Until the reign of William III and Mary, and thus for the most part of the seventeenth century, England was hampered in any attempt to compete with the major foreign powers by several factors. There was a lack of obvious enemies or allies, and initiatives were crippled by the inadequacy of the government's financial resources and domestic instability. These problems contributed to the calamitous foreign policy of Charles I during the period 1625- 28 as the King lent support to the attempt to regain the Palatinate for his brother-in-law from Spain. After a succession of failures Charles' reputation abroad collapsed and confidence at home dwindled away. Fundamentally, Charles lacked the parliamentary grants necessary for successful conuct of warfare. The decision to embark on the Personal Rule in part stemmed from Parliament's obstinacy to grant subsidies to the King.

The crippling state of weak public finance disappeared during the 1680s as a result of the trade boom. This allowed the government to support a standing army without parliamentary subsidy. James II's use of this military machine against his own subjects to defeat Monmouth's rebellion (1685) and consolidate an unpopular pro-Catholic political and religious programme confirmed the worst fears members of the political nation. The maintenance of armed forces during peacetime aroused great hatred and fear because the memories of the political role of the Army in the late 1640s and 1650s were still reverberating strong, particularly with a Catholic monarch at the helm.

The Revolution of 1688 removed the constraints that had held England back from successful intervention in international affairs and greatly enhanced its effectiveness as a military power - demonstrated by the victories of the Duke of Marlborough in the early 1700s.

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