Elizabeth ruled England through conciliation and compromise. Her remarkable ability was the primary reason why during her reign England grew to be a major power in the world both militarily and economically. Since she was the last of the Tudor's her death posed a problem for England concerning a successor to the throne. They chose to bring her cousin James Stuart, who at the time was King of Scotland, down to become King of England. Although a brilliant man, James, lacked any semblance of Elizabeth's tact in government. Thus he was soon dubbed "the wisest fool in Christendom." The structure of seventeenth century English government was such that the country was ruled simultaneously by two institutions, parliament and the crown. Even though the rights and duties of each were set down by a long tradition, the boundaries of their authority were obscure, and each used whatever power it could muster to encroach into the territory of the other as far as possible. James was also an ardent believer in royal absolutism, a position which held that through a divine right from God Kings held absolute power over their subjects. James openly exercised this attitude toward his subjects. However, through English law, Parliament held the purse strings. This was the only real power they held over the King's rule. Since, this gave James limited economic resources of his own, and because he tended to give lavishly to his friends, he was constantly in financial trouble. The parliamentary position was derived from the developments dating back as far as the signing of the Magna Carte in 1215. These agreements developed over time bound the King to Parliament primarily through economic strings.

Parliament had little enough use for James' brand of Scottish Presbyterianism, but when he was succeeded by his son Charles I, who married the Catholic sister of Louis XIII of France, whatever tact the younger Stuart had fell on deaf ears. The problem of an absolutist King and an obstinate parliament was only part of 17th century England's political problems. At least as great a problem was the variety of religious factions, all vying for some kind of supremacy. Charles' answer to the dilemma with Parliament was simple, he absolved the Parliament when it would not accede to his demands. This was of little value, however, because English law still forbade him to collect Taxes without the consent of Parliament. His greater problem was his inability to control this huge variety of religious powers. Finally, in 1649, Oliver Cromwell formed a strong army committed to him personally, gained control of the country, had Charles hanged, and usurped power for himself. However, without popular support, his attempt to form a legal parliamentary government failed. He then replaced parliament with men chosen by himself and had himself elected Lord Protector. He held this power primarily through his control of the armed forces. But his Puritan background and his attempt to destroy the power of the Anglican church had him in constant combat with the people, including many in his own parliament. As a result, he was barely able to maintain control. When his son, who lacked his fathers control over the army, succeeded him the protectorate fell apart. After only nine months of rule, "Tumbledown Dick" as he was called, resigned. The Parliament then restored Charles II, son of Charles I to the throne in 1660.

Although Charles II was considerably more conciliatory toward the Parliament, he carried the burden of two obstacles. First, despite his condescension's to parliament, he remained a staunch believer in royal absolutism. And second, he married a catholic from Portugal, and thus was lax on Catholics. Parliament then attempted to prevent his brother James, who was more openly catholic, from succeeding him. Charles simply dissolved the parliament and James II did indeed succeed him. When James' catholic wife gave birth to a male child, parliament could take no more. They drove James II from the country and gave the throne jointly to James I daughter Mary, and her husband William of Orange. This event, called the "Glorious Revolution" because not a single shot was fired, brings us to crux of the problem of politics and philosophy.

It should be obvious from the brief sketch of seventeenth century England that the events that brought about these political change were both divers and complex. However, two points should be evident as underlying motives for change. The first was the opposition among the English people to royal absolutism, and the second was the lack of a concept of political theory that would be in line with the modern scientific view of knowledge. Particularly thorny were two basic scientific assumptions; first, that events begin with efficient causes through inviolate physical laws, and second, that knowledge could only be determined directly from experience. Only a theory of government with this kind of justification would be likely to have any impact on future unfolding events.

It would be to our advantage at this point to review the role of government as developed by Aristotle and explained by Aquinas because this is the background out of which past theories of government had been developed. This is taken from the Summa Theologia.

Government should be considered in two ways. In one way it is opposed to slavery; so a ruler is he to whom a slave is subject. In a second way it should be considered in opposition to any kind of subjection. According to this way, any one whose office entitles him to rule and direct free men may also be called a ruler. ... Therefore someone is governed as a slave when he is controlled simply for the utility of the one governing him. But because everyone desires his own welfare, he cannot without regret yield this to another. Because such government cannot exist without suffering those subject to it, such domination of man over man could never have been in the state of innocence.

Aquinas, as you see here, has developed his view of the validity of government as dependent on conditions that would exist in a state of innocence. The laws that hold in a state of innocence are natural laws, the laws that form a government are man-made. Though this may sound similar to what Locke developed in the seventeenth century, Aquinas began with the Aristotelian assumption that man is naturally a political animal, and he argued from final rather than efficient causes. From the aim of the common good to the necessity and therefore inevitability of an authority to bring this common good about.

A free man may be ruled by another when the latter directs him to his own good or to the common good. And such government over man by man would have existed, for two reasons, in the state of innocence. First. because man is a naturally social animal; men even in the state of innocence would have lived in society. Social life among many could not exist, however, unless someone took the position of authority to direct them to the common good. For many people are by their very multiplicity interested in a multiplicity of ends, while one person is concerned with one end. ...So Augustine in City of God XIX 14, says: "The just govern not by desire to dominate, but through the duty of giving counsel"; and in Chapter 15 he states: "This is prescribed by the natural order: for thus did God create man." And from this explanation we have the answer to all the objections concerning the best kind of government.

The point is, that with Aristotelian rather than Lockean assumptions the emergence of a leader is not only a natural outcome of people living in society, it is necessary outcome. This is because people, being naturally social animals not only cannot, but would not live otherwise. In this excerpt taken from Aquinas' "Commentaries on Ethics," we can see the importance of the concept of final ends in his theory of government.

Then... he (Aristotle) shows that political science is the most important science from the very nature of its special end. It is evident that insofar as a cause is prior and more powerful, it extends to more effects. Hence, insofar as the good, which has the nature of a final cause, is more powerful, it extends to more effects. So, even though the good be the same objective for one man and for the whole state, it seems much better and more perfect to attain, that is, to procure and preserve the good of the whole state than the good of any one man.

Although Aquinas' Aristotelian background assumed man as a political animal. Athens had been ruled by law and not by men. Therefore law, as the action of legislators is the final arbiter of what is allowed and disallowed in a law abiding community. But that law must be developed for the good of the community and not that of the lawgivers. This is Aquinas' definition of law from the Summa Theologia.

A private person has no authority to compel right action. He can only advise, but if his advice is not accepted, he has no coercive power. But law must have coercive power if it is to have authority to compel right action, as the philosopher says (Ethics X, 9). But the coercive power belongs to the community as a whole as well as to its public authority, who must inflict the punishments, as we shall see later. He alone therefore has the right to make laws. From the preceding we may gather the definition of law. It is nothing other than a reasonable direction of beings toward the common good, promulgated by the one who is charged with the community.

In addition to positive law, that is laws passed by the legislators, there exists another set of laws that are derived not from society but from God. These are laws that are derived from nature itself. This is what Aquinas called "natural law" in his summa.

The order of the precepts of the natural law is the order of our natural inclinations. For there is in man a primary and natural inclination to good, which he has in common with all things, inasmuch as every thing desires the preservation of its own being (esse) according to its nature. Through this inclination the natural law pertains to everything that makes for the preservation of human life and all that impedes its death. There is in man a second inclination to more specific ends according to the nature he has in common with other animals. According to this inclination, those things are said to be of natural law "that nature has taught all animals," instincts such as the union of husband and wife, the education of children. and so forth. Third, there is in man a certain inclination to good according to his rational nature, and this is proper to man alone: thus man has a natural inclination to know the truth about God and to live in society. And in respect to this. there come under the natural law all action pertaining to such inclinations: notably that a man should avoid ignorance, that he must not offend those with whom he deals, and all other actions of this kind.

Finally, because man is naturally a social animal there must be something outside natural and divine law. This is a law that leads man to live in harmony with his fellow man.

There is a threefold order necessary for man. The first comes from comparison with the rule of reason. inasmuch as all our actions and our passions should be measured by the rule of reason. Another order comes from comparison with the rule of the divine law, through which man ought to be directed in all things. If man were naturally a solitary animal this double order would suffice; but because man is naturally a social and political animal, as is proved in Politics I. 2. it is necessary to have a third order. regulating man's conduct with the other men with whom he must live

However, as you can see even from the thumbnail sketch given above of the history of English government, the theory would have problems any time there was dispute between two kinds of authority. Remember that Aristotle talked about an Aristocracy as the rule by the best, and this is borne out in the description by Aquinas above. The concept of divine right itself is not Aristotelian. The English writer Robert Filmer attempted to prove that the right came from the direct decent of the Kings from Adam. The Aristotelian theory simply has no answer for that kind of problem, particularly when we remove from it the concept of a final cause and replace it with efficient cause.