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AS History

Britain 1603-1642

AS History Unit 1D:

Britain 1603-1642

How effectively did the early Stuarts establish and consolidate their authority?
Exam Paper

  • Assessed by a 1 hour 15 min exam.

  • Essay-style questions.

  • Answer 2 questions from a choice of 3.

  • Each question has two parts.

  • Part a is worth 12 marks and is an explanation question, eg explain why…

  • Part b is worth 24 marks and is a balanced argument question, eg how far…

Content of course

  1. The Reign of James I: the establishment of authority 1603-1618

  2. Stuart Monarchy 1618-1629

  3. Personal Rule of Charles I 1629-1640

  4. C
    James I (1603-1625)

    Charles I (1603-1649)
    harles I and the origins of the Civil War 1640-1642

The Reign of James I: the establishment of authority 1603-1618
















James becomes King Bye Plot

Millenary Petition

Treaty of London

Hampton Court Conference First Parliament opened

Bancroft’s Canons New Book of Rates

Gunpowder Plot

Oath of Allegiance

Ulster Plantation

Great Contract negotiations (Nov)

First Parliament dissolved

George Abbot appointed Archbishop of Canterbury

King James VI Bible issued

Book of Bounty

Earl of Salisbury appointed as Lord Treasurer

Overbury Affair Princess Elizabeth married Frederick

(Elector of Palatinate)

Earl of Suffolk appointed Lord Treasurer

Cokayne Project

Second Parliament opened (Addled Parliament)

Book of Sports Bohemia invaded (Start of

Bishops imposed on Scotland Thirty Years War)

AS History Britain, 1603-1642
Topic 1: The Reign of James I: the Establishment of Authority, 1603-18

James' ideas on monarchy and the Crown's rights

  • James' accession:

  • Would put an end to centuries of hostility between England and Scotland;

  • Meant England had her first adult male ruler since death of Henry VIII in 1547;

  • Would provide a new heir to the throne as James had two sons already, Prince Henry and Prince Charles;

  • Give England a royal family in place of a royal spinster.

James accession is genuinely looked forward to by most groups with grievances.

  • Catholics hoped for less repression from a more enlightened monarch.

  • Puritans hoped for more reform of the Church of England from a Scots Calvinist.

  • Those without office under Elizabeth hoped for better times in the new regime.

  • James' problem was that he would find it impossible to satisfy all the groups with grievances; to live up to the high expectations for his reign; to really overcome anti-Scots prejudice amongst the English.

James’ view of monarchy

  • James I, like all monarchs, had an exalted idea about the powers and position of monarchy. He believed he was chosen by God and was therefore answerable only to God. This is summarised as The Divine Right of Kings

  • James, unlike other monarchs, wrote about his ideas on monarchy in The Trew Law of Free Monarchies. He wrote “The King is above the law, as both the author and giver of strength thereto”

  • James' need to write about his powers may reflect his political weakness as King of Scotland. He had become king as a small child and had faced serious opposition from nobles and the Church.

  • He believed, rightly, that the concept of monarchy was held in higher regard in England, where the nobility had been tamed and where the Church was directly under the Crown's control.

  • Since Henry VIII's reign, English kings were 'supreme head' of the Church of England.

  • James high regard for monarchy also underpinned by the fact that he was uniting England and Scotland for the first time.

  • His attempts to legally and formally unite the kingdoms as Great Britain were meant to show that he was a greater king than previous monarchs.

  • Despite his exalted views of the power of the monarchy, James was also an astute politician. His success in Scotland before 1603 shows that.

  • There is no indication that critics of James' regime were anti monarchist. Everyone believed, with James, that monarchy was the 'keystone' in the arch of government.

  • Despite exalted views of monarchy, James was not a tyrant. He ruled within the law and with parliament.

  • He accepted Parliament's decision to block union with Scotland; he allowed his right to collect impositions to be challenged in court (Bate's Case).

  • James believed that the monarch had prerogative powers. These were things he could do without the consent of parliament. His prerogative powers were control over foreign policy, war and peace, overseas trade and the pardoning of criminals.

James’ plans for a full political union of England and Scotland

  • James pursued his ideas in parliament sessions from 1604 to 1607. He faced opposition to this from parliament and his subjects. James tried to enact a union symbolically. He issued a royal proclamation giving himself the title ‘King of Great Britain’. He also announced a new currency, royal coat of arms and flag.

Arguments for a union

Arguments against a union

  • A union would bring peace between two countries that had fought wars for many centuries

  • James believed he was continuing the work of God in uniting the two kingdoms

  • Free trade between the two kingdoms would bring economic benefits.

  • A common system of laws, parliament and government would be difficult to set up and maintain.

  • Parliament worried James would set himself up as a supreme emperor it would have reduced powers.

  • Scotland had a traditional friendship with France that the English were worried about

  • The English saw the Scots as backward, traitorous, murderous rebels.

  • MPs were worried England would lose its traditional rights and customs

Historians’ assessments on James as a ruler

  • Sir Anthony Weldon (1600s) – “the wisest fool in Christendom”

  • Macaulay (1848) - “stammering, slobbering, shedding unmanly tears, trembling at a drawn sword”

  • Gardiner (1883) – “sowed the seeds of revolution and disaster”

  • Houston (1973) – “an exceptional man”

  • Russell (1979) – “a high degree of political stability” was maintained

James I and the Church

Religious groups in England





(Arminian from 1618)

James’ religious beliefs

  • James was a Calvinist i.e. a moderate not a radical. James had little time for those who wanted the Church purged of Popish remnants or those who wanted a Presbyterian (no bishops) form of church government, as had developed in Scotland.

  • James said that Presbyterianism ‘accordeth as well with monarchy as God with the Devil’.

James’ religious aims

  • James pursued a policy of balance, moderation and (unofficially at any rate) toleration.

  • James was tolerant towards Catholics. He called the Catholic Church ‘our mother Church’ though it was ‘clogged with infirmities and corruptions’. His mother, Mary Queen of Scots was seen as a Catholic martyr.

  • James supported rule of church by bishops (episcopacy) who were appointed by the King. Appointments show James' balanced outlook.

  • In 1604 he appointed Richard Bancroft (moderate associated with persecution of Puritans under Whitgift) to Archbishop of Canterbury.

  • In 1611, Bancroft was succeeded by more Puritan George Abbott, who was acceptable to the Scots.

  • James made no effort to harmonize the rather different English and Scottish Churches - this was wise. Charles I's attempt to do this helped bring about civil war.

  • James' reign was notable for its lack of religious persecution, which is a tribute to James' moderation.

What did James do?

Hampton Court Conference 1604

  • Was called by James in response to puritan Millenary Petition (1603) (so-called because it was supposedly signed by 1000 puritan ministers). This petition urged moderate reforms of the Church:

  • Improve the standards of the clergy

  • Restrictions on pluralism (holding more than one church office) and non-residence (failure of clergy to reside in the area where they hold a benefice - church office)

  • The wearing of the surplice (special gown) by the clergy should not be mandatory

  • The sign of the cross should not be used in baptism

  • Rings should not be used as a symbol of marriage

  • People should not bow at the name of Jesus

  • There should be more emphasis on sermons and preaching

  • Conference used to be seen as a failure because James got angry with the more puritan clergy over Presbyterianism. ‘No bishop, no King’ was James' famous reaction at one stage in the conference when the issue of Presbyterianism was brought up.

  • This old view came mainly from Bishop Barlow's writing up of what had happened. He thought that most puritans wanted to replace episcopacy with Presbyterianism and so interpreted the conference as King+Bishops v Presbyterians.

  • In fact few puritans wanted to see Presbyterian system, most just wanted restrictions on the power of bishops.

  • Conference ended amicably with some agreement on reforms BUT these reforms were later blocked by Archbishop Bancroft (elevated to Canterbury after the conference) and the more conservative bishops.

  • Conference's big success was to agree to the setting up of committees to produce a new 'authorized' version of the bible (see below)

Parliament of 1604

  • As in Elizabethan parliaments in the 1560s and 70s there were calls for reforms of the Church of England especially in the House of Commons.

  • Commons drew up a series of Bills on religion, which were sent to the House of Lords.

  • Lords (including all the bishops) proved hostile; James was furious at the infringement on royal prerogative and parliament was prorogued and the Bills lost.

Canons of 1604

  • These were issued by Bancroft with James' approval and were an attempt to divide the godly puritan clergy (keen on reform but conforming to main tenets (beliefs) of the Church of England) from the more subversive puritan clergy.

  • All the clergy were to accept the English Prayer Book (1559) and the 39 Articles (1563)

  • The surplice was to be worn for all services

  • The sign of the cross was to be used in baptism

  • Parishioners were to kneel to take communion

  • Predestination (idea that people were predestined to heaven or hell) was seen as a difficult doctrine, not to be discussed by ordinary people.

  • About 80 ministers (1% of total) lost or resigned their livings as a result of the canons. None lost their livings after 1606.

  • 1606: Commons produced a Bill to allow suspended ministers to appeal against their dismissal and another Bill claiming that Parliament and not Convocation (Church parliament), which had passed the canons of 1604, had the power to alter ‘any substantial point of religion’. These Bills angrily dismissed by James.

  • Canons then were successful in dividing moderate critics of Church from more radical and subversive elements).

  • After 1604 there is very little persecution on the grounds of religion = testament to James' toleration and moderation in religion.

King James Bible 1611

  • The publication of the King James or Aurthorized Version of the Bible was the greatest contribution of James to the unity and identity of the Church of England.

  • Drawn up (rather improbably) by a series of committees, it became the version of the Bible in English and its rhythms and resonances, continued to be at the heart of English religion into the twentieth century.

  • Since the Reformation under Henry VIII, there had been a series of translations of the Bible into English, this version quickly took its place as the definitive version to be used by clergy and laymen alike.

Book of Sports 1618

  • This volume on 'sports' which might be undertaken on a Sunday was given official blessing and showed that James and the moderate bishops were opposed to radical puritan ideas that Sundays should be reserved for worship only.

  • Puritans holding these strict views were called Sabbatarians.

A drawing about the Book of Sports. The caption reads “Keeping Sunday according to King James’ Book of Sports

Quality of the bishops/clergy was probably improving under James

  • None of the bishops was notably corrupt like the notorious Bishops Sandys and Barlow under Elizabeth.

  • Bancroft, Abbott, Andrewes and Neile, all noted for their austere (plain) and godly lives, set a good example.

  • Bancroft strengthened the unity of the Church. Abbot had impeccably puritan/Calvinist credentials.

  • Andrewes had twice refused bishoprics under Elizabeth, declining to alienate church lands as a condition of entry to a see.

  • He was well known for the austerity, simplicity and modesty of his way of life.

  • James very concerned at the depredations of Church property under Elizabeth. He took measures to stop the alienation of land from the Church.

  • Recognized that the problem of pluralism was fuelled by livings (benefices) which failed to pay a living wage and would not appeal to a new generation of university educated clergy.

The Catholic Problem under James

  • This could easily have proved highly divisive. Once again, James dealt with this problem with sensitivity and tolerance.

  • Estimated that by 1600 there were c. 350,000 recusants (English Catholics who refused to attend the Church of England) = 15% of population.

  • Although small in number, many aristocrats and gentry were still Catholic and hoping for easing of the persecution they had suffered under Elizabeth.

  • Earl of Northampton and other members of the Howard family were still Catholic and shown favour by James.

  • Bye Plot (1603) and Gunpowder Plot (1605) = attempts by radicals to depose James in favour of a Spanish and Catholic succession to the throne.

  • James forced to enact new and more severe Acts against recusancy, since Parliament was so worried about Catholic conspiracies.

  • James ensured that these new laws were not enforced strictly and thus continued to win support of moderate Catholics.

  • 1606 James introduced a new loyalty oath to the Crown (Oath of Allegiance). This allowed Catholics, at least unofficially, to live in peace with the government provided they swore an oath of allegiance to the Crown and paid their recusancy fines.

  • James also increased recusancy fines and Catholics were forbidden to live in London or hold public office immediately after the Gunpowder Plot.

  • James' policy towards Catholics tied most of them to the regime in a way that Queen Elizabeth had failed to do. This helps to explain why there were no further Catholic Plots against James.

  • Only 28 Catholics were executed for treason during James’ reign. Catholics were appointed to high positions and there was an increase in the number of Catholic priests.

Religion in Scotland

  • Scottish church had Presbyterian (no bishops) structure

  • James wanted uniformity with English church so tried to impose bishops in 1618.

  • Articles of Perth introduced to bring uniformity with English church but very unpopular

  • 1619 plans for a new prayer book in Scotland, but was abandoned by James in face of opposition.

  • Stroud (1999) has praised James for knowing where to draw the line and avoid open conflict. (This can be contrasted to Charles)

Religion in Ireland

  • Majority of population Catholic.

  • Church elite were Protestant Church of Ireland

  • James continued ‘plantation’ of English and Scottish settlers on confiscated Catholic lands

  • This meant there were English Protestants and Scottish Presbyterians in Ireland too.

  • James did not try to impose uniformity. He left it alone.

Historians’ assessments on James’ religious policies

  • Fincham and Lake (1985) – point to James’ “skill”

  • Durston (1993) – James was a success up to 1618 and the religious war in Europe. Charles failed to continue James effective management, which led to Civil War.

James' relationship with Parliament


  • Traditionally it has been argued that relations between James and his Parliaments grew increasingly bitter and that this set England on a 'High Road' to civil war which would break out in 1642, 17 years after James' death. (This is the Whig interpretation)

  • However this view is a serious distortion of relations between king and parliament. While there were arguments these were not based on fundamentally differing views of the constitution or the scope of Crown powers.

  • In most cases, the King got his way. In 1625, parliament mourned the passing of a good king. This was not a country on the brink of Civil War.

General points

  • Parliament was a natural point of contact between the government and the governing classes. It was always a way for the government to explain its policies and for members of both Houses (Commons and Lords) to express their grievances.

  • Under Elizabeth there had been serious disagreements over:

  • Religion

  • Money

  • Monopolies

  • The fate of Mary, Queen of Scots

  • Members of parliament were increasingly well educated and articulate, but there was no 'opposition party'.

  • Many complaints came from people who hoped to use parliament as a means of gaining favour and patronage.

  • Parliament only met when called by the King and could be dismissed whenever he chose. Therefore it was impossible for parliament to build up a corporate identity.

  • House of Commons is a large, unwieldy group of nearly 500 MPs.

  • Between 1610- 21, Parliament met once in 1614 for only a few weeks.

  • Everyone believed in the Divine Right of Kings; that the King was appointed by God. There is no fundamental clash of political ideologies in Early Stuart England.

Powers of King and Parliament

King’s powers

Parliament’s powers

Appointed Privy Council and Ministers

Appointed Justices of the Peace

Appoint and dismiss judges

Head of church and appoint bishops

Call and dismiss parliament

Prerogative powers (eg foreign policy)

Issue royal proclamations

Only pass statutes (new laws) with help of parliament

Could ignore advice of parliament

Expected to rule within the law of the land

Pass laws used in criminal courts

Turn royal decisions into official laws

Grant subsidies ( extra tax for the King)

Could refuse to finance king’s decisions

Send petitions to king outlining grievances

Advise the king

Right of free speech (without fear of arrest)

Clashes with Parliament

Date of parliament session

Main issues



MPs’ Privileges

A dispute over the election of an MP for Buckinghamshire. A Privy Councillor, Sir John Fortesque had been defeated by Sir Francis Goodwin, but the Chancery office (the king’s office) declared his election invalid because Goodwin had failed to pay his debts. The House of Commons claimed they were traditionally the judges of disputed elections. Both king and parliament made angry speeches about their rights and privileges

Union between England and Scotland

James pushed parliament to pass laws recognising a full union between England and Scotland.

A compromise was reached. The House of Commons agreed to a new election and the King agreed that it was parliament’s privilege to judge election results

Parliament blocked the Union because the prejudice of the English people was so great. At the end of the 1604 parliament session, the Commons produced a statement of their position – ‘The Form of Apology and Satisfaction’. This showed its concerns that its privileges were being threatened.

Parliament declined to vote subsidies because those voted in 1601 were still being collected


Catholic threat

After the Gunpowder Plot James and Parliament agreed that harsher laws against Catholics were needed


The King asked parliament for subsidies (a grant of money)


Impositions were extra customs duties, and the collection of customs contributed to the King’s revenue. Parliament objected to impositions, seeing it as a ‘back-door’ tax that they had no control over

Harsher laws against Catholics were passed

Parliament granted the King 3 subsidies
MPs wrote the Apology of the House of Commons. This summed up what they saw as their rights, dating back hundreds of years


Union between England and Scotland

James again asked parliament to pass laws recognising a full union between England and Scotland.


Purveyance was the right of the King to buy goods for the royal household at a discount price. It was seen as a very corrupt system, even though it was a traditional privilege of the crown. The House of Lords proposed the system should end and the king should be granted £50,000 per year in compensation. The House of Commons were divided, but thought that £50,000 compensation was too much. They suggested £20,000 instead. Some MPs thought there should be no compensation

Parliament again opposed the union and refused to pass any laws on this issue

James promised to look into cases of corruption and had some royal agents punished for corruption. There was no agreement on the system of purveyance.


Finance: Great Contract

The Great Contract proposed a radical transformation of royal finances. It was drawn-up by James’ Treasurer – the Earl of Salisbury. James was not happy about bargaining with parliament over his prerogative rights of money. The House of Commons refused James’ demands for a grant of money as part of the contract.

Royal extravagance and impositions

Parliament criticised the crown for its extravagant expenditure on the royal household. It also criticised how James’ royal officers were collecting extra customs duties or taxes (impositions) on goods.

No agreement was reached over the contract.

James dissolved (closed) parliament


Finance: taxation, impositions and royal extravagance

James needed money and asked parliament for a subsidy to pay for his eldest son’s (Henry’s) funeral and the costs of his daughter’s marriage.

The House of Commons presented petitions about impositions (extra customs duties)

The Commons complained about James’ extravagance again

Parliament voted no subsidies. James dissolved parliament again. This session of parliament was called the ‘Addled Parliament’ (meaning rotten because it lasted only a few weeks and achieved nothing)
James did not call parliament again until 1621.

The King’s traditional ways of raising money

  • Wardship (the crown takes over land until the person who has inherited it reaches 21)

  • Purveyance (crown’s right to buy goods at a discount price)

  • Crown lands (either charging rent, or selling the land)

  • Monopolies (gave an individual or business the exclusive right to manufacture and sell a product. The crown sells licences)

  • Parliamentary subsidies (parliament raises extra taxes to give to the king)

  • Tonnage and poundage (a form of customs duty normally voted by parliament)

  • Impositions (extra customs duties)

  • Selling titles of honour (eg baronets or knighthoods)

Financial reforms

  • Book of Bounty 1608 tried to cut royal expenditure. (Between 1603 and 1612 James spent £185,000 on jewels. James also liked to give out extravagant gifts and pensions)

  • More crown lands were sold and crown lands were also rented to reward officials who were loyal to the crown

  • Customs farming introduced as a more efficient way of collecting customs revenue. Customs farmers paid the crown a fixed sum to collect customs duty on a particular industry. They could make a profit by collecting above the sum they had paid the crown.

  • The Great Contract 1610

In an attempt to bring Crown income more into line with expenditure, Robert Cecil (Treasurer since 1608) proposed a radical shake up of Crown finances, which would balance the books. Cecil proposed:

  • Parliament should grant James £600,000 to wipe out current debt

  • Parliament should vote James an annual parliamentary grant of £200,000 in order to make up the shortfall between the King's income and his expenditure.

  • James, in return, would abandon some of the more unpopular means of raising money (warship and purveyance):

  • James would agree that uncollected royal debts going back to the period 1485-1558 would not now be pursued.

  • James would agree not to use spies/informers to enforce royal rights.

BUT scheme fails:

  • many MPs thought that the new arrangement would mean that Parliament would not be called in the future.

  • James unwilling to sell off his prerogative rights, which he believed came from God.

  • the scheme was too radical in a very conservative age.

  • it showed a lack of trust on both sides

  • would the scheme have given much needed administrative reform?

  • New Books of Rates

  • Robert Cecil was able to increase the rate of tax on imported and exported goods via new Books of Rates in 1604 and 1608.

  • Cecil also won the important Bate's Case of 1606, where the Crown successfully sued a merchant (Bate, a member of the Levant Company)) for non-payment of import taxes.

  • Bate claimed that the Crown could not increase the rates of tax or put taxes on new items, without the consent of Parliament.

  • BUT the judges found that taxes on trade were part of the Crown's undoubted right to regulate trade as an important tool in foreign policy and therefore were at the discretion of the Crown.

  • James had increased the duties on Bate's currants as part of a trade war between England and Venice; just as he had increased the duties on tobacco because the king personally disapproved strongly of smoking!

  • James responded by withdrawing some proclamations and promising not to levy new impositions.

  • Cockayne Project 1615-1617

  • A city merchant came up with a plan to export finished cloth instead of exporting half-finished cloth to northern Europe. This would have made more money for the cloth industry.

  • Cockanye would set up a new company to do this, with a monopoly over the cloth industry. Cockayne lent James £10,000 for the monopoly.

  • The project failed as Cockayne did not have the money to buy the wool, the expertise to finish cloth, or the contacts abroad to sell it.

  • By 1618 the cloth trade had collapsed which led to social distress among sheep farmers and weavers.

  • Parliamentary subsidies

  • Though voted only occasionally, they did represent an important part of James' income.

  • Parliament of 1601 had granted Elizabeth 4 subsidies, (perhaps £520,000 in all) much of this was still to be collected when James became king and helped to lessen legacy of Elizabeth's debt.

  • Parliament of 1606 voted James 3 subsidies and other grants, which amounted to £450,000 over the next 4 years.

  • Parliament of 1621 voted 2 subsidies ‘as a free gift and present borne from the love and duty of his subjects’.

  • Parliament of 1624 voted 3 subsidies to James.

Court Factions and favourites

  • James’s court like all royal courts was often divided by faction; groups of men who sought to influence the king and to increase their power.

  • James had more favourites than Elizabeth. BUT favourites were not a serious problems, which undermined James' ability to govern.

  • Apart from the Catholic nobility at court, these factions were not divided on ideological or religious grounds, therefore were not really serious.

  • Initial problems with James Scottish favourites brought with him in 1603 e.g. James Hay. Members of King's Bedchamber were mainly Scots in early years of reign BUT this was not a long-term problem.

  • Cecil and Cranfield were useful and able and effective ministers.

  • Without enough money to pay his ministers realistic salaries, James had to rely on patronage and perks to reward his ministers.

  • The Howard family were one of the most powerful families at court. They were a Catholic family. They are known as the pro-Spanish faction.

  • Robert Carr was one of the king’s favourites. He was a young, athletic, handsome Scot. He received a lot of patronage from the King. James even nursed him back to health after a riding accident.

  • Robert Carr wanted to marry Frances Howard, even though she was already married. The king agreed to a divorce. Sir Thomas Overbury (who had been a close ally of Rober Carr) opposed the marriage.

  • Overbury was imprisoned in the Tower of London for alleged offences. Whilst there, he was fed a poisoned pie in 1613. Both Robert Carr and Frances Howard were found guilty of his murder in 1615. This is known as the Overbury Affair.

  • The resulting scandal led to the demise of Robert Carr and the Howard family.

  • This enabled the rising star, George Villers to become one of the most powerful and influential men in the country.

The Stuart Monarchy: 1618-1629













Start of Thirty Years War Palatinate Crisis begins

Book of Bounty

Battle of White Mountain

Parliament called Cranfield appointed as Lord Treasurer

3rd December – Commons Petition to King

Directions to Preachers – restricts topics for preaching

Forced Loan

Forced Loan Trip to Madrid

Parliament called Impeachment of Cranfield Subsidy Act

Nov - Marriage Treaty signed between Charles and Henrietta Maria of France

Jan – expedition to Palatinate (Parliament opened)

Mar – Death of James I (Sabbath Act)

Sept – Treaty of Southampton (Act of Revocation)

Oct – Cadiz expedition

Dec – Treaty of the Hague

Forced Loan Parliament opened Buckingham impeached

York House Conference (Puritans/Arminians)

Oct – failed naval expedition against Spain

Forced Loan

June – Failed expedition against France to help Huguenots

Parliament opens Laud appointed bishop of London

Petition of Right Failed expedition to La Rochelle in France

Murder of Buckingham

Three Resolutions against Arminianism

Treaty of Suza (peace with France)

Charles’ Declaration on the Articles of Religion

Topic 2: The Stuart Monarchy 1618-29
Foreign Policies of James I and Charles I
James I’s aims

  • James' foreign policy was largely successful in that he avoided major warfare throughout his reign. This was especially important after 1618, when much of Europe became increasingly embroiled in the Thirty Years War.

  • James was self proclaimed 'Rex Pacificus' (peace-loving king) and tried to stop conflict in Europe.

  • 1604 Treaty of London James makes peace with Spain thus ending 19 years war, which included 3 Spanish Armadas sent against England.

  • James wanted to negotiate between the two great and Catholic powers in Europe (Spain and France) to avoid war. In this way England could still be seen as influential without wasting huge amounts of money on war.

  • At same time, James hoped to balance the religious tensions in Europe (Catholic v. Protestant) by marrying his daughter Elizabeth to the Calvinist Elector Palatine (1613) and his son (first Prince Henry and after his death Prince Charles) to French or Spanish Catholic Princess.

The Thirty Years War

  • Palatinate Crisis

1618 – Archduke Ferdinand (from the Habsburg family) was elected as king of Bohemia. He was very Anti-Protestant and the nobles in Bohemia became afraid of him. In 1619 the nobles offered the crown to Frederick of the Palatinate (a Protestant and James’ son-in-law).

  • 1620 – Frederick accepted the Bohemian crown. Archduke Ferdinand is the Holy Roman Emperor. He sent an army against Frederick and Elizabeth. They were both defeated in the Battle of the White Mountain and fled to the United Provinces. The Spanish army occupies the Palatinate.

  • James tries to take cautious measures to help Frederick, but without getting England involved in the Thirty Years War.

  • James tried desperately to use his friendship with Spain to get them to end their involvement in the spreading war. Unfortunately for James, he did not have the power to change events on the Continent.

  • He also sent an ambassador to the princes of the states in the Holy Roman Empire to persuade them to help Frederick.

  • Naval squadron under Mansell sailed to the Mediterranean to alarm the Spanish who were backing their Austrian cousins against Frederick.

  • In practice, James was appalled by Frederick's determination to take Bohemia from the Habsburgs and disassociated himself from his son-in-law.

  • However, the people of England demanded action against the Catholic armies occupying the Palatinate. Frederick was seen as a Protestant hero.

The Spanish Match

  • James hoped for a marriage between Prince Charles and the Spanish Princess Maria to end the old enmity between the two countries.

  • The Spanish ambassador Count Gondomar was present at James’ court to aid negotiations. However, as he was a Catholic and Spanish, his presence generated hostility and suspicion that he was manipulating James.

  • Trip to Madrid 1623 Charles and Buckingham threatened James’ diplomacy by travelling to Spain to open their own negotiations. It was a very rash and dangerous idea. The Spanish thought Charles was going to convert to Catholocism. When they realised their mistake they put demands to James, for example they insisted he guarantee toleration for Catholics in England. James knew this would never be accepted by his people. It became clear the marriage would not happen. Charles and Buckingham returned to England wanting revenge on Spain. They tried to persuade James to declare war on Spain. James would not give in to them.

  • After the failure of Charles and Buckingham's unauthorised Trip to Madrid, James started negotiations, which led to Charles' marriage to Henrietta Maria of France.

Historians’ assessments on James’ foreign policy

  • Trevelyan (1926) – saw James as a failure as he neglected the navy

  • Davies (1959) – James was weak because he was inconsistent

  • Durston (1993) – more sympathetic to James. He was “realistic and hard-headed”

Charles' Foreign Policy

  • Charles' foreign policy in first four years of his reign was rather more aggressive than his father's.

  • 1625 England declared war on Spain.

  • 1625 Expedition to Cadiz in southern Spain proved a debacle - English soldiers got drunk after discovering vats of local wine! Buckingham blamed.

  • 1626 another naval expedition failed to reach Spain; dispersed by violent storms in Bay of Biscay.

  • 1627 England declared war on France partly because France had now made peace with Spain. England now at war with the two greatest powers in Europe!

  • 1627 Buckingham led English expedition, which lands on French Ile de Rhé. This was as big a fiasco as Cadiz expedition. Once again Buckingham blamed.

  • 1628 expedition sent to relieve siege of La Rochelle (Protestant French port besieged by French government under Richelieu) returned without firing a shot.

Career and Influence of Buckingham

  • Clearly James was infatuated with George Villiers, perhaps more so after the death of his eldest son Prince Henry. He called him 'Steenie' and signed some of his letters to him 'from your dear dog and dad'.

  • Unlikely that there was a homosexual relationship and need to remember that Court Life was a Men's Club; lots of men hunting, feasting and generally enjoying themselves.

  • James was never utterly dependent on Buckingham. Buckingham did persuade James to get rid of Lionel Cranfield, but he did not manage to persuade James to go to war against the Spanish.

  • Buckingham became a political problem more in Charles I reign where Charles seemed to be utterly dependent on him, in a way James never was. No attempts to impeach Buckingham until Charles' reign.

  • Buckingham probably author of mad-cap idea for him and Prince Charles to travel to Madrid in 1623.

  • Scheme may well have sealed Buckingham's all pervasive influence over Charles.

  • From 1625, to his death in 1628, Buckingham was very unpopular with sections of the aristocracy because of his influence.

  • 1626 parliament attempted to have him impeached under these charges:

  • Being responsible for the disastrous foreign policy in war against the French and Spanish.

  • Masterminding the marriage of Charles to Henrietta Maria, a French Catholic. He was accused of undermining the English Protestant faith and introducing Catholicism into Britain and the royal family

  • Accused of corruption and using his official posts to enrich himself.

  • Charles dissolved parliament. Buckingham was set free and he began to purge his critics from office.

  • The attempted impeachment helped to undermine Charles relations with parliament.

  • Buckingham's assassination in 1628 by a naval captain John Feldon led to popular rejoicing, even in parliament. Charles was heart-broken.

  • However, long-term importance of Buckingham should not be exaggerated. Many courtiers worked with/through Buckingham to gain preferment.

  • Buckingham removed from political scene well before outbreak of Civil War.

Historians’ interpretation on Buckingham

  • Russell – criticises Buckingham. Says he was a corrupt and talentless minister

  • Lockyer – defends Buckingham. Says he should not be held responsible for all the problems in the country at the time.

Religious Issues - The Rise of the Arminians

  • James reign saw the rise of an Arminian faction within the Church, associated with Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop of Winchester, Richard Neile, Bishop of Rochester and William Laud, Bishop of St. David’s (later Archbishop of Canterbury 1633-45).

Arminian beliefs

  • Opposed to the puritan doctrine of predestination

  • put more emphasis on the importance of ritual and ceremony in church services at the expense of preaching

  • were less hostile to the Catholics

  • were firmly opposed to Presbyterianism (government of the Church by presbyters)

  • believed that bishops were instituted 'by Gods law' and that episcopacy was the only proper way to run the Church

James and the Arminians

  • James not well disposed towards the Arminians - chose puritan Abbot rather than Arminian Andrewes as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1611 and did not promote William Laud.

  • BUT he realized the importance of a balanced episcopate. Once again, James was seen to be sensitive in his handling of religious policy. He ensured that friction between puritan and arminian wings did not become serious division.

  • King James Bible was a testament to conservative and more radical wings of the Church being able to work together.

Changes in religion under Charles

  • Charles ended the balanced, tolerant approach of James and wanted to see greater uniformity in religion in England.

  • Charles liked Arminianism because of its emphasis on obedience and hierarchy.

  • Richard Neile had called parliament a “factious, mutinous, seditious assembly” for not supporting James I. It was clear the Arminians would strongly defend the crown.

  • Charles was well disposed towards the Arminian faction, promoting William Laud to Bishop of London in 1628 and Archbishop of Canterbury in 1633.

  • He promoted churchmen like Montague who wrote in favour of the royal supremacy over the Church and Mainwaring who defended the idea of non-parliamentary taxation.

  • York House Conference in 1626, attempted to heal divisions between Arminians and Puritans ended in failure and showed Buckingham and Charles' sympathy for Arminians.

  • 1626 William Laud delivered a sermon saying that the puritans were planning a revolution in church and state.

  • There were frequent complaints in early Parliaments about the promotion of Arminians.

  • Puritans believe that Arminians were really papists, who wanted to see England become Catholic again.

  • 1629 Francis Rous (an MP) said “an Arminian is the spawn of a papist”

  • First of the Three Resolutions passed illegally in Parliament of 1629 (Speaker was held down in his chair) was one stating that anyone bringing in 'innovation in religion' should be seen as a traitor.

Relations between Crown and Parliament
James’ Parliament of 1621

  • Was dominated by foreign policy after outbreak of 30 Years War in 1618.

  • Parliament was keen to launch English military expedition to oust Spanish forces from the Palatinate.

  • James realised that it would be too costly (perhaps £1 million) and that Parliament would never grant enough money for a realistic expedition.

  • James was also still pursuing idea of marriage alliance with Spain.

  • Parliament called for war against Spain. James was furious that they were infringing on his royal prerogative right to determine foreign policy, and he ordered them to stop doing so.

  • Commons passed 'Protestation' in December 1621 proclaiming their right to freedom of speech. (James responded by dismissing parliament in 1622, saying they were attacking his fundamental rights.)

  • Big attack on those who held monopolies (monopolists); criminal charges brought against Mitchell and Mompesson

  • The Lord Chancellor, Francis Bacon was impeached. This was encouraged by Edward Coke. Bacon was accused of corruption and taking bribes. He was briefly imprisoned and fined £40,000. Again this had more to do with faction fighting than with opposition to the government.

James’ Parliament of 1624

  • Was dominated by issue of going to war against Spain. James was ill by this point, so parliament was dominated by Buckingham and Charles who favoured going to war. They attacked Digby, Lord Treasurer Lionel Cranfield and Arundel who were against going to war.

  • Cranfield was impeached. He was fined and imprisoned. This was led by Buckingham and Sir Edward Coke

  • It is significant that Charles allowed parliament to discuss foreign policy – something James warned him would have dangerous implications for the future.

  • James claimed he would need £1 million for war; Parliament offered only £300,000. This subsidy was passed but James refused to declare war.

Overview of James' relations with Parliament

  • Relations between James and his parliaments were often amicable and disagreements were a normal part of parliamentary sessions.

  • James' policy was never significantly altered by a hostile Parliament, nor did he ever lose a minister to impeachment (Cranfield or Bacon) whom he was keen to retain.

  • Parliamentary debates rarely touched on major constitutional issues and where they did, the king always came off best. Ultimately, he could do without them; perhaps the surprise is that he called them as often as he did.

Worsening relations between Crown and Parliament under Charles
1625 parliament

  • Declarations of war led to serious difficulties with Parliament over financing the conflicts.

  • 1625 parliament granted customs duties (tonnage and poundage) to Charles for just one year rather than the customary lifetime grant. It also granted just two subsidies - quite inadequate for proposed war against Spain.

  • Attacks begin against Buckingham

  • Attacks against Arminians

1626 parliament

  • Parliament ready to grant 4 subsidies for war against Spain but only if Charles would allow impeachment of Buckingham.

  • Charles refused and dissolved parliament rather than give up Buckingham. Meant Charles would have to go to war without necessary funds.

  • Instead Charles collected a Forced Loan in 1626, which was fairly successful, collected equivalent of 4 subsidies.

  • Five Knights Case 1627: these men challenged Charles' right to collect the Forced Loan of 1626 and his right to imprison them for refusing to pay. Lord Chief Justice found in Charles' favour.

1628 parliament

  • Parliament of 1628 did vote Charles 5 subsidies.

  • Serious concerns about the billeting of troops raised for the various expeditions.

  • Serious concerns that England might be invaded by France or Spain or both!

  • All these problems were focused on Parliament and caused a serious worsening of relations between Charles and his parliaments.

  • These disagreements were more serious than those under James.

Petition of Right 1628: Presented to Charles by Parliament and complained of four serious grievances. Charles reluctantly accepted

  • Forced Loans are illegal

  • No free man should be imprisoned without ‘just cause shown’

  • Soldiers should not be billeted (given food and lodgings) on private individuals against their will

  • Martial law (military law, which was often seen as a form of dictatorship) should be illegal

1629 parliament

  • Relations might have improved because of assassination of Buckingham in late 1628.

  • Small group of radicals in House of Commons (including Denzil Holles) forcibly held down Speaker in his chair when Charles instructed him to rise and dissolve parliament.

  • John Eliot read out Three Resolutions 1629:

  • Anyone bringing in popery or Arminianism should be accounted a capital enemy of the King and Kingdom

  • Anyone advising the king to collect tonnage and poundage is also a capital enemy

  • Anyone who pays tonnage and poundage is a capital enemy

  • As a result of all these problems, Charles resolved to rule without calling Parliament.

  • By ending the wars against Spain and France by 1630, he was able to bring this policy to a successful conclusion.

The Personal Rule of Charles I: 1629-1640

Second Session of 3rd Parliament Three Resolutions

Treaty of Suza (peace with France)













Distraint of Knighthoood fines

Treaty of Madrid (peace with Spain)

Book of Orders

Wentworth made Lord Deputy of Ireland

Laud made Archbishop of Canterbury

Reintroduction of Book of Sports

Forest Fines imposed

Ship money on coastal towns and counties

New Book of Rates issued

Ship Money extended inland

Bishop Juxon appointed Lord Treasurer

Trial of Burton, Bastwick and Prynne

Bishop Williams fined for attacking Laud’s altar policy

Introduction of new Prayer Book in Edinburgh

National Covenant drawn up (Scottish opposition to Prayer Book)

Hampden’s Case (Ship Money)

First Bishop’s War – Treaty of Berwick

Growing resistance to Ship Money

Wentworth recalled to England

Recall of Parliament and end of Personal Rule

Topic 3: The Personal Rule of Charles I 1629-1640
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