The personal rule to 1640 was a success for Charles. To what extend do you agree.

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A2 History – Essay on The Eleven Years’ Tyranny

The personal rule to 1640 was a success for Charles. To what extend do you agree.

Charles’ decision to rule without Parliament in 1629 marked an eleven year period of personal rule. Whilst the Whig historians viewed the eleven years of governance without parliament as the “Eleven Years’ Tyranny”; contemporary historians seem to be more compassionate with Charles’ actions. Nevertheless, in order judge the extent to which Charles was successful during the period of personal rule we must establish certain criteria to measure success. The key themes would be his ability to raise finance through “ordinary” means, to offer sound governance which ensures social and religious cohesion as well as his ability to stay connected to the people. It is also important to establish that whilst the King might have been successful in the short term; he could have failed to pave the path for the long run, thus Charles was piling up trouble for himself for the future.

Having dissolved parliament, the only institution which can grant the King the right to raise taxes, the immediate threat posed against the Charles was finance. Although Charles was not an extravagant King as James was, he still needed money for the general maintenance of the country; as such, William Noy the Attorney General was appointed to look through forgotten and outdated laws that could be exploited as a means of raising income for the Crown. Various non-parliamentary finances were discovered and employed with the most lucrative ones being the Distraint of Knighthood whereby men owning estates worth £40 were suppose to present themselves as knights and those whom did not were fined as well as Ship Money, which is a levy to raise money for ships to be built to protect coastal areas from pirates. However, it is important to note that both of these sources of income were ancient and had been long unused. Nevertheless, statically, Charles’ means of digging through neglected forms of rates and customs was successful as the Crown’s income increased by 25% by 1636 when compared to a decade ago. Ironically, despite the opposition to Charles in regards to his means of raising money; the Crown was doing exactly what MPs have been telling the King to do – to “live of its own”.

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However, whilst the King was protected by law to raise income through the means of ordinary revenue, many subjects saw what Charles did as exploiting the law to his own advantage. As Clarendon said “though it (the King) had foundation in right, yet in the circumstances of proceeding it was very grievous and no less unjust”. The Ship Money Case could be said to be the breaking point of the subject’s patience of the Crown as it was seen as a step too far – although it was technically a rate, many saw it as an attempt for Charles ...

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