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To what extent did foreign policy sour relations between the monarch and Parliament between 1603-1629?

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Introduction

To what extent did foreign policy sour relations between the monarch and Parliament between 1603-1629? The period 1603-1629 is perhaps better divided into two distinct sections - 1603-1625 (reign of James I) and 1625-1629 (reign of Charles I) - since these two monarchs had fairly different approaches to foreign policy, which in turn determined how Parliament responded to them. James I brought a peaceable approach to foreign policy, hoping to establish a reputation for himself as a mediator within Europe. One of his first actions as monarch was to negotiate peace with Spain in the Treaty of London in 1604. This was unpopular with Parliament for several reasons, the main one being that as Protestants many members of parliament were opposed to peace with Catholic Spain for religious reasons. However, with regards parliament, peace did have the benefit of saving a great deal of money which would have had to be raised by Parliament, and relations between parliament and James remained fairly constant over the next few years. James' next major action with regards foreign policy was to support a Protestant successor to the Duke of Cleves-Julich in 1609, even to the extent of committing several thousand troops to the cause. ...read more.

Middle

This angered James enough to lead him to reply that "none [in the House of Commons] shall presume to meddle with anything concerning our government or deep matters of State", referring, in the main, to Parliament's rights (or not) to discuss foreign policy. This led to the Commons producing a 'Protestation', which claimed the right of Parliament to free speech, regardless of royal prerogative. James then dissolved Parliament and arrested several prominent MPs. Certainly, this rift had arisen mainly due to James' foreign policy (although there still were other contributing factors, namely finance but also other domestic policies). However, it was not permanent as James called a final Parliament in 1624, in which he seemed to accept that he would have to go to war with Spain, especially since both his son Charles and his favourite, Buckingham, were now joining Parliament in asking for war, due to the breakdown of marriage negotiations. Parliament voted subsidies - although they were insufficient for James to wage a land war - and left satisfied with the situation, although no war was waged in the remainder of James' lifetime (he died ten months after dissolving Parliament). So, when James died in 1625, it seemed that towards the end of his reign his foreign policies had been responsible for souring relations with Parliament, although it is worth noting that the resolutions of the final Parliament (if not fulfilled) ...read more.

Conclusion

policy, mainly because of the money needed to fund the wars, for which Charles resorted to more and more desperate measures - for example the forced loan, which led to greater discussion of the monarch's financial and religious policy. There is no doubt that foreign policy played a major part in the souring of relations between monarch and Parliament in the period 1603-1629. However, its influence can be seen to have increased later on in this period - after Charles came to power. With James I, foreign policy did play a part in affecting his relationship with Parliament - especially towards the end of his reign. However, it was his foreign policy combined with other issues - particularly finance - which led to a breakdown in relations in 1621. Perhaps if foreign policy had been the only issue things would not have reached such a crisis point. And, even after the breakdown occurred, the fact that James called another Parliament in 1624 showed that it was by no means permanent. In contrast, all of Charles' problems and disagreements with Parliament appear to have stemmed from issues surrounding his foreign policy - and the breakdown in 1629 was far more threatening to the continued existence of Parliament than any with James as monarch. Sarah Ritchie ...read more.

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