Charles I's Controversial Dissolving Parliament Sparked the Civil War and LED to His Ultimate Demise

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Kishlansky’s A Monatchy Transformed suggests that there is a fine balance between monetary and religious policies and the relationship of the King and Parliament. When Charles I came to power after his father James I, the religious policies for Scotland were one of the first Charles I planned to address. Charles and William Laud, the Archbishop of Canterbury, were working to find a way to impose a uniform way of religious practices on the Scots. Laud wanted to create a prayer book that would bring about a single form of service in Scotland and bring it in line with the English practices (132). This task was give to a committee of bishops and took almost three years. The Scots strongly opposed this forced conformity and before the book was even officially published, had already organized themselves against it.

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While this opposition of the King and his policies was going on in Scotland, there was also uncertainty among Charles’ local magistrates. They believed they could not simply follow along with the royal government’s actions, they would have to scrutinize everything Charles I was doing before agreeing (137). The same distrust was mirrored in Charles about Parliament. From that point, the English government dealt with crisis after crisis. Charles I did not have the support or the resources to resolve them and as things worsened with the Scots, he had to decide whether to give up his pride and meet with Parliament or go ahead and make war on his own subjects (137).

The English government continued to grow apart. Charles I forced through the loan for ship money. This was strongly opposed by Parliament and only estranged them and the King more. Charles I was losing support with every decision. At this point, Charles could not rule effectively to withstand the crisis with the Scottish looming upon him (138). The Scottish privy council suspended the Canons and the prayer book in 1637. Now, Charles had two problems in Scotland. He did not have the influence in Scotland to induce his religious reform or the power over the people to enforce it (139). As the Scots continued to oppose Charles’ religious reforms, Charles I began to see their actions as rebellion.

The King sent John Stewart, Earl of Traquair, to Scotland to start negotiating with them, while he stayed in England and started to make plans with his privy council to start preparing for war. The border law was renewed, an army was raised, and ships were commandeered. The King ordered his other Scottish counsellor, Hamilton, to start a sea invasion, but the Scottish took were prepared. All English actions were aborted, however, without a single shot being fired and the First Bishops’ War ended. Both sides only saw this development as a cease fire and began preparing for the next war to begin (140).

In the face of the rebellion, Charles I called Parliament to session. Parliament dangled the money Charles needed in front of him, but it came with conditions that Charles was not willing to accept. He dismissed the Short Parliament after only two weeks. Soon after, the Scottish Convenanter army swept through the country and took control over much valuable English territory. This loss increased the demand for the Parliament to be called back and Charles did so. Long Parliament sat for the rest of the King’s life. No one could have predicted that religious reforms that started the war and desperation for money would lead to civil war and separation of the crown and Parliament in the future.

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