THE PLACE OF THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY REVOLUTION IN ENGLISH HISTORY
AbstractWhat I want to do is to talk about and try to understand, how and why England, a second class power in the Middle Ages, became top nation in the eighteenth century and why in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries England did not go the way of the rest of Europe towards Absolutism. I think these are two versions of the same question. My starting point is that in the sixteenth century England seems to have missed out. Whilst absolute monarchies were strengthening their power on the Continent, Britain was an island and did not need an army to defend its frontiers. Gunpowder, invented in the fifteenth century, Jed to a monopoly of state power inside the country and to a reduction of noble armies, but there was no national standing army created to replace them. A standing army is not only useful for repelling the enemy from your frontiers, it is even more useful for collecting taxation internally. If you have a standing army you can tax as much as you like: the government decides what it wants and the army enforces it.