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Monarchy Rules: A Look at Charles I

Charles I was born on 19 November 1600 in Fife. The son of Anne of Denmark and James VI of Scotland who succeeded Elizabeth I in 1603 as king of England and Ireland. Upon his father ascending to the throne the family moved from Scotland to England where Charles would grow up.

Charles was never meant to be king but when his older brother Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales passed away in 1612 from what historians believe to have been typhoid and Charles became the heir, ascending to the throne on 27 March 1625. On 1 May 1625, Charles married Henrietta Maria of France by proxy and on 13 June 1625 the couple was married in person in Canterbury. Many members of parliament did not want the king to marry a Roman Catholic so Charles postponed the opening of Parliament to delay any opposition. The couple had 9 children, 5 of who survived. Their two sons Charles II and James II & VI both eventually became king.

Five Eldest Children of Charles -Anthony van Dyck [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Five Eldest Children of Charles -Anthony van Dyck [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

His time as king did not start out on a good note as he created a friendship with George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham. Villiers would use his influence against the wishes of other nobles creating tensions. He was one of the few who supported Charles’ belief of the divine right of kings. Villiers was assassinated in 1628.

The war abroad only added to the problems of money in parliament. Between 1625 and 1629 Charles dissolved parliament three times, only to dismiss parliament all together in 1629 and rule on his own. The dismissal of parliament meant that Charles had to bring in funds from alternative measures which only increased his unpopularity.

Charles chose to force the Anglican prayer book on Scotland which resulted in turmoil and his rule. Parliament was called back in order to gain money so they may fight the Scots. An uprising in Ireland caused even more problems for the king when in November 1641 he could not agree with parliament on who should command the army against Ireland. Charles solution to the problem was to arrest five members of parliament in August 1642 and raise the royal standard at Nottingham. This was the tipping point for Civil War.

Sometime in 1645-1646 the Royalists were defeated by the New Model Army- a combination of parliament’s alliance with the Scots. Charles was forced to surrender to the Scots in 1646 who in turn passed him off to parliament.

Yet Charles fled in 1647 to the Isle of Wight after refusing to form a constitutional monarchy and convinced a portion of Scots to invade. Within the year the ‘Second Civil War’ was over having been defeated by Parliamentarian general Oliver Cromwell.

A section of MP’s believed that while Charles was still alive there would always be war so he was put on trial for treason. After being found guilty, he was executed on 30 January 1649 outside the Banqueting House on Whitehall, London.

After his execution, the monarchy was abolished and in its place, the Commonwealth of England was formed. In 1660, the monarchy was reinstated to Charles I son, Charles II.

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