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Source Exercise 6: The Divine Right of Kings 11

Most monarchical regimes in pre-modern Europe were based on laws of inheritance. Typically, the law of primogeniture prevailed: the right of the first born to succeed. In France, but not England, this right was confined to males. The law of 'birthright' could be problematic in several situations, such as an heir to the throne who was deemed incapable of sound government, or who was a 'heretic' or 'papist', who whose inheritance might involve one monarchy swallowing up another. Hence dynastic politics was at the heart of pre-modern politics. The University in this particular case was condemning those who wanted to prevent Charles II's brother and heir (he had no legitimate children) from inheriting the throne, on the grounds that he was a Roman Catholic who should not be allowed to rule a Protestant country. James did inherit, in 1685, but was overthrown in a revolution in 1688.


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