Saturday, April 7, 2012

CHARLES I AND PARLIAMENT

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It was said by the author Pauline Gregg that “it was not only marriage that claimed Charless attention. He knew well enough that his life had now to be lived on several levels.” This may have been the case as we know, but it wasn’t long before standards started to slip and Charles had all faith lost in him by many members of his parliament and subjects a like. But if we look at the evidence we can see that it wasn’t always Charles’ fault that things went so terribly wrong when it came to running the United Kingdom, it was quite probably due to the circumstances in which everyone involved found themselves in that led to many of the problems that were founded and eventually came to the breakdown of the relations between Charles and Parliament in 16.


Charles had unfortunately inherited the continual financial problems of his father James I, this being that Parliament refused to grant funds to a King who refused to address the complaints of the nobility, this could not be seen as a particular good start as following in his father’s footsteps could lead to worse situations. Charles was reserved as self-righteous and had a high idea of royal authority, believing in the divine right of Kings as his father had done, meaning that as far as he was concerned nothing he could do was wrong as it was always approved by God himself. Another downfall he had inherited from his father was disagreements with Parliament, but it was thought that his own actions (particularly engaging in ill-fated wars with France and Spain at the same time) eventually brought about a crisis and the downfall of Parliament in 168-16. There were also many things and matters that Charles took into his own hands and made law that the Parliament really did not agree with, things such as false loans where he could take money off people whenever he wanted just so he was able to fund the wars that were taking place at this time. Another reason was he had created his own court known as the Porogative Court into which he was allowed to decide what was legal and what was not, for example, he was able to put members of his own Parliament in jail if they did not agree with anything he put forward and his final decisions. He also carried on the Taxation, which was made illegal but Charles did not see any reason as to why it still couldn’t be carried on and still collect the charges, again to go towards the wars. Charles I had employed George Villiers, the Duke of Buckingham as his own Minister during his first year of reign and this did not go down too well with the other members of Parliament and made him a very unpopular person with them as they saw Buckingham as corrupt and believed that he was really the main reason as to why they were losing so many wars, due to the fact that really whatever Buckingham suggested to the King he took into account. Despite so many pleads with the King to get rid of his Minster. Charles still kept him on as he saw him as an equal and the only person that was truly on his side and agreed with everything that was suggested. Buckingham was then assassinated at Portsmouth Key while attempting to lead an army over to France to take part in the war in August 168, this caused shouts of joy among the nobility but this situation just made things more worse among Charles and them, as he suddenly became paranoid and thought that maybe if they had got Buckingham they would then be out to get him. Charles had also made one particular enemy in Parliament until 16 and the collapse of Parliament; he was Sir John Eliot, who he finally decided to imprison in the Tower of London until his death which followed shortly after in 16.


However, it was not just Charles that had made the situation far more badly; even though he was probably just as equally to blame Parliament really didn’t help situations by for starters feeling joy over the fact that Buckingham had been assassinated. Yet before hand there were many other reasons as to why Parliament didn’t help the situation much, although some things they had done may have had a chance to take effect and improve the situation, just the King went about acting stubborn towards the suggestions and benefits for improvement. The main subject of this point is the Petition of Right, this listed all the things Charles had done wrong and defined the rights and liberties citizens were now allowed to have. Among many things it said that Charles was no longer allowed to tax people without Parliaments permission, which was to become known as “Gift Loan,” he was also no longer allowed to just suddenly declare war when he felt like it. The political controversy over Buckingham demonstrated that, although monarch’s had a right to choose his own Ministers as this was accepted as an essential part of the royal prerogative, Ministers had to be acceptable to Parliament or there would be repeated confrontations between the two. Charles ended up signing the Petition of Right because he was hoping he would get money from this and it was suggested he really didn’t intend to keep his promise anyway, in fact he actually broke most of this as he felt he was only being blackmailed and didn’t see the point, especially when he was the a true believer in the divine right of kings. As mentioned he did expect Members of Parliament to give him money for the war after he had signed it, but they refused and only allowed a Tanage Pandage, a tax that would be collected but only for a year. Charles was disgraced by this suggestion and ordered that the parl session be paused, but the Parliament really made sure that could not be possible, as to make the session paused the speaker would have to of stood up to show his approval, but the Members of Parliament held him down in order to stop this from happening. Members of Parliament then started leaving the common which caused Charles to give a speech about how it was them not giving any money to fund the war and because of this as mentioned before he had several of them thrown into the Tower of London, after this Parliament went for the next 11 years without being summoned, as Charles financed his reign by selling commercial monopolies and extracting ship money.


If you were to look at all the conclusions of why Parliament really collapsed, it gives you many different reasons as to why this situation occurred. The first one could show that Charles was to blame because he believed he could run the country himself and go for total power without the help of anyone else, but in order to keep the peace a Parliament was really needed and he also as we know broke the Petition of Right, which lead to an uproar of anger between most of the Members of Parliament as it was clear that there was no way Charles could ever keep his word about something.


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The second one could show that Parliament were to blame as it is shown that Charles had managed to run the kingdom without Parliament before 1610-61, which meant he couldn’t really rule without them forever and it was obvious that at same stage he would eventually call them again.


The third and final one would show that really nobody was to blame for the collapse of Parliament, Charles wasn’t capable of planning anything, he didn’t call Parliament for a while because he was not in need of any money at the time as wars had ended and he had people such as Wentworth who sorted out his finances.


As mentioned before, I believe that it really wasn’t just Charles’ fault that Parliament collapsed in 16, because if we look at the facts we can see that Parliament as well didn’t really act with mature state of mind when it came to the running of the Kingdom, for example, holding down the speaker when Charles demanded that the Parl Session be paused. Yet Charles was really just as bad as the Parliament if not really a bit worse, things such as going back on his word after he had signed the petition of right as he saw that he was only being blackmailed and once that was over there would really be no need to keep the promises. Another thing was dealing with Members of Parliament after they had walked out of Parliament in 16, it seemed that this was really Charles’ one and only way of dealing with things when they did not go his way. Also after the assassination of Buckingham, Parliament had really caused Charles to be extremely paranoid, believing that they would then be out to get him; this was also another blame that could be put on Parliament, the fact that they completely changed the personality of the King by showing relief and excitement about the fact that Buckingham was dead.


In conclusion, Charles’ life had to be lived on several very different levels but in my opinion I think it was having to cope with that which made him take his place as King a little too far, causing him to take and spend nearly all people’s money on wars taking place in France and Spain, which led to Parliament getting very angry with the fact that Charles was taking matters into his own hands and not discussing it with the other Members of Parliament as he believing in the divine right of kings felt this needn’t be so. This if not surprising led to Parliament really acting in the way they did and setting out to change the way the King ruled, which the King really did not approve of and finally led to him putting an end to Parliament in 16 and not summoning them for 11 years.





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