finance his foreign policy. The loan was a financial success for the Crown (it raised £230,000, more than three subsidies from Parliament). But the political price was high - 76 gentlemen were arrested for non- payment and Charles interfered with the legal system in the Five Knights' Case, removing a judge, to have the Forced Loan and their arrest and imprisonment declared legal.]

The Commons would later inform the King 'there were never any monies demanded and paid with greater grief and general dislike of all your faithful subjects.' The method of collection discouraged most from refusing to pay - over £260,000 was raised during a short period of time. The financial gains were small in comparison to the huge political ramifications. To many Englishmen such action went against the fundamental liberty of property rights; and if Englishmen's property was in danger, arbitrary government was being introduced. It followed what then of other liberties, especially those of Parliament? Charles' actions solidified these fears about absolutism [13]: the King imprisoned 26 people, including politicians, for non-payment, and dismissed the Chief Justice of the King's Bench when he refused to declare the loan legal.

[13. Absolutism: A form of government increasingly adopted by European monarchies from the early sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. In such states the power of the monarch was theoretically unlimited except by the checks of divine, natural or the king's own laws. Absolutism was justified in the writings of influential early modern European political theorists from Bodin and Bousset to Hobbes. In practice it was exemplified by Louis XIV and Frederick William of Brandenburg. In seventeenth century Britain scares of absolutist tendencies of the Stuart monarchs were frequent - though in reality at worst they were governing arbitrarily or without due concern for the opinions and 'rights' of Parliament.]

The Five Knights' Case [14] aroused yet more fears - Charles was not only levying taxation without consent, he was also imprisoning arbitrarily. Liberties in England during the mid-1620s seemed to be in threat. Furthermore there was billeting and martial law in the southern counties, the exclusion of religious dissidents from the universities and growing Arminianism in the Church of England, and popery at the Court. There was a real fear growing that Charles intended to sweep away liberties and establish a despotic state with a Catholic regime in the Church. Though far from Charles' intentions, the King was far too distanced from the opinion in his realm to appreciate the fears that were developing in response to his actions.

[14. Five Knights' Case, 1627: The case between the Crown and five knights who had been imprisoned for refusing to pay the Forced Loan Charles I imposed in 1626. They disputed the legality of their imprisonment, claiming it contradicted their rights (by virtue of Habeas Corpus) but the court found in favour of the King (even though Charles removed one of the judges for disagreeing with him).]

During 1628-9 tension between King and Parliament reached its height. Both the King and the House of Commons realised they had reached a point of crisis. One MP declared 'This is the crisis of parliaments. By this we shall know whether parliaments will live or die.' Charles made his position clear - either Parliament vote him subsidy and allay itself from pressing grievances, or he would 'according to my conscience, take these other courses which God hath put into my hands', in other words rule without Parliament. Such a measure was not desired by anyone; indeed the Privy Council attempted to provide for a good atmosphere - there were no exclusions from the Commons, Buckingham made efforts to reconcile himself to his political foes and the prisoners of the forced loan were released. This continued as the House of Commons immediately offered Charles the extraordinary amount of five subsidies and a life-long grant of tonnage and poundage. The session became heated when the Commons attempted to proceed on to their grievances, namely a guarantee for the liberties of the subjects.

In August 1628 Buckingham was assassinated. This was a turning-point in the early part of Charles' reign; henceforth critics of the Caroline government did not have an obvious scapegoat for their grievances and it became increasingly apparent that it was Charles, rather than any 'evil counsel' that was to blame for the direction of royal policies.

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