The Age of Charles I

The Age of Charles I

The Age of Charles I

The Age of Charles I

Excerpt

This study of the Caroline period in England is a survey of English life during those years of the personal rule of Charles I which terminated in the Civil Wars. Under another aspect, it is an examination of the state of England in the decade when the Court of King Charles and his Queen was the centre of authority until this was submerged on the outbreak of the conflict. The period of rule without recourse to Parliament has particular significance, in that it provides an indication both of the authority of the Crown and the influence of the example of the sovereign. In spite of the presence of those forces which would in time precipitate a conflict, the dominant impression of the period is one of peace: internal peace in the sense that until the last years opposition was not manifest, and external peace because the King could not go to war unless he was prepared to call a Parliament, which alone could vote supplies. The last period of King James I and the first four years of the new reign had been dominated by the figure of the Duke of Buckingham, who belonged wholly to the Elizabethan tradition in its Jacobean guise. For this reason The Jacobean Age, to which this study is a sequel, ended with that favourite's assassination. With his death the little wars were over, and in the quiet time that followed it is possible to assess the consequences of the Tudor century.

In the first place, the results of the Elizabethan Settlement had largely worked themselves out. After seventy years, the impact of the Anglican tradition upon urban and rural life had profoundly modified the relations between the monarchy and wide sections of the people. The quality of authoritarian ecclesiastical thought and doctrine was peculiar to England, its influence on kingship was more explicit than was the custom in Catholic Europe. The note of reverence for the Throne, which is associated with the name of Dr Laud, suggested the attitude exhibited towards the Prince by Lutheran Consistories. In a sense it was these Lutheran affinities that aroused the intense dislike of those who traced their own descent to Knox or Calvin. In spite of King Charles' very careful foreign policy . . .

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