King Charles the First

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King Charles the First 1600-1649
King of England, Scotland and Ireland whose refusal to compromise over complex religious and political situations led to civil war, his own execution and the abolition of the Monarchy.

[pic]The second son of James VI of Scotland and Anne of Denmark, Charles was born at Fife in Scotland on 19 November 1600. His father succeeded Queen Elizabeth I and came to the throne of England as King James I in 1603. Charles was created Duke of Albany at his baptism (December 1600) and Duke of York in 1605. He was placed in the care of and Lady Fyvie until the age of four, then moved to England where he was brought up in the household of Sir Robert and Lady Carey. As a child, Charles suffered from weak ankle joints (probably the result of rickets) which slowed his physical development. He was also slow in learning to speak. He outgrew these defects, except for a slight stammer which he never overcame. His education was overseen by Thomas Murray, a Scottish Presbyterian who later became Provost of Eton. Charles was a serious student who excelled at languages, rhetoric and divinity. Charles was overshadowed by his brilliant elder brother Prince Henry, to whom he was devoted, but Henry died when Charles was 12 years old. Charles and his sister Elizabeth mourned Henry together, which created a bond between them that affected English foreign policy after Elizabeth married the Elector of the Palatinate. Henry's death made Charles heir to the throne of the Three Kingdoms: England, Scotland and Ireland. By strength of will, he overcame his physical weaknesses to become a good horseman and huntsman. He developed sophisticated tastes in the arts and earnestly applied himself to his religious devotions. Created Prince of Wales in 1616, he was instructed by King James in every aspect of ruling a kingdom. With a profound belief that Kings were appointed by God to rule by Divine Right, Charles succeeded as the second Stuart King in 1625. Charles came to the throne amid pressure from English Protestants for intervention against Spain and the Catholic powers in the religious wars raging in Europe (the Thirty Years War, 1618-48). He allowed England's foreign policy to be directed by the unpopular Duke of Buckingham, who launched a series of disastrous military expeditions against Spain and France with the aim of indirectly assisting the Palatinate. Charles dissolved his first two Parliaments when they attempted to impeach Buckingham but he was forced to call a third because he needed funds to pursue his warlike policies. In 1628, Charles' opponents formulated the Petition of Right as a defence against the King's arbitrary use of his powers. Charles grudgingly accepted the Petition in the hope that Parliament would grant him subsidies, but in practice he ignored its provisions. [pic]

[pic]After the assassination of Buckingham in 1628, critics in Parliament turned their attention to Charles' religious policy. He angrily dismissed his third Parliament in 1629, imprisoned several of his leading opponents, and declared his intention of ruling alone. The eleven-year period of the King's Personal Rule was also described as the "Eleven Year Tyranny". It was initially successful — during the turmoil of the civil wars, many people looked back upon it as a golden age of peace and prosperity. Charles had made peace with Spain and France by 1630. Trade and commerce grew; the King's finances were stable by 1635. This enabled him to commission great works of art by Rubens and Van Dyck, and also to build up the Royal Navy for England's defence. But without Parliament to grant legal taxes, Charles was obliged to raise income by obscure and highly unpopular means including forced loans, the sale of commercial monopolies and, most notoriously of all, ship-money. Along with Charles' controversial religious policies, these measures alienated many natural supporters of the Crown, including powerful noblemen like Lord Saye and Sele, and...
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