In Bohemia events exploded during 1618-19 when the nobility rebelled against the anti-Protestant Archduke Ferdinand and James' son-in-law Frederick of the Palatinate was offered the Bohemian crown. This was a decision of the greatest magnitude for European politics as it would have provided a Protestant majority in the electoral college of the Holy Roman Empire. James was against the move, but Frederick accepted. In 1620 Ferdinand defeated Frederick, and invaded the Palatinate, forcing the latter into exile. There was intense pressure on James to act in defence of Frederick; James however thought in terms of diplomacy with Spain and looked to influence the return of the Palatinate to Frederick. James was certain agreement could be reached if the Spanish match was sealed. James was wrong - the Spanish policy was merely a cunning delaying tactic to ensure England did not lend support to the United Provinces, where rebellion had resumed in 1621. James realised the negotiations might fail, and thus called Parliament in 1621 to ensure he had enough funding if military intervention was required.

The Parliament of 1621 did not receive James' indecisiveness well; furthermore the Commons wanted to lend assistance to Frederick but were not prepared to vote a large subsidy, given James' extravagance, trade depression and a bad harvest. James went against convention and requested Parliament discuss foreign policy. Parliament favoured alliance with the Dutch and a naval war against the Spanish - as Imperial forces in the Palatinate were financed by Spanish gold. James' favoured an alternative, more haphazard policy that involved attempting to coerce Spain, but if that failed an attempt to recover the Palatinate by force. James erred in not providing Parliament with full details of his intentions. Because of his plans for an anti-Habsburg (rather than an anti- Catholic) alliance the King avoided the religious dimension; the Commons were suspicious of the King's intentions and presented a petition prompting a Protestant policy and an end to negotiations with Spain. Frustrated, the King dissolved Parliament rather than amend his policy. The 1621 Parliament marks another watershed; the dissolution of the assembly provoked hostility to the Crown's foreign policy that intensified under Charles I.

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