Charles 1 Personal Rule Essays

Why Did King Charles I Resort To Personal Rule In 1629

Why did King Charles I Resort to Personal Rule in 1629?

The Personal Rule came about when King Charles I dissolved parliament
in 1629. It was symbolic of a time when the King felt that any joint
governing of the country was impossible. Right from the start of
Charles' reign, relations had been poor with Parliament. But the time
leading up to the start of the Personal Rule, or the "Eleven Year
Tyranny" as it is sometimes referred, marked a low point. So for what
reasons did Charles embark on the Personal Rule, and whose fault was
it? These issues will be discussed in the following paragraphs.

The broad overall reason for the collapse of relations between
Parliament and the King is the conflict of the ancient feudal system
under the King against the system that Parliament was trying to impose
of increased parliamentary power and increasingly joint rule. The will
of Parliament for change represented a new era. Although no-one would
dare go against the established belief that the King was above
everyone else in the Kingdom, the extent to which they believed in
Royal Prerogative, the Divine Right of Kings and other such feudal
principles was becoming less clear cut. Parliament realised that the
King could make mistakes and that some Kings were a lot better than
others. Charles, on the other hand, believed in Royal Prerogative and
the Divine Right of Kings with such a reverence not seen for
centuries. With such conflicting beliefs of the two parties concerned,
it is not difficult to see why these were such troublesome times for
the Monarchy and the development of the English Constitution. This
period also marks a very important, but often overlooked, development
in the way the King was regarded by Parliament. Around the time that
the Personal Rule started, Parliament for the first time conceded that
the King could be at fault and it was not just his misguiding advisors
that were to blame.

An obvious reason why Parliament could not work with the King was
Charles' deep emotional problems. Although this is not the most
important reason, it is nevertheless an important one that cannot be
overlooked. Charles was a deeply insecure man. His insecurity had
roots in his childhood, where he was seen as the runt of the litter,
and very much outshone by his older brother Henry. Perhaps his
hard-line approach of being unwilling to compromise or negotiate was
because he lacked the emotional intelligence and confidence to reason
with people effectively. In reality, this was probably a culmination
of his strong belief in the Divine Right of Kings and his lack of
confidence. In his history of the period, the Earl of Clarendon cited
a major reason for Charles' personality problems at "not trusting
himself enough".

The King's speeches to Parliament lacked conviction, largely due to a

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After the dissolution of his Third Parliament in 1629 Charles I decided to rule without Parliament and thus continued to rule up to 1640.

At that time there was no law to compel the monarch to call for the regular session of the Parliament. It was very clear that Charles I would not get supplies for war.

Therefore, in 1919 he entered into treaty with France and gave up the idea of restoring palatinate to this brother in law Frederic Elector of palatine. In this connection one thing is memorable.

The rule of the country was possible without the Parliament in time of peace only. During war, Parliamentary sessions were inevitable because in times of war one could not do without money.

However Charles I found it difficult to carry on even in peace time despite his economical measures which he adopted to reduce his expenses. He had therefore to look out for resources to boort his income.

The methods of raising money adopted by Charles I offended the People although all steps taken by him were not illegal.

His Sources of Income:

1. Tonnage and poundage was raised as usual. One peculiar feature was that while in other cases this right was extended for whole life, in case of Charles parliament granted this right for one year alone.

2. The trading monopolies were given in exchange for money. In 1624 commercial monopolies was restarted. Corporations were started so that they could give money to the king and obtain monopolies.

The items on which monopolies were granted included soap, salt, coal, wine and other commodities of day to day use.

These monopolies affected the poor adversely. The Long Parliament opposed the monopolies thus: "Monopolies were like the fogs of Egypt.....they sip in our cup, they dip in our dish, they sit by our fire, we find them in the dyevat, Washbowl and powdering tub."

3. On the safe and purchase of all articles the king received a royalty.

4. Charles revived knighthood law of the days of Edward III. According td the law every person who had a property worth of 40 a year could be knighted.

This law, infact, could be traced back to the Heed ox recruiting patriots into the army in large numbers.

However Charles utilised this statue for repleni­sh ling his treasury. He declared that thence forth knighthood would be given directly by the king and that a man to be knighted would be required to finish a fixed fee. Defaulters on would be heavily fined.

5. About the crown lands, Charles appointed a Commission of Enquiry which reported that a lot of land which used to be crown land had been wrongly occupied by some private persons.

As a result, instructions were issued for finishing documentary evidences of their possessions and those who could not furnishing documentary proofs of their ownership of land, their lands were confiscated and those who the resented were fined. This work was harsh and unfair too but the king had to adopt it for extracting money.

In several case people got their lands from their forefathers and they had no idea as to whether the land belonged to them legally or not. In other words, the present landowners had to suffer because of the mistakes of their forefathers.

It was unfair because many lands were given as 'jagirs' but the documents connected with that were lost. And so the lands were also lost.

6. 'Ship money' of Charles I was the most unpopular tax. This tax was taken by order of the king when ships were given for the naval fleet. A person of bucking ham shire-John Hampden refused to give 20 shilling of ship money. In his favour Hampden gave three arguments.

(i) He said this tax was levied on the cost so far. Now it was levied on the interior also. The agents of the king replied that the relation of country's defence was with the coast as well as the interior.

(ii) He also said that this tax was lavied previously only when need arose and now there was no such exigency ahead. The king's agents replied that whether there was need of raising the tax or not were to be decided by the king. It was needed, that is why it was being levied.

(iii) Hampden also said that since the tax was not authorised by the Parliament, it was wrong. He was told that the king's order was enough to levy the tax.

The case was referred to twelve judges. Seven out of twelve decided in king's favour by saying that the tax was legal.

However, five gave their verdict against the king. The tax therefore, continued. This was very significant.

There is no doubt that the sum collected by way of 'Ship money' was spent on the construction of ships.

These ships were necessary because the channel was infested with sea-pirates. But all said and done, the money collected by the king was insufficient for the needs. Moreover the money was collected in un-called for manner.

The people instead of contributing for a national cause felt that they were being cheated and that tax was highhandedness of the monarch.

Therefore, in spite of I all cares, the debts of the king went on mounting and the king continued to face serious financial crisis.

Charles I and his ministers:

During the personal rule of Charles, he had two impor­tant advisers. One of them was Thomas Wentworth who was .created Earl of Strafford.

The other was the Bishop of London, William Land, who was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury in 1633. The Earl of Strafford was the head of the council of North for some time and was appointed as Lord Deputy Ireland in 1633.

He continued to correspond with king and who a turn was considerably influenced by his advice. After Abbot, William Land became the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1634. He was an Arminian, a man with scholarly tastes and high caliber. He wanted to improve the church organisation.

He was opposed to puritans tooth and nail and became: unpopular with them. He got an altar in every church and made the use of Book of Common Prayer compulsory. On Sundays, football, dances and archery were practised in the church court yards.

Puritans became furious at him. Stafford was unpopular in Ireland and Land was unpopular in England. And there was no standing army with the king, in case of a revolt or rebellion within or outside the country.


During the personal, rule of Charles the work of the government was managed by the court of Star Chamber, court of High Commission was in fact; instituted by Queen Elizabeth to decide church cases. Archbishop used this court to propagate his reforms.

The council of North was established by Henry VIII and the court of Star Chamber was set up by the First Tudor, Henry VII. Charles I used these courts as instruments of his, despotism. These courts treated the common people with harsh-ness and cruelty.

Thus, in short, all these courts or the judiciary as such became unpopular with the people, who started hating them. The use of judiciary for the despotism of executive was nowhere praise.


During the eleven years, attention of Charles was mostly concentrated towards the North. In 1633, he went to Scotland for his coronation.

Thereafter, he started acting according to his scheme of uniting both the countries-England and Scotland In 1610 James had set up bishoprics in the Scottigh churches. Charles I increased their number.

He also enhanced the powers and privileges of these bishoprics. Land was already with the king. He compelled the bishops of Scotland to put on white clock like those worn by the Roman Catholic clergies. Land also got a Common Prayer Book prepared for them. This prayer was ready by 1637. He ordered that this Common Prayer Book should be used there. However, there was so much opposition to this step of the king that he had to withdraw his orders.

First Bishop's War (1639):

In the year 1638, Charles convened a general conference of churches, at Glasgow. This conference had the representatives of all the churches.. This Assembly was called upon to consider the matter of prayer Book.

The conference abolished the Prayer Book as well as the Bishoprics. It was provided that the management of the church would be done by a covenant. The king, therefore, promptly dissolved the Assembly.

The conference refused to finish their session. One the contrary, these church representatives assumed revolutionary designs, with the result that Charles I started collecting his army.

On the other hand the church Assembly collected the volunteers of the Thirty Years war under the leadership of Leslie. When Charles I entered Scotland this army was ready. However, a war was avoided and a treaty was patched up.

It was decided that for deciding religious questions a General Assembly should be convened. This is how the First Bishop's War came to and end.

Though the war was averted yet the king was obliged to think in terms of convening the Parliament. Ramsay Muir says. "But trace was of no use to him unless he could raise an effective army; and to get the funds for this, he had to summon the English Parliament once more, after eleven years.

Thus it was the fervour of the Scots that ended the long ecquissence and raised the greatest issue of government that had yet been discussed in any country."

In the meanwhile, Charles got sometime, .and taking advantage of the situation, wanted to fully prepare him.

Therefore in the end, he called a Parliament to get some grants from it. The members of the Parliament came in a very bad temper. Charles I proposed to the Parliament that he would sacrifice the ship money tax, in case the Parliament granted him a sum of £ 9,00,000.

The House of Commons outright rejected this scheme. And the king dissolved the Parliament forthwith. It is known as the short Parliament.

Second British War (August, 1640):

The General Assembly of the Churches of Scotland confirmed the decisions of the former Assembly of Bishope Charles immediately dissolved the General Assembly and the Scots took up arms and took Shelter in Northumberland.

The king also hastily collected an army and marched towards the North. However the place known as Newburn he was defeated. According to the agreement the Provinces of Durham and Northumber were placed under the Scottish Control. Besides as long as the Scottish question was not decided, the king promised to pay the revolting Bishops of 860 per day.

The king accepted these humiliating conditions because he was already defeated. This clash between the king and the Bishops of, Scotland is known as the 'Second Bishop's War. It was very clear that the king would not be able to collect this money without a grant from the Parliament.

Therefore on the advice of his courtiers, Charles decided to call another Parliament which met on 3rd November, 1640. It marked the end of Charles I's personal rule and to the Civil War.


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