HIST3312 The British Civil Wars And Interregnum


What were the main motivating factors for Charles I’s execution in Paris?

What were the main concerns about Charles I’s trial and execution?

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Execution of Charles I

Charles I was elected to the English throne following the death of King James I in 1625.

Charles married Henrietta Maria, who was a Catholic French Princess in the very first year.

To deal with political opposition, he dissected Parliament on multiple occasions.

He decided, in 1629 to run the whole country without the support of parliament.

The first English civil conflict was triggered by the rivalry between Parliament and King for supremacy in 1642 (Wood 2015).

Oliver Cromwell commanded the parliamentarians in that war.

Cromwell’s Ironsides forces defeated the Royalist forces of the King at Marston Moor 1644 and at Naseby 1645.

Charles I was forced by his enemies to appear before a high-ranking court after the defeat.

He was convicted of treason, and sentenced.

The story suggests that Charles I was executed after he lost civil war to parliamentarians.

But the reasons for this execution are far more complicated (Randall, Donald 2016).

Two questions are required to answer in order to fully understand the circumstances surrounding Charles’ execution. These are “How did Charles I help to start Civil War in the year 1642?” and “Why did that lead to his execution?” The Civil War brokeout in England for several reasons.

But it is clear that Charles I was not responsible for all of them.

The most prominent example is the English state’s problems due to long-term structural difficulties (Holmes 2010 p.289).

These problems were not the cause of Civil War, but they created an atmosphere that required the outbreak.

The Three Kingdoms’ financial problems and deep religious differences created a tense atmosphere that could easily ignite.

It is also true, however, that Parliament was negative after Charles rose to the throne. (Lacey 2003.

The Parliament refused to grant Charles the tonnage and poundage that he was entitled to and also attacked royal prerogatives that were supporting Charles and demanded that he be granted all his rights.

Kelsey (2001: p.1) states that war could have been avoided if there was a better monarch.

Many of these issues existed even during the reigns Elizabeth or James.

Queen Elizabeth excelled at balancing different interest groups to maintain equilibrium.

James was on the other side, a great judge. He knew when he should push an issue and when people should go their own ways.

James was also always available to step down and engage in debate, negotiation, and persuasion.

Unexpectedly, Charles could not replicate James’s strengths.

Charles was therefore able to influence the onset of war in numerous ways.

Charles was not trusted by many, just as few people believed in him.

Particularly, parliamentary leaders had zero faith in him.

He became the least trustworthy person in England due to his violation of the Petition of Right, which he had agreed to in 1628. (Kelsey 2004 p.71).

He was, however, also gathering an army to deal with the government in Scotland while negotiating.

When he was captured in 1647 by parliamentarians, his main focus was on motivating uprisings across the country.

It is clear that such an individual is hard to work alongside.

Charles I, however, was uncompromising (Bonney, 2001. p.247).

He was not able to bend and did not consider that other people might be right.

He would only cause divisions in the areas that did not have them.

You can divide the factors into social, economic, or religious factors.

Economic Factor

The weak financial position of the English crown under Charles I was the greatest weakness.

The authority to tax any kind of income has been held by Parliament since centuries. Monarchs were not allowed to do so.

This clearly shows that Parliament is a key player in England’s political system and that the crows rely on them (Orr 2002).

This principle was deeply embedded in the English people’s minds.

Therefore, the monarch could not directly implement tax policies on the English people.

Charles’s financially innovative rules and regulations like Ship Money and Forest Fines were met with fierce opposition by the regime.

John Hampden was the most hostile to Charles’ ship money collection in 1637.

Charles and his supporters managed to collect the majority of the shipmoney that year.

That ship money was the most successful tax policy in Britain’s history over the years.

Charles’ decisions in religion were the major reason behind the Civil War that saw Charles executed.

Charles was believed to be a secret Catholic or Papist by most parliamentarians.

This was undeniably false.

He was a strong advocate of the Church of England established Church of England (Wedgwood, 2011).

He was, however, strongly inclined to the “right wing of the Church.”

He believed in various faiths, including the High Church, Laudian, and Arminian.

Charles was a person who advocated for a greater number of rituals, ceremonies, and ceremonies within the Church of England.

Charles, a wealthy, powerful clergyman, encouraged the practice of kneeling at the altar rails.

Bremer 2015 also states that Charles initiated frivolous sport activities after Sunday services.

The extreme Puritans did not like such “popish creativities.” However, the moderate Protestants weren’t happy with these decisions.

Charles I was also bitter about the topic of religion, which was viewed as God’s punishment.

Charles tried to force Laudian prayers on the peoples of Scotland.

This led to the Prayer Book Rebellion.

This may have led to the outbreak in Civil War in England.

Social Factor

In addition to the above reasons, there were also short-term factors that helped facilitate the English Civil war (Carlton2002).

These include the Irish Rebellion and the Army Plots as well as the attempt to kill the Five Members and Grand Remonstrance.

All of these factors are related to Charles I’s execution and are also connected to the English Civil Wars.

He understood the concept of Divine Right of Kings.

He misunderstood political traditions and the people.

Another mistake he made was to try to run the country without Parliament for over a decade.

Charles used several backdoor taxes in order to avoid the traditional practice of asking Parliament for approval before implementing any taxation policy (Sharp, 2001).

These taxes were used in a way and to an extent unheard of.

Charles used this method, provided there was no extraordinary disbursement.

He brought about several changes in religion that were perceived by many as a return to Catholicism from Protestantism.

Particularly, the Scots resisted these new rules and regulations.

Charles I started to build an army in order to manage the Scottish people.

But he couldn’t afford the costs of raising an army from his backdoor taxes.

After a long wait, he was forced to re-summon Parliament (Holmes 2007).

The members of parliament were unable to contain their anger after a decade of unresolved grievances.

Charles quickly dismissed his parliament.

Charles was still having problems with Scotland and needed money to fund an army.

So he called another parliament and the members showed more anger than their predecessors.

Political Factor

Charles declared war against parliament in the end and was defeated.

As the war progressed, the likely consequences became increasingly dire.

After a great deal of destruction, death and disruption, it became less likely that a peaceful settlement could be reached (Bremer (2015), p.105).

But, both sides tried to negotiate a method.

The process didn’t take place. Parliamentarians felt that Charles was not trustworthy enough to protect and rule them. How could they now?

Charles began a bloody civil war against the parliament and tried to instigate a peaceful settlement (Collins, 1974).

After he lost the war against the parliament, he tried to initiate a peace deal (Collins, 1974).

Charles also lost that battle and tried to start another peace agreement.

The events further influenced parliamentarians and made it difficult for them to trust Charles.

There were also personal reasons for certain parliamentary leaders like Cromwell and Ireton.

This was a situation where it was either die or go home.

The king was opposed by these people so often that they were afraid for their lives.

They feared that Charles would attempt to execute them if a negotiation process takes place (Sellin & Lacy 2000, page 242).

Pride’s Purge had effectively expelled all moderators.

Radicals were permitted to stay in the parliament.

This includes the New Model Army’s radical leaders.

Charles, who was a prisoner at the time, also initiated the Second Civil War.

During the second civil conflict, there were many uprisings across the nation.

Many times, those uprisings attempted to rescue King.

The geography and number of rebellions were so strong that parliamentarians would have difficulty dealing with them.

On the other side, the New Army was so powerful that they brutally crushed the rebellions.

The situation was so dire that parliamentarians realized again that Charles is not someone they can trust (Bremer, 2015).

Most historians believed that Charles caused the first English Civil War. Charles was therefore executed.

However, Mark Kishlansky and Kevin Sharpe believe that Charles’ execution and civil war was caused by parliamentarians.

There are two things that can be concluded after Charles was executed.

First, Charles’s untrustworthy and reckless policies were responsible for Charles’ execution.

It was two, the parliamentarians that refused to follow the king’s orders and executed him to take back the power.

But, it is clear that members of parliament tried to show their loyalty to King or to the office (Bonney 2001, p.247).

Since the beginning, parliamentarians have been devoted to serving the king.

They believed that “For King, Parliament” was the primary motto of the parliamentarians. However, Charles, the man accused of treason against his country, was brought to trial.

There are many theories about King Charles I’s trail and execution.

Some historians claim that the execution of King Charles I was orchestrated by parliamentarians.

Others believe Charles did not deserve this execution.

But, after analyzing the facts presented in this essay, it is clear that both historians are correct (Peacey, 2001).

Charles, on the one hand, ignored the supremacy parliament and attempted to make and enforce rules and regulations all by himself.

However, he also betrayed parliamentarians several times.

In the end, parliamentarians were unable to trust King Charles because of his constant betrayal (Randall 2016).

They also feared Charles’s death would ignite the flame of evolution again.

So they executed King Charles I.


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