12.3 Triumph of Parliament in England

During the age of absolutism, English monarchs, like rulers on the continent, tried to increase royal power and claim the divine right to rule. Their efforts, however, ran into the obstacle of Parliament, which during the Middle Ages had acquired the power of the purse. Only Parliament could grant monarchs the funds they needed to pursue their ambitions. And Parliament at times stood firm against royal absolutism.

Illustration of a crowned man on a throne with fleurs de lis holding a scepter, flanked by religious and administrative leaders, watching a room with seated men engaging in conversation.

Henry VIII consulted with Parliament frequently. Here, he presides as chairman over the House of Lords.


  • Describe the relationship between Parliament and the monarchy under the Tudors and Stuarts.
  • Explain how English government developed after the English Civil War.
  • Identify the causes of the Glorious Revolution and the ideas contained in the English Bill of Rights.
  • Identify the characteristics of limited monarchy and constitutional government in England.

Key Terms

  • James I
  • dissenter
  • Puritan
  • Charles I
  • Oliver Cromwell
  • English Bill of Rights
  • limited monarchy
  • constitutional government
  • cabinet
  • prime minister
  • oligarchy

Tudor Monarchs Work with Parliament

Henry VIII

From 1485 to 1603, England was ruled by Tudor monarchs. Although the Tudors believed in divine right, they shrewdly recognized the value of good relations with Parliament. When Henry VIII broke with the Roman Catholic Church, he turned to Parliament to legalize his actions. Parliament approved the Act of Supremacy, making the monarch head of the Church of England.

A constant need for money led Henry to consult Parliament frequently. Although he had inherited a bulging treasury, he quickly used up his funds fighting overseas wars. To levy new taxes, the king had to seek the approval of Parliament. Members of Parliament tended to vote as Henry's agents instructed. Still, they became accustomed to being consulted on important matters.

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Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments