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King Charles I was the first of monarchs to be put on trial for treason and it led to his execution. No law could be found in England’s history that dealt with the trial of a monarch. King Charles I assumed he had unrestricted political power over the sovereign state and its people. In 1625, Charles I’s first year as king was a bumpy year. He rose to the throne during a plague, and immediately jumped the country into war against Spain, which failed miserably. This early in his reign, his pretentions to be an absolute monarch were visible. “Remember that Parliaments are altogether in my power for their calling, sitting, and dissolution. Therefore, as I find the fruits of them good or evil, they are to continue or not. …” The house of Commons and the people of England were wary about their new king. Once King Charles I issued the new taxes, the House of Commons had no choice but to create a petition against it, “insisting on its traditional privilege to approve taxes and objecting to Charles’s imposition of something akin to martial law.” Though, Charles did not agree to the petition, he accepted it then decided to drop Parliament and rule alone.
His premature actions of absolute monarchism brought upon his attempt to reform the local government. He created England’s first yearly tax on income, he appointed William Laud to reform churches all around the country, causing riots emerging from Scottish Presbyterian Church leading to the Scots banding together and in 1638 signed a National Covenant, “swearing to defend the Presbyterian Church to the death”. All this protest caused Charles to desperately turn back to Parliaments help. Of course, Parliament wanted reform before enduring to the Kings wants, but Charles I did not like what he was told so he overthrew the ‘short Parliament’ and called another. This act was another trait of his absolute monarchy displayed to the public.
Riots grew, reformers were still angry, and most of England’s population was not happy. Puritans demanded even more reform, Irish rioters set upon their “Protestant overlords, massacring an estimated 12,000 people”. In the chaos, Charles continued his absurd monarchy ruling and set up a plot to imprison his Catholic wife, Henrietta. He also charged five important models of Parliament with treason and wanted to lock them up. With this being done, reformers were convinced that Charles was abusing his power and had become a “tyrant, rather than a benevolent father, to his people”.
Once Charles was brought to court, he deemed that “ nor Parliament, or any earthly court, had the right to try him”. He started off the trail by disrespecting the courts by declining to take his hat off. That statement alone demonstrations absolute monarchism translating to his thought that he doesn’t fall into the same category as others in court. He then threatens the court asking who is responsible for trying him, “Remember I am your king, your lawful king, and what sins you bring upon your heads, and the judgment of God upon this land; think well upon it, I say, think well upon it, before you go further from one sin to a greater;” trying to imply that there will be consequences to whomever triggered him to court.
Charles continued to deny answering to the courts, revealing even more belief that he is supreme. He continued to insist on his right to rule, until his prosecutor, Parliament’s lord president, John Bradshaw presented a long speech accusing him of being a “tyrant, traitor and murderer; and a public and implacable enemy to the Commonwealth of England.”
King Charles never admitted to his faults therefore Bradshaw read out the charge against Charles; that he “out of a wicked design to erect and uphold in himself an unlimited and tyrannical power to rule according to his will, and to overthrow the rights and liberties of the people of England.” On the morning of January 30, 1649, Charles was taken from the chambers to his execution for the judgment of the court, that “he, the said Charles Stuart, as a tyrant, traitor, murderer and public enemy to the good of this nation, shall be put to death by severing of his head from his body.”
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