14 Annotations

helena murphy  •  Link

Charles I was the son of James VI of Scotland ,who succeeded his aunt ,Elizabeth Tudor, as James I of England.Charles was born at Dunfermline in Scotland in 1600 and owing to poor health did not join his family in London untill he was about five years old. In 1605 his father created him Duke of York, a customary title borne by the second son of the King. In 1612 his elder brother, Prince Henry died, thus making Charles the heir apparent . By then he had mostly overcome his physical disabilities, becoming a very proficient horseman although his stammer would remain with him throughout his life. Around this time he also began to cultivate his interest in art, collecting medals, while he took a keen interest in theology and military strategy. He enjoyed a happy relationship with his father who died in 1625 ,but not before advising his son about the rising power of puritan factions, belief in the divine right of kings, and the importance of the royal prerogative. On March 1625 Charles Stuart was proclaimed King of England, Scotland, Ireland and France. In the same year he married the catholic Princess ,Henrietta Maria of France ,and although stormy at first it became one of the happiest marriages in history. Charles practically stands alone as being a monarch without a royal mistress. His court was that of a flourishing Renaissance King as it attracted poets such as Robert Herrick, Milton, Lovelace, and great artists such as Anthony Van Dyck, Peter Paul Rubens and Gerard Honthorst. In 1628 he had purchased the art collection of the Duke of Mantua which included works by Tintoretto, Caravaggio and Raphael.
Sadly, from a political perspective the King was born into the wrong era. He had inherited his father,s debts and a country that was the least taxed in Europe. His Parliaments were reluctant to give him the money he needed to make of England a strong maritime nation and a European power. When he tried to raise money using his powers as a feudal Lord he created enemies ,although he never overlooked the needs of the poor , keeping back land for them after his drainage of the fens. He supported the unemployed cloth workers against the clothiers, and the dispossessed when landlords enclosed lands. In the religious sphere he upheld the recusancy laws against Roman Catholics, although he did try to make their lives easier, but this was difficult due to rising militant puritanism . Theologically he supported the Anglican Church in its rituals, regulations and administration.
The years of his personal rule,from 1630 to 1640 were his most sucessful. It was a period of great prosperity and social mobility. There was greater industrial output in mining, and further development in brewing, soap manufacture, tanning and the production of saltpetre. Wool accounted for 80% of England,s exports. We also witness the seeds of mercantilism as aliens were forbidden to engage in any direct trade with Virginia, the tobacco colony. The purpose of the colonies was to help with the enrichment of the mother country. As a tribute to him Carolina was named in his honour, while Maryland was thus named in honour of his wife.
His religious policies made him highly unpopular with the Scots and the non Anglicans in government. Financially he had also hit against their vested interests. Men such as John Pym were ruthless in their opposition to Charles,judicially murdering his most able minister, the Earl of strafford with a Bill of Attainder. The Anglican Archbishop Laud was soon to follow the same fate. In order to uphold the law of the land, to support the Anglican Church, and to defend the royal prerogative Charles raised the royal standard at Edgehill in 1642 against Parliament. A long and bloody civil war followed which culminated with the execution of Charles in January 1649. He died with a clear conscience and in the belief that his son would succeed him. After his execution Cromwell crushed those, such as John Lilburne, who fought for social and political equality for all. Immediately after the King,s death the legend of his sanctity and sufferings grew, and his meditations in captivity, published as Eikon Basilike outsold every other publication and was translated into most European languages . The frontispiece shows the King at prayer and in close meditation with God. He is buried in Saint George,s Chapel at Windsor.

Sources: Gregg, Pauline , King Charles I Phoenix Press 1981

anonymous  •  Link

Gentlemen, King Charles I was a virtuous sovereign who was wantonly murdered by the hypocritical Puritans.

anonymous  •  Link

"Charles practically stands alone as being a monarch without a royal mistress."

Respectfully, madam, there were other Kings of virtue, such as Alfred the Great, St. Edward, William the Conquerer, King Henry III, King Henry VI, King George III, and others.

Descendant of Pym  •  Link

Charles I was a tyrant, rightfully overthrown in the name of democracy. Unfortunately, after Pym's death, that dream was destroyed by power hungry Cromwellians.

dirk  •  Link

A scientific note on decapitation

Having your head chopped off doesn't necessarily mean immediate death...

The famous physicist Lavoisier was executed in France on 8 May 1794 with the guillotine. As a scientific experiment, Lavoisier decided to try to determine how long his consciousness would continue after he was guillotined, by blinking his eyes for as long as possible. He blinked twelve times after his head was chopped off.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

The Trial of Charles I -- podcast

Duration: 45 minutes
First broadcast: Thursday 04 June 2009

Melvyn Bragg and guests Justin Champion, Diane Purkiss and David Wootton discuss the trial of Charles I, recounting the high drama in Westminster Hall and the ideas that led to the execution.

Begun on 20th January 1649, the trial culminated in the epoch-making execution of an English monarch. But on the way it was a drama of ideas about kingly authority, tax, parliamentary power and religion, all suffused with personal vendettas, political confusion and individual courage. It was also a forum in which the newly-ended Civil War and the events of Charles's reign were picked over by the people who had experienced them. Melvyn and guests recount the events of the trial, explore the central arguments and see whether, 350 years later, we can work out who really won.


Terry Foreman  •  Link

The trial of Charles I in Westminster Hall

The trial of Charles I was one of the most momentous events ever to have taken place in Westminster Hall. Kings have been deposed and murdered, but never before had one been tried and condemned to death whilst still King.

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.