How Successful was the Period of Personal Rule Between 1629-1637?

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How Successful was the Period of Personal Rule Between 1629-1637?

        In 1629, Charles I dissolved parliament and embarked on an eleven year period of personal rule. The aims behind personal rule were to rule without calling parliament, to establish his financial independence, make peace in Europe and to enforce uniformity and order, particularly within the church.

        The first of these aims was certainly achieved. Charles used the prerogative courts (such as the Court of Star Chamber) as well as the regional courts (such as the Council of the North) to enforce the powers of the royal prerogative and punish offenders. He also relied on his privy council to investigate aspects of the government and punish offenders. By governing without parliament, Charles faced less grievances and was able to rule single-handedly, which, due to his belief in divine right, suited him perfectly.

In 1630-1631 Charles made peace with both France and Spain. Without parliaments funding, there was simply no way he could afford to continue to intervene in the Thirty Years war. Other advantages from ending the war can be found, such as increased trade which was beneficial to England’s economy. Certainly a success of the period of personal rule between these years is the peace and tranquillity England found with foreign policy.

Charles was also successful in managing to become financially independent, without the use of subsidies (previously raised by parliament). This was done in a number of ways, some of the most successful being ship money (which raised about £190,000 a year) and the distraint from knighthood taxes (those who had refused knighthoods or failed to present themselves at the coronation were fined heavily) which raised £170,000 by the end of the 1630’s. Although some of the methods were unpopular, they were certainly effective and allowed the King to fund the years between 1629 and 1637 proficiently to the extent that there was some reduction in royal debt. Sharp comments that during this period government finance was put on a much firmer footing.

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                More importantly, Charles managed to gain more control over local governments and therefore have a more uniform way of dealing with issues all over the country. He achieved this through methods such as the Books of Orders (1631) which informed governments of the action to be taken for local decisions such as how to deal with vagrants and restrictions about trading. He also imposed that every Justice of the Peace had to provide a monthly report to the Privy Council outlining decisions that had been made and justifying them by reference to the Books of Orders. This ensured that Charles’ ...

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