From personal rule to civil war, 1629-42


The breakdown of relations by 1629

  • 2 days after a group of MPs had passed the Three Resoultions, Charles angrily dissolved parliament.
  • Charles had the ringleaders and leading critics arrested. Holles and Valentine were released in 1630 after apologising, but Eliot died in prison in 1632 after refusing to apologise. 
  • Clearly, Charles felt that the passing of the Three Resolutions was a revolutionary act - and for the next 11 years he refused to call another parliament. 

All historians agree that the relationshop between Charles and the Political Nation had been put under severe strain during 1625-29. 

The tensions of James I's later parliaments was caused by the interrelated issues of religion, foreign policy, favourites and finance. James' resistance to involvement in the Thirty Years War meant that he was able to manage and overcome the tension from these issues. 

In contrast, Charles I's decision to intervene in the conflict in Europe escalated the tension with parliament over these issues, espeically because of the disastrous faillures of his foreign policy

However, while relations between Charles and the Political Nation were under severe strain by 1629, the fundamental breakdown in the relationship had not come yet. 

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1629-40: How did Charles I finance government?

A period of rule without parliaments was not unprecedented or unusual. What was exceptional was the frequency of parliaments in Charles I's early years: 1625, 1626, 1628, 1629. 

Charles' decision to govern without parliament did not mean that he intended never to recall one. 

But, Charles was now wary/ suspicious of parliaments: 

  • They had failed to support the war efforts against France and Spain in the 1620s. 
  • They had damaged his honour and dignity
  • They had failed to accept the changes begun in the Church
  • They had failed to provide adequate finance for efficient government. 

Charles had two aims: 

  • To provide well-ordered, efficient royal government - "Thorough" 
  • To raise sufficient money to avoid the recall of parliament 

Charles was convinced that it was his duty to show the nation that he could govern responsibly and efficiently. 

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Who was responsible for financing royal government

  • Richard Weston, Earl of Portland (Lord Treasurer). He was a Catholic. Died 1635. 
  • Francis Cottington (Master of the Court of Wards) 
  • William Juxton (Bishop of London and Lord Treasurer after Weston) - First "clerical" Lord Treasurer since the C15. 
  • Charles himself was always at the centre of all new royal policy in the Personal Rule period. 
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1629-40: How did Charles I finance government?

The avoidance of war

  • Possibly the most important factor in the recovery of Crown finances. 
  • 1629: peace treaty with France 
  • 1630: peacy treaty with Spain 
  • Therefore, Crown's financial position was bound to improve. 

"Retrenchment" (Cutbacks in expenditure)

  • Weston made a variety of cutbacks in royal expenditure at court e.g. pensions cut by 35%. 
  • However, after Weston's death, cutbacks not always maintained and patronage was a vital method of rewarding followers at court, so cutbacks could never be totally widespread. 

Both these methods had negative political consequences. Charles withdrawal from the Thirty Years War was unpopular with Puritans, who saw the war against Spain as a "godly" war. 

The reduction in court costs was unpopular with those who had preferred the more extravagant atmosphere of James' reign. 

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1629-40: How did Charles I finance government?

Increase in customs revenue

  • The avoidance of war meant there was a significant increase in trade. 
  • This meant that Charles was able to greatly increase revenue from Tonnage and Poundage duties (despite the fact that in theory, he was collecting them illegaly). 
  • New customs duties ("impositions") were drawn up.  They now made up 2/3 of all crown revenue. By 1640, royal debt reduced from £2m to £1m. Suggests that crown finance was beginning to recover. 

Rigorous application of Recusancy laws ( Catholics fined for not attending Church)

  • By 1635: £27,000 p.a 

Further sales of Crown land 

  • Charles sold Crown land worth £650,000 between 1625-35. 
  • However, this would only produce a short term financial gain, and once sold, the Crown land was lost for ever. (Rather short-sighted).
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Raising money through "feudal dues"

  • Charles was aware that developing new, innovative methods of financing government was too risky. 
  • Charles still needed the cooperation of the gentry if personal government was to be a success. 
  • Therefore: he looked to the past for inspiration, looking for ancient, often obsolete laws which allowed the crown to collect money without parliamentary consent. 
  • Historians usually refer to this as Charles' polciy of "Financial Antiquarianism". These acient rights of the Crown were known as feudal dues, and Charles policy has often be called "Fiscal Feudalism"

Distraint of Knighthood 

  • 1630 onwards: landowners owning land worth £40 p.a were fined for not presenting themselves for knighthood at Charles' coronation in 1625. 
  • By the end of 1630s, this had brought in £174,000. Few problems with non-payment, even Oliver Cromwell paid up! 
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Raising money through "feudal dues"

Forest laws 

  • Landowners who lived on or had built any buildings on former royal forests were fined. 
  • Charles often remitted most of the fine to display his generosity and power. 
  • In fact, the forest laws probably raised no more than £38,000 in total; it was only a one off payment and was hardly likely to make a significant contribution to royal finances. It's political cost was greater since it alienated landowners. 

Wardship revenues 

  • These were collected more carefully in the 1630s. 

Feudal dues were not a formula for financial solvency 

In fact, their key effect was to alienate the Crown's natural allies 

Charles realised that it was important to avoid policies that could be seen as illegal or contrary to custom. He had to rely on support of the political nation and therefore it was felt safer to exploit obscure prerogative rights. 

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Other financial methods

Fines of city corporations / city companies over administration and transfer of Crown lands

  • Best example is the City of London Corporation's fine over the "mismanagement" of its "plantation" in Ulster. The crown had forced it to set up the town of Londonderry, then fined it for inefficiency. 

Exploitation of the 1624 monopoly act 

  • The holding of monopolies in certain goods had been a frequent grivenace in the early C17.
  • The 1624 act banned individuals from holding monopolies 
  • 1632: Charles allowed a company (mainly run by Catholics) to hold a monopoly on the sale of soap (the "popish soap" scandal) 
  • The sale of monopolies only raised £33,000 and antagonised merchants. 
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Ship money

  • Both "financial antiquarianism" and an innovation.
  • This money was necessary to protect trade from piracy. 
  • Traditionally, Ship Money could be raised from the coastal counties in times of emergency without the consent of parliament. All money went on strengthening the Royal Navy. 
  • 1634: Ship money collected from coastal counties 
  • 1635: Extended to all counties, on the grounds that the whole country suffered if trade was dislocated. 
  • 1636: Whole country got charged again. 

For the first time in English history, the country was being asked to make a regular direct payment to government. Unlike parliamentary taxation, the amount each county paid was decided by central government. 

The number of people paying ship money was far more than those who paid parliamentary subsidies. 

In purely financial terms, ship money was very successful. 1636-37: only 3.5% shortfall. 

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How successful was Charles in financing government

The scale of opposition has often been exaggerated. There is no doubt that the gentry became increasingly concerned about Charles' methods, but generally, they paid up. 

The gentry could not be seen to be resisting authority by refusing to pay; if they had, what message would it send out to the "lower orders" about submission to authority. 

90% of ship money was paid until 1638. Non-payment was not a serious problem until the crisis of 1639-40. 

However, royal government depended upon cooperation between king/gentry. Charles was in danger of alienating his natural allies in society. 

Charles could not have gone to war; therefore his freedom of action was very limited. Therefore, personal rule was a period of "financial standstill". 

Charles was having to rely on short-term methods; he was aware any real innovation would be risky. 

A strong, financially independent monarchy was not created in the 1630s. Charles was simply creating a "coiled spring" of resentment. 

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Opposition to Charles I's financial methods

Charles realised that if he was to find alternative ways of raising revenue, it was important to avoid policies that could be seen as illegal / contrary to custom. He could not afford to lose the support of the landowning classes. 

However, it as inenvitable that opposition would be created, because Charles alienated his natural allies by exploiting obscure prerogative rights to increase his revenue. 

Whilst opposition was muted for most of the Personal Rule, by 1639, Charles' demands had become too much, and the financial opposition became open.

Charles antagonised the gentry and strained their natural loyalty to royal government. 

  • Distraint of knighthood - This policy had long fallen out of practice. It was known that Charles was not interested in creating knights for any other reason other than extra revenue. 
  • Forest laws - It was known that Charles was trying to extract money rather than rectify a social evil. 
  • Exploitation of wardship - This could bankrupt landowning families. It was seen as unfair and was hated by the gentry. 
  • Use of the court of star chamber - bound to strain the natural loyalty of the landowning classes. 
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Opposition to Charles I's financial methods

Other methods caused considerable irriation: royal proclamation against gentry remaining in London. 1630 - Charles ordered all gentry to go back to their original homes - fined for remaining in London. 

All these methods of raising revenue were seen as an attack on property rights and liberty. 

Above all, they were mainly affecting the "political classes"

It was felt that Charles was abusing his prerogative rights. 

With the exploitation of the monopoly laws, the gentry felt that Charles was putting private gain above the interests of the wider community. 

1635: Trial of the City of London corporation - Charles made a serious mistake in alienating London merchants. As a result, they refused him sufficient loans of credit in 1639 when he was desperate for money to put down the Scottish rebellion. 

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The Hampden test Case

The extension of Ship Money to inland counties created the first open opposition. While successful until 1639, there is no doubt that it was deeply resented. It was seen as an innovative tax, and therefore should have needed the permission of Parliament. 

The Hampden Test Case 

  • 1636: John Hampden refused to pay Ship Money on the grounds that it had never been authorised by a parliament. 
  • 1637: Ship Money Test Case. Royal judges decided in favour of the King and they said that there was no potential limit to the King's power to decide on taxation. They implied that it was the goodwill of the king that ensured that this would not lead to "arbitrary" (absolute) government. 
  • To the gentry, this implied that Charles' prerogative rights were unlimited. 
  • Therefore, it seemed once again, liberty and property rights were being threatened. 

This was despite Hapenden scoring a moral victory; 5 out of the 12 judges refused to find in favour of the King in the Ship Money Test Case. 

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Opposition to Charles I's financial methods

  • Opposition still remained muted until 1639. For most of the Personal Rule period, the landowning classes found it almost impossible to opely oppose the King, because of their natural loyalty and fear of criticising authority.
  •  Also, unless a parliament was called, there was no "forum" to voice opposition to royal policies. 
  • However, Charles was creating a "coiled spring" of opposition to his financial policies, and to Personal Rule itself. All these fears of the gentry combined to create a feeling that Charles was moving towards absolute government; This fear was heightened by his refusal to call a parliament. 

By 1639: 

  • Scottish Covenanter's rebellion meant that Charles was forced to demand even more non-parliamentary revenue ("Army Money", "Coat and Conduct Money"). This reuslted in a taxpayers strike and non-payment of Ship Money. 
  • The opposition to charles' financial methods could now become open, since its main leaders were in secret contact with the Scots rebels. Both groups were working together to force Charles to recall parliament.
  • Resentment against the financial methods of Personal Rule was one of the key grievances of the Long Parliament of 1640. 
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Laud, Charles and changes in the Anglican Church,

Personal rule period gave ideal opportunity for Charles to implement changes in the Anglican Church in line with his own views. 

All part of policy of "Thorough": impose uniformity on Anglican church as well as government. 

Charles was as responsible for religious policies as much as Laud; in line with Charles' "Arminian" beliefs, sense of order and decorum. 


  • To give greater significance to "beauty of holiness" - stained glass windows, appearance of Churches. 
  • To give greater significance to religious ceremony than religious preaching. 
  • Enhance the authority of the clergy and ecclesiastical hierarchy, i.e. the Church should play a greater role in the life of the state. 
  • Move away from broad, comprehensive Church of Elizabeth I, James I; Laud and Charles felt respect / authority of the church had declined. 

"Beauty of holiness" - before 1633: many churches were in a poor state of repair. Laud believed that physical state of a Church reflected its spiritual well-being. 

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1633-34: The St Gregory's case

St. Gregory's Church was a parish Church in the City of London. Parishoners had complained that the communion table had been moved to the East Side of the Church (like in Catholic Churches). 

Charles and Laud used this as a legal test case, and ordered that the dispute be brought before the Privy Council, which decided against the parishoners. 

This now created two legal precdents:

  • Communion tables must be moved to the East side of a church (and be referred to as "altars") 
  • Charles and Laud would now impose religios uniformity throughout the country. 
  • 1634: Charles issued a proclamation that communion tables should be railed off and communion be recieved while kneeling at the communion rails. 
  • Laud and Charles now ordered the decoration of baptismal fonts, new stained glass windows, installation of organs - similar to Catholicism. 
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Laud, Charles and changes in the Anglican Church,

Enforcing uniformity 

  • Uniformity could best be achieved by enhancing presitge / power of church hierarchy - especially the authority of the Bishops. 
  • Regular "visitations" of dioceses and parishes began to take place. 
  • Campaigns against unlicensed preaching - aimed against Puritans. Only preists prepared to weae surplice gained a preaching license. 

Most famous example: 

Abolition of the Feoffees of impropriations. - The Feoffees were a group of Puritans who had been eager to install "godly" preachers in parishes. Laud regarded Feoffees as the "main instrument of the puritan faction" and he dissolved them in 1633. This was a clear attack on Puritainism. 

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The results of Charles / Laud's changes

  • Cost - refurbishment of Churches was expensive; tithes increased, burden fell on laity. 
  • Social implications - many gentry were horrified at new emphasis given to altar; this resulted in removal of local gentry pews. Gentry pews were a symbol of importance / power in local community.  
  • The gentry were accustomed to regarding parish priest as respectful figure - BELOW gentry in social hierarchy. Laud's aim to raise status of clergy to "equal of any gentleman in England" was much resented by the Gentry . Laud seemed to be reducing the power / independence of local gentry in their communities.  

Religious fears 

  • Most of changes carried disturbingly "popish" connotations. These chnges seemed to be simply too close to Catholic worship. 
  • Seemed to be part of a plan to return England to Catholicism 
  • Laudians were suspected of being "Protestants in masquerade", undermining Protestantism in England. 
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The results of Charles / Laud's changes

Political fears 

  • In Europe, the 30 years war was still raging between Catholic and Protestant Europe, yet Charles was refusing to intervene to save Protestantism. 
  • There were increasing fears over Charles' friendship with the Papal ambassador at Court, George Con. 
  • The growing evidence that Catholc influence was tolerated at Court increased these fears. The Queen could worship freely as a Catholic, and her personal priests and confessors sought to gain converts when possible. Catholicism became fashionable in Court circles. 
  • This all increased the fears that there was a network of Catholics at court, misleading the King into establishing Catholicism and absolute monarchy. Most of these fears centered around Laud and Henrietta Maria. 

Also: There was growing concern at influence of Anglican bishops in government - Laud and Juxton on Privy Council. The gentry and nobility felt that this was their traditional role. 

1640: "Et Centra" Oath: clergy should agree to "government of this church by Archbishops, Bishops, deans, archdeacons, etc." People feared the "etc" would mean the Pope. 

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Summary of Laudian Changes

  • The hatred by Puritans for the Laudian changes does not tell us about the views of the whole Political Nation, or the common people. 
  • For many, the Laudian changes may have been a more acceptable form of Protestantism. It's emphasis on ceremony, music and rituals may have been easier to understand than the Puritan's emphasis on preaching. 
  • Some evidence suggests that younger members of the gentry were increasingly attracted to the Laudian changes: this partly explains why the Church of England survived the abolition after the Civil War. 
  • The most serious effect of the Laudian changes was that they caused hatred for the bishops which had not existed previously, and polarised religious opinion. This would ensure that religion would now be an even greater cause of conflict than ever. 
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Opposition to Laudian reforms

The trial of Prynne, Bastwick and Burton (1637)

  • The most famous example of both opposition to Laud's reforms and the lengths Laud was prepared to go to punish offenders. Prynne, Bastwick and Burton, all puritans, were condemned in the Court of Star Chamber for malicious attacks on Laud's policies in the Church of England. 
  • Laud used the trial of these men as a test case. 
  • All three were found guilty, fined, whipped, mutilated by having their ears cut off and imprisoned for life. 
  • This shows how determined Laud and Charles were to impose uniformity on the Church. 
  • What horrified many of the "political classes" at the time was the fact that Prynne, Bastwick and Burton were "Gentlemen", and yet had been punished like common criminals. This seemed to be further evidence of Charles refusing to tolerate any opposition to his policies. 
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Opposition to Laudian reforms

The trial of John Lilburne (1638)

  • Lilburne has been involved in distributing Bastwick's puritan pamphlets and had begun to print his own works. 
  • In 1638, he was found guilty of printing unlicensed literature. 
  • He was sentenced to be tied to be whipped and piloried in public, then imprisoned. He had to be gagged at his trial for refusing to accept the verdict. 

In fact, apart from this, there was very little persecution as severe as this (whole personal rule - only 37). 

However, once again, Charles and Laud were "treading on the delicate toes of the gentry". 

Again, gentry were unwilling to openly protest; implication of disobeying authority. 

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"Thorough", Laud, Wentworth and Charles in governm

"Thorough" is always seen as the method used by Charles' two key advisers, Laud and Thomas Wentworth (later Earl of Strafford). 

In fact, Charles was always at the centre of "Thorough" government. Charles was as responsible for "Thorough" as Laud and Wentworth were. 

The "perfect" / "exact" militia (1629 onwards)

Almost certainly Charles' idea, to tackle the desperate need for an emergency military force. MPs lack of support for Charles' military in the parliaments of the late 1620s had been a key cause of conflict. 

The privy council issued orders for the training and equipping of a "perfect" militia force, to be carried out by county Deputy Lieutenants. 

However, since the early 1630s, there was no war, the gentry were unenthusiastic, and there was insufficient finance for equipment. 

Also: this "perfect" militia proved to be of poor quality in the Scots Covenanter's rebellion. 

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Laud's secular role in government

Laud was a key member of the privy council throughout the 1630s , the most important figure after Charles himself. Remember that part of Laud's religious views was that the Church should play a much wider role in society. 

The book of orders (1631 onwards)

  • These were mainly carried out by Laud. 
  • The books were a series of instructions from the Privy Council to local JPs, dealing with tackling poor relief, food supplies to the poor, road buildings. JPs then compile detailed reports on the local situation, and send them to the Privy Council. 
  • These books reflected the shared aims of Laud, Charles and local JPs for good effective local government. 

The Book of Orders and the Exact Militia were both attempts to make the nobility and gentry carry out their responsibiities more energetically. 

In 1630 and 1632, Charles issued proclamations ordering the Gentry and nobility to leave London within 40 days. This was an attempt to ensure that the gentry carried out their responsibilities in their local areas, another example of "thorough" government. 

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Laud's secular role in government

Reissue of the Book of Sports (1633) 

  • This gave details of popular sports that could be played on Sunday's. Puritan gentry were deeply offended by this, believing in sabbatarianism. 
  • Laud was highly influential on the Privy Council, serving on all the key committees. 
  • By the late 1630s, the three most important Anglican bishops all served on the Privy Council: Laud, Juxton, Neile. The gentry saw it as their role to serve as advisers to the king. It seemed that the Laudian bishops were trying to dominate royal government.
  • This seemed to be further evidence of a "popish plot" at Court, misleading the King. 
  • Laud made it clear that he wanted to take back all "clerical" lands that had been sold off to the gentry since the reformation. This was never put into practice but rumours of his plan led to a fear that "property"  was under threat. 
  • Laud's use of the Church courts to enforce uniformity on the Church was seen as threatening traditional roles. 
  • Laud's use of the Court of Star Chamber against those who voiced hostility to his reforms (e.g. Prynne, Bastwick and Burton in 1637) led to further fears that Bishops were dominating not only government, but the justice system. 
  • Laud's secular role in government created as much fear and revulsion as his reforms in the Anglican Church. 
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Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford

When parliament was recalled in 1640, Wentworth (Earl of Strafford) had become the most feared man in England. 

Strafford's actions and policies, mainly in Ireland, had led to fears among MPs that he and Charles had been using Ireland as a "testing ground" for their policies, for eventual use in England. 

Many MPs saw Strafford as a "turncoat". He had been part of the opposition to Charles and Buckingham in the 1620s. He always thought that parliaments should play a limited role in government and should not obstruct efficient royal government. 

1628-1632: President of the Council of the North: became notorious for ignoring local rights and treating the gentry with arrogance. 

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Strafford in Ireland

1633 - 1640 Lord Deputy of Ireland 

It was his work in Ireland that fuelled fears that Ireland was being used as an "experiment" for policies that would be later introduced into England. 

Most historians talk of Strafford ruling Ireland with an "iron fist". 

There were four opposing groups in Irish society: Irish Catholics, Old English Catholics, New English Protestants and Presbyterian Scots. 

Strafford immediately called an Irish parliament (1634) and completely bent it to his will, playing off rival groups against each other. Eventually he bullied it into granting taxation to raise money for an Irish standing army. By 1640, There were 10,000 soliders in Strafford's Irish army. 

He doubled the income recieved from the customs duties through a new "Book of Rates". 

For the first time, Strafford was to make Ireland financially independent of England; a perfect example of "thorough" government. Efficient and effective. 

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Strafford in Ireland: 1633-1630 Lord Deputy of Ire

1633: He withdrew the "Graces", an unofficial form of religious toleration for Irish Catholics (the vast majority of the population)  granted by Charles I in 1628. This not only angered Irish Catholics, but convinced Irish Catholic landowners that their property titles were under threat. 

He imposed the Laudian reforms on the Anglican Church in Ireland, angering English protestants living in Ireland. 

1634: Strafford set up the commission for defective titles. All land ownership titles were checked; if there were discrepancies, the landowner was fined and threatened with confiscation of their property. This led to a widespread fear that "property" was under threat. 

Conclusion on Strafford

  • Strafford's policies in Ireland were successful financially. Ireland was now run at a profit. 
  • But: Strafford had alienated both Protestants in Ireland, and more dangerously, Irish Catholics, the vast majority of the population. 
  • Strafford's recall to England in 1639 created a power vacuum in Ireland that would end up with Catholic rebellion in mid-1641; one of the key "triggers" of the Civil War.
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Conclusion on "thorough" government

"Thorough" government raised fears that the king was being misguided by advisers, who were pushing him into a Catholic, absolutist policy. 

With the absence of parliament, there was no "point of contact" between the King and his subjects, and royal government seemed to be dominated by a Catholic clique (thought to be led by Laud and Henrietta Maria). 

Strafford's recall to England in 1639 intensified fears; was this direct evidence that military force (Strafford's Irish army) was about to be used to crush all opposition.

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"Caroline" government

  • During the personal rule period, the Privy Council played an even greater role in government than in any other period before. 
  • The full council met over 1000 times between 1629-40
  • Charles presided over Council mettings far more frequently than James I. 
  • Charles' close involvement stemmed from his wish to use the council to implement a far-reaching reformation of government. 

The royal court in the personal rule period

  • Charles' court was utterly different from the court of his father. 
  • Charles regarded his court as a microcosm - a miniture version of the state - a model of what  the ideal society should be. 
  • The openness and immorality of James' court disappeared. 
  • Access to the monarch was severely restricted to ensure order and respect for the crown. 
  • Ceremonies were carefully staged. 
  • Strict codes of noble behaviour were enforced. 
  • Entertainment now took the form of court masques.
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"Caroline" government

  • However, the main effect of Charles' changes at court was that it became more and more isolated and remotve from the rest of society and the Political Nation.
  • It probably encouraged fears about the king being misled by evil advisers, since there was now no "point of contact" between crown and political nation, especially since Charles was refusing to call another parliament. 
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How serious was opposition to personal rule before

  • 1637: Hampden Ship Money Test Case 
  • 1637: Case of Prynne, Bastwick and Burton 
  • 1638: Case of John Lilburne 

Up to 1637, Charles was always able to rely on the Polticial Nation's natural obedience to royal authority and their unwillingness to openly oppose the crown. 

Also, Charles was always careful to keep within tradition and simply exploit old financial methods, which made it even more difficult for the gentry to oppose him. Although he was clearly alienating the group that should have been the natural allies of the Crown, it was too extreme a step for the Political Nation to openly show their fears. 

Also, the two traditional "Points of contact" between Crown and Political nation were now closed off. Charles was refusing to call a parliament, and the royal court was becoming more and more remote and isolated from the Political Nation. 

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Providence Island Company (1630)

  • Set up by William Fiennes, Lord Brooke and the Earl of Warwick. 
  • All 3 peers were Puritans who opposed Charles' changes in the Church. 
  • The Providence Island Comapny was set up to encourage emigration and settlement on a small Island in the Caribbean. 

However, the setting up of the company was also partly to ensure that those in the political nation who opposed crown policies could maintain a network of contacts throughout the Personal Rule. 

John Pym, a leading opposition MP in the 1620s, acted as the company's treasurer. 

Gradually, an organised network developed through the company. This network would be vital when rebellion broke out in Scotland in 1637, since it provided a good cover for like-minded men to share ideas on the political situation. 

However, it can still be argued that unless Charles called a parliament, the opposition could make little impact on Personal Rule. 

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Religious opposition

Before 1637, there was little open protest in England. However, there were a number of warning signs for the future. 

The middle way, "Jacobethan" Church of the early 17th century had ensured that all groups, especially Puritan's, felt that they were accepted and had influence within the Church. The Laudian changes destroyed this "Jacobethan" balance, and gradually created a situation that James and Elizabeth had always been careful to avoid. 

The Laudian changes not only alienated the "moderate" majority, but gradually created a "conspiracy mentality" where those of different religious views grew increasingly suspcisious of each other. 

Charles' support for the Laudian changes in the 1630s ended up triggering Britain's wars of religion by alienating the moderate majority, and more importantly, forcing a reaction from the Puritan's. 

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The emergence of millenarianism

Millenarianism (belief that the second coming of christ, judgement day and the end of the world was near) had always been common among the most extreme Puritan groups. 

Some historians argue that millenarianimsm beliefs grew among Puritans in the Personal Rule. 

In Europe, the Thirty Years War was still raging, with the situation still looking dangerous for the existence of Protestantism. 

Meanwhile in England, Charles' personal rule and the Laudian changes suggested that Puritans were now living in the reign of the Antichrist. 

When the Scot's rebelled agaisnt Charles in 1637, this seemed even more proof that the end of the world was near. 

Again, this made it more likely that religious tenison would cause violent conflict if the opportunity arose. 

This is why religion would be seen as one of the main causes of civil war up to 1642. 

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The downfall of Personal Rule

  • The downfall of Personal Rule was the result of Charles' attempt to impose religious uniformity upon his Scottish Kingdom, and his failure to see that this would lead to rebellion. 
  • However, the key factor was Charles himself; his actions and his stubborness led to all sides mistrusting his intentions. 
  • Charles policy in Scotland before 1637
  • Charles had generally neglected Scotland, and his policies before 1637 had already caused alarm. 
  • 1625 - Charles issued an act of revocation where any land sold to gentry had to be returned to the crown. Although the act was never carried out, it horrified the Scottish gentry. 
  • 1633 - Charles visited Scotland to be crowned; he aroused even more fears about his intentions. His cornonation ceremony used many Laudian features. 

Charles chose to reform the most sensitive aspect of public life (religion) and in a manner that went totally against Scottish opinion. 

  • 1636 - issued new "canons" for the Scottish Church. Altar must be placed on East side, ministers had to wear a surplice. Charles imposted these by royal proclamation, making no effort to consult the KIRK (general assembly) or a Scottish parliament. 
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The Covenanters Rebellion

July 1637: New revised prayer book containing a variety of Laudian changes introduced into Scotland by royal proclamation. The result was widespread riots, especially in Edinburgh. It was thought that Laud was behind a plan to turn the Scots away from the "true" religion. 

Feb 1638: The national covenant - a pledge to "maintain the true religion of Christ Jesus. and to abolish all false religions". In fact, the covenant stressed loyalty to the King, and made no mention of rebellion or taking up arms against the king. It called for a Scottish parliament and meeting of the Kirk to settle the grievances. (could have ended in compromise) 

However, Charles reaction - "I mean to be obeyed", "I would rather die than yield" 

Charles chose to regard the Covenanters as a direct challenge to his authority, and decided to use military force to bring them into line.

He began negotiations with the Covenanters, allowing a general assembly to be called, but made it clear that we would not compromise. 

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The Covenanters Rebellion

Nov 1638 - The General Assembly abolished the Scottish episcopacy. (abolished bishops)

Charles referred to the Covenanters as a small circle of "traitors", and began military preparations. 

Charles had turned the grievances of the Scots Covenanters into open rebellion. 

He was now allowing the Scots to provide a successful example of resistance to royal authority. It was almost inevitable that the opposition to Charles' Personal Rule in England would exploit this. 

It was now that the financial instability of Personal Rule became apparant. 

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The first bishop's war

Charles' military plan - Strafford's Irish army would land in Scotland. Orders were issued to all English counties to raise militias ("the perfect militia") and a naval blockade of Scotland was planned. 

In fact, the irish army never left Ireland, the blockade was abandoned through lack of money and the 15,000 strong militia force was of poor quality. 

Also, not since 1323 had an English Monarch gone to war without calling a parliament. 

Charles' new demands for money (Army money, Coat and Conduct money) finally provoked a taxpayers strike. Collection of Ship Money dropped to 20%. 

June 1639: The two armies met at Berwick. Many of the English forces fled, having no desire to fight the Covenanters. 

June 1639: Treaty of Berwick: Charles agreed to call a Scottish parliament and another General Assembly of the Scottish Church. 

Result: The abolition of the Scottish episcopacy was confirmed. 

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The first bishop's war

  • By this time, the opposition in England (Providence Island Company) was already in touch with the Covenanters. Almost certainly, both groups were working together to force Charles to call an English Parliament.  
  • Summer 1639: Charles allowed Spanish troops to cross England on their way to launching an invasion of Protestant Holland. Fears grew that Charles was seeking Spanish help against those opposed to his rule. 

Sept 1639: Wentworth recalled from Ireland, and made Earl of Strafford. This created growing concern that military rule was about to be imposed by Strafford. 

Strafford advised Charles to call parliament. Charles had little option; equipping a new army was estimated to cost £1m a year. Charles' request to the City of London merchants for a £100,000 loan was rejected; the result of Charles' poor treatment of them earlier over the settlement of Londonderry. Henrietta Maria asked English Catholics to give financial donations; this increased the already growing fears of a 'popish plot' at court. 

April 1640: The Scottish Parliament passed a Triennial Act, forcing Charles to call a parliament every three years. Another successful example of challenging royal authority, and a model for English opposition to follow. 

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The Short Parliament (April 1640)

  • At this point, all was not lost for Charles. MPs were prepared to grant finance, but only after grievances had been addressed. 
  • Charles made a promise to abandon Ship Money and hear grivenances, but only after 12 subsidies had been granted. 
  • MPs, led by John Pym, immediately began to debate the grievances that had built up since 1629. 
  • Charles dissolved the Short Parliament after only 3 weeks and he had gained no finance. 

Strafford now advised Charles that he was "absolved from all rules of government" - advised king to move towards absolute monarchy. 

To make matters worse, Charles breached custom by allowing convocation (assembly of the Anglican bishops) to carry on meeting after he had dissolved parliament. 

Convocation passed a series of controversial "canons" including the "et cetera" oath. 

By now, the Covenanters had decided that the only way of bringing Charles to reason was by invading England. 

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The second bishop's war

Aug 1640: Covenanter army crossed into England 

Charles had to confiscate London merchants' gold held in the Tower of London to pay for the new military campaign, which strained his relations with them even further. 

Aug 1640: "battle" of Newburn; English army fled 

Sept 1640: Charles called a council of peers at York; they advised him to recall parliament. 

Oct 1640: Treaty of Ripon: Scots Covenanters would remain in England and recieve £850 a day until satisfactory terms were guaranteed by a future English parliament. 

Charles had now run out of options. This guaranteed that he would be unable to dissolve a new Parliament without the agreement of both the English and Scottish opposition. 

Nov 1640: parliament recalled (The long parliament)

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Why had Charles been forced to recall parliament?

  • In order to maintain his Personal Rule, Charles had been reliant on the cooperation of the gentry and avoiding war. 
  • Charles' great mistake was to try to impose religious uniformity on his Scottish Kingdom. He failed to see that this might lead to rebellion. 
  • Surely Charles' personality is a key factor in why he was forced to recall parliament. His actions, and above all, his stubbornness had led to all sides mistrusting his intentions. 
  • Up until 1639, the English opposition had been growing, but they had no "platform" to air their grievances. 
  • This is why the Scottish rebellion is so important; it "triggered" the English opposition to become more open, e.g. the taxpayers strike in 1640. 
  • The Scot's grievances were religious; but the English grievances were much wider - religious, financial, political and legal. This meant that Charles was unlikely to find any support in England. 
  • Strafford's recall from Ireland in 1639 increased fears even further; many people thought that Charles would now try to crush all opposition to him. 
  • By 1640, The English / Scottish opposition were cooperating; this is why the Scots demanded £850/day after the Treaty of Ripon. 
  • By 1640, Charles was facing a general anti-court consensus that forced him to recall parliament. 
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The Long Parliament and events, 1640-42

What grievances did MPs have in November 1640? 

  • A general anti-court consensus
  • Religious grievances - MPs wanted to stop abuses in the Church by Laudian Bishops. Laudian changes must be reversed. Widespread belief in a "popish" plot at court, centred around Laud and Henrietta Maria. 
  • Political grievances - Punish the "evil counsellors" who have "misguided" the king; Laud, Strafford, and other key members of the privy council. Restore the constitutional balance between king and parliament. Get rid of the prerogative courts; Star Chamber, High Commission etc. 
  • Financial grievances - abolish the financial basis of personal rule; Ship Money, Distraint of Knighthood etc. 

MPs wished to "free" the king of evil influences 

There was no forward-looking reform programme in 1640. 

It was negative factors that held anti-court consensus together- fear of "popery" and absolutism

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Anti-Court consensus

The story of 1640-42 is the break-up of the anti-court consensus: 

Mistrust of the king became a key factor: Pym's followers tried to tighten control of the King as mistrust increased. 

Religious grievances were not settled: This became one of the main reasons for the break-up of the anti-Court consensus. 

The Irish rebellion intensified the crisis - a "trigger"

Charles' personality. 

The main opposition leaders were John Pym, Denzil Holles, John Hampden, Earl of Essex e.g.

Most were Presbyterians in faith. 

Many MPs who later became royalists claimed that Pym's "junto" pushed MPs into policies that they didnt understand / didn't want. 

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The "bridge appointment" scheme

This was drawn up by the Earl of Bedford; although he was seen as an opposition lord, he had always been on good terms personally with Charles. 

This would "bridge" the gap between crown and parliament, and was a compromise that would not involve fundamental change of the political system: 

  • The abolition of the most hated financial and political aspects of Personal Rule
  • A return to an Elizabethan, broad-based Protestant church
  • A seperate financial settlement - would involve annual payment and an update and reform of finance 
  • Charles' opponents to become his main advisers. 
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The role of John Pym

Pym gradually became seen as the main 'spokesman' for the oppostion. 

Pym's views were not originally radical: he simply wanted more controls on the King, and had sought to achieve a settlement which would finally solve the problems of financing government. 

However, he gradually became obsessed with two factors: 

  • Fear that the King would arrest him and his colleagues for treason
  • The "existence" of a "popish plot" at Court, probably led by Henrietta Maria. 

Pym's mistrust of Charles drove him to become increasingly radical during 1641 - too radical for many MPs. This partly led to the destruction of the anti-court consensus. 

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Nov. 1640 - summer 1641: removal of political grie

Religious grievances were put off until summer 1641; almost certainly because Pym knew it would be the most controversial. 

  • For the first 6 months, Parliament concentrated on the removal of evil counsellors - the main grievance that held all MPs together. 
  • Nov 1640: Strafford and Laud arrested. 
  • By May 1641, over half of the Privy Council were in prison or had fled. 
  • Feb 1641: The Triennial Act (parliament must meet every 3 years)
  • July 1641: Act passed to abolish the prerogative courts. 
  • July 1641: Act against forcible dissolution (the Long parliament could only be dissolved with MP's permission) 
  • Aug 1641: Acts passed declaring financial machinery of personal rule illegal; Ship money, Distraint of Knighthood, etc. 
  • Aug 1641: Star Chamber, High Commission, council of North now abolished. 

By Mid 1641, all the major political grievances were now redressed. Many MPs would have been satisfied with these achievements. 

But: the underlying problems had not been solved

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Nov. 1640 - summer 1641: removal of political grie

Charles delayed signing the Triennial Act for a week. 

This implies that because he signed it unwillingly, he might seek to reverse the decision if the opportunity arose. 

Charles on signing the Triennial Act: 

'You have taken the kingdom almost to pieces". 

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The importance of Strafford's trial and execution

  • Strafford was to be impeached, i.e. trial by parliament. 
  • Strafford was accused of giving the King evil advice (treason). 
  • He argued his case so well that Parliament was forced to issue an Act of Attainder; this meant that no proof of guilt was necessary. 

To some MPs, Parliament were using similar methods as Charles; overriding the process of law and carrying out 'arbitrary government'. 

Pym also released details of the "army plot", a plan by Catholic army officers to release Strafford from the Tower of London, bring the English army down south to take control of London, bring over Strafford's Irish army to England and crush all opponents of the KIng. 

Pym now drew up the protestation oath, which stated that there was now a definate plot to establish Catholicism and absolute monarchy. 

Act of Attainder against Strafford: 204 for, 59 against. 

This mean that nearly half of all MPs did not vote. Were they concerned about the methods being used to execute Strafford, but unwilling to speak out? 

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The importance of Strafford's trial and execution

Pym was already stirring up the London "mob" to demonstrate outside Whitehall Palace, demanding that Charles sign Strafford's death warrant. 

12 May 1641: A crowd of over 100,000 watched Strafford's execution on Tower Hill. 

There were 3 key effects of Strafford's death:

  • Many MPs were very concerned about legal methods used to execute Strafford (Act of Attainder)
  • They were also horrified at Pym involving the common people of London in the crisis - surely this was an attack on the hierarchy of society. 
  • Charles had been forced into a corner; he had been angered and humiliated. Charles has given Strafford his word that he wouldn't be executed. Charles signed the death warrant because of fears for his family's safety (mobs outside Whitehall Palace). This made the king more likely to use force if the opportunity arose. 

The "Bridge Appointments" idea was now dead. Death of Strafford killed off any chances of this an Charles now saw Pym and the opposition as enemies. 

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The importance of Strafford's trial and execution

Some MPs were now increasingly suspicious that Pym was simply seeking power for himself - "king Pym". 

May 1641: Bedford died. This probably made any chance of compromise even more unlikely as he was the only person who got on with Charles. 


By mid-1641, most political griveances had been redressed, but the King had become completely alienated. 

This is now where the issue of trust arose - could the opposition trust the King to keep any agreements that had been made. 

Highlights splits in anti-court consensus 

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June 1641: The Ten Propositions

One of the first open attempts by the opposition to reduce the King's powers. 

The most important "proposition": Parliament would gain control over nomination over the King's advisers. 

This was a clear breach of the King's prerogative to choose his own advisers. 

Many MPs were concerned at the implications of this and thought the opposition were going too far. They wanted to see the "clock turned back", not an all-out assault on the King's powers. 

If parliament can remove royal authority, nothing to stop a future parliament destroying all forms of authority. 

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June 1641: The Ten Propositions

Charles went to Scotland to negotiate with the Covenanters. At this point, Charles was trying to persuade the Covenanters to leave England. If they left, Charles would have no further need for the Long Parliament. 

Charles was paying £850 a day to the Covenanter Army!

Charles was aware that some leading Scots lords, led by the Earl of Montrose, had felt that the Covenanters had gone too far in attacking the Crown. Charles was determined to exploit these disagreements among the Scots. 

This made the opposition trust Charles even less 

If the chance arose, Charles would dissolve Parliament (despite the Act against Forcible Dissolutions). 

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How and why did religious issues divide parliament

Once political issues had been settled, religious ones could be addressed. 

Religious issues intensified the cracks in the anti-court consensus and widened the gap between king and parliament. 

Dec 1640: "Root and Branch" petition - to abolish bishops from the Anglican Church, "root and branch" This was obviously the work of Presbyterian MPs in parliament (Pym, Holles, Hampden etc.)

The "Root and Branch" petition was laid aside until political issues were settled; almost certainly because MPs knew that religious issues would cause far more controversy. 

Jan 1641: Charles agreed to the removal of bishops from the Privy Council. e.g. Bishop Juxton - London and Bishop Neile York. 

May 1641 onwards: Religious issues debated again. 

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How and why did religious issues divide parliament

Most MPs wanted "Laudian reforms removed, wanted a more "protestant" identity to the Church, turn the clock back to the time of Elizabeth and James. 

They did not want wholesale reform in the Anglican Church along Puritan / Presbyterian lines. 

Also: In London from 1640 onwards, there was an increasing presence of religious radical preachers. We know that press censorship broke down in London after 1640. Some radical preachers terrified the Political Nation with talk of abolishing the national Church altogether. 

An increasing number of MPs began to fear that Pym's attacks on the Church were actually encouraging religious radicalism to develop. 

  • May 1641: Bill to exclude Bishops from the House of Lords - failed. 
  • June 1641: "Root and Branch" Bill - to abolish Bishops in the Anglican Church and set up a presbyterian model - failed. 

Many MPs who had wanted the removal of the Laudian reforms were now becoming even more concerned about these new plans for "dangerous innovations" in the Anglican Church. 

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how and why did religious issues divide parliament

If it was possible for Parliament to remove the hierarchy in the Church, surely it was possible to remove all forms of hierarchy. In other words, if the Church hierarchy was removed, surely it must damage the social hierarchy. 

At this point, many MPs began to turn to the King; they were worried that a Presbyterian national Church would be even worse than the old Laudian Church. 

Religious issues divided parliament more than any other issue. In fact, it is possible to see the divisions of the Civil War itself. 

By Summer 1641, there was a stalemate between King and Parliament; neither side able to gan an advantage. 

Charles was building up support but very slowly. 

The opposition was gradually losing momentum. 

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The drift to war: summer 1641-summer 1642

Summer 1641: Parliament went into recess - Charles was in Scotland for part of the summer, persuading the Covenanters to go home. 

The "Incident": after negotiations failed, Charles tried to arrest the leading Covenanters. 

Result: even more mistrust of Charles' intentions. MPs realised that he might do the same in England. 

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The Irish rebellion (summer 1641)

When Strafford returned to England in 1639, Irish Catholics increasingly feared for the future. 

The growing Puritan influence in the Long Parliament during 1641 convinced many Catholics in Ireland that it was necesary to act to prevent harsh anti-catholic measures being imposed on Ireland. 

Summer 1641: Catholic rebellion broke out, mainly in Ulster. This quickly descended into widespread massacres of Protestants. 

Oct 1641: parliament back in session. By then, many parts of Britain (especially London) were in a state of complete panic about the rumours of what had happened in Ireland. 


  • 200,000 Protestants murdered by Irish Catholics
  • Irish rebels ready to invade England 
  • Charles was in league with the rebels 

What is important is what people believed was happening, not necessarily what actually happened.

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The significance of the Irish rebellion

To many MPs, this was now definite proof that there really was a "popish plot". 

It made the English crisis far more difficult to solve - ensured Charles couldn't dissolve parliament. 

It ensured that the Long Parliament must continue, since finance was now needed to fund an army to put down the rebellion. 

It heightened and intensified the issue of mistrust; who would be in command of the army? 

The last point is the most important; command of the army was a royal prerogative. However the opposition MPs feared that Charles would use the army against the English and Scottish opposition. Some opposition MPs thought that Charles had deliberately stirred up rebellion in Ireland. 

It was obvious that the opposition would be unwilling to give control of the army over to Charles. 

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The significance of the Irish rebellion

  • The Irish rebellion focused attention on the King's military authority. This had never been discussed in Parliament, and was the most serious breach of the royal prerogative. 
  • It also meant that a growing number of MPs now felt even more strongly that the opposition was going too far. - "Constitutional Royalists". 
  • In fact, Charles himself contributed to his growing support; during 1641, he allowed several "non-Laudian" Bishops to be promoted in the Church, and announced that he would return the Church to the time of Elizabeth I, ie. he would reverse all Laudian changes. Gradually, Charles began to be seen by many MPs as a symbol of order and tradition in an increasingly dangerous situation. 
  • May 1641: Charles' daughter Mary was married to the Dutch prince William of Orange. To many MPs, this reassured them about Charles' Protestant credentials. 
  • Meanwhile, many MPs were becoming increasingly concerned at growing popular radicalism across the country. Many parish Churches were attacked by crowds, smashing stained glass windows, statues and other "popish" symbols. This growing iconoclasm confimed to many gentry that the established Church and the powers of the monarchy must be maintained, or society would collapse. This swung even more support to Charles. 
  • However, the Irish rebellion made the opposition MPs even more determined to restrict the powers of the King. This is why the most important issue for them was mistrust of Charles.
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Nov 1641: the "grand remonstrance"

This was an attempt by Pym to kickstart the opposition, which had begun to lose momentum. 

The Grand Remonstrance was a list of all the grivenaces against Charles since 1625, a review of all the achievements made so far, and also contrained within it the 10 propositions (parliament should approve the King's choice of all advisers). 

  • Many MPs saw the Grand Remonstrance as a direct insult to the king. 
  • Remonstrance passed House of Commons by 159-148. 

What split the Commons even further was Pym's decision to publish the Grand Remonstrance. 

Many MPs were unhappy with the idea of involving the "common people" in the crisis; they had already been increasingly concerned at Pym's use of the London "mob" before. 

The gradual breakdown of authority in 1640-41 had seen an increase in political radical activity, especially in London. 

Dec 1641: Militia Bill - Charles could choose commanders for army to be sent to Ireland, but choice had to be approved by Parliament. A direct attack on royal prerogative.

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Summary of events so far

The effects of the Irish rebellion had now destroyed the anti-court consensus. 

The Grand Remonstrance and Militia Bill were also direct results of the Irish rebellion, but mistrust of the King was equally important. 

There were now clearly two sides in the crisis; Historians have often said that Charles should have maintained a policy of "discreet silence", since this might have resulted in the opposition breaking up completely. 

Yet again, Charles gained further support by issuing a moderate reply to the Grand Remonstrance, claiming that he was defending tradition and the rights of the subject. 

But: from now on, the most important factor became Charles' personality. He made some extremely unwise and rash decisions. 

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Charles' blunders

Charles suspected that Pym was planning to impeach the Queen. We know that Henrietta Maria was an important influence on Charles; she was encouraging him to arrest the opposition leaders. 

We also know that there were rumours of an impeachment of the Queen; did Pym start these rumours, knowing that Charles would lash out, and so moderate MPs might return to the opposition group? 

4 Jan 1642: Charles attempt to arrest the 5 members (Pym, etc.) in Parliament - failed. 

This alienated many moderate MPs, who now swung back towards the opposition. 

Charles now fled London; was civil war now inevitable? 

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The drift to war

Feb 1642: Henrietta Maria sailed to Holland to raise money and men for the King. 

March 1642: Parliament passed militia "ordinance" - provided money for army to put down Irish rebellion. - given itself a right to pass laws without a king. 

Charles drew up commissions of Array for the same purpose. 

In fact, Charles had little success; the majority of gentry supported the militia ordinance or remained neutral. 

April 1642: Charles travelled North to take control of the royal arsenal at Hull, but was refused entry. 

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The Nineteen propositions

June 1642: The Nineteen propositions 

  • A presbyterian Church settlement, drawn up by Parliament. 
  • Parliament to choose the King's advisers
  • Parliament to approve the education of the King's children 

Rejected by Charles; they would make him a 'shadow king'. 

Summer 1642: A growing number of skirmishes took place as both sides tried to secure strongpoints in the country - ports, etc. 

August 1642: Charles raised his standard (the traditional sign for all men to rally around the king) at Nottingham; only 800 men turned up. 

Pym and his followers were now confident that Charles would be forced to see reason and accept the 19 propositions. 

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The drift to war


Sept 1642: Parliament declared that those who didn't actively support Parliament would be delcared "delinquents" and would pay the costs of war. 

This was a major blunder; it finally forced many gentry to take sides, especially those who supported Charles but had wanted to remain neutral. 

Within weeks, Charles had a large army. 

Oct 1642: Battle of Edgehill. - official start to Civil War. 

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