Front Matter Early Times The Druids The Britons Caesar in Britain Queen Boadicea The Great Walls The Great Irish Saint The Anglo-Saxons Brave King Arthur The Laws of the Saxons The Story of St Augustine Three Great Men The Danish Pirates King Alfred and the Cakes Alfred conquers the Danes A King's Narrow Escape The King and the Outlaw The Monasteries An Unlucky Couple St Dunstan King Canute and the Waves A Saxon Nobleman Lady Godiva's Ride The Battle of Hastings The Conquest Lords and Vassals Death of William The Brothers' Quarrels Arms and Armour The "White Ship" Matilda's Narrow Escapes Story of Fair Rosamond Thomas a Becket Murder of Thomas a Becket Richard's Adventures Richard and the Saracens The Faithful Minstrel Death of Richard The Murder of Arthur The Great Charter The Rule of Henry III A Race Persecution of the Jews The Conquest of Wales A Quarrel with France The Coronation Stone The Insolent Favourite Bruce and the Spider Death of Edward II The Murderers punished The Battle of Crecy The Siege of Calais The Age of Chivalry The Battle of Poitiers The Peasants' Revolt Richard's Presence of Mind A Tiny Queen Henry's Troubles Madcap Harry A Glorious Reign The Maid of Orleans The War of the Roses The Queen and the Brigand The Triumph of the Yorks The Princes in the Tower Richard's Punishment Two Pretenders A Grasping King Field of the Cloth of Gold The New Opinions Death of Wolsey Henry's Wives The King and the Painter A Boy King Lady Jane Grey The Death of Cranmer A Clever Queen Elizabeth's Lovers Mary, Queen of Scots Captivity of Mary Stuart Wreck of the Spanish Armada The Elizabethan Age Death of Elizabeth A Scotch King The Gunpowder Plot Sir Walter Raleigh King and Parliament Cavaliers and Roundheads "Remember" The Royal Oak The Commonwealth The Restoration Plague and Fire The Merry Monarch James driven out of England A Terrible Massacre William's Wars The Duke of Marlborough The Taking of Gibraltar The South Sea Bubble Bonny Prince Charlie Black Hole of Calcutta Loss of the Colonies The Battle of the Nile Nelson's Last Signal The Battle of Waterloo First Gentleman of Europe Childhood of Queen Victoria The Queen's Marriage Wars in Victoria's Reign The Jubilee

Story of the English - Helene Guerber

King and Parliament

When King James I. died of ague, in 1625 his son Charles became King of Great Britain in his stead. He was a most kind-hearted and amiable prince, devoted to his wife Henrietta Maria, whom he married shortly after he became king, and an excellent father. Unfortunately, however, Charles was a bad king. His father had taught him to believe in the divine right of kings and Buckingham had taught him that a promise made to his people need not be regarded as sacred.

When Charles came to the throne, he found that his father had not only spent all the money in the treasury, but had left large debts. Moreover, money had to be raised to carry on the war against Spain; so Charles called a Parliament and asked it for funds. Now the members not only hated the queen because she was a Catholic, but were anxious to have the king dismiss his favourite, Buckingham. So they said they would do as Charles wished if he sent Buckingham away. The king refused, and as Parliament would not grant him as much money as he wanted, he dissolved it. Then the Catholics soon began to trouble him, because he did not give them all the privileges they wanted; so he listened to the advice of Buckingham, and, to punish the French king for helping Spain, decided to send aid to the Huguenots, or French Protestants. They were then closely besieged at La Rochelle, a town on the coast of France.

The first expedition, under Buckingham, failed. To get money for a second, Charles granted Parliament the Petition of Right (1628), an enlarged edition of the Great Charter. The money secured, a fleet was made ready; but when Buckingham was about to take command of it, he was murdered by a man who fancied it would be well to rid the country of so vicious a creature.

Although Buckingham's death was no loss to the people, the king missed him sorely. He needed an adviser, and, hoping to please every one, he selected a Puritan leader for his minister, and made him Earl of Strafford. At first the Puritans were well satisfied; but when they saw that Strafford used all his great talents to uphold the king, they were very angry. They showed this by refusing to do what the king asked, when the next Parliament met. Charles therefore sent them away in wrath, vowing he would govern without any Parliament, although he knew this was against the law.

During the next eleven years Charles ruled alone, helped only by his two ministers, Strafford and Laud. He raised a great deal of money by fines imposed by the Star Chamber; but as this did not prove enough, he finally sent out an order calling for ship money.

Until then, whenever the country was in danger, the people living along the coast had been called upon to pay a tax which, as it was used for the navy, was called ship money. Now Charles asked that all the people in England should pay this tax, a thing he had no right to do, for the right of imposing taxes belongs to Parliament only.

The result was that people grumbled a great deal, and one rich man, named Hampden, who did not like to see his countrymen treated unjustly, refused to pay it. He was promptly brought before the court, where only four men out of twelve had the moral courage to say that the king was doing wrong. Still, although people did not dare say so openly, and although the court forced Hampden to pay ship money, all were indignant and ready to revolt against a king who did not respect the laws he had solemnly promised to uphold.