Chapter 3
The Personal Rule, 1629–1640

The Road to Personal Rule

The policy of rule without parliament was not dreamt up in 1629. Charles had been talking about ‘new counsels’ since 1626; and these had first become a serious possibility after the watershed assembly of 1614 when the Commons’ intransigence over supply led James to dissolve parliament as a punishment. This had a profound effect on the political landscape. The whole future existence of parliaments was suddenly thrown into question – especially as 1614 was followed by James’s own ‘seven years’ personal rule’. The king’s councillors became divided between those who wanted him to go on ruling with parliaments and those who urged him to find money elsewhere; and the issue of popularity – and how far ‘factious spirits’ in the Commons constituted a threat to royal authority – was pushed up the political agenda.1 However, if the Personal Rule was a possibility from the middle of James’s reign, it still required several other things to happen before it became an established fact. The wartime conditions that made the crown so dependent on parliamentary subsidies had to change. The pro-parliament majority in council that continued to support a resummons, even in the difficult days of the forced loan, had to be reduced or, somehow, silenced.

1 C.S.R. Russell, The Addled Parliament of 1614: the Limits of Revision, Reading, 1992, pp. 13, 25–6; A. Thrush, ‘The personal rule of James i, 1611–20’, in Cogswell, Cust and Lake eds, Politics, Religion and Popularity, pp. 84–102; Cust, ‘Charles i, the privy council and the Parliament of 1628’, pp. 27–8.

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Charles I: A Political Life
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