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Atlantic Revolutions

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Atlantic Revolutions, 1600-1825
The revolutions of the eighteenth century have their origins in political and cultural developments of the seventeenth century. Of course, they were also products of all of major developments the European conquest of the Americas, the rise of kingdom states and empires, the tremendous wealth that resulted from the expansion of global trade, and the development of colonial cultures and societies in the Americas. Scholars call these cultures and societies creole societies, because they blended elements of European, native American, and African culture and society.

Developments in England, 1641-1688
But revolutions are also inspired by ideas, and ideas that we may take for granted today had much of their start in England. Political conflict in Great Britain was a common theme of the seventeenth century. In 1641, a civil war led to the execution of the king (Charles I), and the establishment of a republic, what was known as the Commonwealth. Politics and religion both played a part in the Civil War, with the English nobility and wealthy commoners (whose interests were represented in Parliament, England’s legislature) wanting a greater say in how royal revenues were raised and spent.

This republic quickly became a military dictatorship, and the old king’s son (Charles II) was invited back. But when Charles II died, the next king soon ran into trouble with Parliament, who feared that this king, James II, wanted too much power for himself. So in 1688, Parliament took replaced England’s king, James II, with a different set of rulers, William and Mary. No one lost their head this time.

William and Mary’s supporters called this a “Glorious” Revolution. This revolution also granted civil and some religious liberties, and established the power of Parliament, which supposedly represented the rights of Englishmen. No king or queen could...

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