‘Charles’ Ability to Finance His Government Effectively and Without Too Much Resentment During the Personal Rule Was a Remarkable Achievement.’ Essay

‘Charles’ ability to finance his government effectively and without too much resentment during the personal rule was a remarkable achievement. ’ How Far Do You Agree? For the greater part of the 1630’s Englishmen paid their taxes, most likely grumbling whilst doing it, but they were paid. During his personal rule 1629-40, Charles I needed to raise revenue by using non-parliamentary means, i. e. in ways he would not need a parliament’s permission to collect.

In order to do this, Charles changed certain policies to make them more financially gaining and brought back taxes that had not been used for numerous years, ranging from Ship Money to Credit to Monopolies. Upon his arrival in the court of Charles I, Lord Treasurer Weston tried to curb royal expenditure. The royal household accounted for almost 40% of Charles’ income and was at nearly ? 260,000 a year. Although Weston managed to halt the upward curve of expenditure, he made no real structural reform of the King’s expenditure, meaning that the cost of the court did not reduce it stayed at the same level.

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However, upon Weston’s death in 1635, in terms of percentages of total royal income it did go down, but purely because gross income had risen. This clearly shows that some of the financial policies Charles held did work effectively as he had more money. Another thing that Weston attempted to stop Charles doing was, borrowing credit. He along with William Juxon, Bishop of London endeavoured to stop the crown off borrowing money from the City of London and other financiers.

Their aim was to reduce the interest payments on the outstanding loans that were crippling the crown so much that in the 1620s the crown jewels were pawned to the Netherlands. Weston and Juxon clearly managed to control crown borrowing as the annual crown deficit was cut to just ? 18,000, but it was not completely effective as the total crown debt remained at more than ? 1 million. However, in the 1630s the crown jewels were bought back, showing the fore-sight and innovative way to access income. One of the most heavily resented policies by Charles’ personal government was Ship Money.

Initially it was an ancient, one-off emergency tax, used to pay the Navy to protect trade from piracy and was normally only applicable to costal towns and ports. However, it became a permanent tax in 1635 and was extended to inland counties, clearly causing resentment. People felt angered as to why it was extended; they thought it was wrong that even though they would not be directly affected by the money, they still had to pay the tax. Furthermore, it definitely weakened the claim of the tax in terms of an emergency fund. A clear example of resentment is the John Hampden case of 1636/37.

Hampden refused to pay Ship Money and was taken to court because of it; he based his case of the fact that it was wrong that the King in times of national danger was able to command his subjects to pay a levy without recourse to a parliament. Hampden lost the case, but he won a moral victory and caused embarrassment to Charles because five of the twelve voting members ruled in Hampden’s support, definitely showing resentment amongst his own judges. However, it would be wrong to state that the tax was ineffective. In 1638, 90% of the population paid the tax raising ? 200,000 p. a. In addition, during the years 1635-40, the tax raised ? 00,000 for Charles- clearly showing that it was effective in raising money. Furthermore, it is known that most people, who disliked the tax, were more concerned with the level of duty not the actual principle of tax. Charles realised that being at peace with France and Spain had been extremely beneficial for trade, especially in the trading of arms and foodstuffs. Furthermore, at the beginning of his reign, Charles had only been given by parliament Tonnage and Poundage (custom duties on exports and imports) for one year, instead of the normal allowance given to Kings of the whole of their reign.

This meant that during personal rule Charles needed to find a way around the blockage by parliament meaning he instead raised customs duties, in order to maximise the money he could get out of the increased level of commerce, therefore in reality continuing to collect Tonnage and Poundage without permission. In 1635, custom duty brought in ? 358,000 for Charles and throughout the 1630s, it accounted for almost two-thirds of the crown’s revenue. This was an effective way to raise money for Charles, but it was a sore point with many members of his rejected parliament.

It was also, essentially illegal to collect such duties as he was going against what they had stated to him in 1625. In order to raise more money, Charles employed half-forgotten feudal dues and devices. The distraint of knighthood was a medieval stratagem in which men owning estates worth ? 40 a year were supposed to present themselves to the King at his coronation. It was a law, which had not been used since the early Tudors, and Charles began to fine people for not performing as the law states.

Gentlemen found themselves being fined by the King for an out-dated, practically un heard of regulation. It was a effective way to raise money proven by the fact that by the end of the 1630s, fines from this source had raised a total of ? 174,000 from over 9000 members of the gentry. Furthermore, during personal rule there was a revival of Forest Laws, based on medieval royal forest boundaries. Landowners whose estates now encroached on these boundaries found themselves unable to produce the title deeds for their land because it had been held by their families for centuries.

Proprietors also saw the enclosure fines- levies for fencing off open fields and common land for conversion from arable to pasture- as a penalty for attempting to improve their income and estates. Both these policies caused heavy resentment they were seen as a tax on population growth and land improvement that fell solely on the rich and powerful, for example the Earl of Salisbury was fined ? 20,000. However, the policy could be seen as ineffective because although ? 80,000 worth of fines were imposed, only ? 25,000 came to the exchequer and therefore the crown.

Another example, of a feudal duty reinstated with vigour was the policy of wardships. A warship is when a landowner dies leaving a child heir and the Crown has the right to look after the estate until the heir came of age. It collected ? 55,000 p. a. in the mid 1630s, three times, as it had done in 1613. It was a highly efficient way for the crown to make financial gain; however, it was deeply resented as the Crown was frequently accused of exploiting vulnerable estates. In all the above-mentioned examples of fiscal feudalism they were mainly begrudged because of the unfairness of the impositions and because of there arbitrary nature.

Ironically, Charles’ Lord Treasurer Weston, applied recusancy laws more vigorously in the time of personal rule. A recusant was a Catholic who refused to accept the Act of Supremacy, which acknowledge the King as the ‘Supreme Governor’ of the Church. Charles it is thought was a secret Catholic and he was married to a Catholic, Henrietta Marie so it is bizarre that he used a law against Catholics to raise money. It explicitly goes against the idea of the ‘beauty of holiness’ that Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury was trying to implement into religious policy and was almost a way to enforce Laudian policy.

By 1635, they were bringing in ? 27,000 p. a. instead of the minimal ? 5,000 in 1630. Statistics clearly show that it was an effective policy, however it is impossible to say it was really resented by Charles’ gentry, as they wanted the country to be fully protestant and the fact Charles acted with Catholic mannerisms caused ructions in parliament before personal rule. Rent from crown lands was hit hard by inflation, which had eaten away at the true value of fixed rates rent. This was therefore, an ineffective way to make money for Charles, as he was missing maximising the income.

Nevertheless, in order to stop huge uproar and large resent, he could not raise rates, to match inflation that he had previously fixed. To combat this problem, Charles began to sell more of the crown lands, which brought him approximately ? 650,000 between 1625 and 1635. This is an effective policy in the short run but eventually the level of crown lands will depreciate dramatically, leaving the crown with none to sell and none to tax. Although the Forced Loan was used outside the period of personal rule- in 1626- proved an effective way of raising funds, by the end of 1627 it had raised ? 260,000.

It was originally levy to supply the funds for war against Spain. However, it cause ructions when it was first used, shown in the Five Knights Case of 1627. People often refused to pay the Forced Loan and were therefore imprisoned. However, five men- Sir William Coryton (a client of the Earl of Pembroke), Sir Thomas Darnell (a Lincolnshire baronet), Sir Walter Earle (or Erle, a West Country Calvinist), Sir Edmund Hampden (uncle of John Hampden) and Sir John Heveningham- challenged for Habeas Corpus, but lost as the Privy Council stated that the men had been imprisoned “by special command of our Lord the King”.

The fact that even before personal rule, the King was taxing without parliamentary consent and imprisoning his subjects without trial definitely meant that during personal rule, there was great resentment it seems towards the memory of the Forced Loan and illegal imprisonment. Furthermore, it left many members of the country with a less money, meaning they then struggled to pay the new taxes in the 1630s. The King used a loophole in order to get round the 1624 act, which had banned the granting of monopolies to individuals. Nothing in the act mentioned companies.

Therefore, Charles allowed only one company the licence to produce soap in return for ? 4 per tonne of soap sold. The product became known as ‘Popish soap’, and it led to charges of corruption being placed in courts. It is thought that the Catholic run soap brought the crown ? 29,000 a year by 1636. Although it was, a simple was for the crown to gain money, the granting of these monopoly authorisations were bitterly hated as a rudimentary form of tax where most of the benefits went to the patentees. The crown felt that it had a right to purchase food and other provisions at below market value, and that they could pay in livestock, wheat etc. r by ‘composition’ cash by counties also known as purveyance. This was met with large widespread resistance in counties across the country and was not very effective as it influenced minimally on the crown’s finances. By 1637, it is believed that the new polices brought in during personal rule, meant that the annual revenue of the crown was at over ? 1 million, which is approximately 50% higher than in 1625. It should be agreed, that the most effective ways of raising money Charles employed was in fact not being at war. In the 1620s Charles had spent ? 00,000 on the military and navy, whereas in the 1630s this expenditure was reduced to only ? 66,000. This meant that being in peace-time gave Charles more money without the new policies, meaning that on a whole he does look extremely effective in gaining money without parliament, but he had more money in his coffers to begin with than he had in years before. Resentment is harder to judge on a whole, but the fact that at the end of the 1630’s Charles was beginning to believe he could rule in absolutist regime must say something about the way the country saw him.

Either the majority of the country must have been in support of him; otherwise, he would have had to deal with revolts and uprisings constantly, from aggrieved citizens or he was extremely disconnected from his people and completely oblivious to any problems up and down the country. For the gentry, the new feudal legalities were hated and thought of as highly unjust- meaning that the whole time Charles used them he was stirring up abhorrence amongst the people with some of the greatest land power in the country.


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