Divine Right of Kings

The idea of the Divine Right of Kings evolved in Europe during the Middle Ages. The theory claimed that kings were answerable only to God and it was therefore sinful for their subjects to resist them.

James I upheld the doctrine in his speeches and writings. This theory was supported by his son Charles I and his chief adviser, William Laud, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Laud argued that the king had been appointed by God and people who disagreed with him were bad Christians.

In November 1688, William of Orange and his Dutch army arrived in England. When the English army refused to accept the orders of their Catholic officers, James fled to France. As the overthrow of James had taken place without a violent Civil War, this event became known as the Glorious Revolution.

William III and Mary II were now appointed by Parliament as joint sovereigns. However, the House of Commons was determined that it would not have another monarch that ruled without its consent. The king and queen had to promise they would always obey laws made by Parliament. After the Glorious Revolution the doctrine of Divine Right of Kings ceased to have much influence in Britain.

© , September 1997 - April 2014