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Old November 11th, 2012, 06:49 PM   #21

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Charles I tried the impossible, to impose the divine right of kings and the Anglican Church on a people who would not accept it. The reigns of Mary and Elizabeth illustrate a divide in English religious beliefs. Many clung to Catholicism even under Elizabeth and the Anglican Church was seen by Puritans as an English translation of Catholicism. Elizabeth managed by using Nationalism as her Tilbury speech shows. Spain and Catholicism became one in many English minds and Charles appeared to be selling England out.
Apart from religion there was a rise in the middle class. This was not the same middle class that would arise in Victorian times but second tier landholders, the country squires. Under Elizabeth the middle class had come to be accepted as holding some say in the country's affairs. This, in his stiff adoption of divine right, Charles did not see was a challenge to them, and his treatment of parliament showed his intractability.
His other traits, such as duplicity, have already been covered.
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Old November 12th, 2012, 06:01 AM   #22
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He was living in - and trying to boss - a world that included elements he didn't understand and couldn't see, like the Providence Island Company, for instance. An inadequate picture of the world means you constantly stub your toe on reality, and if you insist on stumbling around in the past, the present may cut your head off.
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Old November 30th, 2012, 06:55 AM   #23

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Charles I failed to take the recomendations from his PR Company.

Even William I (The Conqueror) was able to convince those around him he had taken their advice (we know with 20/20 hindsight he took no notice but that is our advantage) which is why Henry I had to sign a charter, to say he would behave like his Father, and William II had had an arrow through him for failing to be seen to take advice.

Hence King John was forced to be within the Law, by a Charta that was based on Henry's.

And Edward I made matters worse for all following Monarchs by starting his own PR company called the House of Lords.

From that point for all English Monarchs it was ask the Lords and Commons before raising Taxes, but then Charles didn't seem to think this counted any more, was being decended from the Scottis thronne anything to do with it, that absolutism ruled.

Had he heard of the Empress Matilda, she got short shrift when she started to treat those around her as minions, like the Holy Roman Emperor did?

Charlie didn't hit the ground running, and leverage the situation with a value proposition whilst running an idea up the flagpole and seeing if anyone saluted.

Now a good PR company would have got him sorted, and told him what to do?
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Old November 30th, 2012, 07:16 AM   #24
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May I post a Newbie's reactions?
Charles firmly believed in his divine rights as king, and that he had the right to run the country as he saw fit. The motto "God and my right", referring to the monarch's divine right to govern is still the motto of the British Monarch. He waged war on Spain in 1625 and lost, and then lost against France in 1628. In 1629, Charles locked MP's out of Parliament for over a decade.

In the 1620's to 1640's England was generally skint, and in 1634 Charles extended Ship Money ( an unpopular tax without consent from Parliament) from coastal towns to throughout the country.

Charles's extravagant spending and his attitudes to parliament were just two of the reasons we had civil wars in England and why he lost his head at the London Banqueting House.

There's an informative web site about the causes of the English Civil wars here: Charles the First and Parliament, 1625-29

Last edited by John Paul; November 30th, 2012 at 07:48 AM.
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Old November 30th, 2012, 09:58 AM   #25
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Can I offer you a documentary link on this subject? Well worth watching and from a trusted source; Simon Schama's BBC documentary gives great insight in to Charles's reign and his unwise decisions . 1603 - History of Britain - Simon Schama - BBC television - YouTube
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Old December 1st, 2012, 08:51 AM   #26

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I would politely point out that Schama's opinion on this subject should be taken with a liberal dose of salt, especially when he talks about Cromwell: the only good thing Schama could say about him was that he allowed Jews back into England, and he over-simplifies Cromwell's actions and reactions re: Ireland and Scotland. (Schama has a consistent bias against England, for whatever reason).

But never mind. Absolutism was not dead in Europe: it continued in France until it provoked a revolution, remember? And likewise in Russia, in 1917.

Plus, we have the fact that Charles was not, actually, attempting absolute rule or absolute right of kings. He was, in fact, attempting to restore the balance of power between the monarchy and parliament, plus religion, back to the state it was in during Edward VI's time.

But times had changed, and by nature, Parliament would be on its guard against both "Popishness" and any attempt by the monarch to encroach upon or steal its power. Any such attempt would connect "Popishness" and royal tyranny whether they were actually connected or not. This is exactly what happened: Archbishop Laud's heavy handed "reforms" coupled with Charles' increasingly imperious actions quickly associated the king with Catholicism, Catholicism with anti-parliamentarianism. (There's a word for you!).

Charles certainly was an intractable character who was reasonably intelligent but who, like most kings, had an over inflated opinion over his own importance. In fact, the Stuarts generally seemed to produce wily kings followed by less circumspect ones: James I certainly deserved the description of "Wily", as did Charles II.

The ultimate point I'd like to make is this: the English Civil War (or revolution, if you prefer) was the consequences of the failure during Elizabeth I's time to resolve the religious position of England. Her compromise, ("I have no wish to make windows into men's souls"), whilst lauded today because it espouses what we call "tolerance", but which was a complete anachronism for the 16th and 17th centuries: Elizabeth's way was typical prevarication and it pleased no-one: not Catholic enough for the Catholics, not Protestant enough for the Puritan and Protestant types. This was bound to cause trouble in the future.

In the face of rising Puritanism and the increasing complexity of society, parliament was becoming more important in decision making, and the monarch less and less relevant. However, the English (and, later, British) monarchy survived not because of its usefulness, but because it bent with the wind. Charles failed utterly to do just that. In fact, if he had, he'd not have been executed, since this was very much a last resort and the signatories to his execution order mostly did it with great reluctance.

But in the face of Charles' recalcitrance, there was, as I wrote years ago in an essay, nothing else to do but kill the king.
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Old December 1st, 2012, 09:50 AM   #27

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Good post; interesting point about Elizabeth's treatment of the religious question - but did she prevaricate, or deliberately choose a middle road, remaining satisfied with outward conformity? True, it didn't please the extremists on either side, but did eventually settle down as the English way.
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Old December 1st, 2012, 10:21 AM   #28

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I believe that she prevaricated. It is heresy to make negative statements about Elizabeth, since she acquired feminist idol status (something she'd have resented very much, I don't doubt). The reason I say that is because she prevaricated over most things and her own counsellors were driven to distraction over it.

Marriage and the succession? Prevaricate (admittedly, this wasn't an easy issue). Even the Spanish Armada was only "dealt with" (mostly by the weather) when it was almost too late. Doing nothing was Elizabeth's defence mechanism, and it was (a) not surprising and (b) highly effective, since she lived through the reigns of another 4 potentially hostile wives of her father, plus the reign of Mary, Edward, and Lady Jane Grey, all of whom could have had her topped. She sensibly kept her head down, stayed neutral and didn't give an opinion. This, largely, became a habit. Her protestantism was surely vital in order to legitimise herself: if she'd become a Catholic, she'd condemn herself as a bastard in very short order, so she had little choice over this. And, to be fair, sometimes doing nothing was the best thing to do. But not, I believe, in this case.

She surely knew that her middle way would satisfy no-one. Plenty told her so, and the number of (influential) voices calling for religious tolerance and moderation in England were few and becoming fewer by the time of Charles I.

That's not to blame things on Elizabeth, merely a case of cause and effect and the increasing tension between Monarch and Parliament, whereas prior to this, the battle had been between Church and State.

Well, it did sort itself out in the end, but an awful lot of bloodshed and confusion happened before that.
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Old December 1st, 2012, 10:31 AM   #29

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I know she prevaricated in many things, but I'm inclined to think that she chose the middle way in religion because that was the form of religion that she liked, as opposed to the more rigorous (puritanical, iconoclastic) Protestantism that had been favoured under Edward VI. Personally I hate Puritan religion, which is narrow, intolerant and has no sense of beauty, so I can respect her for that, and I'm glad that the middle way won out - after a dose of Puritan rule! After all, the Puritans did have their chance, and that didn't settle matters either.
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Old December 1st, 2012, 11:20 AM   #30

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Well, the Puritans were a relatively small group, albeit mostly in the South East. Had they been anywhere else, probably, they'd never have been anything but a sect of some sort. But the Puritan adherence to Parliament pretty much spelled out their undoing: the fact that they were a minority obviously, ultimately, did for them in the very Parliament they believed in so fervently.

In all fairness to the Puritans, it is to them who we owe much of modern life we take for granted. OK, so now they're known as a load of misery gutted, humourless God freaks, but back in their times, the average Catholic was scarcely any less strict and severe: modern stereotype still maintains that Catholics are like that.

But Puritanism was tempered slightly by Humanist tendencies, and the modern form of marriage (where one marries for love and with mutual consent and for the wife to be a companion rather than a career move or brood mare) was mainly down to the Puritans.

Modern childrearing habits and the notion of self and self improvement were mainly down to Puritan ideas. Puritans were amongst the first to see childhood as a distinct phase where the child's future character CAN be formed with right instruction, as opposed to more traditional notions of childhood being an animalistic phase, and one's character being the result of God's will. Oddly, Puritans both feared and hated the state of childhood, but took an intense interest and concern in their children's development. This new age of introspection led to the first toys and books specifically for children, and diary keeping was a common habit amongst Puritans.

Modern notions of work ethics, prudence, independence and all the scaffoldings many deem to be of the state of "liberty" (I have my doubts) were mainly Puritan.

But their earnest attempt to create a new society could not be achieved for much of the same reasons many Marxist states have failed: they retained too much of the apparatus of the old state/ruling class. It was, most likely, doomed to failure.
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