James I final years

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James I’s final years 1621-1625


The 1621 Parliament


Challenge of the puritans

Some puritans had left on the Mayflower in 1620- these puritans were a very small minority most puritans were content to stay within the church of England, the issue was the great struggle going on in Europe between the Catholics and the Protestants in the 30 years’ war. Some believed England was the nation chosen by God to lead a protestant campaign across Europe. These members of the gentry – Sir Edward Coke- were in Parliament and therefore unhappy with James foreign policy. Parliament was anxious to support Fredrick of the Palatine (James son in law) who was seen by many as a protestant hero. So they called for war with Spain, although they voted only two subsides for military support to recover the palatine, which was inadequate as the Spanish army was the most powerful in Europe.

The Protestation

James was annoyed at the commons discussing foreign policy, which was his royal prerogative, and he ordered them to stop doing so. The commons produced the Protestation to the King, arguing that their ancient right of freedom of speech allowed them to discuss any matter regardless of royal prerogative

Subsidy for war

Middlesex knew England could not afford a war with Spain, Parliament was prepared to vote money to recover the Palatinate from Spain but didn’t favour a direct military attack. James said if they were going to fight he would need subsidies as well as nearly £1 million to pay off his debts, given the promises by Charles and Buckingham (That if Parliament appointed commissioners to oversee the spending they could decide how the war was to be fought) given this parliament voted subsidies of £300,000 not enough for serious war with Spain.

The fall of Lord Chancellor Bacon

Encouraged by Sir Edward Coke, the commons turned on Sir Francis Bacon. He had been dismissed by James in 1616 for supporting the independence of judges and the importance of the laws made by Parliament against prerogative laws. Bacon was an old court rival of Coke. The commons saw Bacon as a symbol of court corruption and mismanagement because of his gifts and monopolies. They impeached him for taking bribes as Lord Chancellor. He was fines £40,000 and briefly imprisoned.

Economic Depression and Monopolies

Economic depression, caused by the 30 years’ war and the consequent fall in the exports had devastated Europe. There was a poor harvest in 1621 which caused widespread distress. Parliament tried to deal with the problem by pushing through the statue of monopolies, which made monopolies that were not concerned with new inventions illegal.

Lionel Cranfield and Royal finances

Became Lord Treasures in October 1621. He became Earl of Middlesex in 1622. He realised the only way James could be financially sound would be by cutting…


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