Charles I. 1625 - 30 Jan 1649.

 There were many undercurrents at work concerning religion and the economic state of the country but Charles I exacerbated matters by maintaining a closed court. Access to him personally was strictly maintained which increased the isolation of his natural courtiers. The perception certainly grew that he was greatly influenced by his Catholic wife, Henrietta Maria which had been arranged by the Anglo French Treaty of 1624. She kept her Catholic practices, established Catholic chapels and  a house of Capuchin monks in London. Increasingly there seemed to be more Catholic influence at Court including the Papal agents Gregorio Panzani and George Con. Catholic chapels appeared at the residences of ambassadors which were open to the public. This only exacerbated the fears of people like John Pym, a prominent Member of Parliament, who had long suspected a return to Catholicism and absolutism. It was the drive of the Puritans for reformation of the Church of England and their opposition to episcopacy and its trappings, that forced issues of parliamentary democracy and the Civil Wars

 Charles I pursued the same policies as his father but with greater force and venom in all of the three kingdoms. A false start was his revocation of land grants which put the nobility, the main holders of church lands, on alert. The  English Petition of Right in 1628  protesting against his autocratic ways marked a watershed in his relations with that Parliament. With the cessation of war on the continent and not requiring money to pursue it, he resorted to his `personal rule`, treating Parliament with contempt. A Grand Remonstrance in 1641 and his attempt to arrest the Five Members (including the Leader of the Puritan opposition, John Pym) in 1642 ended in the raising of the royal standard at Nottingham in August 1643 and Civil War.

Aided by Archbishop Laud in England, Thomas Wentworth in Ireland, and a docile Privy Council in Scotland, Charles pursued his attack on the institution of the Presbyterian Church, and nonconformity throughout the three kingdoms. This took the form of the Arminian policies of Archbishop Laud and his desire to restore “the beauty of Holiness”. The enforced  changes included relocation of the altar and enclosing within rails; use of vestments; bowing at the name of Jesus; taking the Communion on the knees; stained glass windows in churches; and compulsory attendance at church with penalties in default. Further changes saw the status of clerics enhanced with their appointment to civil posts such as magistrates. The people generally, resented the changes and the intervention of bishops in their life style. This gave rise to the `root and branch`  petitions of 1640 that sought the abolition of episcopacy in England.

In Scotland the appointment of bishops to the Privy Council in 1634 indicated the way things were going as conformity and uniformity were forced on the church and then the people. In this Charles sought to bring  the ministers of Edinburgh under his control by taking over the payment of their stipends. Hitherto they had been paid by the Town Council, but on 18 March 1634 an Act of the Privy Council implemented a local tax on the indwellers (residents) of Edinburgh based on the property - rates as we know it today. This raised £192,118.5.0d Scots in 1635. Whether this large sum was actually disbursed on the stipends must be uncertain, as it would have been a honey pot for Archbishop Laud and the King to dip into.

There soon followed Laud`s Liturgy in 1637; and Jenny Geddes` stool flying through the air in St Giles Cathedral; the National Covenant in February 1638 and the General Assembly in Glasgow in the November and December. Charles was probably ill advised (misrepresentation) about the strength of feeling in Scotland; and his proclamation in February 1639 to the northern shires of England that the Scots intended to invade was a huge mistake. The people were aware that Parliament did not approve of nor had it subsidised the planned war. As a consequence they reluctantly assembled and the funds in the war chest were very small. In the event the two Bishops Wars ended in stalemate with Charles obliged to negotiate treaties. The wars gained nothing save acrimony and led to renewal of Civil War in England and the three kingdoms.

 In Ulster the bishops of the Episcopal Church of Ireland shrugged off the accommodation that had existed for two decades under  a benevolent Archbishop Ussher and began to insist on compliance with episcopacy. This resulted in several prominent ministers – Blair and Livingstone among them, being forced to return to Scotland. The imposition of the Black Oath in 1639 placed a strangle hold on the nonconformist churches and their ministers. The harsh policies of Wentworth, who had sought to relocate the influential Presbyterians to Kilkenny and Tipperary, extended to the land owners who risked forfeiture of their  estates if they could not prove ownership. This included the Old English settlers who had difficulty in proving their title from Elizabethan times, which contributed to their joining with the Irish in the later rebellion. The disruption caused by these policies and general unease because of the Bishops Wars in Scotland, encouraged rebellion and the resultant massacres of Protestants in 1641. Wentworth further compounded matters by raising an army ready for use by Charles on the mainland.   Sir John Clotworthy a wealthy Ulster settler,  reported to the English Parliament in November1640 that there were two armies in Ireland. The new one was 10,000 strong, well paid and mainly Catholics, and the old Protestant army that was a year in arrears of pay. Wentworth was impeached within days and charged with treason.

 …he had a design to bring over the Irish army into England. ..

popery had flourished during his rule in Ireland without constraint, he had stirred up enmity between England and Scotland and had incensed the king against parliaments.

The Solemn League and Covenant in 1643 joined Scotland and the English Parliamentarians in a political agreement against the king. The Civil Wars, mainly in England, were Charles` downfall, although a brilliant campaign by the Marquis of Montrose almost had Scotland on its knees. The battle of Naseby on 14 June 1645 settled the military issues and in May 1646 Charles surrendered to the Scottish army, anticipating that they were more likely to leave his head on his shoulders. Handed over to the Parliamentarians on payment of the Scottish armies costs, Charles became the guest of the New Model Army. Oliver Cromwell was now leading a `Godly Army` with the troops supplied with a copy of the Soldiers Catechism. Charles eventually escaped to the Isle of Wight where he was approached, in December 1647, by Scottish nobles led by the Duke of Hamilton. The meeting resulted in  `The Engagement`, which was an ill advised attempt to recover his English Crown by force using Scottish troops; and an end to all aspirations at Preston in August 1648. Charles` end on the executioner`s block was now a political  inevitability.

  Charles II King of Scotland Feb 1649 - Sep 1651

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