Reply To: English Liberalism


Dear John,

That’s a huge question and deserves an answer from a specialist in English history, which I, unfortunately, am not. I can say, without fear of much contradiction, that ‘liberal’ is not a concept that attaches itself to English kingship until perhaps the late 19th, early 20th century.

Looking at the course of history, I cannot see any significant moral difference between Protestant and Catholic kings. all of them, with a few honourable exceptions, sought their own aggrandisement and enrichment, all of them engaged in wars that cost their subjects their lives and their property.

Re the Puritans: yes; religion was very much a political matter in the 17th century, and daring to differ from the established Church tended to be viewed by the authorities as incipient, if not actual, rebellion. In England, Catholics were regarded as completely unacceptable, but dissenters (non-Church of England Protestants) came in a close second. See the life and career of John Bunyan!