Absolute Monarch

CharlesIOn 27 March 1625, one of England’s less successful monarchs, Charles I, ascended the throne after the death of his father, James I and VI. As we all know, the match between king and country was not to be a happy marriage. One of the biggest problems was that Charles was an extreme believer in the Divine Right of Kings, which he took to mean he could do pretty much whatever the hell he wanted. Parliament had other ideas. Before he even took the throne, Charles and the kingdom’s elected representatives were at loggerheads, and he wasted no time seriously pissing everyone off by quickly marrying the Catholic Henrietta Maria of France, before Parliament could forbid the banns.

Things didn’t improve from there. Charles declared war on Spain, which was currently embroiled in the 30 Years’ War. The war, under the leadership of his crony, the Duke of Buckingham, went badly, but instead of firing him, Charles dismissed Parliament instead. While they were gone, he imposed a tax without their consent to finance the war. Naturally, Parliament objected once the members reconvened.

Things continued in this tense manner until Charles got fed up and ditched Parliament altogether, beginning what was known as the Personal Rule or the Eleven Years’ Tyranny, depending on who you asked. Charles was finally forced to recall Parliament in 1640 due to money woes partly brought on by religious conflicts in Scotland.

Parliament came back ready to play hardball. Although the first reconvened Parliament, named the Short Parliament, was dissolved in only a month, the one that gathered after it was overwhelmingly against the king. They pushed through legislation that forbade the king from dissolving Parliament without the body’s consent and also cut back monopolies Charles had been so free with and started seriously regulating taxation. But none of that was quite enough to heal the rift between king and representatives. When Charles tried to personally arrest six members he believed colluded with an invading Scottish force, Parliament rebelled, seizing London on 10 January 1642 and forcing the king to flee. Within months, the English Civil War had begun.

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