When Charles had taken over the thrown of England in 1625 he had inherited a country that was divided in its beliefs from his father James. When James was in power he had no set religion within the country. He let many people believe in what they wished and held no major grasp on the religion of the English people so long as they did not try and impose it within the kingdom. Charles on the other hand had a strong belief in the Arminian ways and at the time the puritans were a strong force on the English lands.
This was a problem to the country, as they believed that Charles was moving more towards turning the country back to being catholic in a ‘Back door’ method instead of directly imposing the religion on the English people. There were however many other factors which led to the breakdown in the relationship between king and parliament. Charles and parliament disagreed on almost everything that was brought into question between the two powers but one thing that they did both agree on was Charles want of war with Spain.
Charles was rejected by the Spanish king as a suitable husband for his daughter and Charles held this against the country. Parliament on the other hand were anti-catholic at this time and Spain was catholic and so they also wanted England to call to arms and fight in the holy wars against the Spanish and restore Germanys heir to the thrown as they were of the same beliefs as England. Parliament believed that the best combat for fighting Spain was one of a navel engagement.
At this time the Royal Navy were the strongest and most highly trained sea faring force in possibly the entire world and they wanted to seize Spanish claims to gold and artefacts from south America and its neighbouring colonies. Charles however, being as easily influenced as he was, was told by one of his closest advisors to send him with an army to Spain for a land attack. Charles went against parliaments wishes on the matter and accepted the plan and sent 12,000 men across to Spain.
England could not support this army at such a distance though and by the time the army had reached its first battle it had gone from a strength of 12,000 men to a mere 3,000 due to starvation, lack of resources and medical problems. To parliament this was the wrong action to have been taken by Charles and the King and parliament become divided over the management of the war and tensions began to arise over the foreign policy of the king and how it was governed.
Charles is remembered for having a very close choice of advisors and this is one of his weakest assets as his choice was not the best and he was so easily influenced that these advisors could almost control the king and many of his decisions like they would puppets. The most notorious of these advisors was probably Buckingham who was disliked between the entire British kingdom and nowhere more so than in parliament. Buckingham was James favourite advisor and so was in turn Charles closest advisor as he was a friend of Charles as well.
He was well associated with the failure of the Spanish marriages and consequently the war that was to lead from it and the failure of the land attack on the Spanish mainland. Buckingham’s close relationship to the king was seen as being bad for the country as Buckingham was already unpopular as it was felt that he held too much power and was continually abusing it to get his own way. The first agenda that was met when parliament re-met the next time was Buckingham and what to do with him.
It was felt to parliament that Buckingham had only his own interests at heart and his families and not the welfare of the king or the country. He was soon after assassinated. Which parliament was quite pleased about as it meant that they could achieve that little more power back over the king. After the death of Buckingham, parliament thought that things might have a chance of getting better but his wife Henrietta Maria jumped in Buckingham’s place and became the king’s new advisor.
This was another bad idea as far as parliament were concerned as she was a catholic and so they thought that Charles was likely to be influenced by his wife into a restoration of country-wide Catholicism. This served to break down the relationship between king and parliament further. The kings biggest and longest lasting feud with parliament is its financing of the monarch. He has access to tonnage and poundage and it was, in the past, granted to the king for his life but this time parliament only gives it to the king for one year.
This upsets the king as he feels that parliament are trying to take away his powers. Parliament think that doing this will mean that Charles will be dependant on them and will not be able to get rid of them. This was, however, not to be. Charles has a tendency throughout this period to take everything that happens between himself and parliament personally and does not think that parliament is doing what it thinks is best but is instead constantly doing things against him and in 1629 he carries on collecting tonnage and poundage ‘Illegally’.
Charles shows his unquestioned loyalty to Buckingham when parliament try to make a trade for Charles to drop Buckingham in return for a constant supply of money at set dates. Charles dissolves parliament to save Buckingham. After this dissolving of parliament Charles has no source of money left legally so he resorts to forced loans from the nobility of England. If anyone refused to pay the king these fees, which he demanded, he threatened to lock them up without trial. This was an impeachment of the magna carter, which forbid this action.
His other way of getting around this was to conscript you into the army. The gentry and nobility which were Charles greatest ally were beginning to lose faith in him as he showed little respect for them when he imposed these loans on them and the treatment they received if they refused. They did not object to the payments that they were being made to pay but instead were mad at the way that Charles had gone about putting it into action. They believed that he should have used parliament to do it but instead he went behind them and did it himself and some would say this was illegal.
There was one such case with the five of England’s nobility and gentry. They were taken to court for refusal to pay the forced loans and Charles paid out the judges. One of the judges who refused to be bought out was removed from the trial. This bred unrest among the people of England as they were beginning to see that Charles was acting above the law in all respects. They thought that if he could do this then what else was he capable of doing. The king thought that it was his divine right as king to manipulate the law to his own devises.
Because of the forced loans that Charles had imposed on the Gentry and Nobility of England, much support for parliament had been gained. Eventually parliament ordered the ‘Petition of rights’ to be written up. This was presented to the king and said that unless he respected magna carter and stopped imprisoning people without trial than he would not be allowed any more subsidies from parliament. This petition also banned the king’s power of billeting (soldiers being placed in houses around the country and the owners having to buy the soldiers food and clothing).
Martial law was no longer to be used on civilians. The petition was basically Parliament putting all of their grievances down on paper and presenting them to the king for him to change. Charles reluctantly accepted the terms but he knew that it had no status to be withheld against and this was cunning of Charles as he thought that even with his acceptance he could get away with not abiding by some of the terms in it. Parliament was by this time getting frustrated with the treatment of Charles. When they came into session they issued three revolutions.
The kings representative stood up to leave as he did not want to accept the three resolutions and he was held down by the MP’s so that parliament could stay in session while the three resolutions were agreed on. The three resolutions thy came up with were: * Against arminianism * Stop the tonnage and poundage tax * Nobody should pay tonnage and poundage; refusal is not a criminal offence. When the king found out that his liaison to parliament had been held down while these resolutions were passed he was furious.
He took it, once again, as a personal insult to him and he took it as a sign of hostility towards him. He immediately dissolved parliament for a subsequent eleven years. The break down in the relationship between king an parliament was due to many causes but more than any I believe it to be the differences in beliefs and thus causing the two powers to work against each other in a bid to outdo the other and hold extreme power. Charles was an Arminian and parliament was all puritans.
Arminianism was seen to be almost catholic to many of the people in parliament and they felt that the king was gradually trying to impose Catholicism upon the English people again and being as they were all puritans they did not want this to happen. With his wife and by now his most loyal advisor being catholic they thought that she would be able to persuade her husband into making England become a catholic nation once more. On a spectrum arminianism is closest to Catholicism out of all of the religions that were around at the time.
Because of this closeness puritans thought that it was a back door route to becoming catholic. Charles had strong beliefs in why parliament was dissolved by him. He states, “… Through all respects and ligaments of government, and to erect a universal over-swaying power to themselves, which belongs only to us and not to them… ” Charles believes that parliament sought to overthrow him and seize his powers and the powers of the monarch. He on the other hand thought that the powers were supposed to be rightfully the monarchs and were not to be shared.
The breakdown between them is heavily due to misunderstandings in power and jurisdiction and the reluctance of each side to share power with the other. Parliament were treading on the ground of power which was rightfully the kings and the king was trying to take some of parliaments jurisdiction into his own hands. This combined misunderstanding of power was the catalyst to the breakdown of trust between the two and the subsequent Civil War, which followed.