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Why was Charles executed ?

By Claudia-Caraballo Sep 18, 2014 560 Words
What events led to the execution of Charles I?
The English Civil war, which lasted from 1642 to 1649, was brought on as a result of many different causes. This war was unique because the sides that were in dispute were none other than the English monarch and his own representative assembly. Also, it was the first war that culminated in the trial and execution of its ruling monarch. Charles I was the son of King James I of England and became heir to the throne after the death of his brother Prince Henry. He inherited disagreements with parliament from his father but his own actions brought about a crisis in 1629. In order to begin to explain one must remember that at this time in England English Protestants had the constant fear that Catholicism would be forced upon them. The English and the Scots became suspicious when Charles attempted to impose an Arminian prayer book upon his subjects. Many Englishmen believe that this book reinstituted some practices which were inherently Catholic and believed that Charles was preparing to reintroduce Catholicism to England. They were even more infuriated when he married the Catholic French Princess Henrietta Maria, whom was allowed to practice her religion freely. The Protestants feared that her religion would be passed down or influence the royal children (heirs to the English throne) and would endanger the preservation of the Protestant faith. Charles I had a high concept of royal authority; he believed he as the king, he should not need permission from anyone to rule. As a result, when his disagreements with parliament came about, (regarding his expensive tastes, choice of wife, and especially, his decision to allow foreign policy to be directed by the unpopular Duke of Buckingham), he became resentful of Parliament’s interference in matters, which he believed, were his alone. Another cause of his disagreements with Parliament was that Parliament refused to grant him tax money because it was not being used to address the peoples’ grievances. Charles then attempted to rule without calling on Parliament for an extended period of time. He refused to call parliament from 1628 until 1640, when he needed to ask for money again. Furious about not being called upon for more than a decade, parliament refused to grant him money and instead began attacking Charles’ advisors. Parliament also passed laws that forbid him from dissolving Parliament without its consent. In January 1642 Charles unsuccessfully attempted to arrest the chamber’s leaders and the city of London sided with Parliament. It was then that he decided to leave the city, fearing for his safety. Eventually the North and West sided with the king while the South and East sided with Parliament and after failed attempts at peace between both sides they met at the Battle of Edgehill in 1642. Although they did not have the upper hand at the very beginning, under the direction of Oliver Cromwell, Parliament’s army defeated Charles’ army and he surrendered in 1646. Charles appeared before a high court in 1648 and was convicted of treason and sentenced to death. Charles belief in his divine right to rule, his belief that Parliament only existed to pass tax laws to provide more money to the English Crown, and his divisive religious rule during a time where paranoia about religious beliefs were eminent, ultimately led to his execution.

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