The Caroline Period / The Age of Milton & The Interregnum

The Caroline Period / The Age of Milton & The Interregnum

Hello everyone. Welcome to today’s session of the course,
The History of English Language and Literature. Today’s lecture is titled “The Caroline
Period or The Age of Milton and The Interregnum”. So we begin to see the last leg of English
Renaissance in this lecture and we also note that more than the literary and non-literary
events, it is the political and religious events that dominate this period. And we also see the end of English Renaissance. So in that sense it becomes very important
to take a look at the socio-economic and political background as well. As we have been doing in the previous lectures,
we will be giving a detailed background of the political turn of events which led to
certain kinds of implications and certain kinds of eventualities in terms of art and literature. So here we go, beginning to see what the Caroline
period or the Interregnum means. This was the period of King Charles the First
who ruled from 1625 to 1649 after his father James the First. And this Age particularly has many kinds of
definitions and it can be described in multiple ways – in social terms, in literary terms
and also in political and economic terms. This was the age of Puritanism and this was
also the Age of Milton in terms of literature. And this Age was dominated by the political
tensions between the King Charles the First and the Puritans who also comprised of the
Parliament. This was also the period of the English Civil
War which lasted from 1642 to 51. And around this period we also see the end
of Renaissance theater and also this marked the deathk nell of Elizabethan and Jacobean
theater. Theaters were closed in 1642 with the beginning
of the Civil War. We also see the Cromwellian Revolution that
follows and Trevelyan rightly describes this period as “the England of Charles and Cromwell”. And we also see The Interregnum, the period
that follows was known as the Interregnum from 1649 to 1659. So this was a quite a turbulent period and
we also begin to see that many of these political and socio-religious events of this time, it
had a lasting implication not just under literary phases of England but also in the way the
state itself began to be conceived and constructed in the following decades and centuries. But in spite of all these events and in spite
of the turbulence and difficulty of these times we also see that England continues its
colonial expansion and it continues in a rather uninterrupted mode and this is quite significant
to note because we do not find the growth of colonialism getting hampered either by
the internal or external factors. With this let’s move on and look at some of
the prominent figures and some of the prominent groups that feature during this period. For this it is first important to take a look at who
Charles the First was. He lived from 1600 to 1649 and he has gone
down in history as the only English king who was beheaded. And what led to his downfall was his own belief
in the divine right of kingship and also his stubborn insistence on absolutist monarchy. And in that sense the downfall was his own
making. And all of these beliefs – in the inherent
rights, divine rights granted to the kings – he had got it from his father who also was
a staunch believer of absolutist monarchy. He was the second son of James the First;
however he was not the first choice for the heir apparent. He becomes heir apparent only after the death
of his elder brother Henry Frederick in 1612. He caught a mysterious fever and he succumbs
to death. Snd so at the age of 12, Charles the First
becomes the heir apparent of England, Ireland and Scotland put together. Until that time it is said that he was considered
as a very weak prince and James the First was not even sure
whether he would make it to adulthood. So since he could not, since the family thought
that he may not be able to survive the travel from Scotland to England, for a very long
time until he was 12, until he becomes the heir apparent, he was raised in Scotland. And it is also said that when he moved to
London, he was a very shy kid and he also did not know how to, he did not know the ways
of the world and he was also considered as a quite weak and it is said he worked quite
a lot in order to improve himself in terms of his personality as well as his physique. And also George Villiers who was the Earl
of Buckingham and initially James I’s close friend and later who becomes Charles’ closest
advisor, he played a huge role in preparing Charles the First to assume the, to assume
kingship at a later point. And this is this interesting information about George Villiers, Earl of
Buckingham. He was considered as a very close friend of
James the First and there was also a lot of rumors about a homosexual relationship between
James the First and George Villiers. It was James the First who made George Villiers
the Earl of Buckingham and there was this gossip in London during those times about
their relationship and people used to whisper that Queen Elizabeth was a king and now King
James is a queen. So in spite of that, George Villiers powers
grew enormously and we do find him continuing as Charles’ closest advisor when he was crowned
King on 27th March 1625. And once he becomes king, we do not find him
lingering back in anything. He is no longer the shy kid who arrived in
London at the age of 12, and by May 1625, there is this marriage alliance that happens
with Henrietta Maria of France. She was also Roman Catholic. So this was perhaps the beginning of on-going
struggle between Charles the First and the English people because England was predominantly
a Protestant state by then. And they were increasingly enraged by Charles
First’s alliance with Henrietta Maria of France who was of the Roman Catholic faith. So Protestant England was unhappy right from
the beginning of Charles the First’s rule. And this was just it. There is a long struggle that ensues, the
detail of which we will be taking a look at shortly. And now we need to look at who the Puritans
were. The Puritans were the ones who began to be
forged as a community from the Reformation period onwards. And they were the ones who were dissatisfied
with the religious settlement accomplished in England. And they also maintained that though the Church
of England had managed to break away from the Church of Rome they maintained that the
Church of England did not differ sufficiently enough from the Church of Rome – and in that
sense they were the true descendents of Wycliffe. They claimed themselves to be the true descendents
of Wycliffe and the Lollards. Lollards were the staunch believers in whatever
Wycliffe proclaimed and initially this term was used quite derogatively and later on it
became descriptive term itself. And they were also influenced by John Calvin
of Geneva. So in that sense they were a group of reformed
English Protestants who sought to purify the Church of England from its Catholic practices. And they also maintained that the Church of
England was only partially reformed – that it was retaining some of the Catholic practices
which were hindering the true practice of Protestant faith. And they also had showed a lot of hostility
to the Episcopal form of ecclesiastical government which was in place in England with the Protestant
Reformation. And they also thought that this was the remnant
of Popery which was part of Roman Catholic Church. So in that sense they were increasingly intolerant
of earthly tyranny in any form and they also had very strict views concerning life and
conduct. So it also made them highly unpopular during
those times. And regarding the term the Puritans, initially
the term was used in derision. And it is said that the term came to be used
around perhaps mid 1560s about the year of Shakespeare’s birth or shortly after. But however this term was soon after accepted
as a mere descriptive term without any derogatory reference. Though initially the group began with a lot
of intentions eventually we find they become, their tenets become not that acceptable. Hudson has got a few interesting descriptions
and observations about them. Hudson, the historian claims that “the spirit
when it was introduced was fine and noble but it was hard and stern”. Allow me to read a passage from Hudson. “We admire the Puritans integrity and uprightness
but we deplore his fanaticism, his moroseness and the narrowness of his outlook and sympathies. He was an intense and God-fearing but illiberal
and unreasonable man. His was a one-sided and unwholesome view of
the world, for in his pre-occupation with moral and spiritual things he generally neglected,
and often expressly denounced the science and the art, the knowledge and the beauty,
which give value to the secular life. Puritanism destroyed humane culture, and sought
to confine literature within the circumscribed field of its own particular interests”. So this gives us a short summary of what Puritans
did to the socio-political and religious affairs of the times and also it shows how it adversely
affected the progress of art and literature during those times. Before we go on to take a look at the long
struggle between the King and the Parliament we also
need to take a look at the two factions that had formed in England during the reign of
Charles the First. So there were two predominant groups, the Royalists and
another group which supported the Parliament and the Puritans. The Royalists were the strongest where least
socio-economic changes had taken place in the last one century, in the last 100 years. So they also had this nickname Cavaliers because
they primarily, they always mounted horses and also they were seen as foreigners and
bullies. And the other supporters included the Church
which also thought the King would help restore a particular kind of a staunch belief system
and they were also, the Royalists and the king were best loved in rural regions and
the areas which were least connected by commerce. So in that sense the northern part and western
part of England supported the Royalists and the King. And another section which was dominated by
the Parliamentarians and the Puritans, they dominated in the areas which had great connection
with economic changes and commercial trade and other kinds of things happening. They were known as the, nicknamed as the Roundheads
because most of them had shaved head and they were seen as low-bred and also uncouth and
not so sophisticated like the Royalists. And these were the group of people who also
enlisted the support of the London trading companies, the manufacturing towns and districts
and they also they dominated in the richer areas of England – mostly in the Southern
and the Eastern part. So we also begin to see that though the Royalists
were considered as more powerful in terms of their nobility in terms of the kind of powers they enjoyed
because the Church and the Royalists were together, the parliamentary and the Puritan
sympathizers, they were the ones who controlled economy of the nation. They were the ones who ran the trading companies. They were the ones who managed the finance
– and the colonial expansive activities could not have been possible without the support
of the Parliamentary and Puritan sympathizers. So in that sense we begin to see a very strong
division or tussle over here. And also we begin to note that the Royalists
cannot function of they do not get enough money through the Parliament supporters and
through the traders and the people who were running the commerce. So with this we begin to take a look at the
long struggle between Charles the First and the Parliament. In 1625, Charles the First is crowned as the
King of England, Scotland and Ireland. And in 1625 itself in the same year, begins
to, his colonial ambitions begun to run very high and he thinks of waging a war with Spain. If you remember James the First, his father,
he had already made peace with Spain as soon as he had assumed power. So this was not seen as the wise move by most of the, by members
of the Parliament and the common people were also not ready to get into another kind of
war because that also meant heavy taxation. But however with the support of the Earl of
Buckingham who is also Charles the First’s advisor, Charles decides to go ahead with
his plans to annex Spain and he also calls the Parliament for
the first time, let us call it P1, the first Parliamentary meeting happens in 1625. He summons the Parliament to raise money. If you remember most of the commercialists
of that time and most of the wealthy rich tradesmen and company owners
of the time, they belonged to the supporters of the Parliament and so it was very important
to enlist the Parliament’s support in order to tax the common people or raise the money
because they was no other way through which the Court could raise money from the commoners
at that point of time. So Parliament is summoned for the first time under Charles
the First’s rule in 1625 in order to raise money for waging the war with Spain. But however The Parliament does not agree
to this proposal by Charles the First and Charles the First resorts to his, and here
we find Charles the First dissolving the Parliament for the first time. And this was no big deal in England at that
time. It was not as if the kings had not dissolved
the Parliament at all. There were many other kings who dissolved the Parliament and the Parliament was summoned
time and again as well. So it was not considered as a big deal to
dissolve the Parliament. And in 1626, even after he had dissolved the
Parliament, he realizes there is no other way to raise money and he still hell bent
on attacking Spain. So he summons another meet which we shall
call as P2. So there is the second Parliamentary meet
that happens. And again the issue of taxation is brought
it and we also need to keep in mind that Charles First was a staunch believer of the
Divine Right of Kings and he also thought that he had the divine right to assert himself
and his ambitions on the Parliament and the commoners. So he failed to see the rationale in not going
for war and he continues to insist on getting more taxes. But at this point of time there is also the
emergence of this particular figure George Eliot who asks, who demands for Buckingham’s
impeachment in order to raise more taxes. And because they also, they all knew that
George Villiers or the Earl of Buckingham was, had become a profound influence on Charles
the First and there were ongoing allegations against Buckingham’s
influence in all of these decisions and the policies of the state. So Charles the First obviously does not agree
to the impeachment of Buckingham and he also fails to restore the confidence
of the Parliament and we find him dissolving the
Parliament for the second time. And nevertheless somehow, and somehow Charles
the First summons an army. He also gathers enough resources and he makes
this war trip to Spain but it was a huge failure. In today’s terms it could be considered as
a multi-million pound worth fiasco. So this was a huge blow on Charles First’s
reign even as he has begun his term as the king and when he came back to England, he
was met with an enraged public and an enraged Parliament but he was too arrogant and too
short-sighted to see where this was all leading to. And also another important blow on Charles
First’s reign was that on eighteenth June 1628, we find
Buckingham getting stabbed to death. So this was a fatal blow to Charles First’s
reign and also to his forthcoming plans. And by March 1629 we find him summoning the
Parliament again. We find the third time the Parliament getting
summoned, and he also blames the Parliament and particularly George Eliot for stabbing
Buckingham to death because he was quite shaken, Charles the First was quite shaken with this
death that had happened. And the Parliament in turn accused Charles
the First of being too lenient towards Catholicism. If you remember the Catholic marriage had
already shaken their trust in Charles the First’s religious tendencies. And this almost enrages the King again and
we find him dissolving the Parliament for the third time. And meanwhile, Charles also achieves another
thing. He also manages to trap George Eliot in some
case and he is also sent to Tower. In that sense he also thinks that he has managed
to silence the members of Parliament to a large extent because he was not the kind who
could tolerate any kind of negotiation or any kind of discussion with the commoners. And with this we enter a new particular phase in the history
of England. So meanwhile, while he was ruling England without a Parliament, it was not a
very non-turbulent period for him. Charles the First assumed that he was doing
a lot of things for England and for instance in 1638 he takes upon himself this mission
on the Restoration of monasteries. If we recall the history during Henry Eight’s
rule he had destroyed a lot of Catholic monasteries because he wanted to wipe out Catholicism
and bring in Protestant faith. So Charles the First wanted to restore all these
monasteries and also he enlisted the support of the Archbishop of Canterbury – and this
was not taken very kindly by, by the English people because they did not want to go back
to Catholicism in any way. But the Archbishop of Canterbury, he also
had a religious agenda in supporting Charles. He thought that this is perhaps the right
opportunity to bring together the congregations of, the religious congregations of England
and Scotland together. And keeping this intention in mind he also tried to introduce the Anglican
Prayer Book in Scotland. But this was not taken very kindly by the
Scottish people and soon after this, we find the Scots erupting in rebellion. There are riots in churches; there is also the Bishop’s war that follows. Since it is not entirely connected to our
topic of discussion we shall quickly skip that. But this is again not seen very kindly by
King Charles and he is also advised by his new advisor who is the Earl of Stratford after
the death of Buckingham. He is also advised by the Earl of Stratford
that he, Charles would be doing a mistake if he does not suppress this Scottish rebellion
right away. So in 1638, he decides to suppress the Scottish rebellion. And he also realizes that in order to do this,
he also needed finances and that also meant summoning the Parliament again because only
the Parliament could help him raise the funds. So here we find him summoning the Parliament,
so here we find him summoning the Parliament for the fourth time in 1638 in order to again
get more funds to suppress the Scottish rebellion. But this time in the place of George Eliot,
another important parliamentarian had come into prominence, John Pym. And John Pym demanded the abolishment of ship
tax which was quite heavy during that time because he, Charles wanted this money to support
his naval expeditions. And Charles obviously says no to this proposal
as well and he also dissolves the Parliament. He also dissolves the Parliament again for
the fourth time. And what had given Charles the courage to
summon the Parliament and ask for money again? And this leads to take a look at what had
been happening in those eleven years when Charles the First was ruling without a Parliament. During those 11 years we find London in particular
making a lot of strides in modernization. There are also new roads which were built
in London and also the rest of England. And we also find Charles coming up with a
postal service system in England and he also begins to address the unemployment issues
which also endeared him for a short while to the commoners. And his major contribution in terms of architecture
was the introduction of European and Imperial style of architecture in the city of London. He also beautified his palace and his other
residences in a similar way. But however though, some of those things were
seen as benign and generous by a certain groups of people, in general the extravaganza was
not acceptable to the English public. The Parliament also felt that he was being
quite reckless in spending with the money of the common people’s tax. So even after the fourth meet we do not find
the Parliament and the King able to negotiate with each other. Though Charles had dissolved the Parliament
for the fourth time, he realizes that there is no other way for
him to gain resources without the support of the Parliament. So again for the fifth and final time, the
Parliament is summoned. This is the final summoning of the Parliament
under Charles’s rule and this happened six months
after the, after the fourth meeting. This is in 1640 and this happens after 6 months
after the first meet in 1640. And we also find that the fifth and final
meet happens after the six months after the previous meet in 1640 itself because there
was no other way in which Charles could enlist the support of the London companies and also
gain more finances. And at this time the Parliament also forces
him to come to terms with the fact that the Parliament cannot be dissolved again without
the parliamentarians’ consent. And this marks the significant shift in the
kind of relationships, the kind of relationship between the King and the Parliament and it
also marks the beginning of a long and deadly struggle between kings and Parliament in England in
general. And this is not, it is not as if it is very
decisive kind of a shift but we also begin to see that there was, the possibilities of
negotiation, the possibilities of bargaining was coming down drastically. A significant point to be noted at this point
is that the Parliament never wanted to take down the King’s or Charles entirely. They only wanted to bring in a balance of
power but since Charles believed in the divine right of kingship and also in absolutist monarchy
it was very difficult to negotiate with him. And this was quite important because the later
kings, we begin to see that they do not display this kind of blind faith in royal absolutism
or in the divine right of kingship. So the beginning of this long struggle between
Charles and the Parliament, it led to the eventual thing which had to happen, the English
Civil War. And we also saw how two different factions had already been formed
due to the various other socio-political reasons. So with this we begin to wind up today’s lecture
and in the next session, we will begin to see how the English Civil War and the Cromwellian
Revolution that followed, it changed the history of not just the politics and religion of the
times but also the literature of the period. And that’s all we have for today’s session. Thank you for listening and look forward to
see you in the next session.


  1. think winwin says:


  2. vinod dubey says:


  3. Shubham verma says:

    Oh I love this lecture series so much..

  4. waqas ashiq says:

    can u explain in urdu

  5. Cheryl Lia says:

    Can u pls do the social history too.

  6. Fariha Kayani says:

    mam plz elaborate all the works of the writers of respective period i detail

  7. Rajesh Kumar says:

    Superb work mam.. Keep uploading

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