January 8, 2008
Professor T. Coogan
Sources Homework 2
Document 5 (page 21)
1. According to Bossuet, why do kings merit absolute obedience, and what duty do they owe to God?
According to Bossuet, the kings have a divine right, directly appointed by God, to govern people. In this way, a king’s duty to God is to punish and suppress evil; in doing so, kings are preserving good and order. In addition, it is the kings holy right to ordain and punish all those who appose him, interpreting their wrong doings as a direct defiance to God himself. Furthermore, the king’s divinity is therefore justified by the notion that they were positioned in “God’s throne” to govern the people and preserve all that is good, orderly and peaceful.
2. What was the theory of kingship by divine authority embraced by King James I of England?
King James I of England asserts that his power is by divine right from God. He proclaims that defying him and his laws would be interpreted as a direct defiance of God’s will. He justifies his theory by stating that, in the bible, kings are called gods, therefore they are called gods by God himself and appointed to rule the people. He also asserts that his position as king is parallel to the position of father in the sense that, he is the father of the country and therefore father of the people. Furthermore, he also informs us that if an individual perceives his laws and actions as a grievance, this individual would be lessening him and his authority consequently also lessening the power and authority of God.
3. What was the proper role of parliament for James I?
According to James I, the role of parliament is to serve as the king’s subjects and advisers. He asserts that a king is the only form of authority that can make laws, and will do so with or without the advice of parliament. Also, parliament has no power to make laws or repeal them therefore they possess influence, no power in government.
Document 6 (page 24)
1. What was Thomas Hobbes’s view of human nature and what conclusions did he draw from it about the best form of government?
According to Hobbes, the nature of human beings is to quarrel for three definitive reasons: competition, diffidence, and glory. His views about human nature are in conjunction with his view that all humans are fundamentally the same and therefore, the notion that the king has divine right to govern, is non-realistic. In addition to Hobbes theory of human nature, he also stresses that because of human nature, people must be governed absolutely in order to maintain a functional state otherwise, “society would collapse and the anarchy of the state of nature will”(23) prevail. He emphasizes that before government, the world was in a state of “war against all” (23) as a consequence of human nature and, it is the responsibility of government to provide security to the people and establish a successful commerce.
2. What has been the political legacy of Hobbes notion of the state?
Hobbes believes that the political legacy of his notion of state would be to protect the people by creating order, security, commerce, and everything that is crucial to a successful state. He declares that without an absolute power over the people, individuals are left to rely on themselves for survival, strength, reason, etc. Consequently, Hobbes asserts that, as seen in history, when man is left to rely on his own reason anarchy will prevail, diminishing any form of stability and success in the world. This is, in part, due to the diverse points of view of man kind and the potential for these points of view to clash, creating war and destruction. Lastly, Hobbes also asserts that if citizens of a state are obedient to their governor and trust in his ability to govern, security and peace would dominate, making the state a successful and functional one.
Document 7 (page 26)
1. How did the Declaration of Rights limit royal authority? With what result?
The Declaration of Rights limited the royal authority by depriving King James II the throne and therefore, banishing the notion that the kings has divine right to govern. The Declaration of Rights also forced the government to recognize that an absolute monarchy held by the king alone was unjust, unequal, and in many cases corrupt. In consequence, parliament became a representation of the people who can limit the power of the king and prevent corruption. The result that came from this was the formulation of somewhat equal rights for the people to practice religion and the voice of the people to ultimately be represented.
2. In what ways did the Glorious Revolution impact upon the American rebellion in the 1770s?
The glorious revolution impacted the American rebellion in the 1770s by inspiring the American colonists to fight for their civil rights. They did not want to be governed by an absolute monarchy and wished that the people would have some degree of representation in government that reflected their need and was free from corruption. The Declaration of Rights that brought on the glorious revolution was an important source of inspiration for the American Declaration of Independence and the Constitution; which also incorporated some of the rights from the Declaration of Rights.
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