The rule of Charles I in England and Scotland, 1625-1640

The rule of Charles I in England and Scotland, 1625-1640

Charles I Ascension to the Throne

  • Charles I succeeded his father James I and VI in 1625, becoming the King of England, Scotland, and Ireland.
  • He followed a similar absolutist style of rule as his father, showing fervent belief in the Divine Right of Kings.
  • Many of his subjects, particularly those within parliament and those of Puritan belief, were fervently opposed to this manner of ruling.

Charles I’s Relationship with Parliament

  • Charles I and Parliament had an adversarial relationship, initially revolving around royal finances and foreign policies.
  • The King’s habit of frequently resorting to non-parliamentary means of revenue generation (like levying Ship Money in 1635) and his marriage to a Catholic Princess, Henrietta Maria of France, strained this relationship further.
  • He dissolved the Parliament several times, leading to the period known as the “Personal Rule” or the “Eleven Years’ Tyranny” (1629-1640), during which he attempted to rule without Parliament.

Religious Tensions under Charles I

  • Charles I’s reign was marked by increased religious tension between the Anglican and Puritan factions.
  • The appointment of the Arminian, William Laud, as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1633, who sought to enforce religious uniformity and resisted Puritan demands, further fuelled these tensions.
  • Charles I and Archbishop Laud’s attempts to impose a new Prayer Book in Scotland (1637) resulted in widescale opposition and the signing of the National Covenant (1638), which sparked the first Bishops’ War.

The Bishops’ Wars and Their Impact

  • The Bishops’ Wars (1639-1640) were a sequence of conflicts between Charles I and the Scottish Covenanters who opposed his religious innovations.
  • These wars led to an embarrassing loss for Charles and increased financial strain, forcing him to recall the Parliament in 1640.
  • Parliament demanded reforms and limitations on the King’s power before granting him the money to fight the Scots, leading to the Long Parliament which played a crucial role in the years leading to the English Civil War.

Charles I’s Rule in Ireland

  • In Ireland, Charles endeavoured to attract English and Scottish Protestants to settle in Ireland while reducing the power of the Irish Catholic gentry, causing resentment.
  • The failed attempt to impose the new Anglican prayer book caused anger among the Irish and Scots, contributing to the rising tensions and setting the ground for conflicts.