List of entries |  Feedback 
  More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)

More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)
Charles I

King of England, Scotland and Ireland from 1625; second surviving son of James I and Anne of Denmark; married in 1625 Henrietta Maria, sister of the French king Louis XIII.

Charles became heir to the throne when his elder brother Henry died in 1612. In 1623 he travelled incognito to Spain with his father's favourite, the duke of *Buckingham, in the hope of marrying the Spanish princess Maria, sister of Philip IV. But the projected alliance failed, causing the French marriage to be adopted as an alternative two years later.

The history of Charles's reign was one of increasing hostility between himself and parliament. He retained the intensely unpopular Buckingham as his chief minister and twice dissolved parliament (in 1626 and 1628) to forestall attempts to impeach him. The next parliament, which passed motions criticizing the king's own conduct, was dismissed in 1629. Charles then ruled for 11 years without parliament. But he summoned two parliaments in 1640 when urgently in need of funds after the opposition to *ship money and his defeat in Scotland by the *Covenanters. It was his relationship with the second of these parliaments, the *Long Parliament, which led to the *English Civil War and to his own eventual capture in 1647.

In January 1649 he was put on trial in Westminster Hall, charged with high treason as the personal cause of England's troubles. He refused to plead, denying that a king could legally be tried by such a court. On January 30 he was beheaded on a scaffold erected in Whitehall, in front of Inigo Jones's *Banqueting House. He was succeeded by his son *Charles II, though it was another 11 years before he was able to ascend the throne.

Charles was among the most civilized of British monarchs. He built up one of the best collections of paintings in Europe (dispersed in the Commonwealth), and was a patron of *Rubens and in particular of Van *Dyck – in whose portraits the king, the queen and their courtiers retain a living presence unmatched in any reign before or since.

A  B-BL  BO-BX  C-CH  CI-CX  D  E  F  G  H  IJK  L  M  NO  P  QR  S-SL  SM-SX  T  UV  WXYZ