Personal rule of Charles I

p rule

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Breakdown of Parliament

  • wasn't uncommon. James I 1610-21 with only abortive addled parliament of 1614.
  • Main reason for breakdown and trust - money and Parliamentary privilages. Charles friendship with Spain and arminianism. Money was requested but the use of it wasn't spelt out. Warwick and Pembroke used parliament to put pressure on the king who were excluded from power by Buckingham. Wentworth and coke vented their fustration in debates and were hostile to the crown. desperate financial crisis. Petition of rights and Buckingham assassination both 1628. final straw - commons speaker tried to dismiss P so 2 MPs held him down and Sir John Elliot  called 3 resolutions ' a capital enemy was someone who; promoted arminianism, collected T&P without P consent and anyone who paid it.'
  • Parliament refused to give Charles money so he used the forced loan and carried on collecting T&P.
  • absence of P made not much difference to the functioning of gov. Was more symbolic and gave the people a place to express their anger as tradition of free speech had been in place. Gave chance for Charles to explain his policies to make people less angry which would have been important as he was pursuing very unpopular policies.
  • He had little interest in politics 'do you find it suit my service' surrounded himself with men who shared his interests and beliefs, kept himself private, didnt seek to win peoples love by showing himself to them.
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Charles's Government

  • Privy council - met twice weekly, handled routine business of government. too much work to be done with too little staff, left little opportunity for the initiation of policy or long term strategy. Book of orders example. PC much less important in 1630s, Charles only attended meetings once a month and was advised by people who shared his religious and political beliefs.
  • JPs - 50 per county, met 4 times a year, chosen by king from gentry. Difficult to maintain sustained for long periods, once the points of concern had been dealt with JPs could run their localities as they chose.
  • The harvest of 1630 was the worst of the early stuarts. Book of orders bought out 1631. published 8 orders and 12 directions, orders instructed JPs to supervise local officers and make quarterly reports to the sheriff who would pass them to PC. Directions to prevent vagrancy placed poor children in apprenticeships and punished and employed delinquents. After a while the reports sent by JPs became vague and useless.
  • consumed with patronage of art. specifically catholic artists work, seen as plot to introduce Catholicism. Along with his innovatory policies in religion and politics worried people. fears grew that the court was trying to introduce Catholicism by using arminianism and forging an alliance with spain, thus abandoning the protestant cause with the palatine. 'political court' Charles' inner ring of advisors who shared his views, those who believed in the alliance with the dutch against spain, the participation of parliament and the establishment of calvinism were cut off from influence. All favoured alliance with Spain apart from King, Laud and Wentworth. These attitudes could only hope to flourish in the absence of P and so the King was confirmed in his decision to rule alone.
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Rule without Parliament

  • He didn't have parliamentary grant and customs revenue was reduced by war and merchants refusing to pay T&P. He made peace with France in 1629 and Spain in 1630. Lord treasurer Weston was driven to exploit obscure prerogative rights to try and curb royal expenditure.


  • customs revenue - Peace meant marchants could trade in arms food and military and naval supplies. England obtained a near monopoly of the Iberian trade as well as continueing trade with the north. huge increase in crown revenue, 2/3 was due to customs. By the end of 1630 C was solvent.
  • Economy - royal household accounted for £260,000 a year, about 40% of the kings income. employed 1800 to 2600 people. King had 24 meat dishes twice daily. Each day ration allowance of £25 5s 4d would have kept 1962 people for a whole year. Weston managed to halt the upward curve of expenditure but there were few significant economies and no structural reform was undertaken.
  • Weston couldnt tamper with the privilages that office-holders had such as holding freehold of their office therefore getting income for life and charging would-be clients, as they would stop trusting the king and he depended on them to carry out his instructions
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fiscal feudalism / feudal tenures

  • distraint of knighthood - every man with an income of more than £40 per annum was supposed to present himslef at the correnation to be knighted. Inflation eroded the value of £40 so the practise fell out of use. Therefore there were many men who were eligable but hadnt which could be fined for failing to show support for the king. £170,000 was raised, the equivilant of 3 parliament subsidies by the end of 1630s. it was unfair that men should be penalised for ignoring obsolite custom but it was still legal.
  • Forest fines - the boundires of the royal forests were declared to be those of the time of Henry II, when they had reached maximum size, Large numbers of people were living on them and could be fined for engaging in agriculture or for enclosing the land. Earl of Salisbury was fined £20,000. Could force small farmers and landless men who had been employed in large fields into vagrency.
  • Wardship - increased to £83000 1638-40 from £35,000 from 1617-22. meant if the owner of an estate died, it was manged until the heir became of age. For a family 2 or more wardships could ruin them, but it bought £65,000 to the crown. courtiers could enrich themselves at the estate expenses.
  • men could be fined for building too close to the capital and for eating meat in lent. What rankled in all these cases was the unfairness of the impositions and their arbitrary nature. They affected the political classes most which Charles needed the support of most. Was stretching the law and the king was using his prerogative to extend his power.
  • monopolies - Charles broke the spirit of the a624 statue of monopolies by exploiting a loophole that enabled him to grant monopolies to companies rather than individuals. For every £100,000 raised for the king £750,000 went to the patent holders. 'popish soap' bought in £29,000 a year for the king by 1636
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  • the blurring of patronage, revenue raising and law enforcement was upsetting to the notion of the king as a father to his people who would put their concerns first. The financial position of the crown was restored by mid-1630s but the political price was high.
  • ship money - this was the levy which was accepted as necessary in times of emergency for the defense of the seas. it was levied in 1634 on coastal counties to protect them for pirates stealing people for slaves. in 1635 against all precedence it was levied from the whole country. Each year until 1640 it was levied. The 'emergency' had seemed to be permenant and Charles had managed to introduce a new tax by the back door. It raised £190,000 a year for the first 3 years. The unpleasentness of collecting the tax weakened the gentrys support for the king. John Hampden refused to pay it in 1638. 5 out of the 12 judges refused to find for the king. payment of ship money dropped by 20% after this. this coincided with the king's imposition of a new prayer book on the scots which increased suspision about what the money was intended for. By 1639 the kin was also demanding money to fight the scots and payment fell to just 20%.
  • opposition in 1637 - there seemed scarcely a ripple on the calm surface of politics. 'the greatest calm and the fullest felicity' The crown was for the first time in decades solvent. the king was healthy with 5 kids so no worries about the succession. no enemies posing serious threat. Without parliament there was nowhere to express discontent. Prynne, Bastwick and Burton - lawyer, clergyman and doctor, sentanced to ears cut off, life imprisonment and heavy fine, explains little opposition.
  • what went wrong? - Charles didn't have parliament to tell him how unhappy people were and when he finally did, he was so deeply comitted to unpopular policies in scotland that no easy retreat was possible.
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  • law - the star chamber was made up of privy council members and was used to attack those who disagreed with government policies. was useful for raising revenue as it was speefy and could impose huge fines. 'the star chamber is now a court of revenue'. It also lost respect because Laud used it to enforce his extremely unpopular reforms in the church. The trial of the city of London 1635 over the failure to populate the plantation of londonderry. The city lost its irish lands and was fined £70,000. the city used to be one of the kings main supporters. In 1639 they only granted him £5,000 to fight the scots and thereafter refusde any more support.
  • Fear of catholicism, resentment at teh pretensions of the Laudian clergy and a sense that the king was willing to overide both law and parliament in pursuit of his perception of royal government combined to conivnce some that he was seeking an absolute monarchy.
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Ireland and Wentworth

This catholic country had an alien protestant ruling class imposed upon them, and ontop of this a series of plantations were created. Land was taken from its original holders if theycouldnt provide a valid title to it, it was given to protestant settlers. In 1632 there was an annual deficit of £20,000, financial liabilty.

Wentworth was appointed lord deputy of Ireland. Had been prime mover in the petition of rights but had become lord president of the council of the north. Together with Laud they conceived a style called 'Thorough', which elevated the king's prerogative and placed emphasis on central authority and close supervision of local officers. meant to make government more efficient and less corrupt.

Wentworth bought the irish parliament into a position of subservience by exerting great pressure in the choice of parliamentary candidates and by refusing and debate until the crowns finacial needs had been dealt with. He ended the deficit. In 1634 he promised to impliment the 'graces' (which confirmed their right to own land) in return for subsidies but he broke his word and sided with the 'New English' protestants.

He extended the powers of the prerogative courts and claimed royal title to huge tracts of land. The administration of customs was made more efficient and smuggling was attacked. He appointed laudians in the church. These bought increased revenue, a more efficient administration and a reformed church.However, he alienated ever section of society so 2 years after he left rebellion swept the country. He returned to England in 1639.

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Charles made one visit there in 1618 and then not again until 1633. It was important to see the king regularly because he was the source of patronage and power. They felt slighted by Charles's neglect of them and they had some justification for bitterness towards england as it was poorer and economically backwards. England recieved the bulk of royal patronage and they were excluded from englands growing overseas trade.

Scotland had a national religious settlement supported by the vast majority of the population. Charles and Laud wanted all 3 countries to be the same religion to impossed the English prayer book on them. The word 'priest' was deleted, but the bishops weren't representative of the scots and the scottish nobels and were very anglican. When it was introduced in 1637 in St.Giles cathedral edingburgh there was a riot. 'the mass is entered upon us'. 1638 charles issued a proclomation making protests again the PB an act of treason. The 'Covenant' was drawn up to which hundreds of thousands of Scotts signed swearing to resist to the death the innovations of religion.

The bishops war -  To gain time charles agreed to summon a scottish general assembly to meet in november. It abolished episcopacy and Charles wanted to suppress the 'rebels' by force. He summoned the peers to meet him at York in april 1639 with appropriate assisstance, but people were uneasy about supporting the king in his attempt to impose on the scots arminian practises which were closely allied to Roman Catholicism. The quality of troops assembled at Berwick was so appaling that a war was not to be contemplated.

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Short Parliament

They signed the Treaty of Berwick june 1639. Scottish parliament met and dissolved without acheiving anything. Wentworth came back and was made Earl of Strafford. He convinced Charles to call short parliament  in April 1640 to get money to fight the scots.

People were cautious about P being called as they weren't convinced he wanted to restore working relationship with P. By not calling one earlier he lost the opportunity to unite the country behind him. In the absence of P for 11 years there were more pressing matters other than his war such as; ship money, changes in religion and the activites of the prerogative courts. 'the king did not require their advice, but an immediate vote of supplies' - lord keeper finch. John Pym put their grievences into 3 catagories: infringment of parliamentary liberties, innovations in religion and violations of property.

The commons weren't prepared to grant any money until ship money had been discussed. Charles offered to stop it if he got 12 subsidies, but dissolved P 3 weeks later. Parliament hadnt voted any money, only a small minority were paying ship money, there were demonstrations in London and unrest in the country. Members of P were questioned and imprisoned. The crown seemed to be acting in an increasingly autocratic manner.

July 1640 the scots invaded Northumberland. Charles had to sign Treaty of Ripon in ocotober. The scots were allowed to occupy Northumberland and Durham and were paid a subsidy of £850 each day until peace was made. He had to summon P to get money to pay them and couldnt dismiss it while scots occupied scotland. This removed his weapon against P that he could dissolve them.

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-Laud as archbishop of canterbury 1633. Preaching was to be limited to sunday morning and evening, and replaced by Catechism (set question and answers). This substitution symbolised the Laudian emphasis on ritual, authority and communal worship in place of the intensly personal, bible-based faith encouraged by puritans.

-Churches were to be decorated, music was encouraged, and worst of all communion tables were removed to the east and covered with a rich embroidered cloth, much like that of the cathloic high alter, railed off from the ordinary members of teh congregation. The empahsis on authority and the special status of the celrgy all came together to create fear of absolutism and catholicism. Ministers who refused risked losing their livings and serious acts of defience were brought before the prerogative court of high commission. Burton Bastiwck and Prynne 1637.

- the queen was catholic and allowed to worship, so was Weston. Catholicism became fashionable in court circles. In ireland he had already withdrawn the royal proclamation of the graces which had given the irish catholics some religious freedom, and Wentworth's iron grip supressed any ressitance. In Scotland however, the independance and strength of the presbyterian Kirk (presbyterian church independant of the monarchy) created difficulty for the monarchy and encouraged english Puritans.


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The collapse of parliamentary unity

-Pym's junto were the coherently organised group of MPs with a plan to defeat the kings most cherished plans and imposing their own. Leader John pym. In contact with Scots. Lord seye and sele, Lord brooke, Bedford and the Earl of Warwick, John Hampden and Pym were both directors, founded the privateering company named the Providence Island company.

- The redress of grievances. King's position was weak, so mps could make sure personal rule wouldnt be repeated. November 1640 - Impeachement against Strafford and Laud. February 1641 - The Triennal act recieved the King's consent. was replaced with weaker version in 1664. May 1641 - Act of Attainder declared Strafford guilty so he was excecuted, helped by Pym leaking a plot to dissolve the commons and release strafford by force by army officers. July 1641 - Abolition of Prerogative courts of star chamber and high commission, meant king couldnt deal with legal cases himself. August 1641 - Ship money was made illegal.  

- Ten propositions 1641 because the king was going to Scotland to settle the treaty so he wouldnt be paying them money each day so would have more financial freedom and wouldnt need P. He could also get support from Scots for Civil war. 10 props included control of the kings choice of advisors and they asked the king to delay until he agreed. Most Mps felt this was too far.



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Religion - Aboltion of Episcopasy was hugely debated. Most felt this was too far, and just wanted to get rid of Lauds rituals and restore a distinctively protestant identity based on preaching. King removed bishops from his privy council 1641. Root and branch bill by puritan fanction to completely abolish bishops failed. Most MPs liked the social order bishops had.

Shaping of conflict - Outbreak of rebellion in Ireland october 1641, kicked everything off. Catholic attack on protestant settlers. Exaggerated rumours of 200,000 dead. Rumours that English Catholics were joining the Irish army that were now in england and the king supported them. Charles reacted really slowly and took until late november to come back from scotland.

Pym introduced Grand remonstrance to P, which  reviewed Charles' foreign, financial, legal and religious policies, setting forth 204 separate points of objection and calling for the expulsion of all bishops from Parliament, with Parliament having a right of veto over Crown appointments. The militia bill was proposed to the king where P could choice the choice of commander. This pushed P in favour of the king as it went too far. Grand remonstrance only passed by 11 votes. Publishing the Grand remonstrance rallied London aganist the king. Charles appointed new Warden in the tower of london, Lunsford, who was aggressive and brutal. He had demonstrators arrested and beaten. Pym spread rumours that he was going to impeach the Queen, so january 3rd 1642 king ordered the house of lords to impeach pym and 5 others. On january 4th the king went into the commons with 300 armed guards, they werent there. February he moved his family to York.

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outbreak of war

outbreak of war was unintended, unwanted and initially fought for defensive purposes. Although the first battle of Edgehill occured in October 16442, attempts to secure treaties were still actively being pursued in december 1642. In Arpil John hotham stopped the king from seizing the port and arsenal at Hull. The king decalred him a traitor and he appealed to P. A paper war followed both decalaring the other of acting illegally. The nineteen propositions were given to the king which included P control of his advisors and militia and church reforms, he declined. The king replied by staking his claim to represent legal power and order.

July 1642 the navy declared for P. August the king raised the standard in Nottingham and called for volunteers. Staffordshire declared a neutral zone, and gentry of Yorkshire agreed to treaty of neutrailty. September P appointed Fairfax as commander in the north. He began to raise forces in Yorkshire. October battle of Edgehill. November King's march of london stopped by london militia. December Cheshire signed neutral treaty. County assoviations set up to coordinate defense in groups of counties. !643 jan - may Failed peace negotiations at Oxford marked new phase of war.

fear and mistrust on each side started it made worse by military preparations on both sides.


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Georgina-Ann Clark


I'm pretty certain than James was in power till 1625..

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