The Crisis of 1626
|Much of the money voted in 1624 had been spent
by Charles and Buckingham on refurbishing the English fleet. They
decided to use their new naval power to repeat the triumphant
attacks upon Cadiz.
The Raid on Cadiz, 1625
|The fleet commanded by Sir Edward Cecil
arrived at the Bay of Cadiz in October 1625, and immediately
made errors. Spanish vessels that might have been captured,
escaped to the safety of Port Royal because everyone waited
for orders and did nothing. The English ships first stopped at
the port of Saint Mary and then - instead of immediately
assaulting Cadiz - mounted a preparatory attack of Fort Puntal.
The English ships were largely merchant vessels conscripted
for service, and their owners/captains were so concerned for
their ships' safety that they left all the fighting to the
|When English soldiers were
finally disembarked to make the attack, no food or - more
importantly - water were landed with them. Cecil allowed the
thirsty men to broach vats of wine stored in local houses, and
soon the whole force was dead drunk. Finding himself in
command of undisciplined inebriates, firing at one another
rather than the enemy, Cecil ordered re-embarkation.
fleet then took position to intercept the Spanish galleons
bringing bullion back from the New World. But - forewarned by
rumors of war - the treasure fleet took a southerly route, and
slipped into Cadiz harbor unimpeded.
Lacking any alternative plans, and with disease spreading
through the dirty and crowded ships, the fleet limped home in
December. Many more hungry and diseased soldiers died in
England because no provision had been made to receive them.
The whole expedition was an expensive (c. £250,000) and humiliating
||Since Buckingham had played the leading role in
advocating and organizing the expedition, and since it was his friends
and appointees that had so poorly prepared fleet and army, its failure
was blamed wholly on Buckingham.
The Sovereign of the Seas
one of the ships built to restore English naval power after
the Cadiz fiasco
Buckingham nonetheless nursed grand schemes to
mount a Protestant Alliance to recover the Palatinate for Frederick V.
He promised money to Christian IV
of Denmark if he would support the alliance, encouraged
Count Mansfeld's army, and urged the
French into open war on the Habsburgs.
The main obstacle to Buckingham's ambitious
plans was lack of money. He and Charles therefore tried to build
bridges with hostile English nobles - most importantly the Earl of
Pembroke - and to buy popularity by re-instating the suspended
enforcement of penal laws against Catholics. After these preparations,
Parliament was summoned.
|Charles took one more step in his attempts to ensure a compliant
parliament: he named his main opponents in the
1624 and 1625 parliaments (Sir Edward Coke, Sir Francis Seymour, Sir
Robert Phelips, Sir Guy Palmes, Sir Thomas Wentworth and Edward
Alford) as sheriffs. A sheriff's duties in the localities officially
precluded attendance at Parliament. By this device Charles hoped
to exclude the fractious few responsible in his eyes for causing all the trouble.|
|The unpopularity of Charles and Buckingham was increased by
their attempts to form an alliance with with France. To tempt France
to war against Spain, Charles had offered to lend English ships to
but Louis XIII's government promptly tried to use these ships against the
rebellious French Protestants (Huguenots).
|Charles' devious tactic only served to irritate the Commons,
which soon found a new leader in Sir John Eliot, who was
particularly outraged by Buckingham's compliance in the French
crown's suppression of Huguenots. He expressed the
widespread disgust at the failure of the Cadiz expedition, attacked
Buckingham, and suggested that the Commons refuse to vote taxation
until its grievances were remedied.
Sir John Eliot
news, little is yet done in parliament, but snarling on both
sides, & much muttering against the Duke, ..."
(Nathaniel Bacon to Lady Jane Cornwallis,
||Buckingham also had enemies amongst England's peers : in
Herbert, Earl of Pembroke and John Digby, Earl of Bristol. Archbishop Abbot cooperated with his friend, the MP Sir Dudley Digges, to coordinate the attacks in the Houses of Lords and
|While the House of Lords considered the dispute between
Buckingham and Bristol, the House of Commons moved to impeach
Buckingham for the faults and failings of the government in recent
years. Buckingham was to bear the blame for Charles' mistakes as
well as his own.
"The laws of England have taught us that kings cannot command
ill or unlawful things. And whatsoever ill events succeed, the
executioners of such designs must answer for them".
(Sir Dudley Digges, 1626)
|After a speech against Buckingham by Eliot that
consisted mostly of learned insults, Charles had Digges and Eliot
committed to the Tower. Both Houses reacted with such fury - refusing
to conduct any business until the two were released - that Charles was
forced to back down and free them.
A gold unite of 1625
||Charles then demanded that parliament should
vote the taxes he wanted immediately (i.e. before the charges against
Buckingham were judged). The Commons refused point blank.
"For we protest before your Majesty and the whole world, that
until this great person be removed from intermeddling with the
great affairs of State, we are out of hope of any good
success; and do fear that any money we shall or can give will,
through his misemployment, be turned rather to the hurt and
prejudice of this your kingdom than otherwise, as by
lamentable experience we have found in those large supplies
formerly and lately given"
Fearful that he had lost
control of both Commons and Lords and that Buckingham would indeed
be impeached, Charles I abruptly dissolved Parliament, 15 June 1626.