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From the Accession of Charles I., to the breaking out of
the Scotch troubles.
CHARLES I. was born at Dunfermline in Scotland, on the 19th of November, 1600, and, like Queen Elizabeth, was twenty-five years of age on his accession to the throne. In his youth he was weakly and self-willed, but strengthened his constitution by temperance, and gradually acquired much skill in bodily exercises. In consequence of a local defect, it was difficult for him to speak fluently, and he was so destitute of gracefulness and affability, that he was not able even to confer favours in an engaging manner. As he had not interfered in public affairs as Prince Royal, perhaps from obedience to his father, and had never expressed any decided opinions, most persons expected he would now act with double energy, and only a few attributed his former reserve to want of decision and firmness. The
who expressed the greatest apprehensions, was
the Palatine Ambassador, VOL. I.
Rusdorf: “If,” said he, “the new King trusts entirely to the direction of one man, and disdains sincere advice; if, like his father, he neglects business, gives ear to informers and calumniators, raises disputes with his people, and looks upon concession as disgraceful, he will become contemptible to his enemies, bring shame upon his friends, and entirely ruin the tottering state.”
At the beginning, however, the contrary of all this took place. The persons belonging to the new Court, were required to be strictly moral in their conduct; fools and buffoons, whom James loved to have about him, were kept at a distance; able men employed, and artists and men of learning encouraged. The King read and wrote several languages, possessed a knowledge of history, divinity, and mathematics, and a taste for all the fine arts. Though Charles was born in Scotland, the English considered him as one of their own countrymen, and his dignified deportment could not fail to please, when compared with the loquaciousness of James, and his predilection for unworthy favorites.
With respect to his projected marriage, there were different opinions. After the ill advised plan of marrying him to a Spanish Infanta, had not only been given up, but had led to an uncalled-for war, it appeared doubly necessary that Charles should strengthen himself by a closer alliance with France. The marriage contract with Henrietta Maria, sister
of Louis XIII., was concluded on the 10th of November, 1624, and a large dowry assigned her. Soon afterwards, Buckingham was commissioned to fetch the Princess from Paris. An immense number of very costly dresses, and a train of five or six hundred persons, manifested his vanity rather than the power and wealth of England. On the 22d of June, 1625, Charles, then twenty-six years of age, was married at Canterbury to Henrietta, who was then sixteen; and it was expected from the highly moral character of both, that the marriage would be happy. Soon, however, occasion for mutual complaint arose: in the first place, Henrietta thought that she had not been received with as much pomp and respect as was her due, and was angry that she was made to sleep in an old state bed of Queen Elizabeth's. Soon afterwards, she had a dispute with Buckingham, because he desired to force his wife's sister and niece upon her, and with the King, because he meddled in all, even the most trifling details of her domestic economy, On the other hand, Charles had reason to complain of the unkindness and violent temper of his wife.(1)
The Queen's own establishment was the chief cause of all these evils; it consisted, according to the marriage contract, entirely of French, and partly of bigoted Roman Catholics. These persuaded the King that her conscience would not allow her to
be crowned in the English manner, or to be present at various ceremonies; they unseasonably attempted to convert Englishmen to the Romish religion; interrupted Protestant worship in the King's absence; stigmatized him as a reprobate heretic, with whom the Queen ought to have nothing to do, and imposed foolish penances upon her, when she did not implicitly follow their directions. The King at length lost his patience, and, without regard to the stipulations of the marriage contract, dismissed the whole of the Queen's French household at once.(?) All of them, a hundred and twenty in number, hastened to seek redress of her, but found that the King had locked the door. When his Majesty informed her of the resolution which he had taken, she did not behave with more calmness than her attendants, she tore her hair, fell speechless on the floor, then sprung up with loud cries, dashed her head against the windows, and gave vent to her passion by other similar extravagancies. gradually appeased, and, in the sequel, contrary to all expectation, she not only lived in harmony with her husband, but her influence increased to such a degree, as to give rise to great complaints.(3)
These domestic and personal affairs of the court, which, in many states, acquire far too much importance, soon became totally insignificant in England, compared with the memorable development of political and ecclesiastical rights. To represent this
development in its wisdom and folly, its moderation and licentiousness, for the more correct appreciation of those times, is the main object of the following narrative.
The embarrassments of the Treasury, caused by the inconsiderate profusion of James, and the Spanish war which had been so rashly commenced, induced the King to summon his first Parliament on the 18th of June, 1625, at which ninety-seven Lords and four hundred and ninety-four Commoners were present. Charles, in his opening speech, briefly described the state of public affairs, spoke of the aid required for the war, and of his zeal for the Protestant religion. The Lord Keeper, Williams, having dwelt on these subjects at greater length, to which the speaker of the House of Commons returned a polite answer, adding a request for the “maintenance and preservation of the rights of Parliament,” the Lord Keeper again spoke, and said, “that with respect to the last point, the King confirmed all their privileges without exception, because he knew that the Commons would themselves punish any abuses."
Charles believed, that after such a confidential and satisfactory declaration, the Parliament would immediately proceed to fulfil all his wishes. He was therefore greatly astonished when it refused to grant more than two subsidies, that is, a sum wholly insufficient for his great and notorious wants, as