Charles I
(1600-1649)


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Synopsis
Charles I was born in Scotland on November 19, 1600. He was the second son of James VI of Scotland and Anne of Denmark. Charles father James VI became James I of England, which is how Charles I took the throne to rule England. Charles I reign consisted of religious instability in England and political strife because of his constant disagreements with parliament. Charles I reign in England was an unpopular one and his attitude and ideas led England to the civil war and his execution on January 30, 1649. The opposition was parliament, led by Oliver Cromwell, the Roundheads, against Charles I and his supporters, the Royalists.







Early Life
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When Charles I was born he received the title of Duke of Albany at his baptism and Duke of York in 1605. Charles I was the second son of James I and ascended to the throne because his older brother Henry, whom he adored, died of typhoid in 1612, leaving Charles I as the heir to the throne. Charles I then took the throne in 1625 and married catholic princess Henrietta Maria of France. Charles and Maria had many children and two of them were Charles and James (which they later became Charles II and James II). It is said as a child Charles suffered from a speaking disability and never overcame his slight stammer in communication.

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He also had weak ankle joints which caused him to have slow physical movements. People tried helping him to overcome this by making him wear heavy boots reinforced with iron. Though Charles I had disabilities he was serious minded and excelled in languages, rhetoric and theology.









Conflicts during his Reign
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In 1625 Charles I became King of England. Charles I strongly believed in divine rights of King and wanted all control and power over England and did not want to reign with Parliament. Charles I had a good friend named George Villers, who was a Duke of Buckingham. George Villers openly manipulated parliament and made powerful enemies within the nobility. George Villers was later assassinated in 1628 which depressed and angered Charles I. Charles I wanted an absolutist monarchy in England which angered his subjects and his constant conflict with parliament did not help. Charles argued with parliament about military spending and religious instability. With these conflicts, Charles I decided to dissolve parliament three times in the first four years of his rule, then in 1629 Charles I dismissed parliament altogether. This resulted in Charles I ruling alone which forced Charles to raise money for England by using new methods of taxations and fines. Charles I ruled without Parliament for eleven years which angered all of his subjects.









Religion
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Charles I caused religious instability throughout England because of his marriage with Henrietta Maria of France. She was a catholic and Charles I was Anglican. Henrietta Maria refused to take part in English protestant ceremonies and stuck to her religion which was catholic. England's previous history with religion made the English people suspicious. His subjects started to see Charles I as a king who is vulnerable towards the catholic community since he married a catholic and allowed her to practice openly and freely. People started to believe that her influence over the King was strong and their children would go against England's protestant nation state religion. As well her influence over Charles made it possible for Charles to have an absolute monarchy which England was trying to get away from.





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Charles I also caused religious instability by appointing William Laud archbishop of Canterbury in 1633. Laud supported Charles I claim to divine right and used the ecclesiastical court of High Commission to suppress opposition from Protestants who saw his high church as close to catholicism. Charles I also supported archbishop Laud and wanted uniformity and conformity across all three kingdoms, Ireland, England and Scotland. Charles I imposed a new prayer book on Scotland which was forced upon the Scottish government the "Kirks" in 1637. Charles went against Scotland's government because even though he ruled in these three kingdom's, each country has their own government.
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Forcing the Scot's to accept this new prayer book angered them since Charles did not ask for Scotland's government for permission or approval. As well it took Charles a long time before he visited Scotland during his rule which made it clear to the Scot's that Charles did not care about his background and culture. This caused the creation of the Scottish National Covenant, interference of religion is not permitted and caused the First Bishops War between Scotland and England.











Money
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During Charles reign, money was a problem since he kept spending money for his extravagant lifetyle and imposing new methods of taxation towards the English. Charles I developed a sophisticated taste in art and had the greatest royal art collection in Europe. Charles I spent a lot on the arts and invited artists such as Van Dyck and Rubens to work in England. He bought a vast amount of their works and paintings by Raphael and Titan. Charles I also made the post Master of the King's music, which included supervision of the King's large band of musicians. Charles wanted to live a lavish life and spent a lot of money on art and for items for himself. He spent vast sums of money on art and musicians to entertain the Court's. This painting was painted in 1633 by Van Dyck and is a picture of Charles I on a horse.








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Parliament refused to grant Charles approval to raise money to fund for his wars against Spain and France. Charles I then dismissed parliament and Charles decided to raise taxes on his own and made a forced loan. This money was levied without Parliaments consent and refusal to pay resulted in imprisonment without a trial. This caused discontent and in 1628 a Commons Petition of Rights was drawn up by Parliament stating he could not impose taxes without their consent nor could he imprison people without a fair trial. Charles agreed to the petition and signed it, but never properly enacted the statue. Charles dissolved Parliament again and made his own methods of taxation. One method was ship money. Ship money was a method of taxation levied in the Kingdom of England. It was one of several taxes that English monarchs could levy by prerogative without the approval of Parliament. This made Charles very unpopular with people who were royal supporters.









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Charles and Parliament
Once Charles came into reign in 1625 he and Parliament had constant problems since Charles I wanted an absolute monarchy in England. Charles struggled to control Parliament since they resented his attempts to his absolute rule. Charles dissolved Parliament three times and ruled without them for eleven years, which is also known as his "Eleven Years Tyranny". During these years he realized he needed Parliament and called them back into session in 1640 because he needed money to fund his wars. Parliament refused to grant him any funds so Charles dismissed parliament in three weeks, which was known as the Short Parliament. Charles then had to call Parliament back into session since Scotland advanced into England and forced Charles into listening and acting on their terms. This is known as the Long Parliament which started in November 1640. Once Parliament was back into session, the Triennial Act of 1641 was enacted and meant that no more than three years could elapse between Parliaments and they could not be dissolved without its consent. As well, the Irish uprisings in October 1641 caused tension between the King and Parliament over the command of the Army.

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Parliament issued a Grand Remonstrance which was a list of grievances to King Charles by the English Parliament. They also put Laud and other ministers in prison and Stafford, who was a Kings friend and advisor, was put to death.This caused Charles to get angry with Parliament and Charles tried to arrest five members of Parliament in August 1642, but failed. After his failed attempt to arrest five members of Parliament, civil war began.





















external image charles_execution_speech.jpgCharles Execution
Civil war began in 1642 and ended in 1649. Charles supporters were called the Royalists and Parliaments supporters were called Roundheads. The Royalists covered the North west part of England and Roundheads covered the South east. The Royalists had church officials and the aristocracy for support whereas the Roundheads had the towns people and puritans for support. Oliver Cromwell was the leader for Parliaments army and defeated Charles army. Charles then surrendered himself to a Scottish army who then handed him over to parliament. Charles was supposed to be tried by his enemies in a high court of Justice and was convicted of high treason. He was executed on January 30, 1649 in front of the Banqueting house in Whitehall, London. There followed a period known as the English Commonwealth ruled by Cromwell through parliament.













For additional information on Charles I:
- http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/charles_i_king.shtml

- http://www.royal.gov.uk/historyofthemonarchy/kingsandqueensoftheunitedkingdom/thestuarts/charlesi.aspx