river that bears his name.

In 1614, the Dutch established their first permanent settlement at Fort Nassau, later relocated and renamed Fort Orange (present-day Albany). This northerly settlement never grew very large and existed primarily to trade with Iroquois Indians for furs.

In 1625, the Dutch West India Company established New Amsterdam on Manhattan Island to control access to the Hudson River. This southerly settlement soon attracted a variety of settlers to farm.

New Netherland was beset by a series of problems for most of its history. Relations with Native Americans were generally poor. Fort Orange was largely dependent on the Iroquois for its survival, while colonists in the south drove Algonquians from their lands and fought four wars in 20 years with them.

Of more pressing concern, however, were the colony’s mismanagement and ineffective leadership. The colony never produced a profit for its investors, while its most effective governor was the autocratic Peter Stuyvesant (1647–64), who barred the colonists from participating in their own governance.

Because of these problems, New Netherland had trouble attracting colonists. The Dutch West India Company did offer patroonships, large land grants with manorial rights, to anyone who took 50 settlers to the colony. However, Kiliaen Van Rensselaer was the only person to take up the company’s offer seriously.

Lacking Dutch settlers, New Netherland opened its borders to dissenters from New England including Anne Hutchinson as well as emigrants from Belgium, France, Scandinavia, and Germany and African slaves. As one visitor noted of New Amsterdam: “There were men of eighteen different languages.” Very quickly the Dutch became a minority in their own colony.

Ethnic diversity invited religious differences and although Stuyvesant attempted to privilege the Dutch Reformed Church, the company insisted upon a policy of religious toleration. Puritans, Quakers, and Lutherans were common in New Netherland, and Jews received greater religious freedom than anywhere else in America.

Ultimately, New Netherland suffered the most from foreign competition. A Swedish colony on the Delaware River proved a distraction to the Dutch and, in 1655, Stuyvesant engineered a military takeover of New Sweden. However, Dutch hegemony proved short-lived as in 1664 an English fleet under the command of Richard Nicolls arrived off New Amsterdam.

Although Stuyvesant attempted to mount a defense of his colony, “a general discontent and unwillingness to assist in defending the place became manifest among the people.” On August 27, Stuyvesant surrendered New Netherland to Nicolls, who granted the colonists generous terms, including the preservation of their property rights, inheritance laws, and religious liberty.

Sir Thomas More

Sir Thomas More
Sir Thomas More
Sir Thomas More was a lawyer and judge in Renaissance England who rose to the highest appointed office of chancellor under Henry VIII, king of England. More was born in London on February 7, 1478, son of Sir John More, a prominent judge.

More studied at Oxford under Thomas Linacre and William Grocyn. He returned to London around 1494 to complete his studies in law and in 1496 was admitted to the law court of Lincoln’s Inn, located in central London. He became a lawyer in 1501.

At one point in his early legal career, More seriously considered becoming a monk. While he worked at Lincoln’s Inn, he lived at a nearby monastery run by the Carthusians, taking part in their monastic life of prayer, fasting, and religious studies. Although More quit the monastery, he continued to live out many of its religious practices throughout his life.

More decided to enter a lifetime political career when he joined Parliament in 1504. Shortly after, he married Jane Colt. She bore him four children. She died at a young age in childbirth and More quickly remarried a widow named Alice Middleton to care for his children.

When More urged Parliament to decrease its appropriation of funds to King Henry VII, Henry retaliated by imprisoning More’s father until a fine was paid and More had withdrawn from political service. After the king’s death, More became active again. He was appointed undersheriff of London in 1510.

He was noted for his impartiality and speed in seeing that cases were heard in a timely fashion. More attracted the attention of King Henry VIII, who appointed him to a number of high posts and missions on behalf of the government.

He was made Speaker of the House of Commons in 1523. As Speaker he helped establish the parliamentary privilege of free speech. Henry made him chancellor in 1529. He resigned in 1532, at the height of his career and reputation.

Throughout his life, More was recognized as a reformer and scholar. He wrote and published many works in Latin and English and was friends with a number of scholars and bishops.

In 1499, the scholar Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam first visited England and formed a lifelong friendship and correspondence with More. On subsequent visits, Erasmus lived in More’s household at Chelsea. They produced a Latin translation of Lucian’s works, which was printed at Paris in 1506.

In 1509, Erasmus wrote the Encomium moriae, or Praise of Folly (1509), dedicating it to More. During one of his diplomatic missions to Flanders in 1515, More wrote his Latin classic, Utopia, a witty political satire on the role of government and society. It became an instant bestseller throughout Europe.

In the Reformation controversy of his time, More opposed Lutheranism and was a staunch supporter of the papacy and defender of the Roman Catholic Church. He enforced government suppression of the reformed movement in England until Parliament changed the laws at Henry VIII’s instigation.

More resigned his office and withdrew from public service when Henry, with Parliament’s approval, made himself supreme head of the Church of England and enforced the Oath of Supremacy and Act of Succession.

In 1534, More was imprisoned in the Tower of London on grounds of refusing to take the oath. More defended himself as a loyal subject, but he also declared that he was bound to follow his conscience on matters of principle.

Fifteen months later, he was tried and convicted of treason. Henry allowed him a few public words on the scaffold when he was beheaded on July 6, 1535. He declared himself “the King’s good servant, but God’s first.”

Robert Whittinton, a contemporary of More, wrote of him in 1520, “More is a man of an angel’s wit and singular learning. I know not his fellow. For where is the man of that gentleness, lowliness and affability? And, as time requireth, a man of marvelous mirth and pastimes, and sometime of as sad gravity. A man for all seasons.”

Mary Tudor (Mary of France)

Mary Tudor was born in 1496, nine years after her father, Henry VII, had become king of England by defeating Richard III at Bosworth in 1485. Mary Tudor is often confused with Mary I, who was queen of England from 1553 to 1558, and with Mary, Queen of Scots. However, Mary Tudor, the daughter of Henry VII, would be queen in her own right.

Mary was born in the age of great dynastic marriages when a king contracted for marriage of his daughter to benefit his kingdom. Mary was at first intended to wed Charles of Anjou, who would later become Charles V, the most powerful European monarch of his time.

The contract, originally made by Henry VII, was renewed on the October 17, 1513, by Henry VIII at a meeting with Margaret of Savoy at Lille, with the wedding being set for the following year.

But the Emperor Maximilian I, to whom Louis XII had proposed his daughter Renée as wife for Charles, with Brittany as a dowry, postponed the match with the English princess in a way that left no doubt of his intention to withdraw from the contract altogether.

Henry VIII succeeded to the throne when Henry VII died in April 1509. When it came time to renew the marriage agreement with Charles of Anjou, it was King Henry VIII who did so. With the customary determination of his younger years, Henry decided to invade France in June 1513 as a forceful demonstration of English might.

Henry joined the Holy League against France and went to war. While he was involved in France, his brother-in-law James IV of Scotland, who was married to his sister, Margaret Tudor, invaded the north of England. However, Henry had left the capable Thomas Howard to face any threat from Scotland. James IV was defeated and killed at Flodden on September 9, 1513.

The victories at the Spurs and Flodden made both France and the Holy Roman Emperor reconsider the marriage plans of Mary Tudor. Obviously, Henry had proved it was not wise to have him as an enemy. A diplomatic settlement was reached.

Cardinal Thomas Wolsey contracted for Mary to wed King Louis XII. His queen, Anne of Brittany, had died in 1514, making him a desirable spouse for Mary. The two were wed on January 1, 1515, but Louis XII died three months later.

Mary had developed an intense love for Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk. His marriage to Margaret Neville Mortimer had been annulled, and his second wife, Anne Browne, died in 1512. At the time of the Battle of the Spurs, he was engaged to an orphan girl.

Henry VIII knew about the love between Charles and Mary. Moreover, Francis I learned of it when Mary told him of her true feelings when he attempted to marry her off to one of his relatives. As Louis XII’s widow, Mary had become a valuable diplomatic asset to Henry again, and she feared that he might try to marry her to another royal suitor.

Mary was determined she and Charles would not be parted. In February 1515, they were married in Cluny Chapel in France. In May 1515, as a mark of royal favor, the couple was wed a second time in England; Henry VIII and his queen, Catherine of Aragon, were the guests of honor. For the time, peace between France and England was maintained. Mary Tudor died on June 26, 1533.

Mary I (Bloody Mary)

Mary I, queen of England, was born on February 18, 1516, in Greenwich Palace in London, England. Her father, Henry VIII, of the House of Tudor, had also been born at Greenwich on June 28, 1491. Mary was the fifth child of Henry and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon.

Although there was jubilation at Greenwich at Mary’s birth, Henry VIII was disappointed in that Catherine of Aragon had failed to deliver a son. Mary would be the only one of Catherine and Henry VIII’s children who would live to adulthood. In an age when monarchs were preferably men, young Mary’s purpose diplomatically was to secure a strategic nuptial alliance for her father.

In Henry VIII’s eyes, the only way to secure the throne in the Tudor family—and to make it a true dynasty—was to have a male son who would succeed him as king. Consequently, Henry began his quest to divorce Catherine of Aragon to marry again in the hopes of producing a male Tudor heir.

However, to assure the succession of the Tudors to the throne, Mary was recognized by her father as princess of Wales, which meant that, should her father die without male issue, she would succeed him as Queen Mary I.

In the end, Henry had his marriage to Catherine of Aragon dissolved, and he wed his mistress Anne Boleyn, who was crowned queen of England in 1533. Pregnant at the time of her marriage to Henry, she gave birth to the princess Elizabeth, the future Elizabeth I, in September 1533. Still the king determined to have his way in all things, Henry was frustrated in his pursuit of a male Tudor heir.

In 1534, Henry had Parliament pass the Act of Supremacy, which made him the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England, known as the Church of England. As far as Princess Mary was concerned, she was placed in almost double jeopardy, because she still held out for her mother and for the Catholic Church.

Boleyn was her bitter enemy, especially after the birth of Elizabeth as Mary’s rival for the throne, and it was feared that Boleyn would demand Mary’s execution. Finally, under the entreaty of the king’s chief minister, Thomas Cromwell, Mary assented to the Act of Supremacy.

When Anne Boleyn was executed for adultery in May 1536, much of the danger passed for Mary. Henry’s next wife, Jane Seymour, finally provided a male heir, Edward VI, in October 1537. Seymour began a reconciliation with Mary, who still had a spot in her father’s heart as his “chiefest jewel.”

Tragically, Jane would die soon after childbirth and Edward would only rule from 1547 to 1553, at which time Mary became queen. When Mary ascended the throne in July 1553, she trod lightly at first on the issue of religion, not wishing to shake England by revoking the Act of Settlement and the new order that had come with it.

However, Mary did have Henry’s divorce from her mother declared invalid, legally making Elizabeth a bastard. The half sisters carried on harsh competition for a rightful claim to the throne. Elizabeth was implicated in two plots against Mary, one led by Sir Thomas Wyatt in 1554 that caused Elizabeth to be sent temporarily to the Tower of London.

Eventually Mary’s affection for the Catholic Church brought personal disaster. In November 1554, Reginald Cardinal Poole brought from the Vatican the terms by which Rome would accept England back into the church—all those who had carried out the Act of Settlement must be judged as heretics and condemned to execution. Almost 300 would be executed, including Thomas Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury, who had also approved of the divorce of Henry VIII from Catherine.

Mary sacrificed the affection of her people, not a few of whom had supported her during her years of exile. She compounded her error by marrying Philip II of Spain in July 1554. Mary’s legacy in England included the loss of Calais to France’s king Henry II in January 1558. It was the last possession England had left in France from the Hundred Years’ War.

Indeed, there is much reason to think that Philip only wed Mary to draw England into the enduring feud between Spain and France, hoping to tip the balance in favor of Spain. Plagued by ill health and foreign adventures, Mary I died in November 1558. Before her death, she had provided that Elizabeth would succeed her on the throne as the rightful queen.

John Locke

John Locke
John Locke
Of all of the thinkers of modern times, few have had the wide impact of John Locke. Locke was born in Wrington, in Somerset, England, on August 29, 1632, during the political ferment that preceded the English Civil War (1642–49). At the time, Charles I was ruling without Parliament and exercising his firm belief in the doctrine of the divine right of kings.

This basically held that the king, anointed with holy oil at his coronation, was the representative of God on Earth and thus could commit no wrong in his rule. The idea of limiting the power of the monarch would dominate England through the rest of the 17th century and form the seminal basis of much of Locke’s great work.

Locke’s first significant educational experience was gained in the Westminster School, in 1646, while the English Civil War was at its height. Among noteworthy graduates of Westminster School were Jeremy Bentham (father of the utilitarian school of philosophy), Robert Cotton (founder of the Cottonian Library), England’s great poet John Dryden, and the historian Edward Gibbon, author of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. At Westminster, Locke was one of the gifted King’s Scholars.

Locke was a ingusan student at Christ Church College, at Oxford University, in 1652, where he studied medicine, although he did not receive his bachelor’s in medicine until 1674. At Oxford, Locke became acquainted with the leading minds of his day, including Robert Boyle and Sir Isaac Netwon.

They left an indelible imprint upon Locke, who had found the medieval approach of studies of the ancient Greek philosophy Aristotle to be sterile and devoid of meaning for his times.

Initially, there was little to indicate that Locke would make his greatest contribution to the emerging study of the philosophy of politics. In 1666, while at Oxford, Locke met Anthony Ashley Cooper, the later earl of Shaftesbury, certainly one of the boldest—and most unscrupulous—figures in the great age of English political intrigue.

As Shaftesbury’s ambition launched him on what became a drive for power, Locke loyally followed his patron. Shaftesbury’s eventual fall from grace led Locke to return to complete his studies at Oxford for his bachelor’s degree in medicine. This was followed by a 15-month tour of France, which may have been occasioned in part by his close identification with the fallen earl.

In Holland, Locke actively joined English exiles seeking to bring down King Charles and his brother. Charles’s agents infiltrated the group. When Charles II died in 1685, James II began a reign that would lead to the Glorious Revolution and the rule of William and Mary.

It is likely that Locke, with his wide contacts, played a role in the intrigue that came to a climax upon William’s and Mary’s landing in England. The extent of Locke’s role in the machinations seems clear from the fact that he sailed on board the same ship with William and Mary as a close counselor.

Back in England, Locke penned two works that would shape the future of philosophy and government. In An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690), he posited that human beings gain almost all knowledge through experience. Consequently, Locke became one of the founders of the empirical school of knowledge.

In helping to propagate the empirical view, he helped shape modern philosophy, removing forever the primacy of the teachings of Aristotle (against which he had rebelled years ago as a student at Oxford) and the medieval view of Thomas Aquinas.

Locke also looked at the political turmoil of his kala and attempted to apply his perspective of reason to government. He produced a clearly written document free from the use of biblical Scripture and frequent appeals to ancient guides like Aristotle. Locke’s views are related in Two Treatises on Government.

In the First Treatise, he attacks the divine right of kings, which formed the basis of the governments of Charles I, and to a lesser extent that of his son, James II. The Second Treatise on Government would have important relevance to the American Revolution because America’s founders based much of their opposition to the tyranny of George III on the writings of Locke.

Locke’s theory of government holds that man, once in a state of nature, where arbitrary force ruled, agreed to government as a way to seek protection for all from the willful use of force to dominate them, to replace the law of the jungle with the rule of law.

With his Two Treatises on Government, Locke had used the political turmoil of his time to write a document that would transcend his time. No more would people accept willful, dictatorial governing.

Instead, all administrations would govern under the revolutionary concept that their government was done by the consent of those they governed. Locke died on October 28, 1704, at Oates in the home of his friends, Sir Francis and Lady Masham.