King Charles I has the distinction of being the only English monarch put to death by his own subjects. This is quite impressive considering that England only got two rulers in the Stuart dynasty before this happened. Needless to say, the English Civil War dominates much of what history remembers of Charles’s reign, but there’s a lot more story to tell. We have identified ten interesting facts about the reign of King Charles I that we think you should know. Delve into the story of the monarch who nearly brought the Stuarts to an end.
Not meant to be king
As has been the case with several monarchs throughout English history, Charles was never destined to ascend the throne. Charles had an older brother, Henry, who died aged 18, putting Charles in line to succeed his father, King James VI/I.
As the second son of the King of England and Scotland, young Charles held the titles of Duke of Albany and Duke of York.
The clumsy child
Growing up, Charles had a skinny, almost sickly lock, which was associated with shyness and stuttering. When James I claimed the crown of England, Charles was left behind as the family believed he might not survive the trip. However, Charles became more fit and engaged in several sporting hobbies including horse riding, fencing and marksmanship. Ironically, Charles’ brother Henry often made fun of his “sickly” little brother, for being stricken with illness himself.
Your two feet
Charles was determined to be able to make the trip to England at the age of three and was able to roam Dunfermline’s Great Hall on his own.
Wife less than supportive
Charles married French Princess Henrietta Maria by proxy when he was fifteen. Later that year his father died and Charles became king. The coronation then took place in 1626, but Henrietta refused to attend as she was a devout Catholic and did not wish to be part of a Protestant ceremony. Despite the obvious religious differences, Charles and Henrietta had a happy marriage and nine children, including two future kings of England.
November no shave
After the royal barber, Uriah Babbington was removed from office by Parliament in 1647, Charles refused to shave.
One of the greatest aspects of Charles’ reign was his love of music, art, and literature. While king, he amassed one of the greatest art collections in the world, spending a fortune on paintings by the masters Titian and Raphael. He also invited luminaries such as Van Eyck and Rubens to work in England. Unfortunately, during the English Civil War, Parliamentarians confiscated his collection and sold much of it at auction.
Charles prorogued (or interrupted) Parliament in 1628 and spent the next eleven years reigning without them. The period was historically known as “Personal Rule” and was not unprecedented, but its detractors often referred to it as the “Tyranny of the Eleven Years”. However, Elizabeth I and James I had run large deficits during their reigns and Charles needed to raise funds. With only Parliament able to raise taxes, Charles took several measures to increase revenue, including the “ship tax”, which was normally levied on people who lived along the coast, but Charles attempted to apply it further inland. Charles was eventually forced to rescind the tax after growing discontent and sheriffs who refused to collect it. The tax was later one of many grievances that led to the English Civil War.
To go crazy
After Charles was beheaded, his head was stitched back to his body and he was buried in a lead coffin.
the last laugh
Charles was executed on January 30, 1649. His successor, Oliver Cromwell himself, died in 1658. After the fall of the Protectorate and the restoration of King Charles II to the throne in 1660, Cromwell’s body was exhumed and ceremonially “executed” on twelfth anniversary of Charles’ death in 1661.