Charles I Personal Rule


Finance of Personal Rule

  • Charles was wary of Parliaments as they had:
  • Failed to support the war efforts against France and Spain 1620s
  • Failed to accept the changes that had begun in the Church
  • Charles had 2 aims: Provide a well ordered & efficient royal government & Raise sufficient money to avoid recall of Parliament
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Methods to avoid financial crisis

  • Avoidance of War
  • 1629: peace treaty with France
  • 1630: peace treaty with Spain
  • By 1635 only £66,000 spent on military
  • Retrenchment
  • Weston (in charge of finances) made several cutbacks in royal expenditure at court
  • However after his death cutbacks weren't always maintained
  • Patronage was vital method of rewarding followers @ Court so cutbacks couldn't always be widespread
  • Both these methods had negative political consequences:
  • Charles' withdrawal from 30 years war not popular w/ Puritans who saw it as godly war
  • Reduction in Court Costs unpopular with those who liked extravagance of James' reign
  • Increase in Customs Revenue
  • Avoidance of war meant there was increase in trade
  • Charles could greatly increase revenue from T+P although he was collecting them illegally
  • New custom duties "Impositions" drawn up
  • By 1640 £500,000 p.a. from customs
  • Crown Land sales- Charles sold £650,000 worth
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Methods to avoid financial crisis

  • Feudal Dues (all below)
  • Charles looked to past for inspiration to raise revenue
  • "Distraint of Knighthood"
  • Landowners owning land worth £40 p.a. fined for not presenting themselves for knighthood at Charles' coronation in 1625
  • £174,000 brought in by end f 1630s
  • Forest Laws
  • Landowners who lived in/built buildings on former royal forests fined
  • Raised £38,000
  • Wardship revenues
  • By 1630s £55,000 p.a.

Feudal dues were made to alienate the Crown's natural allies!!!!

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Methods to ensure Crown independence

  • Most of Charles' other methods were politically short sighted
  • Exploitation of 1624 Monopoly Act
  • The 1624 Act banned individuals from holding monopolies
  • 1632: Charles allowed a company to golf a monopoly on the sale of soap
  • This antagonised merchants
  • Ship Money
  • 1634: Ship money collecred from coastal countries
  • 1635: extended to ALL counties on grounds whole country suffered if trade went wrong
  • Country being asked to make regular direct payment to government
  • In financial terms this was very successful
  • How successful was Charles in financing government 1629-1640?
  • Royal government depended on cooperation of Gentry and Crown
  • Charles was in danger of alienating his natural allies
  • Could not have gone to war so freedom of action very limited
  • Personal Rule was a period of financial standstill
  • A strong, financially independent monarchy was not created
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Opposition to financial methods

  • Gentry's natural loyalty to government was strained
  • Distraint of Knighthood carried a heavy political cost
  • Forest Laws; it was known Charles was trying to extract money not rectify social evil
  • Exploitation of Wardship: could bankrupt landowning families, it was seen as unfair
  • All these methods of raising revenue were seen as attack on property right & liberty
  • With exploitation of monopoly laws it was felt Charles was putting private gain above wider community
  • Ship money: seen as innovative tax that should have had permission of Parliament
  • The Hampden Test Case
  • 1636: John Hampden refused to pay Ship Money as it hadn't been authorized by Parliament
  • Royal judges decided in favour of King saying there was no limit to King's power to decide on taxation
  • To the gentry this implied Charles' prerogative rights were unlimited

For most of Personal Rule period landowning classes found almost impossible to openly criticise the King because of natural loyalty

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Opposition to financial methods

  • Fear that Charles was moving towards 'absolute government'
  • Fear heightened by fact he wouldn't call Parliament
  • By 1639:
  • Scottish Covenanters Rebellion meant Charles forced to demand even more non-Parliamentary revenue
  • This resulted in taxpayers strike
  • Opposition to financial methods could now become open since main leaders were in contact with Scots rebels
  • Both groups were working together to force Charles to recall Parliament
  • Opposition quickly became open once opportunity arose
  • Resentment against financial methods of Personal Rule one of key grievances in Long Parliament 1640
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Laud, Charles & changes in Anglican

  • Charles wanted to change Anglican Church in line with his own views
  • Wanted to impose uniformitu on Church & government
  • Charles was as responsible for religious policies as Laud
  • AIMS
  • Greater siginificance on "beauty of holiness"
  • Greater significance on religious ceremony
  • Enhance authority of clergy
  • Move away from broad comprehensive church
  • Most important priority was imposition of religious uniformity

These changes provoked resentment for different reasons:

  • Cost, social implications & threat posed to political stability
  • Laud's aim to raise status of clergy horrified gentry as they felt he was undermining their power & independence in local communities
  • Religious fears: too close to Catholicism
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Changes in Anglican Church

  • Political fears: Charles refusing to intervene in 30 Years War to save Protestantism
  • Increasing fears over Charles' friendship with Papal ambassador at Court
  • Fears there was network of Catholic's at Court who were misleading the King
  • Most fears centred around Laud & Henrietta Maria
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Opposition to changes

  • Trial of John Lilburne
  • Lilburne found guilty of distributing Puritan pamphlets and beginning to print his own works
  • Sentenced to be tied & whipped in public then imprisoned
  • Had to be gagged at trial as he wouldn't accept verdict
  • Failure of religious Policies
  • Charles' decision to implement religious uniformity in Scotland:
  • 1637: decision to implement Prayer Book, Convenanters rebellion allowed English opposition to become open
  • 1640: religious grievances were very prominent in Long Parliament
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"Thorough Government"

  • Method of government used by Charles' 2 key advisers: Laud and Thomas Wentworth
  • Laud was key member of Privy Council, believed Church should play much wider role in society
  • Book of Orders 1531
  • Carried out by Laud
  • Series of instructions from Privy Council to local JPs dealing w/ tackling poor relief
  • They reflected shared aims of Laud, Charles & local JPs for effective local government
  • 1630-32 Charles ordered gentry to leave London to ensure they carried out responsibilities in their local areas
  • Reissue of Book of Sports
  • 1633
  • Gave details of popular sports that could be played on Sundays
  • Puritan gentry deeply offended by this believing Sunday should be day of rest
  • Other aspects of Laud in Personal Rule
  • Highly influential member of Privy Council
  • By late 1630s three most important Anglican Bishops served on Privy Council, fears Laudian bishops were dominating royal government  
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"Thorough Government"

  • This seemed to be further evidenc of "popish plot"
  • Thomas Wentworth (Earl of Strafford)
  • Wentworth was most feared man in England
  • His actions in Ireland led fears he was using Ireland as test for policies eventually for use in England
  • In 1634 Strafford called an Irish Parliament which he bent to his own will
  • He bullied it into granting taxation to raise money for Irish Standing Army
  • He made Ireland financially independent of England
  • He imposed Laudian reforms on the Anglican Church in Ireland
  • Straffords policies in Ireland were successful financially
  • But he alienated both Protestants in Ireland and Irish Catholics (vast majority of population)


  • Raised fears King was being misguided by advisers who were pushing him into Catholic, absolutist policy
  • No "Point of Contact" between King & subjects due to lack of Parliament
  • Straffords recall to England 1639 intensified fears due to his Irish Army
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"Caroline Government"

  • It was very different from the Court of his fathers
  • Access to the monarch was restricted to ensure respect for the Crown
  • Strict codes of noble behaviour were enforced with King setting supreme example of morality
  • The main effect of changes at Court was that it became more isolated from the rest of society and PN
  • It encouraged fears about King being misled by advisers at Court
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Cooperation and Opposition in PR

  • 1629-31 severe economic depression caused by plague & harvest failures
  • After 1631 country entered period of good harvests & a boom in trade
  • How would this have helped Charles in Personal Rule?
  • Crown and its most powerful subjects had to work in cooperation ensure social harmony
  • Book of Orders gave good example of cooperation (shared aims for effective local government)
  • Many long term reforming plans were pushed aside by urgent, short term matters
  • Charles' character greatly influenced the nature of his personal rule, royal court became more isolated from mainstream political opinion
  • The court seemed to be at centre of "popish plot"
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How serious was opposition pre 1637?

Pre 1637

  • Up to 1637 only individual cases of opposition to Personal Rule
  • Up to 1637 Charles always able to rely on PN natural obedience to royal authority
  • PN knew they were being alienated but it was to much of a risk to express their fears
  • The Providence Island Company 1630
  • This set up to ensure those in PN who opposed Crown policies could maintain network of contacts throughout Personal Rule
  • This would be vital when rebellion broke out in Soctland in 1637
  • can be argued that unless Charles called a Parliament the opposition could make little impact on Personal Rule
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Religious Opposition

  • Laudian changes had destroyed balance of "Jacobethan" church
  • They alienated majority and created "conspiracy mentality" where those of different religious views became increasingly suspicious of eachother
  • Charles' support for Laudian changes ended up triggering Britains wars of religion 1630s by alienating majority forcing a reaction from the Puritans
  • The emergence of MILLENARIANISM
  • This was the belief that there would be a 2nd coming of Christ
  • Had always been common amongst extreme Puritans
  • Some historians argue that millinarianism beliefs grew among Puritans in Personal Rule
  • Charles' Personal rule and Laudian changes suggested Puritans were living in the reign of the AntiChrist
  • This made it more lilely that religious tension would cause violent conflict


  • Opposition would always remain underlying unless PN could voice grievances
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Downfall of Personal Rule

Why was Charles forced to recall Parliament?

  • Result of Charles' attempt to impose religious uniformity upon Scotland & failure to see this would lead to rebellion
  • Charles was the key factor
  • Charles' policy in Scotland before 1637
  • Act of Revocation: Cancelled all grants of church & crown land to gentry- horrified Scottish gentry 1625
  • His coronation ceremony in Scotland had many Laudian features causing fears about his intentions 1633
  • Issued new "canons" 1636 for Scottish Church
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Covenanters Rebellion

  • July 1637: Prayer Book containing Laudian changes introduced to Scotland
  • Result was widespread riots
  • It was thought Laud was behind a plan to turn the Scots away from the 'true' religion
  • Feb 1638: National Covenant drawn up to 'maintain the true religion of Jesus Christ'
  • Charles chose to regard Covenanters as direct challenge to his authority, decided to use military force against them
  • He would not compromise
  • Charles had called a General Assembly but made it clear he wouldn't compromise
  • Nov 1638: General Assembly abolished Scottish episcopacy
  • Charles had turned grievances of Scots Covenanters into open rebellion
  • Now allowing Scots to provide succesful example of resistance to royal authority
  • Now the financial instability of Personal Rule became apparent
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The First Bishop's War

Charles' Military Plan

  • Straffords Irish army would land in Scotland
  • A naval blockade of Scotland planned
  • Irish army in fact never left Ireland, blockade was abandoned through lack of money
  • Charles' new demands for money provoked a taxpayers strike
  • June 1639: the 2 armies met at BERWICK. English forces fled having no desire to fight covenanters
  • June 1639: TREATY OF BERWICK: Charles agreed to call Scottish Parliament & General Assembly of Scottish Church
  • As a result the abolition of the Scottish episcopacy was confirmed
  • Opposition in England was working with Covenanters to force Charles to call English Parliament
  • Summer 1639: Charles allowed Spanish troops to cross England, fears he was seeking Spanish help at those who opposed his rule
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The First Bishop's War

  • September 1639: Wentworth recalled from Ireland and made Earl of Strafford, concern military rule was about to be imposed by Strafford
  • Strafford advised Charles to call Parliament 
  • Charles had little options
  • His request to City of London merchants for £100,000 loan was rejected, they offered £10,000
  • Maybe result of Charles' poor treatment of them over settlement of Londonerry
  • Henrietta Maria asked English Catholics to give financial donations, increased fears of "popish plot" at Court
  • April 1640: Scottish Parliament passed Triennial Act forcing Charles to call Parliament every 3 years
  • This was another example of challenging royal authority and a model for the English opposition to follow
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The Short Parliament April 1640

  • Not all was lost for Charles, MPs prepared to grant finance only after grievances had been addressed
  • Charles made promise to abandon Ship Money & hear grievances only if he was granted 12 subsidies
  • MPs led by John Pym debated the grievances that had built up:
  • Religion, Economy, Politics and Legal problems
  • Charles dissolved Short Parliament after 3 weeks
  • Stafford advised Charles he was no "absolved from all rules of government"
  • Covenanters decided only way to get Charles to reason would be to invade England
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The Second Bishop's War

August 1640: Covenanter Army crosses into England

  • Charles had to confiscate London merchants' gold in Tower of London to pay for new military campaign 
  • August 1640: "Battle" of Newburn- English Army fled
  • Sept 1640: Charles called Council of Peers at York, advised him to recall Parliament
  • October 1640: Treaty of Ripon: Scots Covenanters would remain in England and recieve £850 a day til satisfactory terms guarenteed by future English Parliament
  • Charles had now run out of options, guarenteed he would be unable to dissolve a new Parliament without agreement of English and Scottish opposition
  • Nov 1640: Parliament recalled (Long Parliament)
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Why was Charles forced to recall?

  • In PR Charles reliant on cooperation of gentry and avoiding war
  • Mistake trying to impose religious uniformity on Scotland-failed to see possible rebellion
  • Charles' personality is a key factor- actions and stubbornness led to all sides mistrusting his intentions
  • Scottish rebellion triggered English oppostion to air grievances (taxpayers strike 1640)
  • Scots grievances were religious but English were religious, financial, political and legal
  • Charles unlikely to find any support in England
  • Strafford's recall increased fears of Charles using force to crush opposition
  • By 1640 English/Scottish opposition were cooperating
  • Scots provided successful model of resisting royal authority (Scottish Triennial Act)
  • BY 1640 Charles facing general ANTI-COURT CONCENSUS forcing him to recall Parliament 
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The Long Parliament & Events


  • What grievances did MPs have November 1640?
  • Religious Grievances
  • MPs wanted to stop abuses in Church by Laudian bishops
  • Laudian changes reversed
  • Still wide belief in "popish plot"
  • Political Grievances
  • Punish people who have 'misguided' the King (Laud, Strafford)
  • Restore constintutional balance between King and Parliament 
  • Financial Grievances
  • Abolish financial basis of PR: Ship Money, Distraint of Knighthood etc
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"Bridge Appointment Scheme"

A possible solution? 

  • Drawn up by Earl of Bedford
  • On good terms with Charles personally
  • It would 'bridge' gap between Crown and Parliament 
  • Abolition of most hated financial and political aspects of PR
  • Return to broad-based Protesttant Church
  • Separate financial settlement
  • Charles' opponents to become main advisers
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Role of John Pym

  • Seen as main 'spokesman' for opposition
  • Views not originally radical
  • Became obsessed with 2 factors: 
  • Fear King would arrest him for treason & existence of 'popish plot' led by Henrietta
  • His mistrust of Charles drove him to become radical 1641
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Removal of Political Grievances

Nov 1640- Summer 1641

  • Parliament concentrated on removal of evil counsellors, this was main grievance
  • Nov 1640: Laud and Strafford arrested 
  • Feb 1641: Triennial Act - Parliament to meet every 3 years
  • July 1641: Act against Forcible Dissolution (Long Parliament could only be dissolved with MPs permission)
  • By mid 1641 all political grievances had been addressed, MPs satisfied with these
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Importance Strafford's trial & death

Strafford was put on trial then executed

  • He was accused of giving King evil advised
  • Argued his case so well ACT OF ATTAINDER put in place- no proof of guilt necessary
  • MPs though Parliament were using similar methods to Charles
  • Pym released details of "ARMY PLOT", plan to release Strafford and bring English army down south and bring over Straffords Irish Army and crush all opponents of King
  • Pym drew up PROTESTATION OATH,stated there was definite plot to establish Catholicism & absolute monarchy
  • Charles had promised Strafford he would not die but had little choice than to sign warrant. He feared for his families safety
  • MPs concerned about legal methods used to execute Strafford (act of Attainder)
  • Horrified at Pym involving common people of London in crisis- attack on hierarchy of society
  • Charles had been forced into corner- made him more likely to use force if opportunity arose
  • "Bridge Appointments" idea dead
  • MPs increasingly suspicious Pym was seeking power for himself 
  • Therefore- most political grievances readdressed but King completely alienated
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Issue of trust arose here

  • June 1641: Ten Propositions
  • One of 1st attempts by opposition to reduce King's powers
  • Most important proposition was Parliament would gain control over nomination of King's advisers
  • Many MPs concerned at implications of this and thought opposition were going too far
  • Charles went to Scotland to negotiate with Covenanters, trying to persuadde them to leave England. If they left he would no longer need long parliament
  • Charles aware that some Scots lords felt Covenanters had gone too far in attacking the Crown
  • Charles determined to exploit these disagreements among Scots
  • Made opposition trust Charles even less
  • If chance arose Charles would dissolve Parliament
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Religious issues divide Parliament

How and why did religious issues divide Parliament even further?

  • Religious issues intensified cracks in anti-court concensus and widened gap between King and Parliament 
  • Dec 1640: "Root and Branch" petition to abolish bishops from Anglican Church
  • This was laid aside until political issues were settled as they caused more controversy
  • May 1641 onwards: Religious issues debated again
  • Most MPs wanted Laudian reforms removed, wanted more Protestant identity to Church
  • MPs fearing Pym's attacks in the Church were encouraging religious radicalism to develop
  • Root and Branch Bill failed
  • MPs who wanted removal of Laudian reforms becoming concerned abou new plans for innovations in Anglican Church
  • MPs began to turn to King
  • Religious issues divided Parliament more than any other issues
  • Possible to see divisions of Civil War
  • Charles slowly building up support
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Drift to War

Summer 1641- Summer 1642

  • After negitiations failed Charles tried to arrest leading Covenanters
  • Led to even more mistrust of Charles' intentions- MPs realised he might do the same in England
  • Irish Rebellion Summer 1641
  • Growing Puritan ninflucen in Long Parliament convinced Irish Catholics necessary to act to prevent anti-Catholic measures from being imposed on Ireland
  • Catholic rebellion broke out- widespread massacre of Protestants
  • OCt 1641: Parliament back in session after summer break. Britain in state of panic about rumours of what had happened in Ireland
  • The rumours were that 20,000 Protestants had been killed by Irish Catholics but it was 6,000
  • Thought irish rebels were going to invade England and that Charels was in league with the rebels
  • This was only what people believed, not what was actually happening
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Significance of Irish Rebellion

  • To many MPs it was definite proof there was a "popish plot"
  • English crisis now more difficult to solve
  • Ensured Long parliament must continye
  • Intensified mistrust issues: who would be in charge of Army
  • Command of Army was royal prerogative- MPs feared Charles would use it agaisnt opposition
  • Irish rebelllion focused attention on KIng's Military authority
  • Meant growing number of MPs felt even more strongly that opposition were going too far
  • Charles allowed several non-Laudian bishops to be promoted in the Church
  • Charles began to be seen by many MPs as symbol of order and tradition
  • May 1641: Charles' daughter married Dutch Prince William of Orange- reassured MPs about Charles' Protestant faith
  • Many MPs becoming concerned with growing radicalism across country
  • Growing ICONOCLASM seemed that etablished Church and powers of monarchy must be mainted or society would collapse
  • Meant more support for Charles
  • However rebellion made opposition MPs even more determined to restrict powers of King
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Nov 1641: Grand Remonstrance

  • Attempt by Pym to kickstart opposition
  • List of all grievances against Charles since he became King
  • Also contained within it the 10 Propositions
  • Many MPs saw this as a diredct insult to the King
  • Remonstrance passed by House of Commons
  • Commons split even further by Pym's decision to publish the Grand Remonstrance
  • MPs unhappy with idea of involving common people in crisis
  • Dec 1641: Militia Bill- Charles oculd choose commanders for army to be sent to Ireland but had to be approved by Parliament- direct attack on royal prerogative
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