J.P.Sommerville

 

 

The death of Buckingham and after

 

The murder of Buckingham

bullet By 1628, George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham was the most unpopular man in England. He was widely blamed for exercising undue influence over Charles and for the failure of the Cadiz and Rhé expeditions.
bulletJohn Felton was the son of a Suffolk gentleman who pursued Catholic recusants for a living. John served on the Cadiz expedition, and then joined the Isle of Rhé expedition in its last disastrous days. He returned to England, wounded, depressed and with a deep grievance against the Duke of Buckingham for preventing his promotion. The House of Commons' attacks on Buckingham convinced Felton that he was not Buckingham's only victim.
 
Felton decided to kill Buckingham. He wrote a declaration of his intentions and sewed it inside his hat
[That man is cowardly, base and deserveth not the name of a gentleman or soldier, that is not willing to sacrifice his life for the honour of his God, his King and his country. Let no man commend me for doing of it, but rather discommend themselves as the cause of it. For if God had not taken away our hearts for our sins, he would not have gone so long unpunished.]

 

On 23 August 1628, Felton went to the Greyhound Inn, Portsmouth and stabbed Buckingham in the chest. He was soon seized Throughout his interrogation, Felton insisted that he had acted alone.
Felton was executed on Tyburn Hill, 29 November 1628. His body was taken back to Portsmouth and publicly hung up in chains



The Greyhound

 

bullet Felton was hanged, but his deed was toasted throughout Britain; crowds flocked to his prison and called down God's blessing; poets waxed lyrical on his glorious deed.
 
 


Thomas Wentworth

After Buckingham

bulletAfter Buckingham's death, no one man took his place as favorite. Instead, Henrietta Maria gradually gained a greater share of her husband's affections.

Thomas Wentworth
"... became a champion patriot on all occasions. He might seem to have a casting voice in the House of Commons, for where he pleased to dispose his yea or nay, there went the affirmative or negative. It was not long before the court gained from the country, and then honours and offices were heaped on him ..."

[Fuller's Worthies}

One minister whose power increased was Thomas Wentworth. He was made a Viscount and President of the Council of the North in December 1628. Wentworth had opposed the Forced Loan and protested powerfully in the Parliament of 1628. But Wentworth wanted the king to run government efficiently and regularly - he did not want the House of Commons to control policy.

 

bulletThe death of Buckingham also paved the way to Charles' reconciliation with John Digby, Earl of Bristol.


John Cosin's Book of Devotions

Yet Buckingham's death did nothing to improve relations with the House of Commons. This was in part because of the policies Charles followed in the Church of England. He pardoned and promoted Maynwaring, and made Montagu a bishop.

Charles and his chief bishops also encouraged and protected John Cosin, whose Book of Devotions outraged many English Protestants as crypto-Catholic.

 

bullet James I had stymied puritan attempts to reform English Church worship and government, but he had been an orthodox Calvinist in his doctrine. Charles, in contrast, supported churchmen who voiced doubts about the Calvinist doctrine of predestination.

To the 1628 Articles of Religion, Charles prefaced  a declaration forbidding the clergy to preach or publish on the issue of predestination. In practice, this was used to prevent the publication of books in its favor, whilst anti-Calvinist works were not obstructed. The Declaration also stated that the King in the Convocation of clergy should govern the church (ignoring Parliament).

bullet Charles I's chief advisor in religious matters was William Laud, who in July 1628 was promoted to the Bishopric of London. Almost all English books were printed in London, and so - as Bishop - Laud now controlled which books were licensed.
 

The Parliamentary session of 1629

bulletThe tensions on religious matters - along with many others - erupted when Charles recalled parliament, 20 January 1629.
 


John Selden

bulletThe moment that parliamentary session commenced the famous lawyer, John Selden was on his feet complaining that the Petition of Right had already been infringed. The issue of the collection of tonnage and poundage without parliamentary grant also provoked immediate complaint.
bulletCharles tried to mollify the House and it seemed a compromise on tonnage and poundage was in sight, but then the religious question was raised by Francis Rous (1580-1659), the puritan step-brother of John Pym.
 
Many MPs feared that dangerous innovations were being made in the Church of England. In a few places, clergymen had railed in their communion tables at the east end of the church and begun to call these "altars".

The advocates of railed altars thought this simply displayed proper respect. Their puritan opponents regarded the practice as a return to popery - if not outright idolatry.
 

Facing east to pray: "is abominable, as being used by the Manichees and Pagans (both which worshipped the sun-rising) by the antichristian papists in their idolatrous Mass, and by necromancers and sorcerers, when they act their enchantments. For surely it little becomes Christians to follow witches and conjurors, in their superstitious and devilish devotions, preferring east before west, it being a ceremony of all others most deserving to be rejected, as being heretical, papistical, paganical, and magical."

[Peter Smart on the Durham Cathedral altar]

 

bullet The disputes between king and Commons became more acrimonious because of the particular case of John Rolle. He was a merchant and Member of Parliament whose goods had been seized by customs' collectors when he refused to pay tonnage and poundage. The Commons wanted to punish the customs' farmers for infringing parliamentary privilege - (asserting that MPs were immune from arrest and their goods from distraint).
bullet The customs' officers responded that they were simply obeying royal commands, and on 23 February Charles' Secretary, Sir John Coke confirmed this.
bulletCharles adjourned the Commons until 25 February to allow tempers to cool, but on the 24th a sub-committee submitted a series of resolutions violently hostile to the recent trends in the Church of England. Charles extended the adjournment  to 2 March.
 


Denzil Holles
(1598-1680)

On 2 March, Charles commanded the Speaker of the House, Sir John Finch to extend the adjournment to 10 March. Sir John Eliot pressed on with a remonstrance about tonnage and poundage, so Finch stood up to end the session. But Finch was seized and held in the Speaker's Chair by a number of MPs - led by Benjamin Valentine and by Denzil Holles, who swore by "God's wounds" that "he would sit till they pleased to rise".
 
 

bullet Most of the House of Commons supported this desperate move, and the few that wished to leave were prevented when one enterprising Member (Miles Hobart) closed the doors and pocketed the key.
bullet

Sir John Eliot then tried to introduce a series of resolutions.

"There is in this paper, a protestation against those persons that are innovators in religion; against those that are introducers of any new customs; and a protestation against those that shall execute such commands for tonnage and poundage; and a protestation against merchants that, if any merchant shall pay such duties, he as all the rest shall be as capital enemies of the State, and whensoever we shall sit here again, if I be here - as I think I shall - I will deliver myself more at large, and fall upon the person of that man".

{Sir John Eliot, 2 March 1629]

 

bullet Although there was no formal vote, much of the House shouted its approval, before adjourning itself.
bullet Charles immediately dissolved the Parliament and soon after published a Declaration defending his actions, and blaming the problems on a few troublemakers.
 

"It hath so happened that by the disobedient and seditious carriage of those said ill-affected persons of the House of Commons, that we and our regal authority and commandment have been so highly contemned as our kingly office cannot bear, nor any former age can parallel"

[Charles I, Declaration of the causes which moved him to dissolve the last Parliament, 1629]

 

bullet John Eliot, Denzil Holles, William Valentine, William Strode, John Selden,  Miles Hobart, William Coryton, Peter Heyman, and Walter Long were all arrested for their defiance of royal commands - (despite the fact that words and actions in parliament were privileged, making it impossible for Charles to bring them to trial).
bullet All spent some time in prison. Selden and others submitted and were released quickly. William Strode and William Valentine stood firm on their legal rights and parliamentary privilege, and remained confined until 1640. Denzil Holles was fined and released on bail. John Eliot refused to admit his guilt, insisted on parliamentary privilege, and died in the Tower of London, 27 November 1632.
 

"I refuse to answer, because I hold that it is against the privilege of the House of Parliament to speak of anything which was done in the House."

[John Eliot to his interrogators]

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