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Charles I and the origins of the English Civil War, 1625-1642
The reign of Charles I, until the attempted arrest of the five MPs in January
1642, divides clearly into three phases:
The years of the Personal Rule, 1629-1640
1640-January 1642, the reforming phase of the Long Parliament.
Charles, born on 19th November 1600, was known for being shy and reserved,
with his stammer emphasising his poor communication skills. He was
single-minded and had a firm determination to safeguard the principles of
divine right monarchy and of the Episcopal Church of England.
Whilst the reign of James I was not a great one to inherit, Charles had neither
his father's ability to turn a blind eye to problems nor the opportunity to do
Foreign policy, religion and finance were all issues that Parliament were still
unhappy with, despite their supposed content with James' final court.
After a period of four years, Charles embarked on a period of
Personal Rule (rule by the King without Parliament) in 1629.
After Charles attempted to impose a new Prayer Book on the Scots in 1637,
they were inspired to rebel. The first Bishops War of 1639 returned Charles to
the situation of the first period of his reign: chronic financial incapacity.
Inability to subdue the Scottish rebellion without financial support from
Parliament ended the Personal Rule in 1640.
The Long Parliament was called in November 1640 after a second Bishops
War. The Long Parliament exacted harsh revenge on Charles in the form of:
The removal of Strafford and Laud
The passing of legislation that reversed many of the financial expedients
of the Personal Rule
The introduction of legislation curbing the royal prerogative over the
summoning, prorogation and dissolution of Parliament
The call for a reduction in the power of bishops
Towards the end of October 1641, rebellion broke out in Ireland, and
Parliament had doubts about Charles being able to lead the army. Charles
attempted to arrest the leaders of the opposition in Parliament in 1642
and failed. This led to him and his family fleeing for Hampton Court. However,
an English Civil War was not a possibility in 1640...
Why did Charles I call three Parliaments, 1625-1629?
The First Parliament (June-August 1625) was quick to use the power of the
purse against Charles when he failed to explain his foreign policy and
persisted in a continental strategy against Spain. They granted him tunnage
and poundage for one year only, instead of for life.
Parliament insisted that Buckingham be removed, as his influence arose
concern in many areas, Catholicism being one of the main ones.
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The Second Parliament (February-May 1626) proved unsatisfactory both to
the King and to Parliament. The Commons was determined to remove the Duke
of Buckingham. The strategy was to vote for subsidies but leave them in
committee stage until Buckingham had been impeached. Eventually, Charles
had to dissolve Parliament in order to save Buckingham from impeachment and
himself from a nasty debate on abuse of parliamentary privilege.
Between the second and third parliaments (1627), war with France was led by