Charles I made numerous mistakes throughout his reign that led to a civil war within England and ultimately led to his death in January of 1649. As a ruler who believed in the Divine Right of Kings, Charles choose to rule without parliament and introduced new taxes to fund his rather pointless wars with Spain and Scotland.  He made personal and political decisions that upset his people. Oliver Cromwell questioned his power and led the Roundheads in rebelling against the Kings Cavilers. Charles I caused tyranny within England by marrying the Catholic Princess Henrietta Maria of France, by introducing new taxes that frustrated the people to fund needless wars, and by dismissing parliament causing 11 years of tyranny. Charles was definitely an oppressed ruler and led England as a dictator throughout his reign and by not working to please the people or parliament he was put to death on January 30th 1649 for high treason.

Charles I alarmed English officials by marrying the Catholic Princess Henrietta Maria of France. This was a political move to form an alliance between the English and French against Spain as she was a common link between the two countries. This marriage was always looked upon as suspicious as the Princesses religion always proved in being helpful to Charles:

“He valued her opinions and advice, but because she remained a practicing Roman Catholic, her influence was viewed with extreme suspicion: several prominent courtiers converted to Catholicism and a papal representative was received in England for the first time since the Reformation. When the King needed money to finance the Bishops’ Wars (1639-40), the Queen raised funds by appealing to English Catholics” (“Queen Henrietta Maria 1609-69”).

With each decision that Henrietta was involved in, the protestant population feared that the princess was behind a conspiracy against England. Her influence on English politics made parliament fear the worst and they even planned to remove Henrietta from a position of political power. Knowing that the population would fear a return to Roman Catholicism with a Catholic princess present, Charles still went ahead in marrying Princess Henrietta. This was a decision that would clearly upset the people as they wanted England to be Protestant. Not only did he marry Henrietta, he allowed her to make political decisions and affect the running’s of the country. People would naturally assume that her presence was there to change the religious policies of the country. Charles should have taken action to assure the mob she was not conspiring a plan against England. However, because he was such a firm believer in the Divine Right of Kings, no one deserved to question his decision to marry a Catholic. We can be shown he is a tyrant through this event as he was not working to ensure the population felt confident in his abilities as King. He did not earn or deserve this power, he was abusing it.

Charles found many other ways to abuse his absolute power as king. He introduced new taxes such as the Ship tax where everyone, even people who did not live along the shore line, had to pay for protection from the English military in times of war. Parliament had been dismissed, and therefore, there were no available funds for Charles to continue his wars with Spain and Scotland. These taxes provided him with the money that he needed, but were illogical and it would have been apparent to him that reintroducing these taxes would upset the people, “The revival and its enforcement as a general tax by Charles I aroused widespread opposition and added to the discontent leading to the English Civil Wars” (“Facts about Charles I– Britannica Online Encyclopedia”). He continually made decisions that people would not have agreed with and added to the division of the country between the royalists and those who supported parliament. He continued to cause oppression within England even though it was common knowledge that a rebellion or civil war may be on the rise.

King Lear Plot Summary (Act I-III)

Not only was a civil war about to begin, but England was committed to many other wars that were rather pointless. Charles had committed to a war against Spain and miserably failed which did not necessarily help his already bad image, “Charles was a failure in war with Spain, his ministers were widely hated… Charles failed where good Queen Bess had so spectacularly succeeded” (“English Civil War – Charles I”). The fact that a previous ruler of England had succeeded in beating the Spanish only portrayed Charles in a more negative light. After such a bad loss, it would have been wise to take a break and allow the country to become stable and form a stronger army. However, he continued to commit England to wars his people did not believe in. These actions definitely would have undermined the government’s authority if they had existed, but Charles had already misused his absolute power and dismissed them for the third time.

Not only was England committed to a war against Spain, but also with the Scotts. Charles I had very strong and radical views on religion and he tried forcing these views onto the Scottish people, “The people of Scotland refused Charles’ religious viewpoints, and threatened to rise up against the king. Looming war in Scotland left the King with an even greater need for money” (“Charles I and Personal Rule”). Charles was unjustly using his power to push his radical views onto the people of Scotland when his own economy could not sustain a war. He could have easily avoided this war, but it seems as though he did not care about the reciprocations that would happen as a result. He believed, as a “God on earth”, that his ideas were ideal and wanted others to share the same thoughts. He was exercising his absolute power and was not focusing on things within his own country such as the unhappy people who were being heavily taxed. These poor decisions were obviously upsetting the people as there was no parliament to influence and rationalize Charles’ decisions. Thoughts of rebellion and charging the King for high treason were in the air.

Treason is described as the offense of acting to overthrow one’s government (“Treason | Define Treason”). Charles overthrew parliament and did not allow his country to have a government system. He began to run England as a tyrant, making decisions that were not in the best interest of the people. He made bad choices during this time that made him unable to rule with absolute power:

“Without Parliament to grant legal taxes, Charles was obliged to raise income by obscure and highly unpopular means including forced loans, the sale of commercial monopolies and, most notoriously of all, ship-money. Along with Charles’ controversial religious policies, these measures alienated many natural supporters of the Crown, including powerful noblemen” (“King Charles the First 1600-1649”).

If he had discovered a more realistic way to make money and did not have outrageous religious policies he would have been able to run the country more smoothly as an absolute ruler. However, he needed parliament to supply him with money so he could take away ridiculous taxes and regulate policies to make his people happy. Towards the end of his reign as the sole leader of England, there was tyranny throughout the country and an uprising of a member of parliament who would try to over through Charles, Oliver Cromwell.

Dead Man Walking & Catholic Teachings

Cromwell, a member of parliament, formed an army to rebel against Charles and put an end to the tyranny within England. The Roundheads, led by Oliver, believed change was needed, and allowed England the freedom they deserved, “Cromwell helped to bring about the overthrow of the Stuart monarchy, and, as lord protector, he raised his country’s status once more to that of a leading European power” (“Oliver Cromwell– Britannica Online Encyclopedia”). Cromwell had released the people from Charles I’s reign where he was constantly making decisions that were unpredictable and not in the favor of the people. Being the stubborn tyrant that he was, he refused to work with government and would not compromise with them. A statement was made where Charles was described as, “A tyrant, traitor and murderer; a public and implacable enemy to the Common wealth of England” (“The Trial and Execution of Charles I”). It became relevant to the courts that Charles had not been working to help the people and was impairing the well being of the state by causing confusion and frustration.

Charles I caused tyranny within England by marrying the Catholic Princess Henrietta Maria of France, by introducing new taxes that frustrated the people to fund needless wars, and by dismissing parliament causing 11 years of tyranny. He made decisions that upset the people and did not justify them because he was such a strong believer in the Divine Right. His decision to marry a Catholic princess and his outrageous religious policies had alarmed the mob. By committing England to many needless wars and reintroducing illogical taxes, he put financial stress on the general population and his choice to dismiss parliament left him with no one to support or help him in the decision making process. It was necessary for Charles I to be removed from power and executed in order for England to become the worldly power they once were.

Works Cited

“Charles I – The slide to war.” History on the Net Main Page. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 May. 2010. <>.

“Charles I and Personal Rule: The Events Preceding the English Civil War of the 1640s.” UK/Irish History. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 May 2010. <>.

“English Civil War – Charles I.” Boise State University. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 May. 2010. <>.

“Facts about Charles I: promotion of ship money tax, as discussed in ship money (English history): — Britannica Online Encyclopedia.” Encyclopedia – Britannica Online Encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 May 2010. <>.

“King Charles the First 1600-1649.” British Civil Wars, Commonwealth and Protectorate, 1638-60. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 May 2010. <>.

“Oliver Cromwell (English statesman) — Britannica Online Encyclopedia.” Encyclopedia – Britannica Online Encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 May 2010. <>.

“Queen Henrietta Maria 1609-69.” British Civil Wars, Commonwealth and Protectorate, 1638-60. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 May 2010. <>.

“The Trial and Execution of Charles I.” History Learning Site. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 May 2010. <>.

“Treason | Define Treason at” | Find the Meanings and Definitions of Words at N.p., n.d. Web. 6 May 2010. <


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