Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 10.djvu/80

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Charles
Charles
72

other cause of the estnmgement of the commons was of a more important character. A reaction against the prevalent Calvinism, which was in reality hased upon a recurrence to the tone of thought of those of the reformers who had lived under the influence of the renaissance, had made itself felt at the universities, and conseauently among the clergy. The laity were slower to feel the impulse, which in itself was in the direction of freer thought, and the House of Commons sent for Richard Montagu, who had written two books which had denied the Calvinistic dogmas to be those of the church of England. Charles, who shared in Montagu's belief, was unwise enough to bid the commons abstain from meddling with Montagu, not on the ground that liberty was good, but on the ground that Montagu was a royal chaplain, a position which was only conferred on him to give Charles an excuse for protecting^ him [see Montagu, Richard]. The question of ministerial responsibility was thus raised in the church as well as in the state.

In dissolving parliament Charles had no thought of doing without parliaments, but he hoped to be in a position when the next one met to be financially independent of them, and to prove by a great success that he and Buckingham were competent to carry on war. Scraping together a certain sum of money by means of privy seal loans, a means of obtaining temporary assistance which had been used by Elizabeth, he sent out an expedition to Cadiz under Sir Edward Cecil [see Cecil, Sir Edward, Viscount Wimbledon], and despatched Buckingham to Holland to raise money by pawning the crown jewels. The expedition proved a complete failure, and Buckingham returned without being able to obtain more than a very small sum.

Another scheme of Charles was equally unsuccessful. When his second parliament met on 6 Feb. 1626, it appeared that he had made all the chief speakers of the opposition sheriffs in order to make it impossible for them to appear at Westminster. Sir John Eliot [see Eliot, Sir John], however, took the lead of the commons, and after a strict inquiry into Buckingham's conduct, the commons proceeded to the impeachment of the favourite. In the course of the struggle other disputes cropped up. Charles sent the Earl of Arundel to the Tower [see Howard, Thomas, Earl of Arundel] for an offence connected with the marriage of his son, and was obliged to set him at liberty by tlie insistence of the peers, who claimed the attendance of each member of their own house on his parliamentary duties. In the same way he was compelled to allow the Earl of Bristol, whom he had attempted to exclude from parliament, to take his seat, and as Bristol brought charges against Buckingham, he sent his attorney-general to retabate by accusing him before the lords of misconduct as ambassador during Charles's visit to Madrid [see Digby, John, Earl of Bristol]. He was also brought into collision with the commons. He was so indignant at language used by Eliot and Digges, as managers of Buckingham's impeachment, that ne sent them both to the Tower, only to find himself necessitated to release them, as the commons refused to sit till their members were at liberty, and he was too anxious for subsidies to carry on the war to be content with a cessation of business.

On 9 June Charles told the commons that if they would not grant supply he must 'use other resolutions.' The commons replied by a remonstrance calling for the dismissal of Buckingham, and as the lords showed signs of sympathy with the attack on Buckingham, Charles dissolved his second parliament on 16 June. The quarrel was defined even more clearly than in the first parliament. The commons claimed to refuse supply if the executive government were conducted by ministers in whom they had no confidence, while Charles held that he was the sole judge of the fitness of his ministers for their work, and that to refuse supply when the exigencies of the state required it was factious conduct which could not be tolerated.

As soon as the commons had disappeared from the scene, the king ordered that Buckingham's case should be tried in the Starchamber. The parliamentary managers refusing to prosecute, the affair ended in an acquittal, which convinced no one of its justice. In his straits for money Charles proposed to ask the freeholders to give him the five subsidies which the House of Commons had named in a resolution, though no bill had been passed to give effect to that resolution. Upon the refusal of the freeholders he ordered a levy of ship from the shires along the coast, and in thisway got together a fleet which was sent out under Lord Willoughby, and which was so shattered by a storm in the Bay of Biscay that it was unable to accomplish anything [see Bertie, Robert, Earl of Lindsey].

Charles's need of money was the greater as he was drifting into a quarrel with France. His breach of the promise made to the king of France to protect the English catholics had led to quarrels between himself and his wife, and at last Charles lost patience when he heard, perhaps in an exaggerated form, a story that the queen had ofiered prayers in the neighbourhood of Tyburn to the catholics