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British Monarchs: Charles I (Stuarts) 1625-1649


Charles I


House: Stuarts
Reign: 1625-1649

Charles I (19 November 1600 30 January 1649) was King of England, Scotland, and Ireland, from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649. He famously engaged in a struggle for power with the Parliament of England. As he was an advocate of the Divine Right of Kings, many in England feared that he was attempting to gain absolute power. There was widespread opposition to many of his actions, especially the levying of taxes without Parliament's consent.
Religious conflicts permeated Charles' reign. He selected his Catholic wife, Henrietta Maria, over the objections of Parliament and public opinion. Charles further allied himself with controversial religious figures, including the ecclesiastic Richard Montagu, and William Laud, whom Charles appointed Archbishop of Canterbury. Laud produced changes in the liturgy of the Church of England which many of Charles' subjects felt brought the Church of England too close to Roman Catholicism. Charles' later attempts to force religious reforms upon Scotland led to war that weakened England and helped precipitate his downfall.

The last years of Charles' reign were marked by the English Civil War, in which he was opposed by the forces of Parliament who challenged his attempts to augment his own power and by Puritans, who were hostile to his religious policies and apparent Catholic sympathy. The first Civil War (1642 - 1645) ended in defeat for Charles, after which the parliamentarians expected Charles to accept their demands for a constitutional monarchy. Instead, he remained defiant, provoking the second Civil War (1648 - 1649). This was considered unacceptable, and Charles was subsequently tried, convicted and executed for high treason. The monarchy was then abolished, and a republic was established, called the Commonwealth of England. Charles' son, Charles II, became King after restoring the monarchy in 1660.

Charles is also the only person to be canonized by the Church of England since the English Reformation.


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