The outbreak of the 30 years war in 1618 intensified the continuing conflicts between Crown and Parliament from 1618-29. The underlying troubles of finance and a fear of popery and arbitury government became greater during this period and led to a breakdown in relations between Crown and Parliament by 1629.
These underlying issues formed a structural weakness within the kingdom’s ship of state which, added to by the contributory conflicts caused by Buckingham, was unable to cope when all were brought into greater significance by the outbreak of war and the pressure of foreign policy.The war in Europe, while creating conflicts of wider and older issues, forced clashes between Crown and Parliament over foreign policy. James wished to act as a mediator, centring policies on the creation of peace. Through dynastic marriages, James sought to show a commitment to moderation and restore Frederick V’s Palatinate lands using diplomacy. Parliament on the other hand wanted a declaration of war and to support Protestantism within Europe. Unsatisfied with James’ handling of foreign policy, the commons issued the Commons protestation in December 1621 demanding the abandonment of the Spanish match, a protestant marriage and the use of force to save the Palatinate.This brought forward issues of prerogative and led to James’ angered dismissal of parliament.
James, convinced it was now a necessity, continued to pursue negotiations over the Spanish match and in 1623 Charles and Buckingham made a trip to Madrid in order to force an agreement, outraging parliament. When James called his 4th parliament in February 1624 James broke with tradition and asked for advice on foreign policy. A stalemate was met in which the James refused to end Spanish negotiations unless supply for war was granted and Parliament refused supply until negotiations were broken. James was forced to make concessions: monies granted by parliament would be under a Commons committee and the king would discuss declarations of war or peace with parliament before hand. Parliament then granted £300,000 for a naval war in defence of the ‘true religion’. James however had estimated £750,000 was necessary and remained convinced that England could not fight Spain without an ally.A marriage alliance, therefore, was agreed with the French.
This angered parliament who hoped plans for a catholic marriage had been lost with the failure of the Spanish match. When Charles called his 1st parliament in June 1625 hostilities toward the crown were evident. Parliament remained opposed to the Catholic French Treaty and had granted money for war, a declaration of which had not been made. Against their wishes, the money had been spent on a land war in the United Provinces: Count Mansfield’s expedition, a total failure, had wasted parliament subsidies. A series of humiliating and costly military failures ensued with expeditions to Cadiz in 1625 and 1626 and to La Rochelle in 1627. The French use of English ships to attack Huguenots was yet another humiliation and a severe blow to England’s reputation as a protector of Protestantism.
These failures made foreign policy a continued cause of conflict for Crown and Parliament between 1618 and 1629.Relations were worsened during this period through conflicts over finance in part brought into greater significance due to the pressures of war. By 1621 England was at the height of economic depression, suffering from a series of harvest failures and a slump in cloth trade caused by the failure of the Cockayne project. The debt was nearing £1 million and James struggled to extract subsidies from Parliament who were insisting on but unwilling to fund intervention in the Palatinate.
James’ extravagance and reliance on favourites had escalated and he was seen by parliament as ‘leaky cistern’ when it came to the management of funds. When James called Parliament in 1621 he was consequently granted only two subsidies, about £160,000, far short of what was necessary.Parliament used the granting of supply as opportunities to raise domestic grievances such as monopolies. On his succession, James had announced his attention to grant no more monopolies but by 1621 had granted over 100 as a way of aiding his struggling financial position. Monopolies were a major grievance and a total of 16 weeks were spent in discussion.
An act on monopolies passed in 1624 aimed to deal with this conflict. Charles’ 1st parliament began with discontent over the loss of subsidies due to the failure of the Mansfield expedition. Granted only two subsidies, about £140,000, Charles broke with precedent and demanded more. He was also angered by the granting of tonnage and poundage for only one year and Parliament’s reluctance to finance a war which they supported. Further conflicts were caused by ship money and the king’s use of forced loans, first called in 1625 and again in the next few years. An amount equivalent to 5 subsidies was extracted but at a heavy political cost.Parliament’s fear of popery and arbitury government led to many conflicts of religion and prerogative. The Commons Protestation in 1621 was seen by James as clear attack on royal prerogative as the commons took it upon themselves to discuss and criticise foreign policy.
When the Commons expressed their right to free speech the king responded reminding parliament that this was a privilege only granted by the king. The war on the continent brought into question James’ religious balance and caused discontent as parliament wished for England to act as a protector of Protestantism and fight a war with religion at the centre of their campaign: Parliament was entirely opposed to a catholic marriage alliance.After his succession, Charles’ support for Arminianism heightened fear of popery and the division in belief between Crown and Parliament lead to conflict and mistrust. The York House debate in 1626 served only to back parliament’s fears that the ‘true religion’ was under threat. Royal prerogative and the rights of parliament also caused many conflicts in Charles’ early reign.
Charles continued to collect tonnage and poundage without Parliament’s consent, seeing it as his right to do so and therefore angering parliament who felt the granting of tonnage and poundage to be an ancient right. The collecting of the forced loan was considered by parliament highly illegal.Many believed that any new tax should be agreed by parliament and this was laid down in the Petition of Right in 1628.
Charles angered parliament further by ignoring the authority and ancient right of parliament to impeach members. In 1629 Charles pardoned and promoted the previously impeached Arminian, Roger Maynwaring, to position of bishop, creating increased concerns of the rise of Armininianism. This fear of popery and arbitury government eventually led to the three resolutions when Charles decided to end parliament in March 1629. The resolutions spoke against Arminianism and innovation in religion along with the collection of tonnage and poundage with consent, therefore centring on issues of religion and prerogative.
In the later part of James’ reign and the early reign of Charles, Buckingham was a constant thorn in the side of parliament. Buckingham held many key positions of power; his rise to Duke of Buckingham in 1623 gave him the highest aristocratic rank outside of the royal family. Buckingham was seen to manipulate the king, appointing his own men to positions of responsibility and taking an active part in policy and decision making. His control of patronage angered many hoping many to gain favour with the king and was thus the source of much factional in-fighting within the court. As Lord Admiral, Buckingham became a very contentious figure as he was blamed for the series of failed expeditions of Cadiz and La Rochelle. In 1626, Parliament attempted to impeach Buckingham on the grounds of high treason.
With it likely that parliament would win, Charles dismissed parliament to prevent it. The scenes of public rejoicing at Buckingham’s assassination in August 1628 demonstrated the immense hatred nearly all but the king felt towards him. Instead of using Buckingham’s death as an opportunity to renew relations with parliament, Charles blamed them for his death.
Foreign policy heightened the causes of conflict between crown and parliament already existing when war broke out in 1618. The pressures of the conflict brought into question England’s commitment to protecting Protestantism across Europe and, for James, his commitment to peace. Issues of prerogative arose along with the added burden war placed on an already heavily indebted and inefficient financial system. Buckingham became an object of hatred arising from the anger and discontent already existing between crown and parliament from 1618 to the breakdown of relations in 1629.