Charles and Parliament, 1625-29

In 1625 Charles was eager for money to pursue the war against Spain, and he felt confident about the reaction of Parliament and being granted a parliamentary subsidy that he decided to recall the body of 1624. When informed it automatically dissolved after the death of James he issued the writs for a new one. Charles seriously believed a new Commons would be as co-operative as that of 1624. Parliament wanted to demonstrate its loyalty to the new king, and thus two subsidies were granted - an inadequate sum of around £140,000. Against precedent, Charles asked for more; this set the scene for doubts and issues about the French marriage, Mansfield's expedition and foreign policy that had emerged since the 1624 session to be brought up. MPs favoured a quick adjournment as there was an outbreak of plague in London. They had to vote tonnage and poundage first. With only a quarter of MPs present, Parliament decided to make a one year temporary grant to give time for full discussion of its reform. The Commons were also concerned about impositions [11], and keen not only to make reforms that would require parliamentary sanction to existing impositions, but also prevent the king granting any more.

[11. Impositions: Additional customs duties, levied without parliamentary consent, that dated by to the reign of Mary Tudor, who first levied them as part of the royal prerogative. John Bate challenged the duties on imported currants in 1606, his argument being that they levies were illegal as they had not been ratified by Parliament. However the judge in the Bate's Case ruled in favour of the King, citing the royal prerogative power to regulate trade. Impositions provided a significant part of the early Stuart Kings' revenue until they were declared illegal in 1641.]

Charles was deeply offended at the temporary grant of tonnage and poundage, particularly as the Lords refused to pass the bill. Charles continued to collect tonnage and poundage without parliamentary sanction, arguing he could not give up almost half his income when facing a major war. The King adjourned Parliament and ordered it to reassemble in Oxford. Attention focused on Buckingham, who the Commons accused of incompetence. Interpreting Parliament's attack on Buckingham as an attack on royal authority, Charles dissolved the assembly. Sentiments of both Charles and Parliament were soured already; the King felt betrayed and could not comprehend why the Commons would not provide financial support for a war against Spain they had already approved. Charles was convinced the failure was due to a group of ringleaders in Parliament who were bent on undermining his authority; if they could be removed, Charles reasoned, a harmonious session would ensue. Conversely, Parliament failed to understand why Charles would not follow procedure and settle grievances in return for subsidy. In autumn 1625 the expedition to Cadiz failed; Charles and Buckingham continued to make military preparations though. Desperate for money, Charles secured a loan against the Crown Jewels and decided to summon Parliament in 1626. This time Charles made efforts to influence the elections and remove malcontents such as Wentworth, Coke and Seymour. The move failed as other men moved into their place in the Commons. In a conference of Puritans and Arminians, held at York House before Parliament met, Buckingham expressed his favour for Arminianism. This stimulated antipathy towards the favourite in Parliament, the Commons already heated after the failure of the Cadiz expedition. Following the custom of blaming the counsel rather than the king himself, the Commons chose Buckingham as its scapegoat for England's dismal performance in foreign affairs. Charles responded forcefully, asserting his divine right and Parliament's existence only because of his will:

"Remember that parliaments are altogether in my power for their calling, sitting and dissolution. Therefore, as I find the fruits of them good or evil, they are to continue or not to be."

The Commons were not deterred by Charles' rhetoric, beginning preparations for an impeachment of Buckingham. Charles could not be sure the Lords would dismiss the case and thus dissolved Parliament. This left Charles in a dire financial situation; with huge war expenditure of around £1 million and no additional revenue other than captured French ships. In 1625 Charles had levied a forced loan [12] on his wealthier subjects; in 1626 the government decided to levy the forced loan once again, but now on all those who were required to contribute to the subsidy.

[12. The Forced Loan: This practice was well established under Elizabeth, but they were far from popular as during the latter part of her reign they were not repaid. Charles I imposed a forced loan in 1626 to

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