King Charles' First Parliament, 1625

In March 1625, the ailing King James I died. He was succeeded to the throne of the Three Kingdoms by his eldest surviving son Charles. After securing his marriage to the French princess Henrietta Maria, Charles I was duly crowned King of England, Scotland and Ireland on 2 February 1626.

King Charles' first Parliament assembled in June 1625, before his coronation had taken place. It met against the background of an outbreak of plague in London so virulent that the second session of Parliament was held at Oxford. The King's principal objective was to raise money for war against Spain, which he believed would indirectly help his sister Elizabeth and brother-in-law Frederick to regain the Palatinate.

Members of Parliament complained that the terms of the marriage contract between Charles and Henrietta Maria included unacceptable concessions to English Catholics. There were also rumours that the Duke of Buckingham, as Lord High Admiral, was about to authorise English warships to assist Cardinal Richelieu of France in subduing the Protestant Huguenot rebels. Suspicious of Charles' religious and foreign policy, Parliament was reluctant to grant him funds. In an unprecedented measure, it was proposed to grant the customs levy "tonnage and poundage" — traditionally one of the monarch's main sources of revenue — for one year only instead of for life, as had been usual since the 15th century.

Opposition MPs discussed precedents for Parliament choosing the King's ministers for him and also for the impeachment of those who had gained undue influence over him. Realising that a parliamentary attack on Buckingham was building, Charles dissolved his first Parliament on 12 August 1625 in order to protect his friend.


Pauline Gregg, King Charles I (Berkeley 1984)

Mark A. Kishlansky and John Morrill, King Charles I, Oxford DNB 2004