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Why by 1629 had Charles I decided to rule without Parliament?

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23rd October 2002 "Why by 1629 had Charles I decided to rule without Parliament?" In order to discover why in 1629 Charles I decided to rule without Parliament we must first look back at his predecessor, his father James I. James came to power in 1603 after Elizabeth's death, as she had left no heir to the throne and had never married. He had already been crowned king of Scotland, however he ruled under a strict Presbyterian regime and being pronounced King of England automatically made him head of the Church meaning he could make decisions without interference, or so he thought. He had some early problems with Parliament when he and his principle Minister Robert Cecil proposed the Great Contract entitling him to �200,000 annually in tax whilst abolishing feudal revenue. This idea was thrown out by Parliament as they thought he wanted to try and rule alone. James also wanted to unite England and Scotland under one common government, Parliament was furious so James soon backed down although he continued to try to bring about greater uniformity between the two nations. The main problem that both James and later Charles would inherit was that of religion. At the start of James' reign England was a Protestant country, Catholics were feared and hated even though they only made up one or two percent of the population. ...read more.


Money had already been given to James and Parliament wanted to know where it had gone. Finally the Duke of Buckingham was mismanaging the war, an army had been sent to the continent at great expense. Its dramatic and humiliating failure was very damaging to relations between Crown and Parliament and Parliament wanted Buckingham impeached. Normally when a new King or Queen is crowned they are granted tonnage and poundage for life, however when Charles came to power he was only granted it on a yearly basis to be reviewed annually by Parliament. Their aim was to force Charles into calling Parliament at least once a year and they believed they would be able to force him into agreeing to some of their demands. Charles was furious, tonnage and poundage was Charles' biggest single item of revenue, he believed it to be part of his Royal prerogative and thought himself to be God's representative on earth therefore answerable only to God. Charles decided to collect tonnage and poundage without Parliamentary approval, technically this was illegal. This infuriated Parliament immensely. Charles' wife was also a delicate matter; she was a French Roman Catholic Princess living in a Protestant country. Her marriage contract entitled her to have her own priests at court and to attend mass much to Parliament's and the Protestant constituency's dislike. ...read more.


In early January 1629 Parliament's second session began, Charles was criticised over religion and his Arminion tendencies along with continued collection of tonnage and poundage despite the signing of the petition of rights. They refused the King any more subsidies and attacked Charles' advisor archbishop Laud. Charles exhausted by their mood called for an adjournment, however as the speaker tried to adjourn the house he was held down in his seat. Despite Charles' best efforts to summon his personal bodyguard it was still illegal for any Member of Parliament to be arrested whilst court was still in session. Much to Charles' outrage Parliament passed Eliot's three resolutions condemning religious innovation, the levying of tonnage and poundage and anyone who paid it. Parliament then dissolved itself. This was the final straw for Charles he had Eliot imprisoned and decided not to call Parliament again as he was entitled to do. They were supposed to be his advisors, answerable to him not the other way round. The widening gap between Crown and country was noticeable from the beginning of Charles' reign. This can be seen in Parliaments persistence in depriving Charles of revenue in order for him to govern efficiently; Buckingham's constant failures overseas; the irrational fear of Catholicism and Charles' arrogant aloofness when questioned in Parliament and his failure to listen to the advice of others. Despite this Charles would "live of his own" for the next eleven years during his time of personal rule. ...read more.

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