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The King in Council

As he turned his back on war and embraced a domestic happiness Charles could, with some justification, envisage a rosy future for himself and for his country. Economic conditions were on the whole favourable with the rate of inflation slowing down and prices rising less steeply than he could remember, while a general well-being among his more wealthy subjects was expressed in their willingness to invest in a wide variety of projects. The woollen industry, in particular, was responding to the marked improvement in trade which followed the end of hostilities with France and Spain and even the Mediterranean was receiving English cloth, sending back, in English ships, a plentiful supply of wine and oil, olives, dried fruit and raw silk. Moreover, as France and Spain drifted into a more open antagonism with each other and trade between them dwindled, England took advantage of the situation and reaped what Charles's sister termed an 'incredible profit' from the commerce that now flowed into English ports. Besides her own Mediterranean trade English ships took Spanish wool to Italy, Sicilian corn to North Italy and to Spain. Sugar from the West Indies was conveyed on the final stages of its journey from Portuguese and Spanish ports to the Mediterranean and to Northern Italy in English ships. English ships were hired by the Portuguese to bring sugar from Brazil to Europe. Even Venice was hiring English vessels. Charles had only to look down from his wife's palace at Greenwich onto the veritable forest of masts in the river below, or take one of his frequent journeys by barge down river past the bustling wharves that lined the Thames, to feel the beat of a commercial nation. Increased trade induced merchants, including the Merchant Adventurers, to put profit before principle and concede tonnage and poundage. Now was the time to make better bargains with the customs farmers. In 1634, guided by Weston, Charles increased the rent of the


Great Farm by £10,000 to £150,000 a year, and amalgamated three of the petty farms at an enhancement of £16,000 a year so that they brought him in £60,000 annually. At the same time, again with Weston at his elbow, he revised to his advantage the Book of Rates. In the same year, in return for a loan of £10,000, he confirmed the 'ancient privileges' of the Merchant Adventurers, which had been under attack from several parliaments.

His relations with the East India Company were less fortunate, which was a pity because, in spite of Dutch rivalry in the East Indies and antagonism at home, the Company continued to expand, and its import trade and re-export trade in pepper and spices, silks and calicoes, was very profitable. Its great galleys — 'like moving sea fortresses' — served the double purpose of war and trade. But neither Charles nor his father had felt it politic to take a firm line with the Dutch and to demand compensation for the massacre at Amboyna in 1623, and the loan of £10,000 for which he asked the Company in 1628 was refused. It was a form of retaliation when in 1635 Charles sold licences to Endymion Porter, Sir William Courteen and others to trade to Goa and parts of the East Indies, himself taking shares in the enterprise. He was careful to avoid an open breach with the East India Company by directing the new licences to areas where the Company's writ did not run and was therefore extremely angry when he thought that a petition presented to him the following spring concerned Courteen's ships. He snatched the document from the unfortunate envoy's hand and was appeased only when he realized it again related to Amboyna. He had, he told the man petulantly, always resolved to be righted concerning Amboyna. Charles's impatience when thwarted was becoming more noticeable. In this case it could have stemmed from his knowledge that his East Indian enterprise was ending in failure.

Other old-established Companies like the Greenland Company and the Russian Company also benefited from the peace, and Charles sold a charter to a new African Company in 1630, while taking his share of the profits of them all at his customs houses. From the West he was garnering a harvest of trade from the English settlers who were establishing themselves on the Eastern seaboards of America and in the West Indian islands, and from the traders who were bringing home tobacco and sugar from the Southern states, timber and ships' supplies from the Northern. England had been among the first to settle the New World. Virginia on the American mainland, Bermuda and other West Indian islands had been colonised by Englishmen. In


1620 the Mayflower had reached New England, and now the route to the West was being travelled not only by Puritans for conscience sake but increasingly by merchants and business men with money to invest, by adventurers who had no money but hoped to make some, and by English vagrants, bound apprentice by some local JP to learn such skills as the new lands might require. Carolina, named after Charles, Maryland, named after Henrietta-Maria, Monserrat, Antigua, were settled in one way or another in the expansive 'thirties. To earlier trading companies Charles added the Massachusetts Bay Company in 1629, and the Providence Island Company in 1636. The New World also met some of what he considered his obligations to his friends and servants, and lands he had never seen, and of which he had scant knowledge, were lightly given away to courtiers and adventurers, sometimes twice over.

Charles was fully aware of the profit he could reap from these distant lands. Tobacco, in particular, promised to be particularly rewarding. Charles disliked 'the weed' with an intensity no less than his father's, describing it as 'a vain and needless' commodity 'which ought to be used as a drug only and not so vainly and wantonly as an evil habit of late times has brought it to'. It was nevertheless reasonable, if only for the sake of the planters, that he should allow a limited import into England and that he himself should reap the maximum benefit from doing so. His actions showed an effort to combine all three points of view. In 1627 he appointed Commissioners to buy Virginia tobacco and sell it in England on his behalf; he limited its import, under licence, to the Port of London; he forbade both the import of foreign tobacco and the planting of tobacco in England. The legislation was confused but it brought Charles £9000 a year in licence fees, while the tobacco colonies gained from a virtual monopoly and took no notice of Charles's hints that they should turn to more worthy production: he was, he told them, 'much troubled that this plantation is wholly built upon smoke'.

There were other ways in which the Plantations were in a unique position to help the mother country. When Charles had asked his Commissioners for Trade in 1626 to advise him as to what 'maie best advaunce the Trade of Merchandize and not hinder us in our just profits', it was partly the Plantations he had in mind. James had already ordered that their tobacco should be landed in England before proceeding to other countries and that it should be carried only in English ships or those of the Plantations. Charles in 1633 underlined


the policy by forbidding aliens to engage in any direct trade with Virginia, the chief tobacco colony. The lucrative carrying trade would in this way be kept in English hands, English ships and English men would be trained and ready for war, and the customs returns would gain. In his attitude to the Plantations, particularly in navigation policy, Charles was in line with the most advanced economic thought of his time: he was following a policy begun by his father, which would be built up into a system under the rule of his son, and which later generations would know as Mercantilism.

Commercially, Charles could see himself ruler of an expanding, enterprising and wealthy nation reaching eastwards and westwards to new trade and fresh settlement. When he turned to industrial development he perceived a restless, innovating society already breaking the bonds of the old craft economy, using machinery and employing capital on a growing scale. As the demand for coal grew at home and abroad, increasing quantities of capital were being injected into the mining industry and from Newcastle alone some 400,000 tons of coal a year were being shipped — a twelvefold growth in a century. Iron, tin, and lead mines were becoming deeper, and their output increased, as capital provided new techniques suitable to larger-scale production; the great blast-furnaces for smelting ore in the iron districts were in themselves visual manifestations of the expansion that was taking place in the heavy industries.

There were factories with water-driven mills for making paper and hemp; the Mines Royal and the Society of the Mineral and Battery works, which Elizabeth I had established in an endeavour to produce brass and copper, were receiving fresh infusions of capital. There were large alum houses at Whitby, of which his father had been particularly proud, where many thousands of pounds were sunk in smelting machinery and many hundreds of workmen were employed. Round his capital city little factories were springing up and expanding as machine production began to oust the domestic worker in numerous enterprises such as brewing, soap-making, tanning, and the production of saltpetre. Above all, the woollen cloth industry, a highly organized, capitalist enterprise, still accounting for eighty per cent of the country's exports, remained its greatest asset, making all Europe, it was said, England's servant since it wore her livery.

In agriculture the disturbances caused by turning arable land and common grazing land into sheep runs were dying down and a new


equilibrium between arable farming and sheep farming was being achieved. The unenclosed strip-farming of the open-field villages found fewer advocates as a new scientific approach to agriculture, depending upon single ownership and enclosure, and stimulated by a growing demand, began to make headway. The yeoman was still the backbone of English farming. He was the owner-occupier, hardworking, good-living, unostentatiously prosperous — but perhaps he was a little less self-contained, a little more conscious that he was 'a gentleman in ore', a little more inclined to think of his coach on Sunday rather than his plough on Monday. Above him in the social hierarchy many gentry families were likewise thinking of the Great Estate, and if they sometimes were reduced to yeoman status there were others who, by judicious marriages and preferment at Court or in office, joined the aristocracy within a generation or two. The repetition, both in James's and Charles's reigns, of Proclamations commanding gentlemen to return to their homes in the country, indicates that a considerable number of them spent their time in and around the Court seeking, if not office itself, then some of the less lucrative spoils of office.

But there were many landowners of all ranks who remained in the country and concentrated upon improving their estates. Agricultural writers found a ready market for their books and there were many translations of Dutch and Flemish authors. The sowing of seed in regular rows instead of broadcast, and the use of fertilisers and manures were actively discussed. There were experiments with new crops such as rape for cattle feed and oil, saffron, woad and madder for dyeing. Potatoes and clover were being introduced as field crops, and both turnips and clover were being used experimentally as part of a three-year rotation that would replace the customary third fallow year. Advice was published on the raising of cattle and sheep, on the care of horses, on bee-keeping. The perennial question of the conservation of woodland was being widely discussed. Methods of drainage and water supply were assuming a new importance.

Behind the experimentation, the new techniques, the popularization, was a rising, vigorous population demanding food. Since the accession of James the population of England had risen from about 3,750,000 to some 5,500,000, nearly twice as fast as in the previous century, a growth particularly marked in the ports, the towns, and — above all — in London. Capital city, port, financial centre, seat of government, home of the courts of law, of art, and of fashion, the


normal abode of the Court, London was the magnet that drew trade and production, money and population into its orbit. Charles's London had reached a total population of some 600,000 people. Bristol was thriving on the opening of the Atlantic trade, and her rising population was somewhere around 25,000; Norwich and Exeter prospered on their textile manufacture; Newcastle as a port and the chief coal town was growing rapidly; but none could touch London for its bustling, overflowing exuberance. There was inevitably criticism but the rest of the country, by and large, saw where its advantage lay and did what was necessary to supply so opulent a market.

To keep London warm Newcastle colliers plied a constant coastal trade. To feed it corn came not only from Kent but from as far afield as East Anglia and Norfolk. Cattle on the hoof made their way from breeding grounds in the south-west to be fattened on nearer meadows before proceeding to the butchers of London. Poultry farms, pig farms, dairy farms, orchards and market gardens flourished round the capital city, stretching along the Thames and down into the fertile fields of Kent. There were apples in great variety, pears, cherries, plums, greengages, quinces, and mulberries from the trees which James, shortly after his accession, had caused to be planted near the capital and in each county town. Sir Walter Aston, who had been Ambassador to Spain in Charles's courtship days, was now Keeper of the Mulberry Gardens at St James's (and of the silk worms which were the reason for planting mulberries) at a stipend of £60 a year.[1] Henrietta-Maria added to the abundance by sending to France for fruit trees to enrich the English orchards. Well-off Londoners prized particularly the delicate asparagus provided by nearby market gardens. The Thames itself, besides watering the gardens and orchards on its banks, provided its own delicacy in the form of salmon. Herrings — salted, smoked, or packed in salt — might come from Yarmouth, and were enjoyed by rich and poor alike; but the wealthy valued above all the salmon from London's river, the more so, perhaps, since of all the City's food the salmon alone failed to keep up with demand and in the 1630s its price was soaring.

On the whole economic conditions were so favourable that Charles failed to see why he could not wipe the slate clean and, free from wars and foreign commitments, start afresh. In ruling without a Parliament he would not be doing anything unusual. Henry VII held only seven Parliaments in a reign of twenty-four years. Elizabeth I had ruled


without a Parliament for periods of three-and-a-half, four, and four-and-a-half years, and had stretched intervals between sessions of a single Parliament to nearly five years. James had governed for as long as six-and-a-half years without a Parliament. History taught Charles that the summoning of Parliament had for the most part coincided with the monarch's financial needs — the warring Edward III had called forty-eight Parliaments in the fifty years of his reign — and this reinforced his determination to pay his debts and avoid war. He recognized the strength of Wentworth by making him Deputy Lieutenant of Ireland in January 1632, while not depriving him of the Council of the North. At home he would be advised by the great officers of state — the Lord Chancellor, the Lord Privy Seal, the two Secretaries of State, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and, above all, by the Lord Treasurer. They all had seats on his Privy Council which, besides its advisory function, was also his chief instrument of government and would promulgate the Orders in Council which would take the place of Acts of Parliament. He was accustomed to the workings of the Council, which he had attended assiduously in times of stress both as Prince and in the early years of his reign: in the crisis months of 1627 and 1629 he had attended practically weekly. Among other things he had learned the disadvantages of size and in the first five years of his personal rule Charles reduced the number of his Privy Council from 42 to 32. But even thirty people form an unwieldly vehicle for discussion, some Councillors naturally proved more useful or more congenial than others, and there developed an inner committee of the Privy Council, sometimes referred to as a 'junta' or 'cabinet council', where Charles and his closest associates could determine policy before putting it to the Council as a whole.

The Privy Council met normally on Wednesday and Friday afternoons, generally in the Council Chamber in Whitehall, but sometimes in Wallingford House, the seat of the Treasury and the residence of Weston.[2] There were various standing Committees of the Council which Charles had appointed, or which he had continued from his father's reign. The standing Committee for Trade was important and Charles attended frequently, enlarging it to become the Committee for Trade and Plantations, and the importance of the colonies was further recognized in 1632 by the appointment of a Committee of Council on the New England Plantations, which became the Commission for Foreign Plantations in 1634. Reports came to Charles not only from these standing Committees but from various Departments


of State — from the Admiralty, in particular, at whose meetings he was, again, a frequent participant and whose reports he read carefully and annotated repeatedly. He extended his care to the Provinces of the Church, reading and making marginal comments on the Reports that came in from the Bishops. He kept his hand on foreign affairs to such a degree that Sir Thomas Roe was able to write to Wentworth in December 1634 that it was only the 'great temper, justice, and wisdom of his Majesty' that corrected and dispersed ill humours. He insisted on personal consultation in all matters. Edward Nicholas, the secretary to the Council, listed the points on which Charles was to be consulted and afterwards noted the results of the consultation: 'The King approves of this'; 'The King likes it well but . . .' His ministers knew they could consult him at almost any time on important issues, as when Henry Vane arrived at Hampton Court after six o'clock one evening on Palatine business. Weston was early instructed by Charles 'to believe nothing of importance until he speaks with his Majesty'.

The machinery of the law remained the same whether Parliament was sitting or not. Chancery, King's Bench, Common Pleas, Requests, continued their normal work; Justices of Assize made their circuits; the courts of Star Chamber and of High Commission, the Councils of the North and of the Marches of Wales maintained their authority. The Departments of State were no more efficient, no more corrupt, without a Parliament than with one, their staffs still remained dependent upon some form of perquisite or bribe to augment their salaries. In the localities, at the operative end of most laws or directives, it was still the JPs upon whom Charles would have to rely. They were men of diverse character, interest, and determination, most of them were of gentry or aristo-gentry stock, and they included many of the most influential members of Charles's last Parliament some of whom, including Sir John Eliot, were still in prison for the part they played in the dissolution. It was a disturbing thought that his government might be only as effective as these men made it. But, though Charles instituted several enquiries into central administration he left local government untouched.

Charles was prepared to thrust such thoughts into the background as he turned to the immediately pressing problem of his debts. The question was not quite so straightforward as at first appeared, partly because of the size of his commitments, which included some of his


father's debts as well as his own heavy war expenditure, partly because of the complicated system of borrowing and credit in which he was enmeshed. It was difficult to establish the full extent of his indebtedness, but it could have been of the order of £1,500,000, of which the faithful Burlamachi was claiming £500,000. Most of Charles's foreign transactions had gone through Philip Burlamachi, whose credit stood pledged all over Europe to meet Charles's needs. Burlamachi supported Mansfeld's expedition in this way, he paid Charles's subsidies to Christian of Denmark and other Princes, he transmitted to Germany sums of money voluntarily collected in England for the cause of the Princess Elizabeth, he paid for the Mantuan collection of pictures, he provided funds for foreign embassies, gave security to agents of the Crown abroad, paid pensions to the Palatine family as well as advancing money for men and equipment at home. Charles was fortunate in having in his service one of the great international financiers of the age whose word and whose credit were unquestioned from the time he advanced money for the little Duke's engines of war until he himself crashed in 1633.[3]

On domestic loans Charles normally paid the current rate of interest, which was eight per cent after 1624. Borrowing was generally secured upon the receipts of the Exchequer in general or upon specific branches of the revenue, collectors being instructed to honour debts out of the proceeds of their collections before the money reached the Exchequer. In either case over-assignment was not unusual, nor were the persons who received money in this way necessarily those who made the loan in the first place. The tallies which represented debts often became a kind of currency in themselves, passing from hand to hand at a decreasing price until they reached a person who knew how to get them cashed at a favourable rate. It was difficult for Charles to know how many tallies were circulating against him. At the same time, with interest accumulating, the more he struggled the more securely he was enmeshed. By August 1630 future revenue stood mortgaged to the extent of nearly £278,000, with some revenues anticipated to 1637.[4]

Charles and Weston faced the question squarely: Crown lands were given or sold on reasonable terms to recoup debtors, the City of London alone receiving nearly £350,000 worth in settlement of debts incurred by James. Holland, the King's friend, was promised a pension of £2000 a year for twenty-one years, possibly in respect of some £23,000 still due to him for his expenses in France when he was


wooing Henrietta-Maria on the King's behalf. Royal jewels passed to other creditors. Two men were satisfied with the imposition of a new duty of 4/- a chaldron on seacoal which they were allowed to manage until their debts had been met; others were promised the reversion of fines imposed in certain courts. In addition, about £100,000 was paid out in cash during 1630 and 1631, a great deal of which came from the customs' duties which, enhanced by Weston's new Book of Rates, were now Charles's most important source of revenue. They remained, also, a continued means of anticipating income and were Charles's chief source of borrowing in the 1630s. Burlamachi, in spite of some slightly questionable accounting, received his £500,000 in various forms, but it was not enough to save him from the effects of twenty years of financial juggling. When everything blew up in his face in 1633 Charles showed his customary concern for a man who had been faithful to him for more than a decade. He helped Burlamachi with money and gave him the administration of the alum farm. A few years later he appointed him Postmaster. But Burlamachi was too deeply enmeshed to pull himself clear and he died in penury some ten years later.

But, debts apart, how could Charles make ends meet without the subsidies which only a Parliament could sanction? He totted up his responsibilities: payments to staff and servants of various kinds, including those who served him in high office; he felt keenly his obligations both to their standards of life and to their pensions. He honoured his father's intentions (which were also his own) towards Buckingham by providing for Buckingham's wife and children. He helped Weston who, on accepting the Treasurer's white staff made it clear that he could not support the dignity of the office out of his own means. Charles gave him £10,000 in cash and made over to him such perquisites as the lease of the sugar farm, amounting to approximately £9000 a year, and a third part of the imposition upon coals, some £4000 annually. The Queen, with an extravagance and way of life dictated by her upbringing and her temperament, required well over £30,000 a year. Charles had already added lands in the Duchy of Lancaster to her jointure and in 1629 he included various parks nearer home at Greenwich, Oatlands, Isleworth, Edmonton and Twickenham, as well as the manor of Holdenby in Northamptonshire.

There was also a pleasant need for additional expenditure on the royal nursery, where Buckingham's children were now established with his own. He felt his obligations to his nephews and nieces and in


1629 extended to Repert and Elizabeth the pensions already paid to their mother and elder brother. The giving of presents was a part of life and in 1630 Charles presented the Savoy Ambassador with a gold tablet set with diamonds bearing a picture of himself and the Queen, valued at £500; in 1636 he and Henrietta-Maria gave horses worth £500 to her brother, the King of France, and made a similar present to his sister, Elizabeth. He himself, though he economized in dress, bought for £300 a ring set with a large, square diamond, and in 1634 he was fondling a 'great round rope of pearls' which had been imported duty free for his inspection. He paid £110 to Michael Crosse for copying pictures in Spain; early in 1631 he employed Inigo Jones to catalogue his Greek and Roman coins and medals; he counted himself fortunate in getting the French engraver, Nicholas Briot, to provide engravings for the English coinage and to produce such beautiful pieces as the medals which marked his Coronation and his claim to Dominion of the Seas.

In 1629 Charles sent the Gentileschis to Italy with a view to buying the picture collection of Signor Philip San Micheli, subject to the approval of Nicholas Lanier. Fortunately for his Exchequer Lanier advised against the purchase. Eight years later, however, Charles purchased the Italian collection of the German artist, Daniel Fröschl, who had been painter-in-ordinary to Rudolph II, thus adding twenty-three pictures to his collection, including six grisailles attributed to Caravaggio, and canvases by Titian and Guido Reni. He bought, as Rubens had recommended, the magnificent Raphael cartoons and sent them to his tapestry workers at Mortlake. True, what he bought or what he commissioned was not always a guide to what he paid. In 1638 payments were still being made to Rubens in respect of £3000 due to him for pictures sold to Charles 'long since'; the chain of gold which Charles sent him in March 1639 may have been in part recompense, but it may have been in acknowledgment of the Banqueting House paintings which were delivered in 1637. Charles welcomed, even urged, Anthony Van Dyck to reside in London as Court painter but Van Dyck's payments also lagged both in respect of his retainer and for the portraits he painted of the royal family. Gentileschi was still installed in York House in 1631 refusing to move until he had received what was owing to him, while the Duchess of Buckingham entreated the King to pay him so that she might have York House to herself again. Charles paid £200 to the artist who, in due course, moved on.

Other expenses were more difficult to justify. Even though


Weston was serving him well and the memory of Buckingham was green, was it necessary to give £3000 to Weston's daughter on her marriage to Lord Fielding, the Duke's nephew? Or £3000 to Lady Anne Fielding, the Duke's niece, on her marriage to Baptist Noel, Viscount Camden's heir, who, in gambling, lost in one day a nearly equivalent sum?[5]

It was difficult to know where retrenchment should begin. Charles had nineteen palaces, castles and residences to keep up which required renovation, repairs and replacements, as well as a permanent nucleus of staff. Hunting at Newmarket, in the New Forest and elsewhere cost money even when entertainment was provided, as at Wilton, by the King's friends. But Charles's passion for the chase now equalled that of his father, and it kept him in health. Nor could the Queen's visits to the spas at Bath or Matlock be curtailed. He not only needed money for his pictures and works of art but, with Laud and Inigo Jones, he had schemes for beautifying his capital, including the rebuilding of St Paul's, which his father had begun. London's cathedral was in a ruinous state, its steeple had been destroyed by fire at the beginning of Elizabeth's reign, ramshackle shops and houses leaned against its outer walls damaging the fabric and destroying the proportions of the nave. Inside it was given over to strollers and gossip-mongers and 'Paul's Walk' was the commonly accepted resort of anyone anxious to purvey or to receive news. The case of Francis Litton illustrates its condition. Litton came up from a remote village three miles from Bedford to London to be married and was apprehended by the High Commission for 'pissing against a pillar' in St Paul's. The bewildered countryman explained 'he knew not where he was' as he had never been in London before, and 'knew it not to be a church'; also he suffered from the stone and was unable to make water when needful yet at other times 'he could not hould but must needs ease himself'. The pillar of the church appeared to him nothing but the most convenient place for doing so. When he fell down on his knees and wept before the Commission, pleading that he was far from his friends, the court granted him bail and presumably released him.[6]

When Laud, as Bishop of London, asked Charles in 1631 to continue the work his father had begun, Charles was only too ready to do so. He visited the Cathedral himself, appointed Commissioners to collect money for repairs, put Inigo Jones in charge of the overall plans. In spite of exhortation and Charles's own example of pledging £500 a year for three years, not much more then £5000 was collected


over the next two years, but Charles had already instructed the work to proceed and most of the houses built against the walls of the church had been demolished. There had been objections, but compensation had been paid, and the splendid proportions of the long nave were revealed. Jones's plans now included a classical portico at the west end of the church, and when Charles visited it in the summer of 1634 he was so pleased with the progress of the work that he undertook the whole of the western end at his own expense.

In other directions expenditure was more questionable: improvements to his manor of York; the conversion of a tennis court at Somerset House into a chapel for Henrietta-Maria; above all, the making of a new deer park between Richmond and Hampton Court. Much of the land involved was Charles's own, and a great deal of it was waste and rough woodland which would benefit from his plans. But many poor people held common rights in these areas and more substantial men held good, working farms interspersed with the waste. Charles's intention was to buy out these landlords and to put a brick wall round the whole of the area he acquired. Some landlords agreed to his terms, some held out, reluctant to abandon their homes and their estates, the poor were upset at losing their common rights. Most of Charles's ministers, including Laud and Cottington, disapproved of a scheme which would cost a lot of money and alienate many people. In the high-handed way in which he was now conducting all his affairs, Charles disregarded them. Cottington, however, was very outspoken and Charles's anger flared: he had caused brick to be burned for making the wall, he said, and was resolved to go on with the scheme. Laud assumed he had an ally in Cottington and when the application for money came before the Treasury Board stoutly opposed it. But Cottington, either because he wished to keep the King's favour, or because of his antipathy to Laud, spoke in favour of the grant: 'since the place was so convenient for the King's winter exercise, it would minimise his journeys', he said, 'and nobody ought to dissuade him from it'. Laud flew into a passion, telling Cottington that such men as he would ruin the King and cause him to lose the affections of his subjects. Cottington taunted him: 'Those who did not wish the King's health could not love him; and they who went about to hinder his taking recreation which preserved his health might be thought . . . guilty of the highest crimes.' He was not sure that it might not be high treason. Laud rushed to the King, but Charles merely laughed, at once perceiving Cottington's intent both to curry


favour with him and to tantalize Laud. 'My Lord', he said, 'you are deceived: Cottington is too hard on you,' and he told him of Cottington's opposition to his plans. Charles's New Park at Richmond was begun in 1636 and completed in 1638. But Charles forgave Laud more easily than he forgave Cottington for opposing him.[7]


Modern Prince and Feudal Lord

Economies like cutting pensions and reducing Court expenditure, extravagance like the making of Richmond Park, create enemies, but on the whole the raising of money makes more. Weston was more aware of the difficulties than Charles himself. He was already stepping up the receipts from the customs houses in what was likely to be the biggest contribution to the King's finances, but his natural caution enabled him to foresee danger in some of the other money-making devices that Charles was contemplating. A Treasurer whose influence was on the side of caution was bound to have some effect upon the King, yet Charles was never deflected from any purpose he had in mind: he simply used other instruments if one failed him. The influence of Laud was less direct. His natural austerity acted as a break upon expenditure, his urge to improve the King's finances caused him to press economy and pursue money-raising devices with a ruthless integrity. Unlike Weston, he seemed utterly impervious to the dangers of arousing vested interests.

In the raising of money by the sale of monopoly rights in various forms Weston was particularly cautious, while Charles was at his most expansive, carrying his Council with him into an amazing series of projects. The granting of monopoly rights of production, sale, or management in return for a fee or rent had become a scandal even in Elizabeth's time and James had agreed to the abolition of the practice. The Monopolies Act of 1624, however, allowed two exceptions which were in accord with public sentiment. The first was in respect of new inventions or infant industries where it was considered reasonable to allow a period of monopoly protection. The second was in respect of corporations. Seventeenth-century opinion was still widely influenced by the medieval concept of the corporate society in which trades and trading bodies, towns, religious organizations and


fraternities were organized on a corporate basis and acted as monopoly bodies. To have pronounced these illegal would have been to remove the underpin from society itself. So, in spite of abuses, corporations remained, with new inventions, outside the scope of the Monopolies Act. That Act, however, had not intended, and could not have envisaged, the mushroom growth of patents and monopolies which came into being under cover of these exceptions.

A Crown monopoly of playing cards and dice gave the King a fifty per cent profit on sales. Monopoly rights to individuals included the transport of lamperns, the making of spectacles, combs, hatbands, tobacco-pipes, bricks; there were monopolies for the gathering of rags, for sealing linen cloth and bone lace, for gauging butter casks, for transporting sheepskins and lambskins. Sir William Alexander was given a patent for printing the Psalms of King David translated into English metre by King James. The rights were all paid for in one way or another. John Pearson and Benjamin Monger of London 'set forth the inconveniences and mischiefs which arise from dishonest servants, and the impositions practised by charewomen and dry nurses'. They proposed a Register of Masters and Servants, the fee being 2d from the master and 1d from the servant, and they offered the King a payment of £10 a year for the privilege of the sole running of the registry.[1] Charles liked the idea and the project was approved. Somewhat different was a scheme proposed by Sir John Coke, which never saw the light of day, for the formation of a Loyal Association, whose members, besides paying an entrance fee, would pledge themselves to serve the King in person, goods, and might. They would be distinguished by a badge or ribbon in the King's colour and would be entitled to precedence at public gatherings.[2]

Frivolous or lightweight as most of these projects appeared, others were in line with an economic self-sufficiency that for hundreds of years had been the goal of the King's ancestors. Elizabethan statesmen, as well as his father, had pursued this end and many of his own most influential subjects were urging its necessity. Mansell's glass patent, which Charles renewed, might be considered in this category; the alum works whose monopoly Charles continued, certainly could be; when Sir Thomas Russell was licensed to use a process of his own invention in the production of saltpetre, Charles was following the lead of Elizabeth and of James; a crown monopoly of the sale of gunpowder followed naturally and, besides being profitable, could be justified on grounds of national security. The saltpetre monopoly ran quickly


into difficulties when the Admiralty learned that some saltpetre men were being over-zealous, abusing their rights of search for the raw material by digging in barns and churches, houses and sick-rooms regardless of the old, the sick, and women in childbed, undermining walls and making great holes which they failed to fill up. But the Government needed saltpetre and Charles caused a Proclamation to be made in 1634 empowering any three or more JPs to 'enter, break open, and work for it in the lands and possessions' of himself or of any of his subjects in England and Wales.

In incorporating William Shipman and others as the Society of Planters of Madder of the City of Westminster, he was again following the lead of his father, who had already attempted to restrict the import of this important dye in order to render the cloth industry more self-sufficient. In turning his attention to salt, seeking to substitute a native product for the imported article, Charles was pursuing the same well-trodden path towards self-sufficiency. In 1636 he prohibited the import of salt from Biscay and issued licenses for its manufacture and sale in England, hoping to receive ten shillings a wey for his support and protection. Unfortunately the contradictions inherent in the policy of self-sufficiency were glaringly obvious in this case: the price of salt rose and affected the fishing industry, particularly the important herring fishery, which depended upon salting its catches; Trinity House complained that ships which had formerly brought back salt from Biscay now returned unladen from the south of France and might be compelled to abandon their voyages altogether; while the benefit Charles received from the granting of licenses was partly offset by his loss of duty on the imported product.

The patent for soap demonstrated the same mixture of motives as well as providing one of the most colourful episodes of the time. Again the project had been aired in James's reign and was an attempt to raise Crown revenue while promoting self-sufficiency. Foreign soap was excluded and the home-produced article was to contain nothing but native materials. To this end a group of soapboilers was incorporated in 1631 as the Society of Soapmakers of Westminster, and was instructed to use vegetable oil in place of imported whale oil. This obligation extended to all soapboilers and its enforcement was put in the hands of the new company. To make control easier the production of soap was confined to London, Westminster, and Bristol. The new Society thus held a virtual monopoly of soap manufacture, and in order to protect the consumer the price was fixed. The King was to


receive a payment first of £4, later of £6 a ton of soap marketed. But the public did not like the new soap, and the old was soon selling at higher prices as independent soap boilers continued to produce clandestinely. They were called before the Star Chamber but neither their punishment nor testimony from selected witnesses, including the Queen's laundress, could convince consumers that the new product was as good as the old; rumour, indeed, had it that the Queen's laundress continued to use Castille soap. Public laundry trials organized in the City of London gave conflicting views on the efficiency and 'sweetness' of the new soap; as a final throw the independent soap-makers offered the King an annual payment of more than the new society was paying and the monopoly was bought out. But these operations enhanced the price of the product and, although Charles continued to reap as much as £18,000 in 1636, the best year, his subjects were the losers.[3]

Charles made no attempt to control any basic industry. A government monopoly of coal was considered but the Committee for Trade advised against this on the grounds that it would raise the price and arouse the 'clamour of the people'. It would also have meant confronting the powerful monopolists who already controlled the industry and who doubtless had influenced the verdict of the Committee. If it could have been managed, control of a basic industry would not only have been financially advantageous to Charles but would also have bolstered the aim of economic self-sufficiency which, as it was, appeared to be pursued in somewhat piecemeal and haphazard fashion.

Trading monopolies had, on the whole, even less to say for them. The Company of Vintners, for example, paid to the King a duty of 40/- a tun of wine sold in return for monopoly rights of sale and an increase in price of one penny a quart on French wines and twopence a quart on Spanish wines. Charles farmed the tax to a group of vintners for £30,000 a year, but it is doubtful whether he ever received as much as this.

The group of projects which covered inventions was mixed. In agriculture there were many schemes for drainage, several inventions for mechanical sowing and for improved ploughs. A patent for the much-needed cleansing of the Thames did more harm than good in scooping up gravel from the river bed 'and making great holes'. In view of the feared shortage of timber it was, however, timely to give a fourteen-year patent to Dud Dudley and his partners for smelting iron


with coal, or with peat or turf, in return for an annual rent; it was reasonable to license Edward Ball to prepare peat by reducing it to a coal that would 'serve for melting iron, boiling salt, and burning brick'. The many new patents for the drainage of mines, like that granted to Daniel Ramsay and his associates 'for raising water out of pits by fire' showed, possibly, a too-credulous belief in experiment. Sir Henry Clare, searching for the philosopher's stone, strained that credulity too far and Charles turned down his request for financial aid. There was, however, a lively interest in hidden treasure. In April 1630 Francis Tucker and his associates were given licence to conduct such a search on the understanding that Charles received one-quarter of anything they found. Two years later Charles listened to Richard Norwood who had 'found out a special means to dive into the sea or other deep Water, there to discover, and thence by an Engine to raise or bring up such Goods as are lost or cast away by Shipwracke or otherwise' and he licensed search in the water as on the land.[4]

Charles was present to hear the case made by Thomas Russell for the use of human urine in the manufacture of saltpetre. Russell estimated that if 10,000 villages, each with forty houses occupied by four persons who all cast their urine upon a load of earth for three months, and then let it rest for three months longer, ripe saltpetre would result. Feeling, perhaps, that this was a viable alternative to the ravages of the saltpetre men, Charles ordered all cities, towns, villages and other habitations to use their urine in this way, guaranteeing that the earth would be taken from them without trouble or charge,[5]

Charles and his Council were certainly attracted by anything out of the ordinary, and the exuberance and inventiveness of the time was encouraged by their support. Charles himself was genuinely interested in projects, and his eclectic mind enjoyed ranging over the schemes brought before him. He was eager, assiduous, hardworking, even if, together with his Council, a trifle over-sanguine and too ready to attempt to fill the royal purse at the expense of credulity. An Order in Council later lamented the various licenses which had been procured 'upon untrue suggestions' or which in execution had been found to be 'far from those grounds and reasons wherefore they were founded' and which proved 'very burdensome and grievous to the King's subjects'. Using the expression that James had used when things went wrong, they complained that they had been 'notoriously abused'.

Charles received a valuable income from his monopolies and patents: though less than £30,000 from wine rather more from the soap


monopoly: a useful £13,000 or so annually from tobacco licenses: a small but helpful £750 annually from his monopoly of playing cards and dice: rents from the alum and glass works: small sums from the various patents he sanctioned.[6] Several contemporaries asserted that he was being defrauded and received but a fraction of what was intended. More serious was the criticism that since there was nothing to prevent the fees which were paid to the King from being passed on, it was the consumer who paid the King's commission in the form of higher prices. A discriminatory excise on luxury goods could have brought in as much and caused less hardship to the poor though possibly more protest from the rich. Charles excused himself by remembering that England was still the least taxed country in Europe, with no official excise and no regular direct taxation. Certainly projects and monopolies were not the most efficient nor the most equitable way of raising money, but in the absence of any other form of taxation it was possibly more appropriate to criticise the nature of the project itself than the fact that it imposed a tax upon the community. A tax arising from the monopoly of an essential article like glass or soap was different from a tax imposed in order to foster a new technique in industry or agriculture. Taxes on playing cards and dice were annoying rather than burdensome to the public. The real abuses were taxes that affected industry and reacted on workers as well as their employers, the monopolies that rebounded against themselves by causing shortages and dislocation elsewhere. On the credit side were benefits like the infusions of capital which followed the new leases issued to the Mines Royal and the Mineral and Battery Works, the encouragement of the home production of the important wool cards by a prohibition of import; and there were other grants, restrictions, and prohibitions whose value depended upon the point of view, such as the prohibition of the use of brass buckles as being not so serviceable as iron. Obviously, in considering methods of raising money a line had to be drawn somewhere. Charles drew it by not debasing the coinage, by not taxing food, and, while allowing the price of wine to be enhanced, by not taxing the people's beer.

In a somewhat different category were schemes bequeathed to Charles by his father which concerned water supply and land drainage, both matters of concern to a growing population which required both water and food, and both possible means of channelling money into the Exchequer.


Sir Hugh Myddelton, a Welshman with a lively interest in affairs and with financial and other connections in the City where he practised his craft as jeweller, goldsmith, banker and clothier, was among those who had been considering the idea of a continuous supply of sweet water to London. He was a great friend of Sir Walter Raleigh with whom he would sit outside his goldsmith's shop, smoking tobacco and talking endlessly of projects and exploration while the London populace looked on. It was possibly then that the idea was born of channelling springs of fresh water from Chadwell and Amswell, near Ware in Hertfordshire, by means of an artificial waterway or New River to Islington on the outskirts of London, where it would flow into a reservoir to be called the New River Head. James already had dealings with Myddelton as a jeweller, and his curious mind was attracted when he saw engineers making investigations near Theobalds on Myddelton's behalf. In 1612 James agreed to pay half the cost of the works, past and future, in return for half the profit. The first stretch of New River was completed by 1617 when it was opened with considerable festivity and enthusiasm. James had by that time contributed over £9000 to the enterprise but profits were not high and in 1631 Charles commuted his inherited half-share to £500 a year.

But there were still many families in and near London without sweet and wholesome water or, indeed, without access to water for cleansing or for fire-fighting, and when in 1631 projectors claimed to have discovered new springs, hitherto unused, that could be channelled to London and Westminster along a stone or brick aqueduct there seemed no reason not to licence the undertaking. That Charles did so with care was an answer to those critics who blamed him for sanctioning 'rival' projects. The scheme commissioned in 1631 was supplementary to Myddelton's and its provisions were carefully laid down. In spite of Sir Hugh Myddelton's work, ran the caption to the grant, 'Wee are credibly informed that there are very many families, both within the Citty of London, and the suburbs thereof and Streets adjoining in the County of Middlesex, which want sweet and wholesome water to Bake and Brew, Dress their Meat and for other necessary uses, and cannot fitly be served or supplied with any the Water works which are now in use.' The licence was to bring water to London by an aqueduct of brick or stone from any spring or springs, pool or pools, current or currents, place or places within one-and-a-half miles of Hoddesden and to disperse it through several pipes, provided that hitherto untapped sources only were employed and that


their use did not 'diminish any of the Springs, or take away any of the Water' already brought to London or Westminster by Sir Hugh Myddelton. Charles's share of the profit was to be £4000 a year and he authorized the holding of a lottery or lotteries in any town or city of England to help raise money for the project. Lotteries were popular among his subjects — the more so since none had been organized for some time — and the tickets were soon taken up.[7]

Under the influence of the Dutch the reclamation of swamp and fenland by drainage had also been considered. Henry VIII had drained marshland at Wapping, Plumstead and Greenwich and there had been similar small-scale enterprises for an immediate purpose. But little as yet had been done to reclaim large areas of land where long-term planning and a great deal of capital would be required. An obvious target was the Great Level of the Fens which stretched inland from the Wash to cover an area of nearly 700,000 acres. It was watered by six rivers which overflowed their banks constantly in winter and frequently in summer so that throughout the year the area was a flat, watery plain where the inhabitants walked on stilts or travelled by boat. Fishing and fowling dominated their lives, yet when the waters retreated the soft earth was covered with lush grass for cattle and sheep, and there was always turf and sedge in abundance for firing, reed and alder for thatching and furniture-making.

The fiercely independent people who lived there were content with the life they knew and, with fish and fowl in abundance as well as cattle and sheep, a modicum of crops and the normal fare of the farmyard, they were probably better-off than many small farmers living more conventional lives. Even the less well-off among them were better placed than they would have been in a more organized society where they would be classed as sturdy beggars under the Poor Law. The basic wealth of the area was shown, indeed, by the churches, cathedrals and monasteries which had been raised over the centuries in stone brought from outside the fenland by barge down the many rivers. Naturally enough the possibility of drainage had been considered. But although the area was potentially rich and the prospects of profit were high, drainage was expensive, most of the inhabitants were content as they were and, apart from the bigger landowners, there was little interest in land reclamation. Particularly bad periods of flooding were dealt with by ad hoc Commissions of Sewers until the area reverted to its old life.

A growing population made the prospect of a larger farming area


more attractive, and James, dramatizing the situation after his own fashion, had announced that 'for the honour of his kingdom' he 'would not longer suffer these countries to be abandoned to the will of the waters'. Accordingly, he engaged the Dutch engineer, Cornelius Vermuyden, and sponsored the work of reclamation in return for 120,000 acres of the reclaimed land. James died before the work was begun but Charles carried on, at first content for local landowners to act as undertakers, putting up the money, shouldering the risk, and claiming their proportion of reclaimed land. But nothing came of this and in a welter of conflicting opinion, which included opposition to drainage itself and opposition to Vermuyden as contractor, the rivers got completely out of hand and several smaller owners of permanently flooded land approached Francis, fourth Earl of Bedford, who owned 20,000 acres near Thorney and Whittlesay, to help. In 1630 the Earl contracted to improve all the southern Fenland within six years so that it would be free of summer flooding. Thirteen others joined him in putting up the capital, Vermuyden was put under contract, and in 1634 Charles granted a charter of incorporation for the drainage of the Great Fen. Charles's fee for the charter was to be 12,000 acres of the drained land out of the 95,000 which would fall to Bedford.

By the autumn of 1637 the undertaking appeared to have succeeded and Charles received his 12,000 acres of land. But the work had been done against a background of opposition and rioting by the local population, not only because they feared to change their ways, not only because, in the reapportionment of land, many commoners lost their rights of pasturage and of fishing, but, more fundamentally, because the Great Level was an area which could not be stereotyped or subjected to any basic rule of thumb. Levels of flooding were different; some flooding was gainful; the prevention of flooding in some places merely inundated others which had previously been dry.[8] Charles saw nothing of this and he was obviously not familiar with the detailed geography of the Fens. Even Vermuyden, who planned and carried out the bulk of the work, lacked adequate topographical knowledge: both men could have relied more heavily upon local advice. Even so, Charles and his Council acquired a considerable understanding of the problems involved. Charles, for example, instructed the Commissioners of Sewers on the north-east side of the river Witham that, although their lands had been drained, it was necessary, in order to keep them dry, to maintain the river banks in repair between specified points. He showed care for the poor in instructing the Commissioners


in charge of apportioning land after drainage to convoy 2000 acres to the use of poor cottagers and others, and he was sufficiently astute to order a proportion of reclaimed land to be tied to the perpetual maintenance of the work.[9]

But when a way of life is disturbed, when outsiders make foolish mistakes, such concessions are unimpressive. All over the Fenland men and women came out with pitchforks and scythes to fend off the innovators. Sometimes a landowner of greater sophistication would offer a more durable form of defence as in 1637 when Mr Oliver Cromwell of Ely, in return for a groat for every cow upon the common, offered to hold the drainage commissioners of Ely Fen in suit of law for five years. But Charles himself intervened shortly afterwards. He was not satisfied with the way the drainage had been carried out for, although the Fens were now free of flooding in summer, they were still subject to winter flooding. After many complaints had been received by the Privy Council he stepped in personally, declared himself 'undertaker' and promised to make the Fens 'winter as well as summer lands'. Meantime he gave the inhabitants full rights over their lands and commons until the work was completed and the final apportionments made. Before that was accomplished both he and Mr Oliver Cromwell had been swept along by events even more important than the drainage of the Great Fen; when they came face to face it was upon other issues.[10]

Charles liked to see himself as an 'advanced' monarch, patronizing inventors and giving scope to innovation and improvement. But he was also aware of his position as feudal overlord and was as willing to raise money from the one role as from the other.

Already in 1626 he had appointed a Commission to consider means of augmenting his revenue and reducing his charges. Among the matters under review were his forests and chases and now, with the help of Weston, Charles considered them anew. These large, dispersed areas were not necessarily wooded but were technically land reserved for royal hunting. Their native inhabitants were few and largely itinerant with a way of life that was simple and not necessarily meagre. Though they were subject to forest law instead of common law, which entailed severe penalties for interference with the forest or its wild life, royal connivance had left them for the most part in peace to a life freer and more fruitful than that of many peasants elsewhere. The royal forests contained also a few settlers whose existence was


connived at. Even enthusiastic huntsmen like James had not used all forest land for hunting, and as forest laws had fallen into disuse many peasants had, in fact, used the forest amenities as they would those of ordinary woodland or waste and had even brought some of the forest area under cultivation. Forest verges, in particular, had frequently come under the plough. In this way the extent of forest land had been reduced and dwellings, in some cases entire villages, had grown up within the bounds of what were technically 'forests'. Here and there richer men, some already big landlords, were deliberately farming large stretches.

The suggestion now was that royal forests should be restored to their ancient boundaries and that transgressors should be fined for encroachment or for infringing forest law within that enlarged area. In this way practices that had come to be considered normal would be penalized, whole villages — there were seventeen of them in the Forest of Dean alone — would be subject to penalty for breaking forest law, and even those who farmed the verges would be fined. Though much of this would be small-scale penalization, and not intended to be carried out, the amount of discontent which the very idea would generate was bound to be considerable. It was, however, the big encroaching landlords who were the real target.

The ancient office of Justice in Eyre, which administered forest law, was revived for the purpose and in 1630 the Earl of Holland was appointed Chief Justice with the assistance of Lord Keeper Finch, the Speaker who had been held in the chair in Charles's last Parliament. Neither man was popular. It fell to Finch in the Forest of Dean, where Holland took up his Justice Seat in July 1634, to make the important pronouncement as to what were legally considered the ancient bounds of the forests and to what extent, consequently, infringement had occurred: the King's claim was to the boundaries as enacted by Edward I before subsequent amendment and he was, therefore, laying claim to the maximum area of forest land, despite the changes of three centuries.

As expected, the fines imposed upon forest dwellers or little nibblers were small or were allowed to lapse, and the main penalties were reserved for the big and wealthy landowners. In Dean, where the Lord Treasurer himself was implicated, one of the largest fines, of £35,000, fell upon Gibbons, his agent, who was commonly thought to be the scapegoat. Sir Basil Brooke and his partner, who were said to have used trees set aside for the navy for their iron works in the Forest, were


fined £98,000 jointly, which two years later was commuted to £12,000. Enormous fines in the New Forest, in Rockingham and other forests were similarly reduced but in all brought about £37,000 into Charles's Exchequer between 1636 and 1640. Frustration, indignity, and a sense of injustice festered. It might have been legally defensible to reassert a boundary three hundred years old, it might have been equitable that untaxed landlords should make some contribution to the royal Exchequer in respect of lands and profits which they had acquired by no right but custom. But to impose a fine which was so large that it was certain to generate the maximum resentment and then to remit or substantially reduce it, was a policy of ill-advised, deliberate confrontation to no purpose. Not that this always happened. There were cases when the project worked more smoothly and Charles was paid all, or nearly all, he expected.[11]

Besides dealing with the ancient bounds of his forests and chases Charles had asked the Commission of 1626 to recommend how he could restore parts of them to a 'profitable cultivation'. In carrying out their recommendations he ran into agrarian troubles already rampant in three of his Western forests — Gillingham in Dorset, Braydon in Wiltshire, and the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire.

In Gillingham lands had been granted to Sir James Fullerton and George Kirk, two of Charles's Scottish friends and Gentlemen of his Bedchamber. They were given licence to depark and proceeded to enclose and farm. But the forest dwellers, on the grounds that their ancient rights of common were being violated, pulled down the fences as fast as they went up. Messengers from the Privy Council were whipped and their orders burnt while soldiers in the neighbourhood rescued the few rioters who had been apprehended. In November 1638 the High Sheriff of Dorset brought in more troops but found 'a great and well armed number' of rioters holding their position under the slogan 'here we were born and here we stay'. Some eighty of them were fined by the Star Chamber, but a couple of years later the struggle was still continuing under a leader styled 'the Colonel'.

In the Forest of Braydon Charles was more closely concerned, for here he was attempting to enclose and farm himself. Commissioners whom he sent down to smooth the way were told that enclosure would spell the 'utter undoinge' of many thousands of poor people by depriving them of rights of common and other perquisites. Fences were no sooner up than they were torn down. The local people were very much at one, even the larger landlords sharing the claim to what


were looked upon as customary rights. Privy Council messengers were beaten up and were powerless to stem the destruction of fences and ditches or to silence the 'jeering and unbecoming speeches of the rioters'. Only by means of informers were some of the leaders apprehended. But Charles had no taste for this kind of struggle, and he granted large areas of the Forest of Braydon to freeholders and other tenants, while continuing merely a modicum of farming himself.[12]

The Forest of Dean presented an even more complicated picture, for here was a way of life that for three hundred years had suffered no external interference. The forest proper was in poor condition through lack of care, indiscriminate felling and failure to replace; in rough forest clearings, which often stretched for miles, small-scale agriculture and common land were interspersed with coal and iron-mining, with charcoal burning, with tanning and other small enterprises that depended upon bark or other forest products. Monarchs had long since abandoned the Dean as a hunting ground and its inhabitants responded to little law but their own. If Charles were to farm or to use the timber resources of the Forest systematically he would be stirring up dozens of vested interests. Under a leader called Captain Skimmington the inhabitants of Dean made it clear that they would tolerate no interference. They were in touch with the protesters in Gillingham and Braydon and, again, Charles was not prepared to force an issue. He got even less from his attempts to farm his forest lands than he did out of his forest fines.

More rewarding were the Crown lands proper. Sir Julius Caesar had judged them 'the surest and best livelihood of the Crown', in spite of the heavy sales of Elizabeth and of James which had much reduced their annual value, from around £111,000 in 1608 to less than £84,000 in 1619. Although he himself had been compelled to part with Crown lands to settle some of his debts, Charles succeeded, by careful management, in reversing the trend. Entry fines on new leases were raised; rents were increased, though they were still mostly lower than elsewhere; in cases where entry fines were fixed the tenants were sometimes persuaded to buy their freeholds at from twenty to fifty years purchase. His woods and coppices were surveyed, the timber trees numbered and valued and, where appropriate, were sold; new plantings were made and, where possible, enclosure protected the young growth. Charles noted the consumption of wood by iron works, and to reform 'the great waste of timber' appointed a Surveyor of Iron Works to exact fees in proportion to timber consumption. Judges of


Assize were instructed to implement existing laws governing the preservation of forests. But the Crown lands were scattered, frequently uneconomic in themselves, their administration was too often weak, costly and venal. Although Charles did succeed in raising his income from them, his careful work brought in not more than £10,000 a year from woodlands and £80,000 from the rest. A compact area of land, such as Salisbury's Great Contract had envisaged, would have served him better.

As a further result of the Report of the Commission on the raising of Money, John Borough, Keeper of the Records in the Tower of London, was instructed in January 1628 to search through his documents for precedents relating to another issue. His findings resulted in the appointment of a commission two years later 'to compound with persons who, being possessed of £40 per annum in lands or rents, had not taken upon them the order of knighthood'. And so knighthood fines came into being. It had been customary for every person of a certain standing to come forward at a king's coronation to receive the honour of knighthood but, as feudalism decayed, so had this practice, and for over a hundred years it had been in abeyance. Charles now declared that he would revive the practice and fine those who had not been knighted. The actual fine, assessed by local officials in accordance with a man's ability to pay, generally amounted to a sum between £10 and £100 and on average to about £17 ot £18 a person. Between 1630 and 1635 the 'business of no-knights' brought Charles about £180,000 in knighthood fines. There was little opposition, the levy was accepted as reasonable, and the individual sums were not large.

Forest fines and distraint of knighhood both arose from Charles's position as feudal overlord. A third form of revenue deriving from the same source was the most anachronistic of all. The rights of wardship depended upon the fact that many landowners still held their land, theoretically, on feudal tenure from the King by Knight service, and that he could exercise the feudal right of taking charge of their heirs who succeeded while under age. The Crown could administer the lands of these minors, supervise their upbringing and education and plan their marriages, through the Court of Wards. Idiots and lunatics of any age who inherited such lands came within the scope of the court; the re-marriage of widows who had been wards of court remained its concern. Though wardship originally comprised an element of protection to the minor, by the seventeenth century the Court of Wards had become a court of profit so brazen that wardships were

James I by an unknown artist, probably 
shortly after his accession to the English throne.

Queen Anne, by William Larkin, 1612. The
 Queen is in mourning still after the death of Henry.

Charles's sister, Elizabeth, as he knew her, from a 
miniature painted about 1610 by Isaac Oliver.

Charles, as painted by Daniel Mytens, after
 his return from Spain, probably in 1623. There
 is diffidence still in his stance though his legs 
are undoubtedly straight and do not look
 noticeably short.

The Duke of Buckingham, also painted 
by Mytens at about the same time. In 
contrast to Charles his whole bearing 
portrays confidence and command.

A page from a draft of Charles's earliest love letter to Henrietta-Maria, whom he
has not yet seen. His indecision and diffidence is still apparent in the many erasions 
and, indeed, in the fact that he made a draft at all.

At the end of the 1620s, Charles passed into 
the happiest period of his life. This portrait by 
Gerrit van Honthorst, painted informally from life 
towards the end of 1628 as a study for the great 
canvas of Apollo and Diana , shows Charles as 
a relaxed and happy man.

This unusual and informal representation of Charles at cards, at about the 
same time, by an unknown artist of the studio of Rubens, is undoubtedly 
based on descriptions by the master of the life he experienced at the English 
Court. Charles's enthusiasm for card games is well attested.


openly sold, leases of wards' properties put up to the highest bidder, wards' marriages not only arranged but bargained for. Charles used his opportunities to the full. Whereas between 1617 and 1622 the net revenue from wardship had been just under £30,000 a year, between 1638 and 1641 it averaged close on £69,000 annually. As with other sources of revenue the mastership of the Court of Wards was not normally in royal hands but was leased for a fee: Salisbury had done very well as Master, Cranfield had held the post, Sir Robert Naunton held it from 1623 to 1635 when he was succeeded by Cottington.

Allied with wardship was livery, which derived from the King's feudal right to approve the succession of those who held lands direct from him and was now exercised in the form of a tax or fine of succession. Altogether sufficient vestigial feudal practices survived to make an appreciable contribution to the King's income. The reverse of the coin was that they also operated as a tax upon the King's landed subjects. Forest fines and Knighthood fees were once-for-all payments. Wardship and livery were the more pernicious in being continuous. Whatever Charles gained from any of them, it was not difficult to surmise that he would have to pay the price in some form of concerted opposition to his policy.


The King's Great Business

Charles's mind was meanwhile reaching out to other aspects of sovereignty: overlordship of the land would be matched by dominion of the seas. His passion for ships and for the sea had never flagged, and he was well aware of the contribution that fishing could make to the navy and to national prosperity. Fishing fleets were the nursery of sailors; fishing provided employment for thousands; the fish themselves enhanced his trade and fed his people; the herrings that swam in the seas round his shores seemed as native to Britain as the sheep that grazed her pastures. The fishing off the Newfoundland coasts, the deep-sea fishing and whaling in the Northern seas, were additional assets. But while English fishermen might have a virtual monopoly in more distant waters, the Dutch were pressing strongly in the North Sea and round the home shores, even in the Channel and off the coast of Yarmouth where the herring shoals were thickest.

The Dutch had been fishermen for centuries and even laid claim to the invention of herring curing, which they attributed to a thirteenth-century inhabitant of Vierveldt. Permission to fish in waters which the English claimed as their own had been conceded in return for the purchase of licences and the acknowledgment of England's claim to sovereignty of the seas. But in 1609 the Dutch made a counter-claim to freedom of the seas in the Mare Liberum of Hugo Grotius, on the strength of which Dutch fishermen became more audacious. They evaded payment of licence, their armed escorts became more obtrusive, at rendezvous in Shetland they could muster 26,000 herring busses and they brought armed ships with them for protection — ostensibly against pirates. They made free of English ports, spreading their nets upon the strand, victualling their ships from English towns. Yarmouth, it was reported, employed forty brewers in their service.


The reply to Mare Liberum was Mare Clausum , written by John Selden in 1619 on James's instructions. Selden admitted that the extent of British sovereignty had never been clearly defined, but he claimed roughly the whole of the North Sea, the English Channel, the Bay of Biscay as far south as the coast of Spain, and indefinite stretches of ocean north and westward. The situation had not materially changed when Sir Robert Heath in 1632 was jotting down his thoughts on the subject: 'our strength and safety lies in our walls, which is our shipping . . . we should maintain the King's prerogative of fishing round our coasts and secure his mastery of the Narrow Seas.' Charles had been thinking along similar lines. There seemed no reason why such a natural bounty as fish should not, if properly managed, be a pillar of national prosperity, a nursery for the navy, and a source of revenue to the Crown.

For the protection of the fish themselves repeated proclamation prohibited the use of the trawls that were destroying the small fry. To encourage demand Fish Days and Fast Days were enforced. Charles himself was much concerned in the deliberations of a Commission he appointed in 1630 to study the matter, and he amended extensively in his own hand the draft proposals which Secretary Coke drew up. These resulted in 1632 in the incorporation of the Society of the Fishery of Great Britain and Ireland whose purpose was to encourage and maintain fishing fleets round the English, Irish and Scottish coasts. A large curing and packing station for herrings was established on the Isle of Lewis and Charles insisted upon including into the scheme any 'poor fishermen' whose normal livelihood would be jeopardised. He expected to make an annual profit of £200,000 from the enterprise. But, although the Lord Treasurer himself took shares in the Society, and powerful Privy Counsellors like Arundel and Pembroke were among its members, it lasted no more than two years. The herrings, it was said, 'failed to come'. In fact this was not the full story. Herrings, like salmon, travel a well-defined path and the lochs of the Isle of Lewis were an occasional rather than a regular haunt. Land had been bought without due consideration, the curing sheds, the storage huts, the houses for workpeople had been built too soon on too large a scale, supplies had been ordered prematurely in excess of what could be required. Money and labour had been expended unskilfully and wastefully, if not fraudulently. Employees of the Society were deliberately misled by uncooperative natives whose chief object was to see them depart, they were harrassed by Dunkirk pirates.


Above all, they built boats unsuitable to the herring fishing and failed to learn either from the efficient Dutch herring busses or from their own more experienced fishermen. It was one more example of good intention warped by faulty execution.[1]

Charles had been deeply involved, and the failure of the Fishery Society was a great disappointment, particularly since England's position as mistress of the seas was becoming more precarious. There were clashes with the Dutch in the East Indies, where the Dutch East India Company was challenging the British, the Dutch were becoming troublesome in the New World, where their fishing vessels were competing with the English and where they were attempting settlement on the mainland. Nearer home Jerome Weston was returning from an embassy in France in the spring of 1633 on the Bonaventure when he fell in with eight Dutch merchantmen in the Channel. The English captain required the Dutch to lower their topsails as the normal mark of respect. When they refused, his answer was to fire a couple of shots at them, upon which they responded with their own guns. The English, outnumbered by eight to one, left the honours to the Dutch. As such incidents multiplied neither the Dutch nor even the Spanish paid much respect to English sovereignty, chasing each other with impunity into English harbours, abusing to excess Charles's patience, as the Venetian Ambassador put it. Charles was particularly annoyed when a Dutch ship seized an English barque carrying a courier with letters for the Venetian. He was angry when in March 1635 Dunkirkers captured and retained as prize a ship carrying tobacco to Holland. He never forgot that when his wife was pregnant in 1630 her midwife had been captured by Dunkirkers in the Channel. He read with bitterness Secretary Coke's report in June 1634 telling of the 'scant respect' shown to the English in various parts of the world: 'Our ancient reputation is not only cried down, but we submit to wrongs in all places which are not to be endured'.[2]

Charles had already asked for a restatement of the doctrine of Sovereignty of the Seas and Borough's work, based largely on precedent, was finished in 1633 and dedicated to Charles. Two years later Selden's Mare Clausum was printed and again the dedication was to Charles. Supported by his Council, and on the authority of an eminent lawyer and an eminent antiquarian, Charles took his stand on the principle of mare clausum and reiterated his country's claim to sovereignty of the seas. 'We hold it a principle not to be denied', he told the Dutch in 1636, 'that the King of Great Britain is a monarch at


land and sea to the full extent of his dominions, and that it concerneth him as much to maintain his sovereignty in all the British Seas as within his three kingdoms.' It would be maintained, he said, 'not so much by discourses as by the louder language of a powerful navy, to be better understood when overstrained patience seeth no hope of preserving her right by other means'. He added that he intended to keep a naval force at sea to enforce British Sovereignty.[3]

Charles's heart was still in the sea. He was constantly at the Admiralty discussing in detail the condition of his ships, deciding which should be refitted, considering docking arrangements and other facilities at Portsmouth and elsewhere. One of his greatest pleasures was dining with his wife aboard one of his ships with a supporting vessel of kitchen staff drawn up alongside. In spite of the disasters of Cadiz and La Rochelle, in spite of his inability to control piracy round his own shores, in spite of the successful competition of the Dutch as carriers and as fishermen, he had nevertheless built up a navy of 22,000 effective tonnage, which was larger than that of the Tudor Queen who was so often held up to him as a model. He had rebuilt the Vanguard in 1630, he revived a decree of 1618 to build at least two new warships a year, and time after time he attended their launchings from his shipyards, living again the thrill of earlier days when he was carried along by the enthusiasm of his brother, dreading a disaster like that when the Prince stuck on the slips.

At the end of January 1633 he saw the Charles , a ship of 810 tons and 44 guns slip gracefully without incident from her launching bay at Deptford and raced in his barge in her wake as she proceeded down river. A few days later he watched with his wife as the Henrietta-Maria , of 793 tons and 42 guns, was successfully launched at Woolwich. But she was a poor ship according to Admiral Pennington. Even worse was the Unicorn built by Edward Boate a little later in the year. She was dangerous and unserviceable and had obtained a certificate of seaworthiness from Trinity House only because the authorities hesitated to disgrace her builder. There was certainly a need for a general overhaul of British shipbuilding. A good English ship was solid and 'full of timber' and could last for seventy years. But the Dutch could run circles round her and she would never catch a privateer. Moreover English ships were not given the constant care and attention necessary to keep them in good condition. As Pennington wrote to the Admiralty in 1634, the Dutch kept their ships 'all tallowed and clean from the


ground . . . every two months, or three at the most' while English ships were cleaned two or three months before they came into use, and never tallowed, so that they were foul almost before they sailed. They were given no regular care after sailing and if kept out for eight or ten months were 'so overgrown with barnacles and weeds under water' that it was 'impossible that they should either go well or work yarely'. All men of war, he concluded bitterly, 'of what nation soever, whether Turk or Christian, keep this course of cleansing their ships once in two or three months but us.'[4]

The best ships were still being built by a Pett, and for greater speed they were being made longer in proportion to their breadth. It was Peter, son of Phineas, who built the James at Deptford in 1633; and to Phineas himself fell the task of reviving the glories of his youth in another Sovereign  — a non-pareil with three decks, over a hundred guns, and a gross tonnage of more than 1500 tons. She was to be 127 feet long, 46.6 feet wide, and 19.4 feet in depth and would be the largest ship afloat. The Masters of Trinity House thought a three-decker of such a size to be 'beyond the art or wit of man to construct' and that even if built there would be no port in which she could ride, no tackle that would hold her. But in January 1635 Charles personally called for an estimate for building such a vessel, insisting upon 102 guns against a first costing for a ninety-gun ship. In March Phineas was ordered to prepare a model and told he was appointed by His Majesty as builder, with his fifth son, Peter, associated with him in the actual construction. Charles himself earmarked the forests which would supply the ship's timbers — Sherwood, Dean and Chopwell — while Phineas selected the actual trees most suitable to his purpose. The keel of the Sovereign was laid at Woolwich on 16 January 1636 in the presence of Charles and Henrietta-Maria. Charles was impatient to see her afloat and insisted upon the autumn of 1637 for her launching against Pett's strong recommendation that the following spring was a better time since she would grow foul lying in the river during the winter. But Charles would not listen. 'I am not of your opinion', he brusquely scribbled on Pett's note.[5]

The Sovereign was launched in October 1637 having cost, exclusive of her guns, nearly £41,000 compared with about £6,000 for a forty-gun ship. But the expense was not all because of her guns. She was a beautiful vessel with graceful lines, perfectly executed joinery and exquisite carving. She proved somewhat top-heavy at sea, possibly because of the number of her guns, but Charles proudly caused to


be inscribed upon each one of them: Carolus Edgari sceptrum stabilivit aquarum .[6]

Ships, however, absorbed money: £60,000 a year for the upkeep of the fleet, £60,000 for the Admiralty, apart from new building. How was the money to be found? Although Charles knew the answer the Tower records were once more searched, this time by William Noy, who had become Attorney General in 1631. Noy confirmed that from at least the time of the Plantagenets the ports had been called upon in times of danger to provide ships for general defence, and he reminded Charles of half-hearted and unsuccessful attempts made in his father's reign and early in his own to revive the tax. Charles realized the need for caution. 'Danger' was difficult to specify and precedent was irregular and tentative. But the goal was worth while; for if ship money worked it could raise more money than a couple of subsidies. Charles held the reins firmly in his own hands. An inner circle which included Noy, Weston (now Lord Portland) and Secretary Windebank assessed the situation. Charles was convinced that both by law and by precedent he could go ahead and by June 1634 he was ready to take his whole Council into his confidence. Windebank was for further delay until the details of assessment and collection had been worked out, urging that the good or ill success of 'the King's Great Business' would depend upon the manner of its execution. Portland was cautious throughout. But Charles was convinced he was right and would brook neither delay nor opposition, removing from their posts without compunction Sir Robert Heath, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, and Richard Shilton, the Solicitor General, who were likely to prove difficult.[7]

The Council agreed with Noy that the tax should be levied upon maritime counties as well as port towns, that the money raised should be kept apart from royal navy receipts, and that the ship-money fleet should be administered direct by the King and Council. The most difficult question was that of assessment. Charles knew he was treading upon dangerous ground and was almost fanatically anxious to forestall opposition. After long discussion he acted on the advice of Lord Keeper Coventry, whose long letter reached him while he was on progress at Belvoir, and adopted a compromise which involved borough officials as well as sheriffs and assumed that the subsidy rolls already in existence would be the basis of assessment. The first writs of ship money went out on 20 October 1634. Noy had died two months earlier, but it was so much Noy's business that as he lay dying the


Privy Council, it was said, came to his bedside for suggestions and advice. The writs were directed to the cities, port towns, and maritime counties of England, and their demands were in the form of ships, which were to be fully manned and provided with arms, ammunition, and victuals for twenty-six weeks from 1 March 1635. The reasons given for the demand were protection from pirates, the defence of the kingdom, the safeguard of the seas, the security of the subjects, safe conduct of ships and merchandise, and the maintenance of the sovereignty of the seas hitherto pertaining to kings of England. Commutation into money was expected, the total being estimated at a little over £104,000.

The careful approach had its reward. The first collection of ship money came in reasonably well. London protested, largely on the grounds that tonnage and poundage was intended to provide protection on the seas, but nevertheless paid — in ships. The Venetian Ambassador thought the good response was because the people were 'eagerly jealous' to secure the sovereignty of the sea. But it is likely that the smallness of the tax had something to do with the lack of protest.

The immediate object of the first ship-money fleet, consisting of 25 or 26 ships which went to sea the following year, was to show that Britain was still a force to be reckoned with. It had a limited success in the Channel, causing Dutch vessels for a time to lower their flags and to purchase fishing licences. But the fleet was capable of nothing very ambitious, there was no patriotic upsurge to match the grandiose doctrine of sovereignty of the seas, and no evidence in Europe that the fleet had caused more than the slightest tremor. This was partly because the care taken with victualling and recruitment had in no way matched the care taken in raising the money. The Earl of Lindsey, Commander of the first ship-money fleet, had to tell the Lords Commissioners of the Navy in 1635 that the beef supplied to his ships was so tainted that when it was moved the stench alone was sufficient to breed contagion. Crews were still a hotch-potch, including Thames watermen and reluctant landmen pressed into the service. They still ran away. They were still sick. The majority had no knowledge of seamanship. Lindsey reported that out of 260 men in the James not more than twenty could steer, that in the Unicorn there was hardly a seaman besides the officers, that one-third of the crew of the Entrance had never been to sea, and that of the rest only twelve could take the helm.[8]


Nevertheless the actual raising of money on the first ship-money writ was sufficiently successful for the second writ of August 1635 to be extended to the whole country, inland counties as well as maritime. It was arguable that defence concerned everyone and should be paid for by everyone, wherever they lived, but the extension both enlarged the area of protest and increased its bitterness. At the same time, as the levy was repeated in 1636, 1637 and 1638, alarm grew that what had appeared to be an emergency tax was becoming regular and permanent. Evasion became more determined and widespread. It was obvious that considerable latitude must be allowed to the sheriff, but it was not expected that he would be evading payment himself, shifting the highest assessment on to the parishes most likely to pay without fuss, or giving preferential treatment to parishes where he had friends or relations. The unpaid constables who, in the absence of any paid officials, were responsible for the actual collection of ship money found themselves in an intolerable position when local magnates refused to pay or proferred only part of the sum at which they were assessed. A constable, faced with the man he knew as master in normal situations, found himself utterly unable to enforce payment. Complaints soon came in to the Council of richer men assessed at 2d or 2 1/2d an acre while smallholders were paying as much as 2/4d an acre. Soldiers and even paupers were being told to contribute.

The Council insisted that no one in receipt of alms, no cottager unless he had resources over and above his daily earnings, and no soldier who was dependent entirely on his pay, should be assessed. Charles personally ordered that the poor should be spared. On the other hand there were, as the Council said, people able to pay by means of their wealth in trade or personal estate who remained untaxed while the subsidy rating was in respect of land only; they would remove the anomaly of a small landowner being liable even though he was 'weak of estate' while a wealthy tradesman was untouched. But assessment was more difficult and resistance was stronger from the wealthy tradesman than from the 'weak' landowner, and rather than face a struggle with the commercial interest the Council quietly dropped the idea of assessing wealth other than land. They had struggle enough upon their hands as a concerted opposition to ship money began to build up, based not only upon evasion, but upon a refusal to pay the tax as a matter of principle.

But in spite of refusals and evasion, ship money was bringing in more than the original estimate and for the first three years averaged


about £188,000 a year. The money raised was all spent on the fleet. It was tragic that gross incompetence, a venal administration, inadequate recruitment, and a criminal disregard for the well-being of the crews should have prevented the putting to sea of a navy which was worthy of the effort spent on it.[9]

When Portland died in 1635 after a painful illness that perhaps impaired his service at the end, his memorial stood in the condition of the King's finances. By 1636 Charles could estimate that he had raised his income from some £700,000 in 1630 to over £1,000,000 a year. There was still not much margin, not enough to allow him to think in terms of the Palatinate, except by way of diplomacy, but there was sufficient to give him some confidence in his personal affairs. His Lord Treasurer had served him well. Weston came somewhat reluctantly into ship money but worked loyally for it. He was not much loved — but what Lord Treasurer was? He was much devoted to family interests — but no more than most men of his generation. He was accused of improper practices in connection with disafforestation — but few public men escaped such charges. If he had enemies that was common enough in public life. Charles, as he normally did with his friends and servants, stood by Portland throughout his career. On the news of his last illness Charles hastened to his bedside and was much upset by his suffering. He stayed but 'a very little while in his chamber; he breathed with so much pain and difficulty that the King could not endure it'.[10] After his death Charles spent a little time mourning the man who stood as close to him as any since the death of Buckingham: it was hard that within a year he should have lost, with Noy, two financial advisers. Much would depend upon Portland's successor. There was a great deal of lobbying but it was generally expected that the succession would go to Cottington, already Chancellor of the Exchequer and said to be high in the King's favour. But a certain astuteness in Charles, a realization that perhaps for all his virtues Cottington was not of the calibre for highest office, that one who practised such high living himself would hardly economize in affairs of state, perhaps some rancour over the affair of Richmond Park, caused Charles to hold the Treasurer's office in commission and to appoint, instead, Cottington, Laud, Coke and Windebank as Treasury Commissioners. Of these Sir Francis Windebank was newest to office, having been a surprise appointment as Secretary of State on the death of Dorchester in 1632. Sir Thomas Roe, traveller, diplomat, loyal and knowledge-


able, a man of wide sympathy and large understanding, who would have liked the post, was inexplicably passed over — perhaps because of his very closeness to Charles's sister — and it was Windebank, a hitherto obscure clerk in the signet, but a protégé of Laud and of Catholic leanings, who was advanced.

The four Commissioners made little departure from Portland's policy and under Laud's relentless eye there was an even keener attention to detail. When a new Lord Treasurer took office in March 1636 it was William Juxon, Laud's successor as Bishop of London, who took the post. The appointment entailed again passing over Cottington and was a further mark of Laud's influence, which was emphasised when he became chairman of Charles's Foreign Affairs committee.

Charles knew there were other things to do besides paying debts and raising money, important though these were. Social policy was, indeed, the 'King's great business' in a more fundamental sense than the raising of ship money and Charles met the problem with all the means at his disposal, through the standing committee on trade, through the Privy Council and through the JPs. The problem was brought sharply to his attention by the bad harvests of 1629 and 1630 and the visitation of plague in the spring of 1630. The cloth industry, always sensitive to calamity, slumped badly with resultant unemployment and distress and there was rioting in many parts of the country as corn supplies dwindled and prices rose. The Privy Council was inundated with letters from the local magistrates and with petitions for relief from workers and their employers. 'In this time of dearth', wrote the JPs of Nottinghamshire in a typical letter, we have 'little rest at home or abroad, and find many difficulties to content poor people . . . All men's barns are now empty.' The Council acted promptly. The export of corn was forbidden and its price fixed; better stocked districts were instructed to send supplies to help others, strict measures were put in operation against regraters who held corn back in hope of a price rise, the strict observance of fast days was enjoined, the quantity of grain used by malsters and starchmakers was strictly regulated. Employers were ordered to keep their people on work and the Council charged those who in former times had gained by their industry 'not now in this time of dearth to leave off trade whereby the poor may be set on work'. Many offenders were dealt with locally or at the Assizes but some of the more important cases came before the


Star Chamber. When a certain Archer was charged before this Court with hoarding corn and thereby enhancing its price, the Attorney General declared the crime to be 'of high nature and evill consequence to the undoeing of the poor'. Laud rounded on Archer and told him he was 'grinding the faces of the poor' and the court agreed that he should be made an example. He was fined 100 marks to the King, £10 to the poor, and condemned to stand in the pillory in Newgate, in Leadenhall market, and in his native Chelmsford with a paper in his hat giving the cause of his punishment. On the whole the response to the Privy Council's emergency measures was good, local constables were energetic in searching for hoarded corn, and fines were as high as £100.

Enclosure was a problem which stood by itself. When Charles came to the throne the movement of depopulating enclosure had almost run its course but it was still necessary to tread cautiously and there were still enclosing landlords whose activities could not be ignored. Investigatory Commissions went out from the Council in 1632, 1635 and 1636 while the reports it called for came in by the dozen, evidence of its ability to inject its own sense of urgency into the localities. Offenders were again brought before the Star Chamber where, again, Laud was severe. He turned upon Thomas Lord Brudenell telling him he had 'devoured the people with a shepherd and a dog', imposed a fine of £1000 and ordered him to restore eight farms. The sentence was not untypical. The prosecutions brought what a contemporary termed a 'terror' to depopulating landlords and from the Midland Commission alone the Exchequer reaped £30,000 or more, large fines being normally accompanied by detailed instructions for reconversion to pasture and the rebuilding of decayed farms. There was criticism that the fine was more important to Charles than the restoration of tillage, and patents issued by the Privy Council in 1635 and 1637 empowering commissioners to compound with offenders at their discretion appeared to support this view. On the other hand it is hard to believe that the Orders, the Commissions, the Justices' Reports, the proceedings in Star Chamber, Laud's attitude to the men brought before him, the carefully worked-out estimates of the number of houses to be replaced, the amount of pasture to be restored, were all part of an elaborate device for bringing into the Exchequer, not the fine itself, but part of the fine. It is more likely that the Council was making a genuine attempt at reassessment and the rectification of mistakes. To think otherwise accords neither with the


brusqueness, even brutality, with which Laud confronted depopulating enclosures in Star Chamber, nor with Charles's general attitude towards the poor, which was consistently one of compassion.

Apart from particular social problems Charles, like all English monarchs before him, had to face the overall question of destitution. The problem had been tackled piecemeal until the comprehensive Poor Law legislation of 1585, codified in the Elizabethan Act of 1601. But Charles's Privy Council believed that the Poor Laws were for the most part 'little regarded'. They accused JPs of neglecting their duties, they maintained that money bequeathed for charitable purposes was being misappropriated, and alleged that people dared not complain for fear of the great landowners. They concluded that not more laws, but better execution was needed.

It was a mark of the seriousness with which Charles regarded the matter that the Commission he appointed on 5 January 1631 included Laud and Wentworth and a majority of the Privy Council. It was instructed simply to see that the laws were effectively put into execution. The country was divided into six circuits to each of which groups of Commissioners were appointed, while Orders in Council required the JPs and other local officials to assess the situation in their districts, to take appropriate action, and, as with enclosure and depopulation, to send reports to the Commissioners. To make quite clear what was expected of them a series of Directions was also issued by the Council which more or less repeated the terms of the Elizabethan code. At the end of January over 300 printed books containing these Orders and Directions, each accompanied by a letter from the Council, went out to all the sheriffs of all the counties of England and Wales to be distributed by them throughout the counties and boroughs under their jurisdiction.

The JPs responded with a readiness that made it seem that only strong directive had been lacking. Their Reports positively poured in to the Council. Some simply stated that they put in operation the Book of Orders. At the other end of the scale some JPs sent very detailed accounts of their activity, which covered far more than the Poor Law itself. They suppressed alehouses, controlled the price of corn, punished 'wandering rogues', apprenticed children, restrained malsters from taking corn, repaired a House of Correction, put the poor on work repairing bridges. Some magistrates instituted a comprehensive search for grain of any kind that might have been withheld from the market. The City of London, in a detailed report, told of 773


poor children maintained by Christ's Hospital, forty apprenticed to trades in England, seventy working as apprentices in Bridewell, and fifty who had been bound apprentice to merchants in Barbados and Virginia. The returns form a running commentary on conditions in England.

The Book of Orders was effective throughout the decade. There was nothing unfamiliar in the policy it attempted to enforce, nor was it a novelty for the Privy Council to believe that it could operate for the general good. What was new was the comprehensive nature of Charles's social policy and the energy and determination which was put into its execution, both centrally and in the localities. That Charles had a genuine care for the poor and unfortunate was evident over and over again. He was careful to ensure that poorer people kept land after the drainage of the Fens; he wished to incorporate poor fishermen into his fishing enterprises; when Galtes forest was disafforested he awarded every landless cottager four to seven acres of good land 'in pity and commiseration of the estate of the poorer sort of inhabitants'; when in 1635 a custom of sea coal was abated for the poor of London Charles wanted proof that the poor really benefited and ordered the City to provide a certificate to this effect; he supported the unemployed cloth workers against the clothiers, the hungry poor against the great cornmasters, the dispossessed against enclosing landlords. In so doing he made enemies. Landlords and industrialists, parishes who paid higher rates to implement his poor law directives, as well as those subject to forest fines or assessed for ship money, resented the imposition, and Charles himself bore the main responsibility. 'Everyone walks within the circle of his charge, his majesty's hand is the chief, and in effect the sole directory', Dorchester wrote, and this continued to be true. The annotation on document after document, the fact that he still refused a sign manual but appended his own signature to every document of which he approved is one mark of this continued conscientiousness in public affairs.[11]

After the death of Portland the man who was constantly at Charles's elbow was William Laud, who became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1633, Treasury Commissioner between the death of Portland in March 1635 and the appointment of Juxon a year later, and chairman of his Foreign Affairs Committee. Charles was not conscious of his partnership with Laud as he had been of his relationship with Buckingham. He was not personally attracted to Laud but their co-


operation was in many ways more effective. For Laud had a single, driving purpose in place of the disparate energy of the Duke and, above all, there was nothing in worldly pomp or riches to attract him personally and he had no dependents or partisans who could hope for favour on personal issues alone. His sole ambition was to establish a clean-cut Church and State, each free of the excrescences of rival forms of worship or of rule, from which graft, dishonesty, slackness and inefficiency should be rooted out. In each case organization and government should be known, expressed, and rigidly adhered to. As the Church should observe the forms of worship laid down by the Fathers, so the State should enforce the laws and issue fresh directives where necessary to preserve that social hierarchy which so completely expressed Laud's notion of society, with the monarch at the apex supported by his people in their degrees, and reaching down to the merest beggar. The edifice of the State, as of the Church, would be swept clean, and kept clean, by a policy which Laud expressed in the one word, 'thorough'. If the meticulous little man scarcely considered the vested interests that would rise around him, this was partly because he lived his life in blinkers which cut him off from understanding anything but his rigid purpose, partly because he had the kind of courage that saw nothing but what it was necessary to do. It was unfortunate, though natural, that this kind of dedication to duty should be accompanied by a lack of warmth that cut him off from real friendship. James had never responded to him. Charles did so because of their joint purpose, but not with warmth. Besides, Charles had something of Laud in him that denied the easy contact of friendship. The person who came closest to Laud was the man who became Lord Deputy of Ireland at the beginning of 1632 – and Wentworth, like Charles and Laud, was a man of few close contacts and fewer warm friendships.


The King and His Court

There was a definitive regularity about the Privy Council. Its numbers could be adjusted, it was subject to control. The Court, on the other hand, was amorphous both territorially and numerically. It was undefined, unwieldy, difficult to control and even more difficult to evade, being normally in existence wherever Charles himself happened to be. He could absent himself from Privy Council meetings without arousing much comment; he could escape the Court only by deliberate withdrawal into privacy and the risk of anxious speculation.

The Court was a world in itself. It even embraced part of the government, for business was carried on in private meetings, by personal soundings, by a word here, a glance there, while the very aspect of the King, or of one of the great officers of state, was sufficient foundation for rumour or surmise.

The London home of Charles and his family, where the Court was most enveloping, was Whitehall. Whitehall was a palace, the main seat of government and of many state departments, the home of Court officials, officers of state, friends of the King and Queen. Its untidy, almost ramshackle, redbrick buildings covered about twenty-three acres and contained some 2000 rooms. Wolsey had begun some of the buildings, Henry VIII had taken up residence there after Wolsey's fall from power and added considerably to its extent as well as changing its name to Whitehall. Since then it had suffered fire and decay. James had commissioned Inigo Jones to replan and rebuild the whole but because of shortage of money he had got no further than the splendid Banqueting Hall. Whitehall had its own stables, a sports area which included indoor and outdoor tennis courts, and a tilt yard; it had its own playhouse, banqueting hall and chapel. Its eastern side straggled along the Thames with various privy stairs leading down to landing stages and the barges that conveyed the denizens of Whitehall


upstream the short distance to Westminster or beyond, downstream to the City and Greenwich. On the west side was St James's Park, whose grass and pleasant walks lay around the redbrick Tudor palace which was the London home of the children of both Charles and Buckingham. Within Whitehall itself was a large privy garden and orchard and a series of small courts and gardens, including an open preaching area complete with pulpit. The small Council Chamber lay near the King's own apartments which consisted of a series of rooms of increasing privacy. In the Presence Chamber he would mix with his courtiers, exchange words with his intimates, be seen by many who had won no more than the privilege of being there. The Queen was sometimes present and audiences might be granted: more likely Charles would give audience in greater privacy in the Audience Chamber, and then only by appointment, for he would rarely countenance the casual boon or receive the impulsive courtier. Charles's withdrawing room, his privy chamber, his study or cabinet room, his oratory, his bedroom, were kept as private as possible, served only by courtiers in the more intimate positions of Gentlemen of the Bedchamber. The Queen's apartments, on a smaller scale, matched those of the King.

A public road, spanned by two bridges, ran through the middle of Whitehall connecting Westminster with Charing Cross at which point the Strand, which was in the real sense a strand, its gardens running down to the river, followed the bend of the Thames and connected Whitehall with the City. York House, where Buckingham's widow still lived, was at the Whitehall end of the Strand. At the City end was Somerset House which, as Denmark House, had belonged to Queen Anne and was now Henrietta-Maria's dower house. Between the two were the town residences of the great and wealthy. The opposite side of the Strand was mainly open to the fields, with only an occasional building to break the view to the heights of Highgate and Hampstead. Much of this land belonged to the Duke of Bedford and he was using Inigo Jones to design a church and a piazza after the Italian style in the old convent garden that lay north of the Strand.

Downriver at Greenwich was the partly finished house which Inigo Jones had designed on the site of the old palace of Placentia. It had been termed the Queen's House in the time of Charles's mother and he now wished it to be completed for his wife – partly because he enjoyed Greenwich with its smells of tar and timber and its closeness to the ships he loved. A few miles south and east was the Palace of


Eltham, which he never used, upriver there was the Palace of Sheen at Richmond, closely associated with his brother, and a little higher up Hampton Court, his mother's favourite residence. Windsor, the great fourteenth-century castle with its chapel built by Henry VII, was not popular with Charles or his family, but Oatlands near Weybridge, and Nonesuch at Ewell, both south of the river, were favourites of Henrietta-Maria. Charles himself enjoyed Theobalds in Hertfordshire for its hunting, as well as Royston, where his father had built a little hunting lodge as a place of retreat, and Newmarket, further afield. Other royal palaces and houses served more for occasional than regular visiting.[1]

The Court itself, in spite of efforts Charles had made when he came to the throne, remained an enormous, clumsy device consisting of thousands of people where, as Rubens had written, splendour and liberality were of primary consideration, and which was, as the Venetian Ambassador put it, 'extravagant with superfluity'. Officers of State had their 'households', each 'household' had its 'table', and the board and lodging costs alone were alarming. High-living courtiers like Carlisle, Holland and Cottington entertained lavishly at Court as well as at home and set a standard beside which Charles's own economies in, for example, apparel and the use of perfume, were a drop in the ocean. Court expenditure had actually risen since his accession. A Court masque alone could cost well over a thousand pounds and there were often half a dozen and more different masques in a year. Nor was it only the expense of the masque itself that had to be reckoned. Seating had to be provided, the close stools moved in, and food and drink on a lavish scale were expected.

Charles insisted upon order in the cumbersome Court of which his life was part and early in 1631 he felt compelled to reinforce the reforms made on his accession by laying down strict rules for its conduct. Boots and spurs were banned in the royal presence; none under the rank of baron was allowed to enter the inner closet; no one under royal rank might sit in Her Majesty's presence, and the distances that various ranks should keep from the King and Queen were carefully prescribed. Noblemen and their ladies in general were to 'use great distance and respect to the royal persons, as also civility to one another', and ladies about the Queen were 'to keep their places as orderly as the lords'. The Orders for Conduct at Court[2] are a commentary in themselves, but although they produced some outward improvement the civility to each other which Charles required of his


courtiers was not always there. In the overcrowded, hothouse atmosphere of Whitehall jealousies smouldered and quarrels flared. Young pages at Court, like young apprentices in the City, were apt to relieve boredom by pert or unbecoming conduct which easily developed into squabbles and fights. The Cockpit, in particular, became notorious for brawling and Charles was obliged to enforce stringent regulations. Quarrelling among his older courtiers could be more serious. In the spring of 1633 trouble broke out close to the King and Queen themselves when Holland challenged Jerome Weston to a duel and Henry Jermyn carried the challenge. Lord Fielding, Buckingham's nephew, who was about to marry Weston's sister, then intervened and challenged George Goring who had become involved on Holland's side. Partisanship ran high and Charles had twice to impose his authority to stop the duels and restore some sort of amity.

There were other respects, too, in which Charles's Court was perhaps not so decorous as he could have wished. When Dr John Dee preached before the King at the end of 1633 to the text 'Blessed is the womb that bare thee and the paps that gave thee suck' and took the occasion not only to extol womankind but to praise virginity in unmarried women he aroused caustic comment — 'Sure the doctor made no good choice of the court to commend virginity in.' There was certainly censure if a lady-in-waiting became pregnant by a courtier, but not necessarily moral condemnation. Even Henry Jermyn, close as he was to the Queen, dared to get one of her ladies, of the Villiers family, with child. From every point of view Charles's anger was justified but Jermyn was banished from the Court only briefly. Incest, which was not altogether uncommon, was generally condemned and punished by fine, though the moral stigma did not prevent the money going into the royal purse; the Queen, for example, took the fine imposed upon Sir Giles Arlington for this offence.

Charles could see well enough the effect of propinquity upon the tempers and morals of his courtiers, and whenever plague reappeared the physical dangers were equally apparent. He was also aware of the wasted lives of those who were not employed at Court but who hung around in the hope of reaping some crumbs from what appeared as an overflowing cornucopia. Like his father he issued repeated injunctions to such people to return to the country. His contempt for their wasted lives, for the way they and their families spent their time, were stringently expressed and did nothing to endear him to those he sent packing.


He himself tried to observe the same carefully-planned day he had instituted when he came to the throne. He still found that periods of quiet and contemplation were essential to him and would spend hours in his little study reading and copying out anything that appealed to him, like a long prayer in Scottish spelling. His scholarship was sufficiently precise, and his religious susceptibilities sufficiently sensitive, for him to be considerably affronted when the royal printers made serious misprints in an edition of the Bible. The unfortunate men were fined £300 by the Star Chamber. But about the same time Patrick Young, the classical scholar who was Keeper of the King's Library, published a Latin translation of a Greek manuscript which had been given to Charles by Sir Thomas Roe. This so delighted the King that he conceived the idea of printing Greek as well as Latin manuscripts and promised to pardon his printers if they would procure Greek type and publish one Greek manuscript a year. Shortly afterwards he wrote to the Turkey Company requiring that every ship of their fleet should on each voyage bring home one Arabic or Persian manuscript for, he said, there was 'a great deal of learning fit to be known written in Arabic, and great scarcity of Arabic and Persian books in this country'. His mind also ran a great deal upon English history and antiquity. He thought it 'not the least care in our Government to preserve the Antiquities of former Ages' and 'knowing how great a worke . . . the composing of our English story will be', he commissioned Sir Henry Wotton at a salary of £500 a year to write it.[3] Sir Henry wrote verses, collected works of art, in 1624 dedicated a book on architecture to Charles, and wrote a short biography of Buckingham, yet his history of England never saw the light of day. Charles's patronage of the tapestry works at Mortlake was more productive. As Prince he had procured the painter, Cleynes, to live in England and make designs for which he was provided with gold and silver thread, he had procured the Raphael cartoons and sent them to Mortlake, and the tapestries woven there, still under the direction of Sir Francis Crane, whom James had appointed, continued throughout the 1630s to vie with the great French works of the Gobelin looms.

Any mechanical device appealed to Charles. In Gresham College, founded by Sir Thomas Gresham in the reign of Elizabeth, there was considerable experimentation inspired by the Gresham Professor, Henry Briggs, and his team. Many practical artisans came to learn from these men, among them Richard Delamain, who turned his skill


to the production of certain 'mathematical instruments', as he called them. One was a form of quadrant design, said its inventor, to take mathematical measurements at sea. Delamain presented to Charles a small version of this quadrant, made of solid silver, which the King kept always in his bedchamber and he turned his mind to inventing a similar device himself. Delamain also invented a 'mathematical ring' which, by the moving of concentric circles in a prescribed manner, worked 'arithmetical and mathematical questions only by the eye with . . . facility and expedition', as its inventor claimed. Grammelogia , the book in which this device was described, was dedicated to Charles. Shortly afterwards Charles actually acquired one of these mathematical rings, which so fascinated him that it never left him and he bequeathed it to his son. Delamain was a humble man, describing himself in the frontispiece of one of his books as a 'student and teacher of the mathematics'. Charles liked him and appointed him both tutor to the King in mathematics and quartermaster general.[4] It was consistent with this attitude that William Harvey should be appointed personal physician to Charles, as he had been to James, and that Charles should allow him to experiment upon deer in the royal parks. Harvey's great work on the motion of the heart and blood in animals was published in 1628 and dedicated to Charles. The King in his kingdom, said Harvey, is like the heart in the body.

Charles spent less time now in his model room but his picture galleries and the Cabinet room where he kept his choicest pieces remained his greatest delight. His collection continued to grow. Buckingham had presented him with two Holbeins —  Frobenius and Erasmus  — before he went to the Isle of Rhé, as well as with two delightful miniatures of the children of the Duke of Brandon. Though Charles's Holbeins could not match in number and quality the superb collection of the Earl of Arundel, he had an early self-portrait of Rembrandt and the sixteenth-century northern artists were well represented in his cabinet: he had several Breughels and three portraits by Dürer — a self-portrait, a picture of the artist's father, and the portrait of a young man — all presented to him by the City of Nuremberg through Arundel.

When Arundel was in Prague on embassy in 1634 he met Wenceslaus Hollar, who had been travelling in Europe and drawing views of the principal cities he visited. His Prospect of the City of Prague so impressed Arundel that he persuaded Hollar to accompany him and delineate further cities. In 1637 they arrived in London and before the


year was out Hollar had produced a Prospect and View of Greenwich on the strength of which Charles engaged him as drawing master to Prince Charles.

Van Dyck meanwhile had returned to London and Charles had persuaded him to stay in the role of Court painter. He was fully justifying Charles's confidence with portraits of the royal family and their courtiers which would give posterity that idealized picture of the Stuart Court which was in the King's mind. Charles was now enjoying what a contemporary termed 'the full flower of robust vigour natural to his time of life'. 'He is well proportioned and strong', continued the description, but below the average height. 'Although more disposed to melancholy than joviality, yet his aspect, with his comeliness, is no less pleasing than grave. His actions disclose no predominance of immoderate appetites or unruly affections, indeed, he is a prince full of goodness and justice.' He was rarely ill. On one occasion, though, he gave cause for alarm. He became hot at tennis, red spots showed on his body and memories of Henry's death were revived. But the doctors diagnosed smallpox. Henrietta would not leave her husband, night or day, in spite of the danger of infection. Fortunately Charles had only a light attack. He even seemed to enjoy his enforced inactivity, sitting up in a chair in a furred robe, playing games, chatting, and eating and drinking heartily. The illness was soon over and left no afternath.[5]

Henrietta-Maria appeared to be an admirable partner. She was now dressing beautifully in the subdued shades of gold and blue, sometimes set off with a touch of red, which were so admirably suited to Van Dyck's brush. She had borne Charles a daughter, Mary, on 4 November 1631 when she was twenty-two years old, and James, Duke of York, on 14 October 1633. Elizabeth followed at the end of December 1635, and Anne on 17 March 1637. By now Henrietta-Maria's bony little frame had filled out, a full lower lip attractively masked the slightly protruding teeth, and in the more rounded contours of her face the nose no longer looked too large. Her vivacity was undimmed, her countenance was alive to every mood and passing thought, her large black eyes as bright and expressive as when Charles had first seen them, full of apprehension, at Dover. She wore her hair in the new fashion, drawn back from her face with flat ringlets on her forehead and a curl or love-lock at her neck. She had grown very little in height and was still barely past her husband's shoulder. Charles could esteem his wife both fashionable and a beauty. Although she


was not robust, and her pregnancies frequently caused anxiety, she, like her husband, was rarely ill.

At Court the Queen was constantly at her husband's side and she accompanied him on progress. She was, indeed, excluded from the Council, but never lacked information concerning its deliberations. Hunting, alone, was the activity she did not share. Unlike Charles's mother she was no huntress, while Charles's enthusiasm for the chase was becoming so consuming that he would spend as long as three weeks away from her on hunting expeditions. She had, however, her own interests, apart from the masque, exercising her French taste on the internal decorations of her house at Greenwich and at Somerset House. She now had many French friends and visitors without disturbing her relations with the King. Her illegitimate brother, the Duc de Vendôme, visited the English Court, and a Monsieur de Jars, who had all the social graces, including a witty tongue, played tennis with Charles, but was suspected of being a French agent. Of English courtiers the handsome Holland, Henry Jermyn who became her Vice Chamberlain in 1628, and George Goring, Lord Goring's son, were high in her favour. That religion was no barrier between her and her husband was demonstated when in September 1632 Charles accompanied her to Somerset House to help her lay the foundation stone of her new chapel on the old tennis court. He appeared more aware of his wife's pleasure than of the criticism of his Protestant subjects.

They saw a great deal of their children, who would join them for walks in one of the royal parks or gardens or spend amusing evenings in one of the great drawing rooms, where Archie Armstrong, the Court jester, or Jeffrey Hudson, the Queen's favourite dwarf, would entertain the courtiers while the King played at cards and the Queen fondled her pet monkeys or her dogs. Sometimes the children were present on more formal occasions. In 1635 Charles took the Prince of Wales to the Garter ceremony at Windsor. When the Venetian Ambassador was received at Richmond in 1637 all the children were there. Correr remarked appropriately that he rejoiced to find His Majesty in the midst of his greatest felicity, while Charles reproved the Prince of Wales for having received the Ambassador too stolidly when his hand was being kissed.[6] A little later in the same year Prince Charles and Princess Elizabeth acted as proxies at the christening of their sister, Anne.

The King and Queen liked to feel in control of the lives and fortunes of the men and women who composed their world, and the


marriages of their friends' children, remained with Charles, as with James, a matter of deep concern. In 1635 Mary Villiers, aged thirteen, was married to Pembroke's son and heir, only a few years older. It was a match that would have pleased her father but the young bridegroom died of smallpox in Florence before the year was out. A few years later Mary married Charles's cousin James Stuart, Duke of Lennox. In the meantime Buckingham's widow had forfeited her place in the royal favour by a marriage with Viscount Dunluce, an Irishman several years her junior, of great charm but little fortune.

So there unfolded the day-to-day happenings of a Court that was a microcosm of the world. Charles liked to think of it as an ordered society from which strife had been banished. If he could not reach this stage of perfection in reality he could attain it in the contrived performances of the masque with which Inigo Jones continued to delight the Court. Jones's quarrel with Ben Jonson had not been healed but for Jones, to whom the form of the masque was all-important, this mattered little and he continued to co-ordinate every visual detail of his invention, from scenic fancy to the style and colour of a garment. As it happened there was sufficient talent at Charles's Court to supply fairly adequately the gap left by Jonson, but it was, by and large, the continuing fantasies of the ever-fertile Inigo Jones that held the Court not only entranced but assured that in this world of contrived balance and form, where virtue triumphed and the Gods were on the side of the King and his Court, they could see mirrored their own existence.

The King's masque, Albion's Triumph , performed on 8 January 1632 was, as its name implied, a glorification of the King and his state; Tempe Restored , written by Aurelian Townsend for the Queen's masque, was postponed because she had a sty in her eye, but when it was performed on Shrove Tuesday it proved to be one of Jones's most elaborate fancies. Fourteen children including, naturally, Villiers and Feildings, danced delightfully, Nicholas Lanier, who composed the music, and his musicians were airborne on a great cloud that hung above the stage, heavenly stars descended to earth in a blaze of light and the Queen herself, with supreme confidence, allowed herself to appear in the heavens as Divine Beauty in a golden chariot and to be lowered from aloft in full view of the audience. Tempe Restored highlighted the beauty of the Queen, which pleased Charles, and the ingenuity of the mechanical devices highly delighted him. The Triumph of Peace was the fitly-entitled masque by James Shirley and Inigo Jones performed at Candlemas (February) 1633, to which the


public were admitted. The lesson was learned, for turnstiles were installed at the King's masque by Thomas Carew, Coelum Britannicum , which followed shortly after. To add to the general harmony the four Inns of Court combined in the autumn of 1633 to prepare a masque to offer to the Court. The names of the great and the learned appeared as sponsors: Edward Hyde and William Whitelocke of the Middle Temple; John Selden of the Inner Temple; William Noy of Lincoln's Inn; Sir John Finch of Gray's Inn. It was presented on Candlemas Night, 1634, at the end of the Christmas festivities, in the presence of the King and Queen, who were so pleased that they asked for it to be repeated for the benefit of the London citizens. The learned sponsors obviously enjoyed it too. Whitelocke turned aside from his diary of more serious events to record the details of the preparations and performance, concluding with an audible sigh when it was all over and he returned to more mundane affairs: 'Thus these Dreams past, and these Pomps vanished . . .'

The masques continued — ten, twelve, sixteen in a single season from September to February — but there were plays as well. The season of 1633/34 was particularly full. On Charles's birthday, November 19, The Young Admiral by James Shirley was played and the King and Queen were said to have liked it. A week later came The Taming of the Shrew , also noted as 'liked' and the following day Fletcher's The Tamer Tam'd , which was said to have been 'very well lik't'. On December 10 another Beaumont and Fletcher, The Loyal Subject , won much approval from the King. Cymbeline was performed on New Year's Day 1634 and was highly praised by Charles, and six days later Beaumont and Fletcher were again chosen with The Faithful Shepherdess (for which clothes from the Queen's masque were used). It was 'lik't'; so was another Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale , given on January 16. But Ben Jonson's Tale of the Tub , which burlesqued Inigo Jones, was definitely 'not lik't'. Charles had not reached saturation point even after all this fare and on February 6 was able to exclaim with enthusiasm that The Gamester , by Shirley, which was given on that day, was the best play he had seen for seven years.[7]


The Yearly Round

Charles gave much thought and time to restoring the significance and enhancing the ceremonies associated with the Order of the Garter and the cult of St George. James had been overwhelmed with the splendour of the ceremonies and the regalia of the Order, particularly with the Great George, the massive collar of gold worn by each Knight on ceremonial occasions with the jewelled likeness of St George slaying the dragon suspended from it. These were the Orders which he had sent out to Spain for his 'boys' to wear on St George's Day in order to impress the Spanish Court, and it was for St George's Feast that he had cut short Charles's attendance on Elizabeth after her marriage.

To Charles the religious ceremonies associated with the inauguration of new Knights and the annual feasts themselves offered a highly emotive form of dedication and worship. St George himself shed any vestige of the pagan knight and became the Christian hero whose pictures and images would adorn the chapel of the Knights of the Order. James had appointed a Commission in 1611 which led to minor changes, and in 1630 Charles appointed a standing commission of Knights to consider the restoration of the Order to its ancient purity. He restored the Grand Feast permanently to Windsor where Matthew Wren, the Dean, was only too anxious to associate High Church practices with the ritual of the Order. Ceremonies became more elaborate, tapestries showing the Virgin and St George covered the altar in St George's Chapel, his image appeared on the walls, the feasts of St George became more of a dedication, less of a public spectacle.

Shortly after he came to the throne Charles had added to the regalia by embroidering on the cloak of every Knight a large cross within a garter with a 'glory' of silver rays emanating from the cross. In 1629 he struck a special commemorative medal with the legend Prisci Decus


Ordinis Auctum , and in that year the inauguration ceremonies of the Duke of Northumberland reached a new height of elaborate ritual. Rubens, wishing to compliment the King and Queen, had portrayed St George with his foot on the dragon's neck in a typically English landscape with a suggestion of Charles and Henrietta-Maria about St George and the Princess. Pembroke not only possessed Raphael's St George but had engravings made which were the basis of little bronzes of George and the Dragon which were made for Charles and members of his Court, where devotion to St George became a fashionable and essential cult. Nevertheless, when Charles attempted to revive a decree of 1618 that each Knight should contribute at least £20 towards a new set of plate for the Chapel, he found that even those most intimately connected with the Order were as reluctant to pay for its embellishment as they were to contribute to ship money or other tax, and he was still endeavouring to collect their contributions at the end of the 1630s.

The mystique surrounding the Order of the Garter, its regalia and ritual, and in particular the use of images in which the Virgin could be associated with St George, were at one with Charles's attitude towards his Church. In being religious, the Order and its ceremony were of more significance to Charles than the Court masques which were mainly classical in theme and allusion. George, for example, in one of his rare appearances in a masque, was the folk hero and not the saint. But it was the Saint to whom Charles gave special veneration not only in the Great George but more particularly in the Lesser George. The Great George, the massive gold collar with its pendant image of St George slaying the dragon, was worn on ceremonial occasions, but the Lesser George, which was a picture of the Saint often contained in or engraved upon a locket, could be suspended from a blue ribbon round the neck or pinned upon the breast. Charles wore his Lesser George constantly. It contained a portrait of his wife, as well as of the Saint, and it was with him on his dying day.[1]

Charles was also interested in the occult, though on the whole he was inclined to discount prophecy or 'revelation'. He had, indeed, been extremely angry when his wife consulted Lady Eleanor Davies about an heir to the throne and in 1633 he countenanced the imprisonment of the same 'prophetess' by the High Commission for printing a 'revelation' concerning the fate of himself and his Archbishop. In demonology Charles had a more personal interest, for his father had been morbidly attracted to the subject and had written a


book on witches. The public as a whole shared this concern. In an age of sudden and sharp calamity, where unexpected storms caused shipwreck and harvest failure, where draught dried up the seeds in the earth, where plague and death were swift and unexplained, it was all too easy to see intentional malevolence at work, and only a step further to single out particular persons as responsible. The old, the bad-tempered, the physically deformed, the eccentric, often those who were merely wiser than their neighbours, could be categorized as 'witches'. Sometimes malevolence would deliberately build up a case on false evidence which the unfortunate victim of the charge was unable to refute. There had been witch trials and executions in Charles's own lifetime but the series of trials in 1634 in Lancashire concerned him personally. It was then asserted that seven Lancashire witches had raised the storm that caused the King's boat to capsize the previous summer in the Firth of Forth, and the women were condemned on this and other charges. Four of them died before the matter could be taken further, another confessed but pleaded penitence, and two completely denied the charges. The three surviving women were brought before Charles. The charge against the self-confessed witch, a widow of sixty years old, was now admitted to have been fabricated by the boy who was her accuser. Of the other two, Mary Spencer was a milkmaid aged twenty who enlivened her days by rolling her milk pail downhill, running after it and calling it to follow her if she outstripped it. She was accused of calling on the devil, and in the crowded Lancashire court where she was charged she was unable to hear what was said against her and quite incapable of explaining what she was accustomed to do. Charles spoke kindly to her and to the others, but though he promised the women their lives they were not released. Two years later Mary Spencer, and eight others, were still confined as witches in Lancaster gaol.[2]

Many who believed in the evil power of witches believed also in a beneficent power in kings to exorcise the evil disease of scrofula, or allied diseases, by means of the royal touch. To cure by the laying on of hands was a direct injunction of Christ to the Apostles and it accorded with Charles's views of kingship to use 'the touch' as English kings had done for centuries. The custom had been observed more meticulously in France than in England, and Charles, subject to French influence as well as his own conviction, built up the practice which his father had somewhat let decay. The ritual involved was quite elaborate, starting with the washing of the patients, with the


King drawing his hands gently over the afflicted places at the reading of the Gospel: 'they shall lay their hands on the sick and they shall recover'. The King would sometimes touch again and would put round the neck of each suppliant a 'healing angel' — a gold piece with a hole bored in it for a ribbon. After 1634 Charles had to abandon gold in the interests of economy and he used a silver coin instead, but a sufficient number of cures were attested, and enthusiasm was sufficiently high, for Charles to find it necessary to issue repeated Proclamations to limit the times when sufferers could come to be touched and to ensure that none came twice. In times of plague, particularly, access to Court to be touched for the King's Evil was forbidden. Some people would attempt to get private treatment. In December 1629 Sir William Russell used Endymion Porter to exert his influence with Charles to 'touch' Russell's nephew; when Charles was staying at Hatfield a little girl of ten was brought to him in the garden to be 'touched' for blindness — with, apparently, most encouraging results.[3]

Much as he enjoyed his life at Whitehall with access to his pictures and the possibility of contemplation in his study, there was also a growing restlessness about Charles that demanded physical action. The progresses that were part of the yearly round were all the more welcome for this reason. Basically, indeed, they were necessary as well as pleasant. They saved the King money, for he was entertained at his subjects' charge; they gave time for cleaning his main residences; they were an escape in times of plague; they enabled him to be seen and himself to see a variety of people and of landscape, giving him a greater familiarity with the country he ruled over; they gave him fresh hunting and they gave Henrietta-Maria the variety and movement she loved.

When the King went on progress a large part of his Court went too and a sufficient number of officers and messengers to carry on state business. The strain on the roads was considerable and the question of passage for all the vehicles and horses involved was a perpetual worry to the JPs, who were constantly importuning the Council to make regulations to preserve and improve such roads as existed. The strain on the great houses that were expected to accommodate the influx was even greater.

Nearly every year they went to Wilton, the home of the Earl of Pembroke, Charles's Lord Chamberlain and good friend, where


Charles found the hunting particularly exhilarating and where he enjoyed watching the progress of the re-building with which Nicholas de Claus had been entrusted. He had recommended Inigo for the work but Jones was too busy to give more than a general approval to the plans. Wherever they went Charles and Henrietta-Maria were interested in anything out of the ordinary. Charles went to great pains to protect from damage a strange rock and water formation at Enstone in Oxfordshire which he termed — erroneously, for it was artificially contrived — 'that rarity of nature'.[4] He turned aside in 1631 to see the well-known household of the Ferrars at Little Gidding in Huntingdonshire. Nicholas Ferrar was the son of a wealthy merchant, he had himself been employed by the Virginia Company and had sat in the Parliament of 1624. But his thoughts were already turning in other directions and he settled with his family on the manor of Little Gidding, a typical 'deserted village' where pasture farming had replaced a busy open-field community and the inhabitants had drifted away. The family restored the house and church and began a simple and orderly life based upon scripture readings, for which they gathered three or four times a day. They wrote school books for the neighbouring children whom they taught to read; they gave food to local people once a week at their own board; they practised certain simple crafts and the women, in particular, became skilled at bookbinding, producing several beautifully bound volumes of the Psalms and passages from scripture embellished with elaborate illustrations which Nicholas Ferrar collected on his journeys. The household of the Ferrars, with its quiet orderliness, appealed to Charles in itself and his interest in bookbinding had been aroused by accounts of the stamped work upon velvet which they had brought to a high degee of perfection. One particular volume produced at Little Gidding had won particular acclaim and Charles asked if he might borrow it. Nicholas Ferrar was in London and the rest of the household, taken by surprise, declared that the book, which had been made for younger members of the family, was not fit to be lent to the King. But Charles persisted, promising to return it before he left the district. Though he possessed many volumes bound in leather or rich velvet, this one surpassed them all and he was as delighted with its contents as with its appearance, reading it daily while on progress. Three months later he still had the book and returned it only on a promise that an exact copy would be made for him.[5]

About the same time Lucius Carey was settling in at the manor


house of Great Tew in Oxfordshire, which he inherited from his father, Lord Falkland. Like Ferrar, the new Lord Falkland recoiled from religious strife, but whereas Ferrar was content to lead his own life without clothing his actions in words, to Falkland continued debate was the basis of belief, and he opened his house to any who cared to contribute to the discussions of the circle he gathered round him. Although his palace of Woodstock was nearby, Charles never visited Great Tew, neither in the earlier days when it was a centre for men of letters like Ben Jonson and Sir John Suckling, nor later when religion and philosophy took over. Yet the outlook of the men who met there was in some respects not unlike his own: when William Chillingworth, for example, wished that all men 'instead of being zealous papists, earnest Calvinists, rigid Lutherans . . . would become themselves, and be content that others should be, plain and honest Christians' he was expressing a point of view which Charles himself frequently maintained in not dissimilar language.

The tranquillity of the King and Queen had been temporarily shattered by news of the death of Frederick of the Palatinate at Mainz of a fever on 19 November 1632. Elizabeth's grief was so intense that for three days she was unable to speak. 'I never felt frighted before', she afterwards said. Charles put his Court into mourning and invited his sister home. Apartments were prepared for her in her old lodging in the Cockpit at Whitehall, and Eltham Palace was made ready for her children. The Victory would bring her home, Arundel would accompany her, and the fleet would escort her. Henrietta-Maria made no protest, though it would have been an embarrassment to have living in England the popular Princess who would be bound to assume a leading position among English Puritans. Charles was well aware of the difficulties but there was nothing lukewarm in his offer to provide for his sister. Elizabeth herself was equally firm in declining. Now, more than ever, she must remain in charge of her family and their fortunes to which Continental Europe had more relevance than England. Besides, she wrote, she would rather meet her brother, after all those years, without any tinge of sorrow.

The death of Frederick had overshadowed for his family what was, for the Protestant cause, a severer blow. Thirteen days before, though he had won the battle, Gustavus Adolphus had been killed at Lutzen. Since his victory over Tilly at Breitenfeldt in September 1631 he had swept on through Nuremberg, Augsburg and Munich, but it seemed


now that the tide would be reversed. Charles had nothing to offer but diplomacy. He had sent Roe to Gustavus Adolphus in 1629/30, Vane on a special mission to the Prince of Orange and the Palatinate in the spring of 1629, Sir Robert Anstruther to Vienna in 1630, Vane again to the Netherlands in March 1631 and Weston's son to France and Italy in July 1632.

After the signing of the treaty of Madrid in 1630, his chief ambition was to preserve the balance of power. He told the Dutch Ambassador in October 1634 that he was resolved to live at peace with everyone and to keep himself a general friend. He did not want the House of Austria to advance to excessive power, but neither was the too-evident aggrandisement of France under Richelieu to be desired. He would rather employ himself upon a universal adjustment than in fomenting a war which had already been carried on too long. Most of the Court were throught to agree, 'grown drowsy', as the Venetian Ambassador commented, 'in the delights and commodities of the country and in the charms of peace'. But Charles's policy was realistic. After the death of Gustavus the whole of Central Europe lay under the dominion of the Hapsburg Empire and the Roman Catholic Church. The only effective counterweight was the France of Richelieu which, in spite of religious differences, was looking for co-operation with the Dutch. Charles's aim of holding the balance between these two powerful blocs was not unrealistic. But he would need the help of Spain. He still also believed that Spain had it in her power to deliver to him the Palatinate and to this end he was negotiating with her in 1634. It was said he showed more consideration to them in the Channel than he did to the Dutch; he allowed some of the gunpowder of which he had a monopoly to be sold to Spain (though at double the usual price). At one time his ships escorted Spanish troops across the Channel to Flanders. Elizabeth refused to believe that he was again toying with a Spanish alliance. She was 'inflexible . . . to the blows of time', thinking of nothing but her set purpose, to which she trained her children, taking up every contact that would help her cause, tirelessly writing letter after letter to the Courts and statesmen of Europe as well as to her friends. The Peace of Prague of 20 May 1635 was a blow both to her and to Charles. It showed how little either of them counted in the affairs of the Empire and, indeed, how little Charles's friendship with Spain had done for his nephew's cause. For the Peace expressly stated that the Palatinate would not be restored to the late Elector's family.

Still undaunted, Elizabeth launched her eldest son, Charles Louis,


Elector Palatine since his father's death, into his uncle's Court. He arrived in England on 1 December 1635 to an inauspicious welcome when gunners, firing a salute from the shore, hit the Prince's ship by mistake, killing five people, two of whom were standing close to him. Charles Louis was a shy, reserved boy who, because of the plague then rampant in England, had brought with him few attendants. The Venetian Ambassador found him looking 'careworn and sad'. He was welcomed into the life of the Court, he joined his uncle on progress, but he came at a difficult time.

The year 1636 was a restless one for Charles's followers. He was hunting in one area after another, sometimes escaping with only a few attendants, rarely staying more than a night or two in the same place. Repeated outbreaks of plague added to the uncertainty. The King abandoned a visit to Theobalds in July because of the pestilence, going to Bagshot instead. When the Court was at Salisbury in August plague broke out in a merchant's house where followers of the Palatine were staying and the whole Court left in some confusion at daybreak. Charles himself went to the village of Bradford where he took over a gentleman's small house and decided to wait for Henrietta-Maria, who was at Oatlands. Tagging along as usual with other foreign diplomats was the Venetian Ambassador. Correr was never a man to miss an opportunity and he seized his moment one evening when Charles was walking practically alone in his host's garden. But Charles was more than equal to the wily Venetian. When the Ambassador tried to draw him on the question of the Palatinate he merely expressed his desire to see his nephew's cause 'properly adjusted' and Correr had to admit that Charles 'fenced cleverly' with all his leading questions.

Charles intended to proceed to Oxford with Henrietta-Maria, where Laud was to entertain them on behalf of his College and of the University, but first one of the Palatine's men, then one of the King's own guards, died of plague, the Court panicked, abandoned most of its baggage, and made off in various directions. The Venetian miserably pursued his duty and kept close to the King. 'I will follow him', he wrote home, 'as I have already done for 2 1/2 months, but I ask the state to consider the burden thus thrown upon me.' The King and Queen reached Oxford on August 29 together with the Elector Palatine and his younger brother, Rupert, who had arrived during the early summer. In contrast to Charles Louis, Rupert was bright and extrovert, delighting in Court life, amusing himself particularly, it


was said, with the ladies. Charles received him, as he had done Charles Louis, with the warmest affection; but the Venetian Ambassador remarked cynically that he was not in reality so welcome because they feared that by degrees the whole family would come and take root.[6]

When they reached Oxford they found that there had been a great deal of tidying up in the city, some taverns had been closed, and regulations governing students had been tightened. The guests were lodged in Christ Church, there was a service in the Cathedral, a play (an extremely bad one) in Christ Church Hall. Charles Louis and Rupert were suitably honoured, the Elector receiving a copy of Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity and Rupert a copy of Caesar's Commentaries . Charles particularly enjoyed the Bodleian Library, though his own bust by Le Sueur, which Laud had recently presented to the library, was not yet in its niche looking down upon the readers. At St John's he noted with interest the new building undertaken by Laud with the pillars of grey marble which had been brought from a quarry near the royal palace at Woodstock. The magnificent banquet that followed supplied every servant of the Court and of the College in attendance. The play that evening was Cartwright's Royal Slave , which pleased Henrietta-Maria so much that she had it repeated later at Hampton Court.

Charles had intended to proceed to Windsor, but the plague had broken out there so he made for Southampton, reaching the Earl's house in early September. It was here that he met with what might have been a serious accident when his horse was submerged in a bog in the New Forest. Charles disengaged himself, clambered out, changed clothes with the first person he met, procured another mount, and continued the chase.[7] He was back at Oatlands at the beginning of October where, with the Queen, he received the Spanish Ambassador. The envoy brought with him an English Jesuit as interpreter. This was straining too far the patience with which Charles normally met matters concerning the Catholic church and he was furiously angry: that the Ambassador should bring to his face to such a public function one who by the laws of the realm was a rebel against the Crown was insupportable, he said, and the Jesuit was sent packing. A week later Charles was off to Theobalds and Newmarket for fresh hunting.

By this time the Elector and Prince Rupert were back in Europe fighting against the Hapsburg. Charles had declined to commit himself to an alliance with France and Holland. He still talked about the


Palatinate, going through the motions of support, writing affectionately and, sometimes, with determination, to Elizabeth. But there was less evidence of the urge to right a wrong, of the chivalrous defence of his sister's honour. Perhaps he knew that without a Parliament, even though he had the ship money fleets, he was not strong enough to give effective help. Perhaps he really believed in the help of Spain; perhaps he was right in avoiding an entanglement that would have consumed him. Perhaps he also realized how small a part the restitution of the Palatinate played on the wider European scene and knew it was only in his sister's inextinguishable spirit that it stayed alive. At all events, as the wheel turned, as home events played a greater part in his life and he began to look away from Europe, the inner hurt was less than it had been.

One slight worry on the home front was the continued captivity of the men Charles had imprisoned after the dismissal of the 1629 Parliament. Eliot was suspected of plotting with his visitors and at the end of 1631 had been placed in close confinement, with no light but a candle and no fire, even in that freezing winter. As consumption weakened him, Eliot petitioned for temporary release to recover his health, but Charles would neither forget his opposition in Parliament nor his antagonism to Buckingham and refused his request. Eliot died on 27 November 1632. His family petitioned for leave to take his body home for burial. Again Charles refused. 'Let Sir John Eliot be buried in the parish where he died' was the brutal remark he wrote on the paper. Valentine and Stroud also remained in prison, and though their confinement was probably less stringent it remains true that throughout the years of his greatest happiness Charles kept the men who had opposed him shut off from the normal intercourse of daily life. He was, indeed, not only showing that he could be vindictive, but was growing more imperious with the years. He could not bear to be crossed and in his relations with his courtiers there was often little of the diffident young Prince. When the Earl of Suffolk, for example, was ordered to give up his post of Captain of the Pensioners, he came to Charles saying that the mere rumour of his discharge had drawn all his creditors upon him, for he was much in debt. 'What care I for your debts!' cried Charles, shaking with anger. Later, however, he agreed to let Suffolk keep the post until the 'noise of losing it was over'.

But on the whole Charles's Court was a place of laughter, not much troubled by tragedy or misadventure outside itself, moved to


mirth by little things as when Ambassador Joachimi, on taking leave of the Queen, paid his respects to her dwarf, thinking he was the young Prince. The King of Persia's Ambassador was also very amusing since he spoke no English and brought no interpreter. But to Charles one of the most exciting events was the arrival in 1632 of the beautifully bound and written concordance of the Four Evangelists promised him by Little Gidding. The richly gilded velvet of the cover was worked in the characteristic fashion of Little Gidding and Charles asked many questions about the book and those who made it. 'Truly my lords', he exclaimed to those standing round him,

I prize this as a rare and rich jewel, and worth a King's acceptance . . . for the skill, care, cost, used in it, there is no defect, but a superlative dilligence in all about it . . . it shall be my Vade mecum . How happy a King were I, if I had many more such workmen and women in my kingdom! God's blessing on their hearts and painful hands!

His courtiers declared it to be a precious gem, and worthy of his cabinet. Charles then remarked that he had often read the Books of Kings and Chronicles but had found in them many contradictions. He wished very much he could have one book in which the stories of Kings and Chronicles were so interwoven 'as if one pen had written the whole book, making a complete history, but so that he could read them separately if he wished'. He had often spoken to his chaplains about this but they had always excused themselves. At Little Gidding, however, they promised to put the work in hand immediately. It was ready within a year and sent through the Archbishop of Canterbury. Charles, seeing him one day with a great book in his arms, realized immediately what it was and rose from his chair in delight. 'What!', he said, 'shall I now enjoy that rich jewel I have thus long desired! Give it me! Give it me!' he cried, seizing the book and taking it to a table. First he gazed upon the outside. 'My lords', he cried, 'the outside thus glorious, what think you will be the inside and matter of it?' He then turned the pages leaf by leaf, examining them all with the greatest care. 'Truly', he said, 'it passeth what I could have wished . . . this is a jewel in all respects', and he showed his friends the contrivance of the two books united together in one history, as if written by one man's pen. 'I will not part with this', he said, gathering the book up in his arms, 'for all the jewels in my jewel house.'[8]

Prince Charles was by this time begging his father to let him have the first book sent from Little Gidding, but the King would not part


with it for, he said, he daily made use of it. The Prince, then, with his father's permission, sent to Little Gidding for one like it. Old Nicholas Ferrar was by this time dead but his nephew and the ladies of the house undertook to make a concordance for the Prince in four languages as well as some additional pieces for the King.

Thus the yearly round unfolded, the physical movement Charles required supplied by his Progresses and his hunting, the intellectual stimulus he welcomed provided in a dozen different ways. One such stimulus was provided by his religion.


The King and His Church

Religious issues could never for long remain in the background. The peoples of Charles's kingdoms were for the most part religious people, the majority of whom shared a spiritual zeal that for a couple of generations had been channelled into opposition to Spain and the Papacy. Since the defeat of the Spanish Armada the dread of popery and the Roman Catholic Church had gradually subsided, but a majority of Englishmen were still anti-papist under the skin. An irrational fear of 'popery' and 'papists', whatever the terms might mean, ran in many Englishmen who had nevertheless accepted a Catholic Queen and two peace treaties with Spain, and who had done little to help the Protestant Princess Elizabeth in her opposition to the Catholic bloc in Europe: Parliament had failed her, volunteers to fight for her numbered no more than a few thousands, money to support her arms amounted to only a trickle from the public at large. From time to time murmurs of a purely Protestant succession disturbed the English Court, but as Mary followed Charles, and James followed Mary, and Elizabeth followed James the rumours accorded less and less with reality. When the Prayer Book of 1636 was found to have omitted the customary prayer for the Queen of Bohemia and her family, the initial consternation was assuaged by the practical realization that there were now four English royal children to pray for.

Charles was never likely to make an issue of religion. So long, he always said, as a person accepted the fundamental belief of Christianity he had no quarrel with him. That he was basically tolerant his relations with his wife and his mother bore out. He had Catholic friends and advisers, he accepted the Puritan sympathies of Pembroke, he took as given the Calvinism of his brother-in-law Frederick and the staunch Protestantism of his sister; he had accepted, indeed loved, his Presbyterian tutor Thomas Murray and his Lutheran Uncle of


Denmark; he had understood and never quarrelled with Buckingham's religious vicissitudes. Theological disputation learned at his father's knee remained an enjoyable but superficial titillation of the intellect unaccompanied by any expectation of conversion. But the rules of the game had to be kept; when, as in Spain, he felt his opponents were not dealing fairly with him, he would break off the discussion immediately. From more earnest efforts at conversion he shied away, and he disliked his father's theological college at Chelsea for the very reason that it trained men to combat Romanism; it would be better, he considered, if instead of studying controversy it worked for union.[1]

A man's religion is a reflection of his character and the very fastidiousness with which Charles shrank from any controversy that might sully his worship was basic to his nature. His need for order, without any adventurous intellectual probings, was reflected in his religion. In this respect his reliance upon Laud was of the same kind as his reliance upon van der Doort. As the one catalogued and cared for his pictures, leaving to Charles the aesthetic pleasure of viewing them, so the other ordered and arranged his Church, leaving to Charles the beauty of untroubled worship. Charles came increasingly close to Laud in an unemotional way, not only choosing him to preach on public occasions, but to baptize and bury the royal children, and he supported the efforts which Laud made, as Bishop of London, to bring the London churches into a condition not only of order but of conformity: for order must apply to the whole as well as to the parts, and order implied regularity. The extempore preaching of Puritan ministers, still less of the itinerant 'lecturers' who were accustomed to address Puritan congregations, had no place in this intended order, and Laud was zealous in securing their dismissal. He also took every opportunity of removing the communion table to the position of an altar, of embellishing the City churches with images, and doing reverence to them and to the crucifix. The repair of church fabric, essential in itself, too often became an issue between Puritans and the Bishop of London. Particularly notorious was the case of the reconsecration of St Mary Cray in the City when Laud's 'unseemly' kneeling and bowing was exaggerated and remembered to his cost. It was unfortunate, though natural, that the kind of uniformity Charles and his Bishop were insisting upon should raise afresh the spectre of an all-devouring Papacy. Puritans who had been watchful under Elizabeth, suspicious under James, became increasingly militant


under Charles. They were encouraged by the Bible, the pulpit, and the press.

Translations of the Bible had begun with Wycliffe's work at the end of the fourteenth century, but none had made a stronger mark than the new translation whose publication James authorized in 1611. This was made in the full flowering of an English language which was magnificent to listen to and splendid to roll on the tongue, and it caught the imagination of a generation accustomed to be moved by the power of words in the theatre of Shakespeare and Marlowe. Moreover, the people had their own theatre in the pulpit, their own actors in the preachers who told with shattering rhetoric of the power of the Lord, the terrors of hell, the wickedness of the devil, and of his representatives on earth, the Pope and the bishops. To the Bible and the pulpit were added a growing number of printed pamphlets and books. Since 1557 a monopoly of printing had rested with a Company of 97 London stationers and a few years later the right to license was vested in the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Bishop of London. It was then necessary for a book or pamphlet first to be licensed and then to be registered with the Stationers for publication. The regulations could not prevent the appearance of clandestine publications, and in opposition to Laud's policy printed sermons and tracts of all kinds proliferated.

Charles had ample warning of what was happening. There was, for example, the case of Alexander Leighton, a Scot by birth and early education. After practising as a preacher in Durham, Leighton finished his education in Leyden, allegedly in medicine but no doubt under the influence of the many sectarians in that city. The London College of Physicians failed to recognize his degree and back in London Leighton took again to preaching, which became increasingly, and popularly, anti-episcopal. In 1628 he had ready Sion's Plea Against Prelacy , a petition calling for the extirpation of bishops, to which he claimed 500 signatures. To evade censorship the petition, now swollen into a considerable treatise, was printed in Holland. A copy reached Laud, Leighton was arrested and the Star Chamber sentenced him to whipping, to stand in the pillory at New Palace Yard there to have one of his ears lopped off, his nose split, and his face branded with the letters S.S. for sower of sedition. He was later again to be whipped and pilloried at Cheapside where his other ear would be cut off. The fine of £10,000, which he had no means of paying, was an example of the exemplary fines imposed by the Star Chamber and


High Commission with the possible hope that a small sum might accrue to the Exchequer.

On 26 November 1630, when Leighton's punishment was carried out, the scene set the pattern for dozens that would follow: the procession of friends supporting him to Westminster; his wife glorifying his punishment; his own ecstacy. 'This is Christ's yoke!', he cried, as the pillory was clamped upon him. 'Blessed be God, if I had a hundred, I would lose them all for the cause!', he exclaimed as the executioner lopped off his ear. On Charles's orders further suffering at Cheapside was remitted; but the procedure had been established from beginning to end: the petition, the signatures, the printing in Holland, the inevitable discovery, the Star Chamber conviction (which was not unduly harsh for the time), the procession to the pillory, the speech to the people. Even the mixture of personal rancour and religious zeal shown by Leighton was to be present in later martyrs of the Puritan cause.[2]

Another foretaste of the future was given in the same year when an unnamed oatmeal maker was brought before the High Commission for taking upon himself to preach. He refused to take off his hat and when asked why, said he would never doff it to bishops. 'But you will to privy counsellors?' he was asked. 'As you are privy counsellors', he responded, suiting the action to the words, 'I put off my hat, but as ye are rags of the beast, lo! I put it on again!' Towards the end of his interrogation the Bishop of Winchester arrived and took a vacant seat at the bottom of the table. 'Let us dismiss this frantic, foolish fellow', he advised, 'we do but lose our time.' 'Hold thy peace!', roared the oatmeal maker, 'thou tail of the beast that sittest at the lower end of the table!'.[3]

All this was highly repugnant to Charles. Sectarianism polluted his religion, he believed with his father that it threatened the political stability of his kingdom, its very fervency appeared to him as raucous and ranting; its intolerance would breed its opposite: 'The neglect of punishing Puritans breeds Papists' as he would write on the margin of a Report from Archbishop Neile of York in January 1634. No disturbances among his courtiers upset the equilibrium of his life so much as this unseemly conduct of the Puritans. He was content that Laud should deal with them, intervening only, as he had done with Leighton, to let his natural compassion prevent too harsh a punishment.

Like other rulers of diverse territories Charles wished for greater unity between the various parts of his kingdom and he shared the feeling


which was growing on both sides of the border for a Coronation in Scotland and for a Scottish Parliament. Meantime the Scottish bishops who had been appointed by James to prepare a Prayer Book for their country had finished their work, though no attempt had been made to bring the book into public use. Though in form not unlike the English Book of Common Prayer the Scottish Book had a definitely Puritan slant. Many sections showed the influence of John Knox, it omitted certain rituals such as the sign of the cross in baptism, and it laid down that the altar might be placed as the minster found convenient. Laud advised that it could not be accepted and that 'it were best to take the English liturgy without any variation'. Charles agreed in spite of Scottish warnings that not only religion but national feeling was involved. And so the ill-fated decision was taken, and when Charles set out on 13 May 1633 he had resolved that the unity between the two countries should be religious as well as political. Henrietta-Maria could no more be crowned in Edinburgh than in London so he necessarily went alone, in some slight anxiety since she was again pregnant, though his spirits were high at the prospect of seeing at last the country where he was born.

It was no mean enterprise to convey the paraphernalia of a king's suite over the long route from London to Edinburgh, and Justices of the Peace were ordered well in advance to attend to the condition of the roads, an injunction which many of them took badly: it was too early in the year for road repairs, the weather was not seasonable, the highways were in deep clay, bridges were not completed, though fords, they grudgingly conceded, were passable. Many of the articles intended for use in the Chapel Royal, including musical instruments, were sent by sea from Tilbury to Leith in the Dreadnought , which was taken off her duty of guarding the narrow seas. Laud, as Dean of the Chapel Royal, was to accompany the King, orders for provisions and lodgings had been sent on ahead.

Charles hunted and enjoyed magnificent hospitality on his way.[4] He called again at Little Gidding and stopped at Worksop, Stamford, Grantham and York, where he rode to see Lord President Went-worth's new park. He noted the condition of York Minster and of Durham Cathedral, later writing to their Deans to suggest improvements. He reached Edinburgh on June 15 when one of his first acts was to make Laud a Privy Councillor of Scotland, which was a severe affront to the Scots in seeming to emphasize the importance of an English bishop in Scottish affairs. The Coronation itself on June 18


was a splendid affair in which, again, Laud's prominent role offended the Scots. A question of precedence also marred the proceedings, Charles wishing the Church in the person of the Archbishop of St Andrews to take precedence of Lord Chancellor Hay, Earl of Kinnoul. He was very annoyed at having to give way, 'I will not meddle further with that old cankered goutish man!', he exclaimed angrily,[5] showing a characteristic impatience at being crossed together with an unaccustomed lapse from courtesy. But mutual oaths were taken in the Cathedral, first by the King, who swore to observe the fundamental laws of the realm, then by the Scottish Lords who swore obedience and fealty to the Crown. Immediately the ceremony was over Charles despatched letters to the Queen that were delivered to her only forty hours after they were written. Charles was delighted with the affection shown him which, he wrote, surpassed all belief. At the royal table he was served by all the leading Earls, and he created twelve new knights, a Viscount, two Earls and a Marquis. There was nevertheless much disquiet at the form of the service in Holyrood chapel on the day of the Coronation. The Scots were quite unused to the sight of bishops in their robes and of clergy in white surplices genuflexing to the crucifix on an altar at the East end of the chapel. They were still more perturbed when similar practices were brought to the people's church at St Giles.

Two days after his coronation Charles opened the Scottish Parliament. He followed its business day by day in person, anxious, indeed, to get two particular Bills through, one confirming the church legislation passed in his father's reign, the other confirming his own right to settle the apparel of judges, magistrates and clergy — which meant, in effect, to insist upon the wearing of robes and surplices. The Bills passed, but only just. Charles anxiously noted the votes and there was even rumour of manipulation in order to achieve the desired result. He refused even to look at a supplication against the legislation. His other business in Scotland concerned the Prayer Book. Having quietly dropped the version prepared by the Scottish Bishops he allowed Laud to propose the introduction of the English Prayer Book instead. But the majority of Scottish Bishops were so insistent that such an action would be unwise that it was agreed to attempt a compromise, with the instruction that the new liturgy should be 'as near that of England as might be'.

Charles continued to show his usual good health and tirelessness. On July 1 he set out on a sentimental journey to Dunfermline, where


he was born, and to Stirling, Linlithgow and Falkland so closely associated with his family. He was greeted everywhere with the greatest enthusiasm. The only misadventure occurred when he was crossing the Firth of Forth from Burntisland to Edinburgh, where a sudden storm blew up and his boat capsized. Charles escaped unhurt but the incident was afterwards attributed to the malevolent influence of the witches Charles spoke to in 1634. On the 14th he set off for home. Outstripping his suite, he rode post from Berwick to London in four days, crossed to Greenwich from Blackwall to avoid the City, and was with Henrietta on the 20th. She was said to have been 'a perfect mourning turtle's in his absence, but she had nevertheless gone up river to visit the Duchess of Buckingham and had enjoyed racing her boat with George Goring.[6] Three months after Charles's return she gave birth at St James's Palace to James, Duke of York.

On August 6, on his first visit to Charles after their return from Scotland, Laud received a new greeting: 'My Lord's Grace of Canterbury', said the King who had just received news of the death of Abbot on August 4, 'you are very welcome'. Although the appointment hardly changed the relationship of the two men it gave Laud greater authority, and one of his first actions was to send Sir Nathaniel Brent as his Vicar-General over the whole of England south of the Trent to report upon the state of the churches.

Brent found that church fabric was often decayed, that churchyards were overgrown and sometimes used as mustering grounds for the trained bands, that pictures and images were neglected. Irreverence in church took many forms. There was often a general tramping about and talking during service, even an exchange of remarks with the preacher; the altar was used as a hat-stand, as a table upon which people scribbled notes, or simply as a seat. It is hardly surprising that there was also a failure to bow at the name of Mary or Jesus. Indeed, one minister was so anxious to avoid this practice that he contrived to omit the names from his service. Many preachers were cheerfully conversational and breezily abusive. Reports of stipends received and duties neglected were common. For sheer desecration perhaps nothing exceeded the actions at Saxby of Lord Castleton's bailiff who stripped the lead from the church roof, melted it in the middle aisle of the church and, when some of the liquid lead ran through the floor on to a coffin beneath, took up the floor and recovered the lead by burning the coffin with the corpse in it.[7]


The abuses were so diverse and so widespread, ranging from trifling to fundamental, that any attempt to impose uniformity and decency was an augean task. In clearing up obvious desecration, in insisting upon the repair of fabric, restoring impropriations, and calling abusive clergy to order, Laud was on safe enough ground. The question of ceremonies was far more difficult and nowhere was this more apparent than in the altar controversy. Permanently fixed at the East end of the church and railed, it would be safe from desecration but implied a form of worship remote and mystical, requiring priestly mediation in the act of worship rather than the direct relationship with God that the Puritan expected. The widespread use of extempore prayer was similarly difficult to deal with, insistence upon the use of the Prayer Book seeming to imply that the individual was incapable of direct communion. Besides, as Samual Ward of Ipswich said, it was impossible for anyone to carry about with him a manual of prayer suitable for all occasions. He declared further that a parrot might be instructed to use set forms and an ape might be taught to bow and gesticulate. Ward was brought before the High Commission and imprisoned.

Another matter on which Charles was opposed by his Puritan subjects was Sunday sport. James had found that many people were debarred by Puritan opinion from Sunday recreation and in his Declaration of Sports declared it his wish that, so long as they had attended church on the Sabbath, they should not be hindered from partaking of any lawful form of sport or dancing. Charles's notice was brought to the matter in connection with the church feasts called wakes, and in particular to the Somersetshire Ales which a Puritan magistrate had forbidden on the ground that they led to drunkenness and brawling. Charles intervened personally, brought the offending magistrate before the Council, commanded him to rescind his ban, and ordered the republication of The Book of Sports in October 1633. As a normal means of spreading information it was to be read from all the pulpits in the land. Refusals to read it were widespread and contributed further to the sources of conflict between Charles and the Puritans.[8]

There was more behind the controversy than the issue as to whether or not the Sabbath should be reserved solely as a day of worship. Puritans would gather together after church service for further preaching and discussion, and their leaders had come to rely heavily upon these meetings for building up their organization. To them such an attractive alternative as Sunday sports was dangerous.


But they hardly realized the extent to which discussion was splitting their own ranks. Already Puritanism had taken two main forms — the Presbyterian based upon Calvin's Church-state at Geneva, in which authority was vested in groups of ruling elders and ministers known as Presbyteries and whose organization was as rigid as Laud's; and the Independents who had little use for organization but based their Church upon the instructions of Robert Browne that any group of believers constituted a Church 'without tarrying for any'. They recognized no separate priesthood, ministers and officers were elected from the whole congregation, their only requirement being the covenant they took with each other and with God to form a Church. Such people were open to the continual reception of new ideas. The parting words of Henry Robinson to the Mayflower  — 'If God reveal anything to you by other instruments of His, be as ready to receive it as ever you were to receive truth through me' — was the essence of a toleration even wider than that which the Independent Church claimed for itself. Access to the Bible in English; emphasis upon the sermon rather than the set pieces of the Prayer Book; a growing literature of unorthodoxy; increasing numbers of people from all walks of life who stood up on their own doorsteps to expound the word of God as they understood it; above all, the belief that 'form' was inessential and that only 'spirit' mattered gave vitality to the words of Browne and Robinson.

The Privy Council indicated its perception, as well as its dismay, when it complained that

there remain in divers parts of the Kingdom sundry sorts of separatists, novelists, and sectaries, as namely — Brownists, Anabaptists, Arians, Traskites, Familists, and some other sorts, who, upon Sundays and other festival days, under pretence of repetition of sermons, ordinarily use to meet together in great numbers in private houses and other obscure places, and there keep private conventicles and exercise of religion by law prohibited, to the corruption of sundry his Majesty's good subjects.

They ordered JPs to enter any suspicious house and to search every room for people and unlicensed books.

The heady wine of sectarianism was particularly strong in London, in whose narrow streets and alleys conventicles would form and secret printing presses be established. All over London, indeed, Puritanism in its widest sense was gathering large audiences to listen to preachers who denounced Laud and the bishops in the most lurid


terms and whose sermons were associated largely with vengeance and hell fire and to a lesser degree with forgiveness and the love of God. All had in common a belief in a predestination that marked them as God's Elect, certain of salvation, while those who failed to respond were certain of hell fire and everlasting damnation.

Puritanism needed its martyrs and was bound to have them. In June 1637 William Prynne, Henry Burton, and John Bastwick marched in procession to the pillory at Westminster as Leighton had done. Prynne was a lawyer who already had turned his amazing verbosity and violence of language against the practice of drinking healths (Health's Sickness ), and the fashion of wearing a lock of hair over one shoulder (The Unloveliness of Love-Locks ). In 1633 he published Histriomastix which fulminated against dancing and acting, the use of boys in women's roles, and the appearance of women upon the stage. Prynne's style was emphatic. In spite of the fact that his pamphlets ran to inordinate length and were embellished with a wealth of marginal notes, being, indeed, essentially boring, they were sparked into life by an excessive use of vituperation. He used his learning to draw on the classics and declared Nero's murder to be justified because of his fondness for the theatre. Those who enjoyed plays were 'devils incarnate', women actors were 'notorious whores'. Not surprisingly a reference to the Queen was assumed, and Prynne's punishment was severe. In May 1634 the Star Chamber fined him £5000, he was expelled from Lincoln's Inn, deprived of his Oxford degree, and shorn of both his ears while he stood in the pillory first at Westminster and then at Cheapside. He was to be imprisoned for life.

It was evidence of his Puritan connections that, in spite of his imprisonment, he contrived not only to continue to write but to publish unlicensed pamphlets. One of them, News from Ipswich , was a violent attack upon bishops and it was for this that in 1637 Prynne was once again standing in the pillory with his two friends. Henry Burton was vicar of the church at Friday Street in the City of London and had been in the households of both Prince Henry and Charles. He had preached and printed from a secret press two sermons fiercely attacking the Laudian injunctions to bow towards the East, to set up crucifixes, and to turn tables into altars. John Bastwick, the third of the trio, was a doctor of medicine from Essex, nurtured in the Puritan Emmanuel College at Cambridge and with fighting service in the Dutch armies to his credit. He had published several pamphlets in Latin attacking bishops before he put out the fiercely vituperative and


hard-hitting Letany in English: the prelates were the enemies of God and the King; they were the tail of the beast; the Church was as full of ceremonies as a dog is full of fleas. 'From plague, pestilence and famine, from bishops, priests and deacons, Good Lord deliver us!'

The punishment of the three men was a repetition of Leighton's seven years earlier. The wives of Burton and Bastwick accompanied their husbands to Westminster, the way was strewn with flowers and sweet herbs by well-wishers who offered words of sympathy and cheer. The victims were allowed to speak to the assembled crowds in Palace Yard, who followed every word of the argument and, afterwards, every action of the executioner and his victims. Prynne's stumps of ears were hacked a second time, the burning iron pressed into his cheek once, twice, then a third time because one of the letters had been incised upside down. The journeys to their remote and far-separated prisons were triumphant progresses.

Far away, to the north, in the county of Durham, in a small manor house in a little town called Thickley Punchardon, a boy had meanwhile been growing up in the Puritan tradition inculcated by his father, a modest landowner, and his uncles, business men in New-castle. Like many younger sons, John Lilburne came to London and was apprenticed to a cloth merchant in the City where he soon came under the influence of the Puritan preachers. He joined the crowds who thronged to see Bastwick at the Gatehouse prison before his sentence, and was honoured to be charged with the task of taking the manuscript of the Letany to Holland to be printed. The exercise was by now routine, so much so that the authorities found no difficulty in arresting Lilburne on his return and confiscating the offending pamphlets. He, in his turn, stood in Palace Yard in the spring of 1639, his flamboyant nature finding no difficulty in following, and even surpassing, the showmanship of the earlier Puritan martyrs. Like them he was thrust in prison; but he had a gift of words even greater than theirs and, since he was kept in the Fleet prison in London, the growing Puritan organization had the opportunity to supply him with pen and ink, to smuggle his manuscripts out of prison, and to get them printed, not only in Holland, but by various secret presses in the City of London itself.[9] Thus there began the career of one of the most prolific, hard-hitting and influential of all the Puritan pamphleteers.

While Laud was holding his position against Puritanism with one hand, he was also aware of what appeared to be Charles's flirtation


with the Church of Rome. Charles never intended to go to Rome, he expected his Catholic officers to take the oath of allegiance, and he maintained the recusancy laws, albeit with a certain slackness. He also allowed his wife's Catholic chapels, and the chapels attached to foreign Catholic Embassies, to become more crowded, while he himself passed many hours in pleasant conversation with her Capuchin monks, finding with them a satisfaction he never found with his Puritan contacts. In the same way the example of Henrietta-Maria, observing the Church calendar, at mass with her friends and servants, making manifest the beauty of form and order, was in pleasing contrast to the strident improvisations of the Puritan worshippers of the conventicles. It was natural that he should think in terms of mutual understanding between the Church of England and the Holy See, and to that end a Scottish Roman Catholic, Sir Robert Douglas, arrived in Rome in October 1633.

The Papacy was well aware of the importance of this visit. Ever since Charles went to Spain it had watched him hopefully and the Papal Intelligence office, considering its reports on the state of England, noted both the harrying of Puritans and the growing number of Catholics, or near-Catholics, close to the King — Portland, Cottington, Porter, Windebank — as well as several important recent conversions which included the Dean of Lincoln. But, as it set to work to assess the situation, it had to take into account the King's sister and the Palatinate: for Charles to change his religion would seem like deserting her; possibly he was merely angling for Papal aid on her behalf. 'Charles's motives', wrote the aged Cardinal Bagna, to whom the matter was referred, 'as all who know him at all will admit, are beyond guessing.' Nevertheless, it would be unwise to let an opportunity slip, and throughout the 1630s there arrived at Charles' Court from the See of Rome a series of Papal envoys and a succession of valuable art treasures.

The Italianate influence which had come to Charles through his mother and her friends, enriched by the knowledge he had acquired of Italian art, made this contact with polished Italian intellectuals the greatest delight. They understood his relationship to art and to religion in a way that even Rubens, the Northerner, could not do, that certainly Laud could not achieve, and, indeed, that none of his friends, with the exception of Buckingham, ever did. First to arrive was Gregorio Panzani, who reached England in 1634. His first interview with the King was arranged quietly and privately by the Queen, and


Charles greeted him cordially, taking off his hat while Panzani kissed his hand, assuring him that no Catholic blood would be spilled in his reign and that Panzani himself would not be molested. When Puritan representatives tried to warn the King against the arrival of a Papal agent Charles merely smiled his tantalizing smile and said he was no stranger to Panzani's arrival.

Panzani found Charles 'a person of strict virtue and of great benevolence' and the nation as a whole 'not so bitter and scurrilous against the Pope' as formerly. He noted with great satisfaction that Cottington was a particular friend of the Jesuits and rejoiced at several recent conversions. Charles continued to maintain that there was much in the Roman Catholic religion with which he agreed, and that nothing would please him more than a healing of the breach between the Roman and the Anglican Church. He expressed himself strongly one day early in 1635, saying he would rather have parted with one of his hands than have had such a breach occur. One of his courtiers venturing to say that such sentiments were dangerous Charles instantly averred: 'I say it again: I wish I had rather lost one of my hands!' All this encouraged Panzani to such an extent that he was warned from Rome against optimism: 'The English are a mysterious people . . . The sea which you passed to visit them is an emblem of their temper.'

The Papal See nonetheless continued to woo Charles with the gifts most likely to influence him and there arrived a large picture of Bacchus by Guido and many presents for the Queen, including an exquisitely-worked relic case of gilt and crystal which particularly surprised and delighted him.[10] When he heard some time later that further pictures were on the way from Italy his impatience knew no bounds. They arrived while the Queen was lying in of her sixth pregnancy, and she immediately ordered them to be taken to her bedchamber, whither Charles made all haste, and together they exclaimed at the amazing bounty of canvasses by Corregio, Veronese, Leonardo, Andrea del Sarto and many more. The Papacy also paid Charles the special honour of allowing Bernini to make a bust of him in the winter of 1636/37 from the triple portrait painted by Van Dyck. When it arrived in England in July 1638 Charles and Henrietta were both delighted. It was practically the only bust made by Bernini of a Prince not of the Roman Catholic church.[11]

Meanwhile the talk went on and Panzani was succeeded by George Con, who had recently been made a Cardinal. It was fortunate,


remarked Panzani before he left England, that Charles had taken to Con, for 'it is well known that His Majesty is altogether immoveable in his affection and aversion'. The handsome and urbane Con was no less an Italianate Papist through being born a Scot, and his presence served to confirm Charles in his conviction that so long as a man became intellectually civilized his place of birth, or whether he went to mass or took communion, made little difference. Nothing was more typical of Charles's relations with the Papal envoys at this time than when he kept a Garter ceremony waiting in April 1637 while he completed a tour of his picture gallery with Con.

In the theological discussions of his private circle his mother-in-law as well as his wife would sometimes join. For the influence of Marie de Medici was at an end in France and she had been forced to leave her country in 1631, largely through the intrigues of Richelieu. After seven years in the Spanish Netherlands she decided to move to her daughter in England — much against the will of Charles, who knew too well the effect of a strong-minded, intriguing Roman Catholic Queen Mother upon his subjects and upon his relationship with France, as well as the drain of a dowager Queen and her Court upon his treasury. But when he learned she was on her way he accepted the inevitable gracefully, sent to welcome her at Harwich where she arrived on 19 October 1638, and himself rode to meet her at Chelmsford to bring her to St James's Palace through a London suitably, if not spontaneously, decked for the occasion. He made her an allowance far in excess of what he could afford for herself and an entourage far larger than he had expected.

Henrietta was in a whirl of excitement at the thought of seeing again the mother whom she had left thirteen years earlier in Amiens. She was again pregnant and it was arranged that she should be seated at the foot of the grand stairway of St James's Palace to welcome her parent. She had stationed herself at an upstairs window, however, where she could watch for the arrival, and when she saw the royal carriage approaching previous plans and discretion were thrown to the winds as she tore downstairs, her children after her, into the hall, out into the courtyard where, with trembling hands, she tried to open the carriage door. As her mother alighted Henrietta-Maria knelt on the ground with her children round her to receive the blessing she had foregone for thirteen years.[12] The comfort of her mother's presence was marred three months later, on 29 January 1639, when Catherine was born and died on the same day.


The family was sitting together one day when Con again expressed his hope of Charles's conversion. Charles burst out laughing: 'My dear friend, I am a Catholic!' 'None could wish it more than I', responded Con, while the Queen Mother added, 'One must be an Apostolic Roman Catholic', to which Charles replied, 'You ladies will not understand me but he will: Est implicanties in adjecto .' Charles, indeed, used the term 'Catholic' in the sense of all-embracing or universal and meant by the Catholic Church the whole body of practising Christians. In no sense would he agree that a member of the Church of England was a schismatic. 'With your kind permission', he smilingly taunted Con, 'I too belong to the Catholic Church.'

Charles's position was precisely what it had been when he supported the Arminian, Montague, against the House of Commons. He did not believe in Papal supremacy, he would never admit the right of the Pope to interfere with a temporal ruler, but he found that the English Prayer Book had much in common with the mass book (as he had attempted to point out to his wife) and he found many of the tenets of Roman Catholicism thoroughly acceptable. He continued to believe in confession which was, indeed, a favourite topic with him. He would discuss it at dinner and it frequently formed the subject of sermons before him. Confession to him was moral discipline and he himself made use of the confessional. He went so far as to advocate, apparently in all seriousness, that celibacy in the clergy was necessary because a married man would not easily keep the seal of the confessional.[13] Even to the thorny question of indulgences he turned a favourable eye, pointing out that the indulgence was not to condone the sin but to remit the penalty imposed for the sin, and there might be reason for doing this. For the Inquisition itself he could even find a good word: it was useful, he would say, for checking men's tongues and pens. It was in accord with his aesthetic appreciation that he should also welcome the use of images and ritual in his worship. He sent away to Spain for a crucifix and venerated a piece of what purported to be the holy cross found in the Thames. He refused to give it to his wife, but assured her it would be venerated and protected. He objected to an excessive cult of the Virgin, remembering how shocked he was in Spain to see people kneeling to the Madonna while only bowing to the Crucifix. Of fasting he approved — it was customary for his own Parliament to fast after its first meeting and in times of stress — but suggested that the food saved should be given to the poor, a sentiment in line with his general feeling for the under-privileged.


Between the Thirty-nine Articles of Faith of the English Church and the Roman Catholic Creed he could feel little essential difference. This, again, was a subject frequently disputed before him.

Small wonder that Charles felt that union with the Roman Catholic Church was not impossible. But it remained essential that the Pope should give up his claim to depose heretic Princes. 'You must induce the Pope to meet me half-way', he expostulated to Con. The astute envoy was equal to the situation. 'His Holiness will even come to London to receive you into the Catholic Church', he countered. And there, more or less, is how the matter ended. Charles was all along considering nothing more than a union between two Churches. The Papacy was interested in the conversion of Charles and, ultimately, of his whole kingdom. The second attempt to convert Charles to the Roman Catholic faith, like the first, had failed.


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