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How Parliamentarians and Royalist Mobilized Support during the Reign of Charles I

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Introduction

The reign of Charles I from 1625 until his execution in 1649 was one of the eventful reign in the history of England. This is evident in the friction and struggle that existed between the parliamentarians and the royalists both in the political and religious arenas in the country. One of the major causes of the fallout between parliamentarians and the royalists was the fear that Charles I was suspiciously bend towards Catholicism and Armanianism. Therefore, every action that he undertook in terms of financing his programs including war in Spain and France was counteracted by the parliamentarians. The royalists on the other hand believed in the absolute power of the King and thus would support his plans without reservations setting the competition that existed throughout his period. It is noted that Charles I was generally a good King and was much kingly in his approach to issues.  One of his misgivings in the exercise of his Kingly duties was his continued refusal to give way to the Parliament in issues that concerned the Church. This was coupled with unmatched untruthfulness thus making it impossible to hold him accountable to any promises he made. His kingship was also dotted with a number of problems which had existed in the times of his father, King James, and which he failed to handle as much as his father did. This essay explores how the parliamentarians and royalists managed to mobilize support for their propositions and suggestions both in the parliament and in public during the reign of King Charles I.

The reign of Charles I began on a wrong note when he befriended George Villiers who was the Duke of Buckingham. Villiers was mainly unpopular in England and Scotland because of his unfavorable influence towards other noble people in the country.  The other source of conflict between King Charles I and his royalists supporters on one hand and the parliamentarians on the other hand was the cause of war abroad which the King had vowed to support to the end. Additionally, the King was widely thought to be a Catholic who favored high Anglican worship thus drawing suspicions even from moderate critics. In order to counteract the influence of Parliament on his plans to affix taxes such as ship taxes, which were only approved by his allies, King Charles I had to dissolve the parliament three times between 1625 and 1629. Generally, this was a strategy that Charles I and the royalists used to ensure that the parliament did not pass motions that illegalized some of his decrees and also to allow the king to make those decrees. The continued resistance from the parliament led the King to dismiss the parliament in 1629 for good and decided that he was going to rule alone thus allowing him to raise revenue without the approval of parliamentarians and therefore making him an unpopular king in England and other countries where he ruled.

Charles I was strongly convicted that his authority was divine and thus he could be able to assert directions and decrees without the approval of the parliament. Many of the conflicts arose from his involvement in the churches of England and Scotland and his desire to impose levies without the approval of the parliament. In essence, Charles I ran the monarch with tyranny and absolute power. This form of rule made most of the parliamentarians to oppose even the well conceived plans that the king and his royalists were planning. The other source of conflict was the fact that he had failed to protect the Protestant forces that were fighting abroad and the fact that he had married a Catholic prince which was against the established rules for Monarchy that the King should not marry a person from the papal faith. This set the ground for widespread mistrust of the King concerning his system of belief. Moreover, the mistrust from the parliamentarians was escalated by the appointment of controversial personalities as Archbishops of Canterbury, including William Laud and Richard Montagu. It led to the feeling that the King was aiming to bring the Roman Catholic to his subjects. Throughout this struggle, the King managed to marshal the support of many bishops and magistrates throughout England and ndeed he had been dismissing bishops and magistrates that were unfriendly to his plans of bringing religious reforms in the country. At one point, religious reforms led to the Bishops War which proved beneficial to the parliamentarians both in England and Scotland as they had now formidable charges against the King and his royalists.

During the earlier days when the Parliament convened, the parliamentarians coalesced among themselves to bring petitions of rights to which the King was supposed to sign. The petitions of rights brought by John Eliot, Sir Edward Coke, Sir Robert Phelips, John Selden, and Sir Thomas Wentworth contained four demands to the King. The parliamentarians demanded that taxation should only be reinforced with the approval of Parliament. The King was also required to show cause for imprisonment of people. Additionally, billeting of soldiers or sailors who were serving abroad by the monarch could not be done against their will. The final demand in the petition was that no martial law would be enacted to punish offenses by soldiers and sailors which were considered ordinary. The condition for the petition was that without assenting to them, the King would not get parliament’s approval for the money. On consulting his right wing magistrates about the legality of the Petitions and knowing that he could enforce his monarch powers, the King consented to the petitions and this made the parliament to approve the subsidies that the King needed. However, the King prorogued the parliament when the members of parliament resumed their criticism on discovering that he did not adhere to the petitions. This was a strategy that the King and his royalists used to curtail the powers of the parliamentarians and their ability to block some of the plans that the King wanted to the implemented.

The royalists also used suppression tactics by arresting the members of parliament who were vocal in criticizing the plans of the monarch. For instance, when he wanted approval of members of the army who were supposed to contain the uprising in Scotland, he had to choose from his loyalists in the monarch. However, this was opposed by most of the parliamentarians causing a widespread arrest of the parliamentarians and subsequent imprisonment without trial. Most of the time, king Charles I used his kingly powers to impose his views not only on the public but the parliament also. These actions set him above the perceived three estates in the Constitution of England. The monarch was one of the three estates yet the King and his royalists sought to patronize over the parliament mostly by usurping their powers making them unable to provide checks and balances on the excessiveness of the monarch. The monarch did not make any effort to allow coexistence of the three estates since the king was the head of the Church and had also taken over the army and the judiciary. The parliamentarians felt that it was their duty to bring sanity in the leadership of England, Scotland, and Ireland though curbing the powers of the unpopular king who believed that he had divine authority over the rest of the constitutional estates.

Moreover, the parliamentarians instigated complain against the monarch by pointing out the increasing influence of the Arminian faction over the Church in England. In essence, the parliamentarians mobilized support from the public by pointing out how the Church of England was being taken over by the Arminian who were considered as crypto-Catholic. They thus managed to show that the King and his allies were up to no good in the management of the political and religious interests of the people of England.  The other area that parliamentarians mobilized support from the public was the continual collection of tonnage and poundage which the parliament had passed and which contravened the agreements in the Petitions of Rights presented earlier to the King and which he had consented to. The collection of the tonnage and poundage revenues made the king be seen as someone who could not be trusted by the public because the parliamentarians were direct representative of the subjects of the monarch and the King was therefore expected to abide by the petitions that he himself had consented to.

The parliamentarians also sought to mobilize support from the public by making declarations that would bind individuals who did not obey them. Such category of people could be equally guilty of the offense much the same way as the King. For instance, while the Speaker of the House of Commons was held in the chair, parliamentarians proclaimed that none in the monarch was supposed to bring innovation of religion or introduce the popery of arminianism or even any other religious opinion which was in conflict with the Church of England. Such person would be regarded as the enemy of the Kingdom and its commonwealth. The parliamentarians also declared illegal the advice on subsidies of tonnage and poundage without the approval of the parliament which for a long time had been used by the monarch as their main source of money. The parliament determined that whoever supported the collection of tonnage and poundage money would be equally reliable as the enemy of the kingdom. The parliamentarian proclamation also outlawed the issue of people complying with the decree of paying tonnage and poundage money to the monarch and decreed that such action would make one a betrayer of the liberties of England and the enemy of the people. In essence, Parliamentarians sought to mobilize support from the people by passing laws that prohibited them from offering support to the monarch who was increasingly seen as tyrannical and unfit to lead England and its commonwealth nations.

The King also sought to mobilize support by imposing forced loans to parliamentarians who were opposed to his policies. One reason for the forced loans was that the King was desperately in need of money after adjourning the parliament before they had granted any subsidies. The forced loan was mainly aimed at capturing as many parliamentarians as possible especially those who would not give the loans as required by the monarch. The King also borrowed money using his Crown Jewels in order to finance the war in Europe besides ordering the royalists to enforce the law that required people to pay custom duties without the approval of the parliament. The wealthy people who were opposed to these sanctions were captured and brought before the magistrates and tried. The magistrates who did not find the wealthy people guilty were dismissed from their duties by the King because it was assumed that they were not supporting the King to rule the country. As such, the King used intimidation of the magistrates with sacking so that they could support him by convicting people who were brought before the courts for failing to follow the decrees from the King.  The King also used nobility and gentry from his monarch as commissioners to collect loans to ensure trust and honesty so that none of the people expected to give loans failed to do so. However, the forced loans were extremely unpopular in England and abroad forcing the King to abandon the exercise. This was after more than seventy-six prominent people were imprisoned for refusing to give the monarch loans with some even obstructing the work of the loan collectors.

In conclusion, both the parliamentarians and the royalists led by Charles I had their ways of mobilizing support for their cause. The King was extremely irrational in his approach by imposing religious and political interests to the people. King Charles I believed that as the holder of the Office of the King, he held absolute powers and the Parliament or Judiciary did not have powers to oppose his rule.  The parliamentarians on their hand felt a great responsibility to provide checks and balances to ensure that the monarch did not abuse its powers. After the first Civil War, the King was defeated by the parliamentarians and forced to flee the country. However, he continued to call royalists to hold uprising against the parliamentarians even from exile. This led to the Second Civil War that lasted for a year. When he was captured again, he was brought before the court charged with high treason and found guilty of the charges after refusing to enter a plea. The controversial King was then beheaded for the charges in 1649. This was done as a strategy to restore the rule of law in the country after it became apparent that peace could be sustained when the King was alive.

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