- The world of Shakespeare and the Metaphysical poets 1540-1660
- British renaissance writers
- Key events
- Making sense of the tangible world
- Making sense of the intangible world
Divine right of monarchs
The power of the monarch
Throughout the Middle Ages and beyond, monarchs were seen as being God's deputies on earth, having a ‘divine right' to rule; the monarch had absolute power, and an attack on him or her, even a verbal one, was considered to be treason.
Although there were meetings of Parliament, and had been for hundreds of years, Parliament did not convene unless summoned by the King; this practice continued through the reign of James I and beyond.
For most English (and European) citizens of Shakespeare's day, the ruler was accepted as head of the nation by divine appointment.
James I was particularly keen on the idea that the king ruled by divine appointment. In The True Law of Free Monarchies (1598) he had already written:
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