In the 18th century, two events in close succession shook the western world and changed world history forever. They were the American Revolution (1765-1776) and the French Revolution (1787-1794). Both of these overthrew two major feudal powers in Western Europe (England and France) and established two modern republics (United States of America and France). Then followed the rise of Napoleon, Napoleonic wars, successive capitalist revolutions throughout the world etc etc etc, all of which led to the world we know today. Most people tie these two events to the rise of the enlightenment movement, absolutism and social contract in the previous century, since the great intellectual movements of the 17th century greatly revolutionised western culture and gave the common people much more intellectual freedom and autonomy. Most people seem to forget, however, that a very similar event happened in the 17th century, and that was the English civil war (1642-1641). The fact that Queen Elizabeth I left no biological heir led to an issue of succession/accession in England, and although King Charles I was made King in 1626, there were great conflicts between the politicians in government as to who should rule. King Charles I was eventually defeated by the parliamentarians and beheaded, and England was established as a republic rather than a monarchy. The English Parliament, led by the great Oliver Cromwell, became a major body in the English government and has overpowered the English Monarchs ever since. Fascinating event, one which shook English if not western history, since this was an early if not the first instance of the overthrow of feudal power and the establishment of a republican government. Absolutely amazing.