DBQ2: Views of Absolutism


Here British historian Conrad Russell expresses his views on the limitations that monarchs faced.

The belief that it was the duty of a ruler to enforce uniformity in the true religion was one which caused difficulties...Phillip II in the Netherlands failed in this task for reasons not altogether different from those of Charles I.  Both felt themselves obliged to fight rather than give up the struggle...

For him, [Charles] then, the problem of religious unity was one of unity between kingdoms...On this point, Charles's Scottish opponents agreed with him.  They too thought that unless there was unity of religion and church government between England and Scotland, there would be permanent instability... Charles, moreover, did not only have a King of England's resistance to Scottish notions of Presbyterianising England: he also had to view such a proposal through the eyes of the King of Ireland.  A religious settlement in which it would have been a key point that no papists (Catholics) were to be tolerated would hardly have led to stability in Ireland...Of all the participants in the crisis of 1640-42 (English Civil War), Charles was the only one whose position forced him to a genuinely British perspective.  

Document 4
a. What limited Charles I's choices?
b. How does the writer view Charles I's decisions? 

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