Charles I and His Execution
In order to consider whether Charles the first was responsible for his
execution it is important to explore a number of different issues.
Some of the factors could were under Charles' control, others were
The factors that were under his control include, most importantly, his
policies that eventually led to disagreements with Parliament.
However his involvement in the English Civil War was also important as
was his relationship with parliament, the popularity of the monarch at
the time and his strong belief in Divine Right.
The factors that might be considered not under his control might be
Oliver Cromwell, who was determined to bring Charles to trial.
To start with the most important factor which the nature of Charles'
policies and why they were so unpopular. Charles had had many bad
relations with other European countries such as Spain and France.
Feelings towards Spain were already strained because of the Spanish
Armada that had taken place in 1588. From 1625 to 1629 his policies
mainly consisted of trying to bring in money for the wars he was
currently fighting. He tried to impose heavy taxes, but parliament
refused to finance his wars until he dismissed the Duke of Buckingham.
Charles also had married Henrietta Maria, a Catholic French Princess,
and so had brought her Catholic friends and courtiers with her.
Parliament were afraid of Charles bringing a Catholic influence into
the country and also Charles was not as harsh on the Catholics as his
predecessors had been. Charles finally dismissed Parliament in 1629
after long and bitter arguments and they were not allowed to meet for
eleven years. The king felt he had more freedom and got loans, raised
taxes and introduced two controversial new systems. The first was the
Court of Star Chamber, it mainly relied on fining people for offences
that they caused, but it also brought in money for the king. The King
would persuade gentry and friends of the King to buy titles, if they
refused to do so they would then be fined the same cost as if they had
bought the title! This was good to solve the king's financial problems
but it seemed to be an unfair and almost tyrannical policy.
The King also imposed "Ship Tax" in 1635, which meant that coastal
towns and villages paid annual tax for the upkeep of the navy. This
was highly unpopular with the vast majority because they felt he was
just paying for the expensive wars that he was fighting. It became
even more so when he then imposed the ship tax onto all towns and
villages, even if they were inland. He argued that all of the country
benefited from the Navy's protection so they should pay taxes to help
in its upkeep.
In 1637 he also tried to persuade Scotland to conform to religious
changes by introducing a new Prayer Book, the...