Britain, 1625-1642: The Failure of Absolutism?
Charles and Parliament
Charles was a very different man and king to his politically acute father (James 1). Although they both strongly shared the belief of the Divine Right of Kings, Charles the 1st was a shy and quiet person, who chose to stay in the background, he also was hampered by a speech defect (stammerer). Because of his insecurity, he lacked political judgement and flexibility. Being sensitive to criticism, he was unable to understand viewpoints that differed from his own making it incredibly hard for him to communicate well with his Parliament.
Charles was a man of deep indecision and believed that if he could lead a life of order and uniformity, obedience and peace from his subjects would follow. he was so confident in his own motives and actions that he saw no need to explain his actions of justify his conduct to his people. he equated disobedience with disloyalty or he thought of them with a conspiracy theory mentality and interpreted it as sedition.
Sharpe, ‘he was in many respects a complete contrast to his father,’
Cogswell, referred to Charles being James’ ‘mirror opposite’
Young, ‘it was not just that Charles happened to be the opposite of his father; he consciously set out to make himself the opposite.’
Cust, ‘he refused to compromise where he believed his conscience was engaged of his God given royal authority was at stake.’
The 1625 Parliament
When Charles came to the throne he at first appeared to have a good working relationship with Parliament but in the first four years of his reign, this relationship broke down upon succeeding to the throne he had to deal with all the themes that had bedevilled the later years of James the 1st reign. These were, finances, foreign policy, favourites and Arminianism.
Charles had planned to go to war with Spain in the hope that he could have a naval attack which would aim at capturing their transport of gold from South America. He planned to construct a force of about 6000 Englishmen to be led by the German mercenary, Count Mansfeld.
Charles’ war expenditure was of £1million but he refused to explain why he needed such an amount despite the fact that he needed the cooperation of Parliament. The Houses of Commons didn’t trust the king and so they only granted him two subsidies of £140,000 and tonnage and poundage which only lasted for one year as opposed to the rest of his life which was the usual grant for a new monarch.
Why did Parliament give Charles a limited grant?
- They needed time to discuss reform of customs duties and other matters that concerned them.
- It was directed at Buckingham more than Charles. The tonnage and poundage was collected to contribute to the naval protection but Buckingham…