25 Historic Facts about King Charles I of England

Charles I was King of Great Britain and Ireland. The king who believed in the divinity of King’s power. He was sure that he alone could rule the country with the guidance of God. Moreover, his thirst for absolute power changed the country into Republic.

1. Charles I was the third child of James VI of Scotland and Anne of Denmark.

He was born on 19 November 1600.

2. He grew up in the shadow of his charming older brother Henry, Prince of Wales.

Brits had great hopes for the future of their country with Henry. However, those hopes were never fulfilled because Prince Henry died on the 8th of November in 1612. 

3. His father, king of Scotland James VI, became the King of England as James I in 1603. 

The death of his elder brother made Charles heir to the English throne.

4. As a child, Charles I was very shy and sullen.

Moreover, he remained like this for the rest of his life. This explains why he was not good at communicating with others. As a young king, he had poor communication skills; besides, he had a stammer.

5. In 1620, Charles became very close to his father’s favorite person, George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham.

Duke of Buckingham managed to be a favorite of both father and son: after the death of James I, he became one of the closest associates and advisers of Charles I.

6. In the last years of his reign, King James I had plans for an alliance with Spain and wanted to marry his son to a Spanish Princess.

Charles I thoughtlessly followed the advice of Buckingham; he frustrated his father’s plan of a dynastic marriage with the Spanish infant and forever became a staunch enemy of Spain.

7. In 1625, James I died and Charles became sole king.

At first, many people liked the young king: he had a graceful appearance, had excellent manners, and was educated, loved sports and painting.

8. Charles I wanted to end the remnants of former freedom and finally strengthen the autocratic monarchy.

Like his father, Charles was a staunch supporter of an absolute monarchy. He regarded parliament only as an auxiliary instrument of the state machine.

9. At the first meeting of Parliament, the king demanded subsidies for the war with Spain.

However, the deputies were more interested in taxes and religious problems. A series of conflicts began. Moreover, Charles I dissolved Parliament. 

10. Charles I twice dissolved the Parliament and collected taxes autocratically.

Not receiving enough money, Charles I was forced to reconvene Parliament and approve the «petition of rights.”

11. Charles married the French Princess Henrietta Maria.

Henrietta Maria was Charles I's wife
King Charles I’s wife Henrietta Maria by Van Dyck,1632.

Despite the bad start of the marriage, the marriage with Henrietta Maria resulted in a warm relationship and love, and the birth of children brought him deep satisfaction.

12. Buckingham, who had a great influence on Charles I was killed in 1628.

An officer named Felton killed the Duke at Portsmouth. The king was deeply saddened-unlike others, who did not hide their joy.

13. Being angry at the “petition of right” and overt rejoicing at Buckingham’s death, Charles I dissolved Parliament again, and he was determined to rule without it.

This continued for the next eleven years.

14. After Buckingham’s death, Thomas Wentworth, the Earl of Strafford and Archbishop William Lode became Charles’s Favorites.

It should be noted that Charles I did not have a strong, charismatic personality. Also, he was easily subjected to pressure from other people. 

15. The main objectives of Charles I’s policy were to strengthen the power of the king and, perhaps more importantly, of the Church.

Painting depicting Charles I before the Battle of Edgehill
19th century painting by Charles Landseer depicting Charles before the Battle of Edgehill, 1642

For this, the king was willing to sacrifice the traditional rights of the estates and the principle of inviolability of the private property of his subjects.

16. In connection with the war that began in 1639 with Scotland, Charles I forced to convene Parliament to advise new taxes.

The Short Parliament (13 April – 5 May 1640) refused to do so and Charles I dissolved it again.

17. The new, Long Parliament, which opened on 3 November 1640, demanded the removal of the Royal councilors and anti-absolutist and ecclesiastical reforms.

Charles I refused to comply with the demands of Parliament. Additionally, he was unable to stop the beginning of the English revolution.

18. In May 1641, under the pressure of the masses, Charles I authorized the execution of Strafford.

However, the execution of the councilor did not solve the urgent problems, as political, economic and religious contradictions in the country grew.

19. In February 1642, Charles I sent his family to France, and then he went to the North, where he began to gather troops.

Children of King Charles I
Five of Charles I’s children: Mary, James, Charles, Elizabeth, and Anne (left to right)

On August 22, 1642, he declared war on Parliament.

20. At first, the Royal cavalry wins.

However, in 1644, an army created by Cromwell began to beat royalist troops.

21. After suffering a final defeat at the Battle of Naseby on 11 June 1645, Charles I fled north and surrendered to the Scots.

On February 1, 1647, Parliament redeemed Charles I and tried to reach an agreement with the king.

22. At the end of December, Cromwell offered to keep Charles I alive if he accepts certain conditions.

However, all attempts to agree with Charles I failed.

23. Parliament formed a Tribunal of 150 commissioners.

Then the number was reduced to 135 with the lawyer John Bradshaw at the head for the trial of the king.

24. Labeling him as “a tyrant, traitor, and murderer, an open and merciless enemy of the English nation”, English court sentenced Charles I to death.

On 30 January 1649, the new government executed him publicly in the square in front of Whitehall “by cutting off the head from the body”.

25. After the death of Charles I, on May 19, 1649, Parliament solemnly passed the Act that declared England a Republic.

Parliament and its appointed officials governed the country. The power belonged to the army elite led by Oliver Cromwell.

Charles I was executed when he was 49 years old and in the 24th year of his reign. The execution of Charles I signified the victory of the English Parliament in its long and bitter confrontation with the monarch, forming one of the main lines in the English revolution.





By Arslan Batyrovich

Founder of
Writer, Researcher, Fact-finder, and All-in-one
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