The Cavaliers and the Puritans: The history behind British Literature

Laura of the Learning Language Arts YouTube Channel offers a twenty-minute summary of 17th century British history as a background to the major literary writers of the time. The first half of the video identifies the major historical events that set the context for that period, often referred to the two sides as the Cavaliers and the Puritans. Click here to view the video that was posted on May 14, 2023.

She begins by citing religious non-conformity as the major conflict of the time with Anglicans are pitted against Protestant sympathizers who question the Divine Right of Kings.

The century begins with the weak rule of King James followed by that of King Charles who angered by Parliament and Puritans. Following the English Civil war that began in 1642, Charles was executed in 1649, and Oliver Cromwell took over in 1659 as the Lord Protector of Parliament rather than as a king.

Cromwell’s death left no one in charge, so Parliament restored the monarchy and called Charles’ son back from exile in Holland. As a Catholic sympathizer he led a repressive period that eventually transitioned into rule by King James II. He is dethroned, and William of Orange and his wife, Mary take over with a more limited monarchy.