The rule of the
1. The rise of Carr
2. The Howards
In the years after
Salisbury's death, the
Howard family was the most important faction at
court. It reached the height of its power with the marriage between
Frances Howard and Robert Carr in 1613.
|The Howard family had been
very important from the reign of Henry VIII until Thomas Howard
was executed in 1572 for plotting to marry Mary, Queen of
|The family's fortunes were partially restored under Charles
Howard, Earl of Nottingham [left], who was Lord High Admiral of the
Fleet that defeated the Spanish Armada.|
|Henry Howard was made Earl of Northampton in 1604 and Lord
Privy Seal in 1608|
Thomas Howard (Earl of Suffolk, 1603) was appointed
Lord Chamberlain and then Lord Treasurer, while his namesake
Thomas Howard (Earl of Arundel 1624) joined the Privy Council in
|The Howard faction's clients included William Knollys
(Master of the Court of Wards) and Sir Thomas Lake
(Secretary of state).|
James showered the
happy couple with extravagant gifts, and the royal debt soared from
£160,000 in 1610 to £680,000 in 1614.
Sir Francis Bacon
and Sir Henry Neville persuaded James to call Parliament,
believing they would be able to manipulate it into granting James
taxes. It assembled 5 April 1614.
Some of the Howards feared
what Parliament might do, and along with the Spanish Ambassador
fomented rumors that led to an immediate clash over corrupt election
practices. The House of Commons expelled a Privy Councilor (Sir
Far from granting
taxation, the House of Commons immediately began to complain about
impositions. One Member (perhaps an agent of Henry Howard, Earl of
Northampton) gave a violently inflammatory speech against the Scots,
which provoked James into a immediate dissolution (7 June).
[Because it had passed no Act and granted no supplies it became known
as the "Addled" Parliament].
5. The fall of
James I believed that his power came
directly from God, and that the
king made law. He thought that the king had the authority and the duty to
supervise the English legal system and intervene personally in the
interests of justice.
Sir Edward Coke (the greatest lawyer of 17th Century England)
believed that English Common Law existed independently of the king and
established and bounded his power. In his view Common Law was ancient
custom - it had stood the test of time and was superior to any other
form of law.
was related to the Cecil family and a bitter enemy of Sir
Bacon and the Lord Chancellor, Thomas Egerton, Baron Ellesmere.
angered James by insisting in his theoretical writings that the king
was below the law, and by making legal decisions (prohibitions)
that interfered with governmental control of important cases.
1616, Bacon brought various charges against Coke, and the king
dismissed him from the Bench. This acted as a clear warning to other
judges that opposition to the King could cost them their jobs.
[To regain influence, Coke married his fourteen-year-old daughter
(entirely against her and her mother's will) to John Villiers, elder
brother of George Villiers. She later deserted John and had a child by
6. The fall of Carr
|The beautiful friendship between James and Carr
began to sour from 1614 onwards. Suspecting what might happen, Carr
persuaded the King to grant him a pardon for any offences he had
committed in the past.|
|Soon afterward, evidence emerged implicating Carr
and his wife in the poisoning of
Thomas Overbury. Both were arrested and tried. The evidence
against Frances was overwhelming, but the case against Carr was
|Despite Carr threats to reveal damaging facts
about James, the two were convicted and sentenced to death.|
James commuted the sentence and - after some years of imprisonment -
both were allowed to retire quietly to the country.
||Carr and the
Howards encouraged James in pro-Spanish policies, so too did Diego
Sarmiento de Acuña, Count Gondomar.
He was sent as
Spain's ambassador to England in 1613. A skilled diplomat and witty
conversationalist, he soon charmed James I entirely. By feeding
James on a diet of flattery, he came to wield great influence.|
promoted the idea of marrying Charles (James' heir since the death
of Prince Henry in 1612) to the
daughter of Philip IV of Spain. (It
was unclear whether the Spanish ever intended the match, but they
strung out the negotiations for ten years and helped prevent England
taking an active policy in support of the German Protestants).|
8. The execution of
policy adopted by James played a key part in the final execution of
Already in 1603,
Ralegh had been convicted of treason (on flimsy evidence) for
plotting to prevent James' accession. He was imprisoned in the Tower
until 1616, when the declining influence of the Howards and pressure
from the anti-Spanish faction persuaded James to allow Ralegh to
force Spain to conclude the marriage negotiations by seizing Spanish
gold in the New World. However, James made Ralegh promise that he
would not hurt any Spaniards in the process.
In fact Ralegh
not only sacked a Spanish settlement, but lost most of his crew to
disease and - worst of all - returned empty-handed.
Ralegh's execution and got it.
[Ralegh's pessimistic view of politics was perhaps justified].
The early years of James reign saw
an improvement in economic conditions - good harvests, less inflation,
increased foreign trade.
In 1614 a severe trade recession
began. England's main export was cloth. Most of it was sent to the
Netherlands where it was "finished" (i.e. dyed and dressed). Alderman
William Cockayne suggested a scheme of exporting only finished
cloth (cutting out the Dutch middle men and thereby increasing English
profits and - most importantly to James - royal customs duties).
James granted Cockayne a monopoly
of cloth exports, but the Dutch simply refused to accept the finished
cloth and sales slumped. In 1617, James reversed the monopoly to try
and restore the previous state of affairs, but it took years for the
cloth trade to recover, especially as the outbreak of the Thirty Years
War (1618) depressed all European economic activity.
Villiers came to court in 1614 and was appointed cupbearer. At the
request of George Abbot, Villiers' patron, Anne of Denmark pressed for
the handsome young man to become a gentleman of the King's bedchamber.
James so much that he was knighted and in 1616 made Viscount, in 1617
Earl, and in 1618 Marquess of Buckingham.
The fall of Carr
weakened the Howards, and the rise of Buckingham finished them; within
a few months of Buckingham becoming Marquess, the Howards were
deprived of their positions of power.