The Stuart period began when King James VI of Scotland became King James I of England
When Elizabeth I died in 1603, the crown passed to her cousin King James VI of Scotland. The accession of King James to the English throne (as King James I England) saw the nation of Scotland united with England and Wales under one ruler. More
This era saw the Gunpowder Plot to blow up Parliament.
England was a Protestant country. However, there were still many Roman Catholics, who wished England to become a Catholic country again. In 1605, a group of them tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament and seize power. More
The Puritan movement saw growing support for a simpler, purer form of worship.
The Protestant Church of England was also divided, between the conservatives who wanted to keep the whole organization of the church as it was, and the reformers, or Puritans, who wanted to change to a much simpler church organization. More
The first British colonies in North America were founded.
During the early Stuart period, the size of the Puritan population continued to grow. Both King James I and King Charles saw them as a threat to the established church. Persecution led to some Puritans leaving Britain to found new colonies in America. More
There were constant arguments between king and parliament.
Parliament, led by a group of Puritans, wanted to increase its power in government, whilst the Stuart kings wished to preserve their ‘divine right to rule’. More
Under Charles I, these tensions took the country into civil war.
The English Civil War (1641–1651) saw a series of battles between the Parliamentarians and Royalists (supporters of the King). More
The war resulted in the execution of King Charles I and a period of Republican rule.
The outcome of the Civil Wars was the execution of the king, in 1649, and eleven years of Republican rule, most of which was under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell. More
The upheavals of this period also saw the witch hunts.
These started in 1644 and continued during the Civil War period. In times of uncertainty and upheaval, people often look for someone or something to blame. The (mainly) old women charged with witchcraft were an easy target. More
A 'Bill of Rights' finally saw the development of a monarchy answerable to Parliament
In 1660, Charles II was recalled to the throne but tensions between King and Parliament had not been resolved. The open Roman Catholicism of James II (reigned 1685-88) was disliked by the nation. A brief civil war resulted in the complete triumph of Parliament and a new king, William, having to agree to a “Bill of Rights” for English citizens and to rule according to conditions set by Parliament. More
For the Puritans, the home and family unit were crucial.
The husband was in charge of his wife and the wife in charge of the family. His role was to provide for the family, protect and teach his children about God and prayer. Childcare was a woman's role and a wife's good name depended upon the behaviour of her children, who were expected to be obedient at all times. More
How you dressed depended on your religious beliefs as well as money.
The Puritans favoured plain dress, whilst the clothes of the Royalists were highly decorated and and elaborate. During Charles II's reign, for example, men wore wide breeches decorated with ribbons, high-heeled shoes and long, curled wigs; for women, an elaborately draped outer gown was worn over a bodice and skirt. More
The Royalist home was richly decorated.
Once again, the husband was in charge. Under English Common Law, when a woman married, she gave all her property to her husband and lost her separate identity. The Royalist home, however, was very different, with rich tapesteries, gildings and murals. More
It was a time of economic, scientific and technological progress.
Isaac Newton came up with a scientific way of describing the universe, which has been the basis of all science ever since. Despite the wars, economic and technological progress in Britain gained pace. More
The Slave Trade grew and the foundations of the British Empire started to develop.
The hugely valuable West Indian islands fell into British hands and British merchants became well and truly involved in the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Along the coast of India and West Africa, trading bases, or "factories", were established, laying the foundations for future British rule. More
In Britain, merchants banded together to take on more ambitious ventures.
The setting up of joint-stock companies allowed merchants to take on more ambitious ventures, because working together limited the financial risk for each individual contributor. This encouraged the development of trade and the colonies. London coffee houses became places where merchants conducted business. More
Insurance companies also sprang up, as did the Stock Exchange.
The trade in shares for the joint stock companies was centred around two coffee houses, Jonathan's and Garraway's, in the City of London's Change Alley. This lively trading of stocks and commodities saw the development of the Stock Exchange. Another coffee house, Edward Lloyds, grew into the great insurance centre, Lloyds of London. More
Towards the end of the period, the Bank of England was set up.
It soon came to act as the central bank for all the other banks that were appearing at about the same time. One of the other institutions set up was the Patent Office, which encouraged new ideas and progress. More
Agricultural improvements were transforming the countryside.
Developments such as crop rotation and the seed drill had begun to transform farming in this country, and this would lead to the later huge growth in population. More
As cities grew, more fuel was needed to heat the houses and the mining industry expanded.
Coal mines began to benefit from early railways using horse-drawn carts. An early steam engine had also been invented by John Newcomen which was used to pump water from mines. Around the same time, the first high grade steel in Britain was produced at Coalbrookdale. More
The period also saw the rise of the great estates.
Many aristocratic families died out through a lack of heirs and their lands passed to other aristocratic families with whom they were related. This meant that a much greater amount of land was owned by just a few families. More
Society was similar to that of the Tudors but there was more opportunity for people to advance.
A few hundred landowning families, members of the nobility or gentry, still dominated a much larger class of yeoman and tenant farmers. Beneath these came a still larger class of farm labourers. In the cities were the merchants and traders. More
The Stuart period saw many of the great European thinkers and artists.
Philosophers changed the way people thought about government. Poets and musicians all flourished and a new Authorised Version of the Bible raised English, as a written language, to a new level. More
Plague and fire saw London transformed.
The poor still lived in harsh conditions but things were improving.
Expanding trade was making all classes better off. The changes were lifting thousands of families up through the ranks of society. More
In 1689, a new law finally saw greater religious tolerance.
In the last years of the century, a climate of tolerance gradually arose, as people become exhausted by religious bigotry. The Act of Toleration of 1689 made it legal to worship outside the Church of England. More
Stuart England was a time of upheaval, but also of great creativity.
Despite war and upheaval, the Stuart period saw a flourishing economy that was dynamic and innovative. In fact, the technological foundations for the Industrial Revolution had been layed by the end of the Stuart period. More