Tag Archives: King Charles I

The Grand Remonstrance

00pym2.jpgAside from the fact that spelling remonstrance is not straight forward its an interlude that heads me off in the direction of the English Civil War.

The Bishop’s War of  March 1639 and its renewal in August 1640 culminating in the Treaty of Ripon meant that Charles I had to call Parliament because he had finally run out of cash despite his best efforts to raise taxes through every other means possible. It wasn’t long before the earl of Strafford who had led the army was in the Tower and by spring 1641 Archbishop Laud was there as well.

The atmosphere was became more tense with the failure of Common Law to condemn Stafford.  Charles was pressured into signing a bill of attainder against Strafford and the earl was executed on May 12th even though Charles I had sent his son to plead for the peer’s life.  At the same time as Parliament was exacting its punishment on the earl, John Pym had also reveal the details of the first so-called Army Plot which allegedly involved Royalist army officers seeking to force Parliament to do the king’s bidding.  Whilst affairs were difficult there was some movement and it appeared that having resolved to summon Parliament every three years and declared Ship Money as an illegal tax that Crown and Parliament might have come to some kind of accommodation.

Unfortunately in October 1641 the Irish rose in rebellion (I’m not going to get side-tracked by the roots of the rebellion or the fact that this unhappy chapter was the start of many more.)  It’s estimated that some 15,000 men, women and children died.  Initially Catholic rebels put Protestants to the sword but the sectarian violence spiralled when the Protestants took their revenge on their Catholic neighbours.  Those who did not die by violence were left homeless and without food – so many more succumbed to starvation and exposure.  In part the whole horrible affair had been triggered by the late earl of Strafford who encouraged Protestant plantation, irritated the local Catholic nobility and employed what can only be described as bullyboy tactics.

In England there was a move to supply an army to go and put the rebellion down – the enemy was seen as being on the doorstep.  King Charles found that he was a bit more popular than he had been in previous years.  In Parliament, John Pym (pictured at the start of this post), Charles’ old adversary was less convinced.  He believed that Charles was ultimately sympathetic to the Catholic rebels.  It didn’t help when a document to this effect was circulated.  It was neither here nor there that the document expounding the king’s support had in fact been forged by Irish rebels.  Pym now took the opportunity to stop the provision of money and arms for the king to make war upon his unruly Irish subjects and instead to attack the king and his perceived abuses of power.

Parliament was not united behind John Pym when he outlined the content of his Grand Remonstrance which was effectively an outlining of Parliaments case against the Crown.  Ultimately, Parliament passed it by only eleven votes being accepted by 159 MPs.  Essentially three groups of people were seen as having caused the nations problems – Catholics who’d had their heads turned by Jesuit propaganda (Charles’ queen,  Henrietta Maria was a partial target here)  Catholic leaning clergy like Laud who wanted music with their church services and stone altars and the usual scapegoat – bad advisers. It then went on, in great detail, to outline everything that had gone wrong in Charles’ reign since 1625 and demanding the right to choose the king’s advisers in future – in essence it was a challenge on the king’s power to rule absolutely. If Pym had succeeded at this point, power would have rested in Parliament’s hands and Charles would have become the first constitutional monarch.

Charles, not unsurprisingly rejected the document. It had the effect of sending some moderate parliamentarians into the king’s camp but when it was printed and circulated in London it resulted in riots.

The Constitution Society have very helpfully placed a complete copy of the text of the Grand Remonstrance online for those of you who wish to read through it in its entirety covering the disasters of foreign policy to illegal taxation. http://www.constitution.org/eng/conpur043.htm

 

They have also provided Charles’ response.

http://www.constitution.org/eng/conpur045.htm

Relations between King and Parliament would deteriorate rapidly after the Grand Remonstrance and it wouldn’t be long before Charles attempted to arrest John Pym but arrived at Parliament to discover that his “bird had flown” and that the population of London were up in arms.  Charles would go from making one mistake to the next on a road that would ultimately lead to the raising of the royal standard in Nottingham in August 1642.

Harris, Tim (2014) Rebellion: Britain’s First Stuart Kings. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

 

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Princess Elizabeth (Stuart)

 elizabethPrincess Elizabeth was born on 28 December 1635.  She was the second daughter of King Charles I and Queen Henrietta Maria.  The princess, a sickly child, died in her fifteenth year after being caught in a shower on the bowling green at Carisbrooke Castle. Her sad end completed the turmoil of her life. She was a prisoner of Parliament, albeit a well cared for one, from the age of six along with her brother Prince Henry – Duke of Gloucester until her death.

Parliament ensured the children were educated as befitted their rank and Elizabeth demonstrated a flair for languages and religion while she was separated from her family. Numerous academics took to dedicating books to the princess and there are accounts of her growing beauty.  In addition, she was known within her family for her tolerance and kindness.  This fairy tale princess didn’t see her father from 1642 until 1647. Elizabeth and two of her brothers spent two days with the king but then he fled to the Isle of Wight. This ultimately led to his trial and execution. Henry and Elizabeth were permitted to see their father for one last time without hope of any happy ever afters.   Elizabeth, aged thirteen wrote an account of the meeting that ought to move the hardest of hard-hearted Parliamentarians which was found with her possessions after her death. “He told me he was glad I was come, and although he had not time to say much, yet somewhat he had to say to me which he had not to another, or leave in writing, because he feared their cruelty was such as that they would not have permitted him to write to me.”  The king had to ask whether Elizabeth would be able to remember everything he said to her because she was crying so hard but she assured her father she would remember everything – clearly she wrote it all down in order to help keep her promise to her father.  It is from this source we see that Charles was aware of the role that some Parliamentarians might have had in mind for his captive son. “Heed, my child, what I say: they will cut off my head and perhaps make thee a king. But mark what I say. Thou must not be a king as long as thy brothers Charles and James do live; for they will cut off your brothers’ heads when they can catch them, and cut off thy head too at the last, and therefore I charge you, do not be made a king by them.’ At which my brother sighed deeply, and made answer: ‘I will be torn in pieces first!’ And these words, coming so unexpectedly from so young a child, rejoiced my father exceedingly.”

Prince Charles, the penniless eldest son of King Charles I who’d sought refuge n the Low Countries was now a penniless king in the Low Countries but Parliament could not rest easy especially when the aforementioned king arrived in Scotland in 1650 and got himself crowned King of Scotland. Elizabeth was now an important pawn in a desperate political game. She was moved from the English mainland to Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight where her father had been imprisoned and where he’d failed to escape not once but twice. The Princess was not well when Parliament ordered this move but Parliament did not heed her pleas to be left alone. According to legend she was caught in a shower on the bowling green and this led to a chill which in turn led to pneumonia but it is possible that she was already ailing.

(c) Carisbrooke Castle Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

(c) Carisbrooke Castle Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation.

Romantic accounts say that Elizabeth was discovered with her head resting on a Bible which her father had given her during their last meeting. It was this story that the Victorian artist Cope recorded in his picture “The Royal Prisoners.” The picture in this blog was accessed from http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/paintings/the-royal-prisoners-16672 (14th July 2015 at 20:01).  In the image Prince Henry and a guard discover the dead princess with her head on the open Bible and a miniature of her father in her hands.  Her learning is signified by the books around her and her love of music in the lute that is also pictured.  The open bird-cage is symbolic of the flight of Elizabeth’s soul.  Henry’s hands are clutched in those of the guard who has dropped his still smouldering pipe.  Parliament quickly buried the princess in the parish church of Newport in a largely unmarked grave. She was rediscovered in 1793 during building works and was reburied with a plaque to mark her resting place. Prince Henry was finally released into the care of his family in 1652.

That might have been the end of it but in the next century Queen Victoria was horrified to discover that her distant relation had not received a burial befitting to a princess. The princess was disinterred from her resting place in St Thomas’s Church and a suitable monument erected. Whilst building work was being completed the mortal remains of the princess were kept in a locked shed. A local Doctor- Ernest Wilkins- decided that the skeleton should be examined in the interests of science. He deduced that the princess suffered from rickets and having made his research departed from the shed with a rib and some of the princess’ hair which shortly, to the horror of the citizens of Newport, found themselves on public display in a curio shop owned by a certain Mr. Ledicot according to the June edition of The Isle of Wight Life.

Ledicot refused to remove them from public display despite a deputation asking him to think of propriety. He changed his mind rather rapidly when he received a visit from a distinctly unamused Queen Victoria and Princess Beatrice who took the grisly artefacts no doubt amid much bowing and scraping. The rib was returned to Elizabeth’s grave but Victoria kept Elizabeth’s faded locks of hair, which can be seen in the Carisbrook Castle museum.

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Charles I in York

 

stwilliamscollegeyorkKing Charles I stayed in the King’s Manor, York in 1633 and again in 1639.  The building which had formerly been part of St Mary’s Abbey was in the aftermath of the Reformation turned into the residence of the President of the Council of the North. Charles’ father stayed there on his journey from Edinburgh to London.

The 1633 visit that Charles made followed his journey to Edinburgh to be crowned King Charles I of Scotland.  Six years later Charles arrived in York on his way to make war with the Scots because they refused to accept Archbishop Laud’s Prayer Book.  The resulting war, known as The Bishop’s War was ultimately a disaster for Charles.

The King’s Manor where he stayed on both these occasions  is now part of the University of York  but Charles’ coat of arms can still be seen above the door  near to the art gallery– but not seen in this blog because I focused on the bricks around it rather than the heraldry when I took my photograph (not once but thrice): don’t ask me why!

In any event York was to become the stage on which King Charles I played once more in March 1642.

Charles attempted to arrest five MPs  at the beginning of January 1642.  The unrest that followed disturbed him so much that the king fled with his family first to Hampton Court and from there to Windsor on the 10th January.

The Royal family split up soon afterwards.  Queen Henrietta Maria escorted her eldest daughter Princess Mary to Holland. Mary had married William of Orange the previous year. Charles accompanied his wife and daughter to Dover. It is said that the king was in tears when he said his farewells to Mary whom he never saw again. The queen, in addition to ensuring her daughter was settled into her new home also had other business in Holland.  She had a selection of the crown jewels in her luggage which she intended to sell in order to pay for men, munitions and weaponry as civil war looked inevitable.

 

Charles meanwhile travelled north to York with his court.  He remained there for the next six months.  What this effectively meant, given that Charles I governed by personal rule, was that if anyone wanted anything done that required the king’s attention then they had to travel to York.

York became England’s capital city if not in fact then in practice. A procession of officers of state, petitioners, foreign ambassadors and even a parliamentary committee arrived in the city to keep an eye on the king, although officially they were there to keep the channel of communications open. Unfortunately the king’s supporters were also gathering so occasionally the communications involved fisticuffs  as well as hard words.

 

A printing-press was set up in St. William’s College (more recently it featured in the recent adaptation of P.D. James’ Death Comes to Pemberly as the location for the trial scenes). The press enabled Charles to issue declarations and to send messages around the country in a bid to increase his support. The country was not at war yet but the war of words was well under way. Propaganda was an essential part of the war effort for both king and parliament.

 

As winter turned into spring  and then into summer more and more men arrived in York to offer their swords to their king. Other men came to the city in a bid to persuade Charles that negotiation with Parliament was the only way forward.

 

Charles held two important meetings in York; one in the castle on 12 May 1642 and the other on Heworth Moor on the 3rd June. Charles summoned over 70,000 lords and gentry of Yorkshire. Not everyone attending the meting was sympathetic to the Charles. Lord Ferdinando Fairfax petitioned the king to stop raising troops against Parliament and was virtually ridden over for his pains when the king refused to accept the petition.

Events took yet another turn for the worse when Hotham (who was Governor of Hull) refused Charles entry to the city.

Fortunately for York although Charles talked about raising his standard which would in effect be a declaration of war on his own parliament he didn’t do so until August by which time he was in Nottingham.

 

The image in this blog depicts the gateway to St William’s College.

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