The seventeenth century witnessed the birth of modern England. By the close of Elizabeth’s reign, England had attained nationhood, and the struggle with the early Stuarts almost completed the process of unification. This was the achievement of the upper middle class which had grown in power and numbers under the social and economic influences of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and it was to this class that power in the State passed when it was forfeited by the Crown. In 1649 they wrested sovereignty from the King, and in 1689 this transfer became more real with the accession of a royal house depending on Parliamentary tenure. The foundation of the British Empire must also be put to the credit of the same progressive class.