Finding Union and Peace within a Dual Monarchy

With his accession to the throne of England in 1603, James VI and I reigned over the three kingdoms of Scotland, England, and Ireland. Although he brought much of his experience ruling Scotland to England, he still faced many new challenges. One of these challenges was the way in which James would ensure peace and some degree of unity between two kingdoms that were accustomed to being ruled as separate entities with distinct peoples and needs. As James stated in his accession speech, “…peace be a great blessing, yet is it far inferior to peace within… What God has conjoined then, let no man separate.”[1] Though James VI and I, as king of England, Ireland, and Scotland began by ruling his composite monarchy as separate entities, nevertheless, James’ ultimate goal was unity between and within the different realms. Continue reading

England’s Empire

The word “empire” commonly holds the connotation of territorial expansion. In early modern Europe, England’s case for empire was unique because Henry VIII established England as an empire, and then further expanded his territory. Henry VIII used Parliamentary statute, the Act in Restraint of Appeals and the Act of Supremacy to make England an empire and to make himself, for all intents and purposes, emperor. Though the way in which England developed into an empire was quite unique, with a strong, centralized government and close relationship between king and Parliament, the English empire grew to be influential in Europe. Henry’s empire demonstrated how the term “empire” evoked both a consistent governmental stronghold as well as territorial sovereignty. It was only after this empire was first established did Henry then expand his imperium with the incorporation of Ireland and Wales. Continue reading