Image: Historical Figures from English and British History by George Stuart

Historical Figures of England

Evolution of the British Empire

The portraits of Historical Figures of England span 400 years of British history. Following the reign of Henry VIII, the role of the monarchy changed forever. English politics and religion underwent a progressive transformation well ahead of Western Europe. The Tudor and Stuart rulers went from being absolutists in the 16th Century to figureheads in Georgian and Victorian Periods. From the Tudor rule of Henry VII, Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, to the Stuart dynasty of James I, and Charles I, kings progressively lost power. During the brief Republic of Oliver Cromwell there was no king. The restoration of Charles II was a constitutional monarchy that continued to evolve in the Georgian and Victorian Periods.

As head of the Church of England and above politics, the monarch is the revered symbol of the nation. Today monarchs are expected to uphold and maintain this exalted symbolism. Indeed, the challenge is almost as demanding and precarious as was that of their forefathers who claimed a divine right to rule over every aspect of the realm.