‘Charles’ Ability to Finance His Government Effectively and Without Too Much Resentment During the Personal Rule Was a Remarkable Achievement.’

Topics: Charles I of England, John Hampden, Ship money Pages: 5 (2109 words) Published: November 12, 2012
‘Charles’ ability to finance his government effectively and without too much resentment during the personal rule was a remarkable achievement.’ How Far Do You Agree?

For the greater part of the 1630’s Englishmen paid their taxes, most likely grumbling whilst doing it, but they were paid. During his personal rule 1629-40, Charles I needed to raise revenue by using non-parliamentary means, i.e. in ways he would not need a parliament’s permission to collect. In order to do this, Charles changed certain policies to make them more financially gaining and brought back taxes that had not been used for numerous years, ranging from Ship Money to Credit to Monopolies. Upon his arrival in the court of Charles I, Lord Treasurer Weston tried to curb royal expenditure. The royal household accounted for almost 40% of Charles’ income and was at nearly £260,000 a year. Although Weston managed to halt the upward curve of expenditure, he made no real structural reform of the King’s expenditure, meaning that the cost of the court did not reduce it stayed at the same level. However, upon Weston’s death in 1635, in terms of percentages of total royal income it did go down, but purely because gross income had risen. This clearly shows that some of the financial policies Charles held did work effectively as he had more money. Another thing that Weston attempted to stop Charles doing was, borrowing credit. He along with William Juxon, Bishop of London endeavoured to stop the crown off borrowing money from the City of London and other financiers. Their aim was to reduce the interest payments on the outstanding loans that were crippling the crown so much that in the 1620s the crown jewels were pawned to the Netherlands. Weston and Juxon clearly managed to control crown borrowing as the annual crown deficit was cut to just £18,000, but it was not completely effective as the total crown debt remained at more than £1 million. However, in the 1630s the crown jewels were bought back, showing the fore-sight and innovative way to access income. One of the most heavily resented policies by Charles’ personal government was Ship Money. Initially it was an ancient, one-off emergency tax, used to pay the Navy to protect trade from piracy and was normally only applicable to costal towns and ports. However, it became a permanent tax in 1635 and was extended to inland counties, clearly causing resentment. People felt angered as to why it was extended; they thought it was wrong that even though they would not be directly affected by the money, they still had to pay the tax. Furthermore, it definitely weakened the claim of the tax in terms of an emergency fund. A clear example of resentment is the John Hampden case of 1636/37. Hampden refused to pay Ship Money and was taken to court because of it; he based his case of the fact that it was wrong that the King in times of national danger was able to command his subjects to pay a levy without recourse to a parliament. Hampden lost the case, but he won a moral victory and caused embarrassment to Charles because five of the twelve voting members ruled in Hampden’s support, definitely showing resentment amongst his own judges. However, it would be wrong to state that the tax was ineffective. In 1638, 90% of the population paid the tax raising £200,000 p.a. In addition, during the years 1635-40, the tax raised £800,000 for Charles- clearly showing that it was effective in raising money. Furthermore, it is known that most people, who disliked the tax, were more concerned with the level of duty not the actual principle of tax. Charles realised that being at peace with France and Spain had been extremely beneficial for trade, especially in the trading of arms and foodstuffs. Furthermore, at the beginning of his reign, Charles had only been given by parliament Tonnage and Poundage (custom duties on exports and imports) for one year, instead of the normal allowance given to Kings of the whole of their reign. This meant...
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