King Charles I (1625 - 1649)
Name: King Charles I
Born: November 19, 1600 at Dunfermline Palace, Scotland
Parents: James I (VI of Scots) and Anne of Denmark
Relation to Charles III: 9th great-granduncle
House of: Stuart
Ascended to the throne: March 27, 1625 aged 24 years
Crowned: February 2, 1626 at Westminster Abbey
Married: Henrietta Maria, Daughter of Henri IV of France
Children: Four sons and five daughters
Died: January 30, 1649 at Whitehall, London (executed), aged 48 years, 2 months, and 11 days
Buried at: Windsor
Reigned for: 23 years, 10 months, 4 days
Succeeded by: his son Charles II
Charles was the 2nd son of James VI of Scotland (James 1 of England) and Anne of Denmark. He was born in Dunfermline, Scotland, and became heir to the throne on the death of his brother Henry in 1612. His father favoured marriage to the Spanish infanta Maria Anna, but Parliament was hostile to Spain and in 1625 he married Henrietta Maria, daughter of Henry IV of France. Their children included Charles and James (who became Charles II and James II), and Mary who married William II of Orange and was the mother of William III.
When Charles I succeeded his father in 1625, friction with Parliament began at once. Charles believed in his divine right as king and struggled to control Parliament who resented his attempts at absolute rule. One of his first acts was to dissolve parliament in 1625, and again in 1626 after attempts to impeach the Duke of Buckingham over war against Spain and support of the French Huguenots. Charles forced an unpopular ‘Ship Money’ tax to raise funds without the consent of Parliament. In 1628 Charles was presented with the Petition of Right a declaration of the “rights and liberties of the subject", which he reluctantly agreed to. However, in 1629 he dissolved Parliament again, imprisoned its leaders and ruled without a Parliament from 1629 to 1640. His advisers Earl Strafford and Archbishop Laud persecuted the Puritans, and provoked the Presbyterian Scots Covenanters to revolt when Laud attempted to introduce the English Book of Common Prayer.
The Short Parliament, which met April 1640, refused to grant money until grievances were redressed, and was dissolved after just 3 weeks. The Scots then advanced into England and forced their own terms on Charles. The Long Parliament assembled under in November 1640 under John Pym, passed an Act that prevented it from being dissolved without its own consent. Laud and other ministers were imprisoned, and Strafford condemned to death. There was now direct confrontation between Charles and Parliament. After the failure of his attempt to arrest five parliamentary leaders on 4 January 1642, Charles, confident that he had substantial support among those who believed that Parliament was becoming too Puritanical and zealous, withdrew from London, and on 22 August declared war on Parliament by raising his standard at Nottingham and beginning the English Civil War of 1642 to 1648.
The Battle of Edgehill, Warwickshire, in October 1642 between Royalist forces and Parliamentary forces favoured the Royalists but the outcome was inconclusive. The war continued indecisively through 1643 and 1644. Charles's defeat at the Battle of Naseby, near Leicester, in June 1645 by Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army ended all hopes of Royalist victory. In April 1646 Charles escaped the Siege of Oxford and surrendered at Newark, Nottinghamshire, to the Scots, who handed him over to Parliament in January 1647. In June the Cromwell’s army seized him and carried him off to Hampton Court palace, near London. While the army leaders strove to find a settlement, Charles secretly intrigued for a Scottish invasion. In November he escaped, but was recaptured and held at Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight. A Scottish invasion followed in 1648, but was shattered by Cromwell at Preston, Lancashire. In January 1649 the House of Commons set up a high court of justice, which tried Charles and condemned him to death. He was beheaded on 30 January 1649 in front of the Banqueting House in Whitehall, London. There followed a period known as the English Commonwealth ruled by Cromwell through parliament.
King Charles I's Signature
‘Never make a defence or an apology until you are accused’ – King Charles I
‘In grave difficulties, and with little hope, the boldest measures are the safest’ –King Charles I
‘Death is not terrible to me; I bless my God I am prepared’ – King Charles I (before his execution)
Timeline for King Charles I
|Charles I succeeds his father, James I.
|Parliament attempts to impeach the Duke of Buckingham and is dissolved by Charles.
|England goes to war with France, but at La Rochelle the Duke of Buckingham fails to relieve the besieged Huguenots.
|The Petition of Right a declaration of the “rights and liberties of the subject" is presented to the King, who agrees to it under protest.
|Physician William Harvey demonstrates the circulation of blood in the body
|Charles dissolves Parliament and rules by himself until 1640.
|The colony of Massachusetts is founded in America
|Work begins on the building which is now Buckingham Palace in London
|Charles tries to force new prayer book on Scots, who resist by signing the National Covenant.
|Act of Toleration in England established religious toleration
|Charles summons the Short Parliament, which he dissolves three weeks later when it refuses to grant him money.
|Long Parliament summoned, which lasts until 1660. It can only be dissolved by its members.
|Abolition of the Star Chamber and Court of High Commission.
|Charles fails in his attempt to arrest five MPs.
|Outbreak of Civil War. Charles raises his standard at Nottingham. The Royalists win a tactical victory the Parliamentary army at the Battle of Edgehill but the outcome is inconclusive.
|Royalists defeat Parliamentary army at Chalgrove Field, and take Bristol. Battle of Newbury is indecisive.
|York is besieged by Parliamentary army until relieved by Prince Rupert. Royalists defeated at Marston Moor.
|Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans enforce and Act of Parliament banning Christmas Day celebrations
|Parliament creates New Model Army, which defeats the Royalist army at Naseby on 16 June.
|Charles surrenders to the Scots, who hand him over to Parliament.
|Negotiations take place between King and Parliament. King conspires with Scots to invade England on his behalf.
|Charles escapes to the Isle of Wight but is captured. He is tried by Parliament and found guilty of high treason.
|A Scots army supporting Charles is defeated at Preston.
|Charles I is executed. There follows 11 years of rule by Parliament as the Commonwealth under Cromwell.