Act of Settlement and the embodiment of consent…

Brian Crowe has a sharp defence of the Act of Settlement (the piece of legislation banning Catholics from ascending the throne of England. Far from being driven by religious fervour, Brian argues the imperative was purely constitutional:

In 1701 a Roman Catholic monarchy meant a monarchy modelled on France or Spain. In other words, it meant ‘absolutism’ rather than the British tradition of constitutionalism, in which Parliament ensured that the monarch governed with the consent of the political nation.

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  • dodrade

    Speaking for myself as a Unionist I would have no problem with a catholic monarch, though the Churches of England and Scotland would have to be disestablished first, and i’ve never really understood how the Queen can be an Anglican in England and a Presbyterian in Scotland.

    Even if the act of settlement were to go a catholic monarch would be very unlikely unless through conversion or the offspring of a mixed marriage, so its all rather pedantic anyway.

  • pete Whitcroft

    The head of state being head of the state church, weakens the state and the church.
    It’s idolatry and weakens the union.

  • Hmm…

    In 1701, the British didn’t yet have a tradition of contitutionalism! 🙂

  • smcgiff

    ‘Brian Crowe has a sharp defence of the Act of Settlement’

    Is he defending it in 1701 or 2007?

  • lib2016

    From the English republican point of view this seems like yet another reason for getting rid of the monarchy.

    However Scots and Irish republicans will settle for winding up that other outmoded institution the UK. If the English want to portray themselves as happy peasants in Ye Olde England let them do so but why on earth should they impose it on the rest of us?

  • eranu

    there was an interesting documentary on tv a few months ago, i think it was called ‘monarchy’. my memory is a bit vague but it dealt with the time of william of orange and the fight over the throne being catholic or protestant. as i remember the worry about the catholic model was related to the french model with ‘absolute power’. the MPs of the time wanted a more democratic parliament, which could only happen under a protestant crown. it was all about power, not religon.

    if a non protestant became king or queen, they would probably (sadly) be of no religon these days.

  • Greenflag

    He has a point for 1701 but he’s barking up the wrong tree in 2007.

  • BonarLaw

    lib2016

    Come, come even you must realise the monarchy is more Scots that English.

  • lurker

    And I note that he won’t go as far as allowing a Catholic to become monarch, only the spouse of one.

  • kensei

    “there was an interesting documentary on tv a few months ago, i think it was called ‘monarchy’. my memory is a bit vague but it dealt with the time of william of orange and the fight over the throne being catholic or protestant. as i remember the worry about the catholic model was related to the french model with ‘absolute power’. the MPs of the time wanted a more democratic parliament, which could only happen under a protestant crown. it was all about power, not religon.”

    Come now. Power played it’s part, but there is no reason why a Catholic Monarch could not have been accomodated in a Parliamentary system. England had already had a Civil War over the point.

    The gentry were mostly Protestant, and James was favouring Catholics. Combine that, the Parliament argument with rampant anti-Catholicism since Elizabethan days, and you are getting closer to the mark.

  • james orr

    I might be wrong here, but from memory I think there’s a similar situation with the Spanish monarchy in that a monarch must be Catholic. Didnt a recent Queen of Spain have to convert from being Greek Orthodox to become a RC?

  • BonarLaw

    james orr

    I’m not sure about the current situation but from history (and El Cid) I seem to recall Isabella & Ferdinand being “Their Catholic Majesties”.

    Seemingly they could wear white at the Vatican.

  • graduate

    Interesting thesis

    Kensei
    For your info civil war had a lot to do with fact that Charles I wanted an absolute monarchy and he had strong Catholic tendencies (nearly as bad as one Tony Blair Esq) whereas Parliament was largely protestant, if not mainly puritan in outlook and wanted very limited democracy ergo big punch up.
    Incidentally it was King Billy and certain ideas he had and that were upheld by orangemen about freedom of speech that allow this website to operate & us all to have our say.

  • kensei

    “For your info civil war had a lot to do with fact that Charles I wanted an absolute monarchy and he had strong Catholic tendencies (nearly as bad as one Tony Blair Esq) whereas Parliament was largely protestant, if not mainly puritan in outlook and wanted very limited democracy ergo big punch up. ”

    Yes, curse those Catholic tendencies.
    The point I made was that having had a Civil War over Monarchy versus Parliament, it was unlikely that James II could have had another one, and even less likely he could have won. The argument had been lost.

    The main problem was the possibility of a Catholic dynasty, rather than a single King. James also antagonised the Protestant gentry by placing Catholics in positions of high power in a short space of time. If he had done less of that he might have been got away from it. The more I think about it, the more the Parliamentary thing seems like an astute power grab rather than planned reason.

    As for freedoms, James had also put through the Act of Indulgence giving religious freedom to everyone. The result of the Glorious revolution was to shaft Catholic and Unitarians. Who fears to speak of ’98?

  • anon

    Graduate
    “Incidentally it was King Billy and certain ideas he had and that were upheld by orangemen about freedom of speech that allow this website to operate & us all to have our say”

    Is that a joke? Not Funny

  • BeardyBoy

    If, as I believe as a Jacobite, you reject the idea that the king has his authority delegated to him by Parliament but by virtue of birth, you were a threat to the whigs in Parliament and some of the Tories who owed their status due to the villainous land grab by Henry VIII.

    A Catholic king could easily jeopardise that position, and could also lead to England falling under the rule of a foreign dynasty such as the Hapsburgs which nearly happened at the time of Mary and Philip.

    Religion was a part of it but, like the rulers who became protestant in Germany in the wake of luthers rebellion, money and power had more to do with it.

    Remember that James had guaranteed religious freedom, his opponents feared that.

    Some in England still fear Catholicism, it is a throw back to these times, most people do not.
    So the main reasons for the Act of Succession no longer exist.
    However it would be better that it is removed in order to allow the true King back on the throne.

    It would be interesting what would have happened if James would have won.

    He stood for
    * liberty of conscience for all;
    * liberty for all to worship in their own fashion or even in no fashion;
    * the national integrity of each individual kingdom – England, Scotland, and Ireland.

    His opponents stood for
    * religious intolerance (not only towards Catholics but also to all those who did not believe in the Trinity);
    * required attendance at Protestant religious services;
    * forced unions between England, Scotland, and Ireland.

  • DK

    “Come, come even you must realise the monarchy is more Scots that English”

    And there was me thinking it was Hanoverian.

    And there is no point in trying to pretend that James was better than William or Orange. If James had won, Ireland would probably have been fully integrated with England and all the republicans on this board being monarchists.

    In any case, William of Orange largely viewed the whole English throne thing as simpy a useful source of funds to fight his wars in his native Holland.

  • JG

    Who was the second English King to fall out with the Pope?

  • Hickenlooper

    I knew an old lady—no, really. She was as English as they come and, ironically, lived in Lewes in Sussex. That’s the place where they burn an effigy of the Pope each November 5.

    One day, she stunned me by stating that she would not tolerate the British monarchy being anything other than “protestant”. In her bones, she explained, she associated the centuries of stabilty (as she saw it) enjoyed by Britain as being intimately bound up with the monarchy being protestant.

    Stunned? Well, you would have been too if you’d heard these words from that old lady, a recent convert to Catholicism. Food for thought…

  • manichaeism

    James Orr,

    You think the Spanish insist on a Catholic monarchy. I have no idea if they do or not. But if the Spanish insist on discrimination then it must be right!!!

  • graduate

    Anon- not a joke about freedom of speech. go and check it out!!

  • anon

    graduate,

    “Incidentally it was King Billy and certain ideas he had and that were upheld by orangemen about freedom of speech that allow this website to operate & us all to have our say.”

    “…..go and check it out”

    Check it out where? Please explain in detail or provide a link. It’s a very sweeping statement covering hundreds of years , you just need to backup your statement more.

  • BeardyBoy

    Graduate

    The exact opposite applied- the state became a police state in the same manner the communists used in russia – they got people to spy on each other and report anyone who was not protestant for small rewards.

    It curtailed freedom.

    Read the Toleration Act of 1689 and then compare it against the freedom guaranteed in the Declaration of Indulgence of King James II, April 27, 1688.

  • DK

    “Read the Toleration Act of 1689 and then compare it against the freedom guaranteed in the Declaration of Indulgence of King James II, April 27, 1688”

    But would James & his successors have then allowed Britain to change into a democracy, or maybe he would have done something worse. It’s all speculation, but needs to also be read in the context of the time when there was a genuine fear of catholicism and this was not unfounded given the recent holy wars in Germany.

    So James’s “tolerance” was merely a way to get his supporters into power.

  • graduate

    Anon,
    Any good history book for the period should help you or else the Grand Orange Lodge website or if you’re too bigoted to look there Ruth Dudley Edwards book “The Faithful Tribe” has a faiirly good resume. Why am i doing your research for you- go and look it up somewhere!

  • FF

    Given that 4 of the hottest summers occurred under William of Orange and it is getting hotter at the moment …..