377 After Strafford

After Strafford, the idea of a genuine compromise was probably dead. Either king or Parliament would need to find a way to force the other into acceptance of their world view. Both had plans as to how this could be achieved

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Well, last time we ended with the death of Thomas Wentworth, earl of Strafford; political execution at best I suppose, judicial murder at worst possibly. The execution was seen in as many different ways as there were factions.

The royalist John Evelyn was horrified, when he saw

The fatal stroke, which severed the wisest head in England from the shoulders of the earl of Strafford, whose crime coming under the cognizance of no human law, a new one was made

On the other hand Nehemiah Wallington, the puritan Woodturner we met last time, was overjoyed at the blow that had been struck against those that had oppressed hm and his fellows over the last 11 years, a victory against all the odds over the greatest power in the land

This great Goliath was executed to the joy of the church of God

Lists circulated of those that had supported Strafford, accused of being ‘betrayers of our country. But when challenged by such a crowd, one of those MPs had the courage to angrily spit that the attainder was nothing but

Murder with the sword of Justice[1]

The manner in which he had defended himself and in which he met death had won him at very least the respect of those who saw the drama close at hand. Edward Hyde had not liked him, and although he would later become a loyal support of the king, he firmly believed in 1641 that Charles must be forced to reform, and to the end Strafford had to die. But he also was affected, and reflected that

Many of the standers by, who had not been over charitable to him in his life, being much affected with the courage and Christianity of his death.

You can’t help feeling Hyde was talking about his own feelingd. People like Hyde in May 1641 hoped that with his death peace could now be finally achieved. You might hope that the execution might at least draw a line under this first stage of the Long Parliament. The King had been forced into Brooke’s ‘necessity of Granting’. He must surely now accept the new realities, and get on working with his new advisers. The Reformers for their part must roll up their sleeves to work with their chastised king. Slowly time would heal all, the grass would continue to grow, the birds sing, and the streams run. This unpleasant episode would be forgotten. Hurrah and huzzah. Long live the king and Commonwealth.

Well, sadly not. One principal consequence was in fact the hardening of hearts. Amongst the Junto in particular, and the Reformers more generally. there was a grim satisfaction that however grubby, the job they had done with Strafford had been necessary:

Now we have done our work; if we could not have effected this, we could have done nothing

But the king’s duplicity in talking peace with one side of his face while preparing the Army Plot, a coup on his other side, had shattered Pym’s confidence in the power of negotiation, because negotiation was of course based on trust. And that had been burned. The days of meetings between Pym and Charles or Pym and HM were a thing of the past – from now on the attempt to achieve a settlement in which the reformers could feel secure, would be less and less velvet glove, more and more stick, in an atmosphere of growing distrust. The balance of power shifted within the Reformers; the more radical part of the Junto dominated by the man Clarendon described as the ’Jovial Hypocrite’ – the Earl of Warwick, would now drive the agenda.

By the way I thought I’d mention Clarendon’s phrase, Jovial Hypocrite for Warwick because I came across it the other day, and it rather jarred the picture I had of him, which is probably a bit grim, of an aggressive, ultra protestant. I mean to be honest, I wouldn’t take much notice of the Hypocrite thing – Clarendon thinks everyone who took up arms against the king was a hypocrite really. But Jovial? There’s a Cavalier or Roundhead quiz I did on the website – I give a load of pictures and you have to choose whether they are Cavalier or Roundhead – the point of the exercise being to introduce you to a few characters – gumbleeding repetition is after all the mother of education,  though not necessarily of good entertainment I have to admit – but also to make the point that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Many Roundheads were very gorgeously dressed – Robert Rich, Earl of Warwick very much among them, and he had a vast pile at Leez Priory in Essex. There was also nothing grim about his manner – he had a talent for humour and a hail-fellow-well-met manner, which oiled the wheels of allegiance and the party of reform.

Anyway, the point is that the first opportunity for compromise seemed to be dead, the Junto must proceed to force the king to drink.

On the king’s side, the spirit of compromise, never strong anyway was now firmly discredited. He never forgave himself for what he had been forced to do to his loyal servant Strafford, who’s safety he had personally assured, a promise he was forced to break. He would come to view all the misfortunes he had had to endure, including the final one, as God’s judgement on his failure to protect his friend, as he had promised. He was deeply ashamed. Just as he would never forgive himself, so he would never forgive those that had made him commit this horrible desecration of his soul. He would never work willingly with them, and his new compromise Privy Council was a dead letter, rarely called, rarely consulted – it was to the court and his wife Charles now turned.

For Henrietta Maria, the evident force of rhetoric against papists had convinced her that her very life was in danger; she genuinely believed that she could go the way of Strafford, and given the violence of the language around a papist plot, that’s utterly understandable. Actually HM has so far proved, against her reputation I would say, an emolling influence, and it’s always good to get a good bit of emolling under your belt of a morning; but as the spirit of compromise fails, as the price of a deal goes up with each evidence of Charles’ untrustworthiness and dissembling, people must choose sides. Her instincts were very much dynastic, religious, international – and family. All of these would make her an increasingly bellicose adviser to Charles. Meanwhile Charles’ love for his wife and family would keep their safety as a priority in his mind. It’s an easy factor to ignore in the grand political narratives, but at the time – it was critical. Th future and history can look after itself – family come first. I suspect a Roman Patrician of the great days of the Republic would be horrified at the very thought.

While we are in the post match analysis still, there’s one other thing. The king’s double dealing had dealt a blow to the credibility of the moderate members of the Junto; Pym, Hamden, Saye and Sele. It was the more radical members now – Warwick, Brooke Essex – who would form the agenda. There had been a man who could straddle the gap between king and Parliament. But he was dead. The significance of Bedford’s death was recognised by all, he’d had the status to be the peacemaker; the French ambassador described him as

‘a man of great virtue, equally loved by the nobility and the people’

For his funeral at Chenies in Buckinghamshire, the commons was adjourned and all the MPs given leave to attend. The man who could have come closest to healing the wound was gone.

So, in super summary; the king was now looking for alternative solutions; Bedford’s approach was dead, and the Privy Council basically becomes irrelevant because there are all those reformers on it now Charles doesn’t want to hear. And in fact the Privy Council is anyway deeply divided between royalists, moderates and Junto, and incapable of providing leadership. And it occurred to Charles that he should build a party within parliament – I am sure I have mentioned that before, sorry, I’m getting forgetful; and he was looking around for other friends. And rather surprisingly he looked north. To Scotland.

Well butter my bottom and call me a biscuit. Where? Well yes, good people. Scotland. Architect of all Charles’ woes. Wow.

Well, there’s a story you see. You might want to cast you mind back to 1640 and something called the Cumbernauld Band in 1640, a group of noblemen gathered about Montrose infuriated by the heavy metal of Argyll’s dominance which frankly was getting in the way of their own glory; Covenanters, but royalist. Well, throughout March and April, Montrose had been in communication with his king; as long as the king accepted the covenant and deletion of Scottish Bishops – well, then Montrose saw a way to get rid of the bogey man, Argyll. After all Argyll had recently outlined three reasons why a king could be removed, and when Charles ran his finger down the checklist well, there was a spooky coincidence. Invasion by a foreign army – well, first bishops war so tick; abandonment of his people – well where was the king now? Edinburgh? Wha wha Oops no. And ambition – Charles seemed to want to align everything in his three kingdoms into one model and well, that model seemed to be England. So…seen in a certain light, Argyll’s list was tantamount to suggesting royal deposition. Not a good basis for agreement. So, Long and Short – Charles and Montrose’s aims aligned. Argyll must go.

Now while Strafford was in play and a coup was in the offing, Charles let Montrose drift. But almost before Strafford’s head hit the planks with a squelching noise, followed by a sort of trundling I guess as it rolled a bit until the executioner picked it up I guess, Charles was ready for alternativesd.

So on the 12th May – the very same day Strafford’s body and head agreed to go their separate ways – Charles summoned the Scottish Commissioners to Whitehall. Well as you can imagine, no one expected a happy meeting; and the morning was spent amongst the Commissioners with the sound of knitting needles as the Commissioners’ coaches made their way to the meeting, and by the time they arrived 11 bulky knitted arse covers had been firmly stuffed into Scottish hose. But would you Adam and Eve it? The light in which they were bathed was not the fiery dragon’s breath of an avenging king, far from it. There was sweetness as well as light – William Drummond wrote that they found him in a ‘very gud temper’. He was most optimistic about reaching agreement, which was indeed soon done; and while he announced that he’d prorogued the Scottish parliament until 15th July that was because he said he was going to be there to open it. Well. Scottish bottoms were indeed buttered, and shortbread was on the menu.

Now we are going to hear about a chap called Edward Nicholas next time, a Wiltshire man who becomes Charles’ closest advisor for a while. Well, Nicholas wrote a memo to the boss summarising the aims of the trip a doodle

If your majesty should settle there such a peace and quietness as may content at home the Scots, in good obedience, [the Covenanter army] shall no sooner be returned…but that those that depended on them will fall flat.[2]

Ah ha, Alles clar mein jungen? Get the Scottish army out of Scotland and thereby cut the legs off the Junto in England. Plus give Argyll a kicking and install a regime that has no desire to invade England. Then reduce the Junto rubble and make their heads squelch and sort of…trundle.

By Mid May, Charles had announced that he was packing his bags and would go to Scotland come the summer. Cat, Pigeons, feathers, running around in small tight circles – the Junto hit the panic button. One, they suspected what king was up to, they had not been born yesterday. Two – the King would be passing York on his way up, where there were 16,000 hairy oiks with guns furious with parliament for not paying their wages – and indeed a Scottish army furious with the English parliament for not paying their hit me in the face with a stick money. Panic.

The path of true love though, I am told on good authority, is never smooth, and it seems that the attempt to build a new regime in Scotland had already hit some rough stuff before Charles set off. Firstly it looks as though Hamilton might be not entirely in team King. Now I spoke glowingly of Hamilton and his service to the king, but it seems that in 1641 there was a wobble, a dalliance between Argyl and Hamilton, and bit of deal making as Hamilton worried about his Scottish estates, or at least Montrose thought so, and also Lord Roxburgh, who would denounce Hamilton as a traitor and a ‘juggler with the king’. So there are trust issues. It is not clear though that Hamilton was playing away; it’s possible that he was establishing relationships with Argyll to have more influence. Politics are complicated.

Secondly, there’s a spot of back luck for Charles clever plans and secret tricks; a chap called Walter Stewart. Now, Walter had been in London. Walter Stewart, it appears, was Montrose’s man. And Traquhair, the king’s commissioner in Scotland had been at Whitehall at the same time. And although he’d been as clever and tricksy as Bilbo Baggins in the pitch black cave under the Misty Mountains, he’d been spotted by the Scottish Commissioner in London. And at the start of June, when Walter went north, he was apprehended and in an outrageous invasion of his personal privacy his bag was searched. And in there was a detailed set of instructions from Traquhair and another Lord, the earl of Lennox, to Montrose planning how at the forthcoming Scottish parliament, they would destroy Argyll.

Well, Stewart was thrown into prison and would be executed by the Maiden in Edinburgh in July. Montrose was arrested and calls went out for other incendiaries to be pulled in; the word incendiaries meaning ‘people who would bring down Argyll and the Covenanter government’, and the incendiaries would become a key bone of contention. No one arrested Charles, because the only thing from Charles in Stewarts violated bag was a perfectly anodyne letter. But there was a letter, Walter and Traquahair had both been in London Town, and Argyll was good at simple arithmetic like, I don’t know, 2+2 just for example. So, not the most auspicious start to Charles’ plans, but you know our Charles, never one to let reason get in the way of a good plot. Risk analysis was not his gig.

Back to the Junto then. The first priority was to finish the job. Given the Army Plot their aim now was nothing less than to create a new monarchy – a constitutional monarchy, with the King shorn of the power to act independently of parliament. They needed to finish stage one – the removal of the instruments he had used to impose a tyranny in state and religion, actions on which they knew the majority of the house of Commons were agreed anyway. In June then, three acts renewed the attack on the royal prerogative; firstly, customs dues were granted for just two months. These were far and away the most lucrative and reliable source of royal income. Bi monthly renewals meant that the Commons had a firm grip on those royal short and curlies we talked about. Next, an act came forward to universal popularity, to abolish the courts of High Commission that had been the tool to impose the Laudian reforms. No one, but no one, wept for its destruction – except maybe an increasingly nervous group of Bishops. Next up was the court of Star Chamber. Cardinal Wolsey would have been horrified and was spinning in his grave; Thomas More would be spinning almost as fast; Wolsey had invented it to speed up justice and make it available to those who without the power to fight big money – equity. Until Charles came along, it had been popular. But Charles had perverted it, used it as an instrument of tyranny on the likes of John Lilburne – because the court was subject only to the king. So in the wrong hands, it had always had the potential to be perverted. And Charles had possessed the wrong hands.

no freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or disseized of his freehold or liberties or free customs, or be outlawed or exiled or otherwise destroyed, and that the King will not pass upon him or condemn him but by lawful judgment of his Peers or by the law of the land

started the act, a very English declaration, Magna Carta, cry Harry and so on. These acts were a major curb on executive power – judiciary and executive were now largely separated, though a couple of wrinkles remain to be ironed out at some future point. It meant all law had to go through the courts of common Law – given the complexity of the system that’s a sea urchin with two spikes, but there was nothing for it. It also meant the abolition of torture – because only the Prerogative courts could accept evidence by torture – Geoffrey Robinson tells me – well it’s in his book the tyrannicide brief, he didn’t drop me a ‘Hi Dave’ email – that in 2005 the act was invoked to stop the UK government using such evidence against terrorists. Who says a respect for the past doesn’t come in handy. The act of High Commission referenced an act by Edward I as well actually[3]. History lives, history breathes.

Great, job done; a king now shorn of the ability to raise money except through parliament, and of the capability to impose arbitrary punishment. Cool. That though was the easy bit, it’s going to get much, much harder.

So Warwick and the Junto faced a problem; they were terrified of the king hooking up with the army at York. You might think that the very idea that the king would try to use the rather soggy sword that was the royal army would be a long shot – but really not. A document was drawn up and approved by the king in the summer; it was a petition, oven ready, to be presented to the army as and when. It’s got Charles written all over. The petition lamented that their good King had done everything he could to come to agreement, but would you believe it, there were

Certain persons, stirring and practical who remain as yet unsatisfied and mutinous as ever…still attempting new diminuations of your majesty’s just regalities

It’s a startling reminder that Charles’s mind was now focussed on winning a battle, of a war; compromise might look to be on the table, but was it actually?

The other fear for the Junto was that in Scotland, Charles would be able to force them and the Covenanters apart. So they had to stick to the Scots like a limpet, and keep them as sweet as humanly possible. And the price the Scots demanded was a steep one – a unified church across England and Scotland – on the Presbyterian model of the perfect kirk. And they were getting impatient. Nothing seemed to be getting done by the English. Just a bunch of fine words and talk is cheap, actions speak louder than words, and a bird in the bush is worth 2 in the hand.

Well, you see it’s complicated. I mean we are in London, with the most puritanical and separatist population in England, and we’ve seen all those angry petitions and so on, whipped on by the puritans like Isaac Pennington in the City. But Pym and his fellows were aware that the mood of the country was much more complicated and nuanced. Basically, there was not a majority out there for abolition of Bishops, which had been around in England since, well, since Anglo Saxon times, so you know, that’s long enough to get used to it. The Commons had managed to garner 900 petitions from the regions and they knew there was plenty of fury about the state of the church, the quality of ministers, the Laudian innovations with altar and bowing and all that smells and bells nonsense. And there was indeed a groundswell of determination among the people of England to put these things right – but get rid of Bishops? As long as they were the right bishops rather than all these Arminians well, they’d rather the institutions stayed, and don’t touch Cranmer’s lovely BCP. Obviously, there’s a growing crowd that would throw out the whole institution, root and branch. But probably not a majority. The love and affection for the good old CofE was strong and deep yet.

Also politically, we have been dealing with warm buns so far, but are now we getting to hot potatoes; probably a root and branch bill to abolish the bish might get through the Commons. It likely would not get through the lords. It’s a poser and no mistake – how to make it appear to the Scots that they are getting what they want, without giving them what they want. Because that would probably derail the whole reform programme. Well, the tactic that Warwick, Brooke, Essex and Pym adopt employs two basic devices; it deploys smoke, and it deploys mirrors. The House of Commons would look as much as possible as though it was working hard to expel the episcopy, while doing nothing of the sort. So a Root and Branch bill is introduced but it is allowed to languish, to dawdle through legislative and committee process as though it were a taking a punt down the Cam on a lazy and hot Sunday afternoon with an unfeasibly large straw hat. The commons instead seize on the 900 Petitions they’d gathered and start a series of prosecutions against individual ministers; thirteen bishops are threatened with prosecution. And they introduce a bill to abolish the right of the bishops to sit in the lords.

The result is a B+. The split with the Lords is not healed – in June they threw out the bill to exclude Bishops from the Lords – you’ll hear that gain. The Lords was far more conservative than the Commons.  The prosecutions of ministers proceeds apace – and is interesting example of the legislature now taking responsibility for executive action. This was categorically not the way it was supposed to work; parliament was an advisory body, the king and his ministers were the only ones with executive power. Well – not any more, eh Pacha.

It was Pym who came up with the biggest play to retain unity within parliament and across the country; careful choreography was needed to get maximum impact and support. So on 22nd June, Leicestershire MP Arthur Hesilrige stood up in the house; Hesilrige you might remember was the bright spark, well dour and rather miserable spark, who came up with the idea of Attaining Strafford rather than trying him. On 19th June, Hesilrige stood, and spilled some beans. The beans being the reports about Walter Stewart and the plot against Argyll, and Charles’ possible complicity in it.

So, similar to the May Army plot, there is outrage and a sense of panic. And right behind it, as night follows day the Junto strikes; Warwick introduced proposals for a Poll Tax to keep the Scots by their side by raising £300,000 to pay the hitting-myself-in-the-face tax. Although this of course was risky – no one likes a Poll Tax. Regressive tax you see, everyone pays the same, that sucks. We know what happened in 1381 when that happened last don’t we, you and I? And in 1990. Anyway, it was necessary to keep the Scots on board.

One more major project was required to make sure the Reform programme was safe. The Commons and people needed to be bound together in harmony; So they would produce a manifesto, a programme of objectives everyone of like mind could get behind, to set the agenda for the next stage of reform, to tie the king down more firmly than ever.

I am going to quote Thomas Hobbes at you now. I feel so erudite – quoting philosophers is without doubt the top of the cultural tree of pretention. I know naff all about Hobbesy actually, except there’s something called Leviathan that is not an aquatic mammal, and that according to Simon Mayo he’s really, really dull and ruined his life at university. I will know about him soon, because Hermione recommended a book to me. A short one. Anyway, are you sitting comfortably and ready for the quote? Then I shall begin

they that have the Armes have the Purse, & they that have the Purse hath obedience, So Thatt Armes Is all’.

Eh? What do you think of that? Clever chap ain’t he? Well actually a bit obvious, but you know – good point Hobbesy. And it is this with which the super radical manifesto was to be in tune.

It was Pym that introduced it to the house – it was a declaration called the 10 Propositions. The army must be disbanded, and the king delayed from going into Scotland until that was finished. Wait, wait, that’s not the radical bit. The radical bits; firstly the command structure of the only military that England had was to be restructured; the Lords Lieutenant to whom the Trained Bands, or militias, reported, were to take a special oath. And said oath was to parliament not king. I mean – it’s bottom buttering time again.

But before you start smearing, listen to this; evil ministers must be purged – well how many times have we heard that through the centuries? – but here’s a new thing – ministers were only to be appointed

Such as the king’s people and parliament may have just cause to confide in

Essentially, the king would no longer be able to appoint ministers parliament did not approve of. Wild! Right – you can start smearing now, although don’t sit on the sofa until you’ve cleaned it off.

The Venetian ambassador caught hold of the Propositions, and wrote home that it was

An oath to this republic – the very word is used on the bill, which contains other particulars all of which strike at the royal prerogative to the heart[4]

It’s very doubtful the oath, which is lost, actually used the word republic; it was much more likely Commonwealth. But Guistinian was clearly reflecting the fear that Charles had already snarled at Hamilton back in 1638 – that he would be reduced to no more authority than the Doge of Venice. Well here we are, this is it. A Militia bill was duly introduced to the commons.

One more thing about the 10 Propositions. I am rather under cooking just how utterly bonkers Pym was about a Popish plot. I mean many people in 17th Century England were absolutely hysterical about Catholic powers rolling into town, probably via Ireland, bringing tyranny and arbitrary government with them, and the Anti Pope to drag them all to hell. It’s the most difficult thing to really feel at this distance I think. But it’s definitely a thing. Let me give you just one example – I’m sure there’ll be more. Here is Thomas Beale. Thomas was a London tailor, and he claimed to have overheard 108 Catholics  – that’s 108 exactly – doing what they did best – plotting. The intrepid Beale learned that said 108 Catholics were planning to each kill one MP. Which if true would be a dastardly plot indeed. But horror of horrors, Thomas was detected by the evil plotters and according to his record, they ran him through with their swords ‘in four or five places’. Well Beale came to parliament to tell his story. It was noted that he didn’t have a scratch on him – the healing powers of Wolverine apparently. Anyway, amazingly, this story seems to have been believed by some, or at least received with suspended disbelief. One wrote solemnly:

‘Whether this be a truth or imposture time will resolve’ [5]

I mean come on you daft apeth. The fact that such poor stuff did the rounds served to heighten fears more, and the fact that it received any credence at all illustrates the level of hysteria.

Anyway there were provisions in the 10 propositions that were deeply offensive to the Queen; her household was to be purged of Catholic clergy and any papal nuncios were to be treated as outlaws. Which would be rude I think you’ll agree.

In keeping the Scots on board, the Junto were walking a rope tighter than a gnat’s bottom; one wrong step, and they’d fall to the destruction of their hopes. Still, by the start of August they were getting close to clearing the hurdle; the Scots accepted the Treaty of London from Charles, and in a few short weeks by the end of August, both armies would be disbanding, and the Junto could relax about the prospect of the King using his army in York, though they’d also lose their much valued object of coercion too; meanwhile, in Ireland, Strafford’s army had already been at least partially disbanded, though appearances can be deceptive, so the fear of Irish invasion was lessening. Just a few more weeks…if Charles could be persuaded to leave later for Scotland, they might be out of goal. But Charles was implacable; he would go now – afterall he was already late. Although he’d prorogued the Scottish parliament again from 15th July to August, Argyll and the Scottish parliament had just said, Nah, and got on with it anyway. So Charles gave a blank no to the idea in the Propositions that he delay his trip until the armies were disbanded. There were many secret plans and clever tricks to delay him, some acts to sign and touch with his mace, as you do, and a crowd was strategically gathered  to try to slow him down. But Charles was implacable. Finally on the 10th August he managed to tear himself away from the sticky fingers trying to keep him at home.

It took him until 14th August to get there. It seems to me that one of the lovely things about living back then – accepting there are some negatives as well, and I would hate to be without Would I lie to You on tap – that’s light entertainment by the way, should you not know, very funny. Anyway, one of the nice things would be how long it took you to get anywhere. So for 4 days Charles would be trundling northwards, passing through some stunning countryside; surely he’d have a bit of work brought to him, but apart from that he could just chill. Whereas these days you are there in the car, train or plane before you can say Jack Robinson, and then onto the next bit of stress. Anyway, I leave that thought with you. However, what you will notice is that Charles did not take the A64 turn off to York, where the army was now being dispersed anyway. Back home, the Junto breathed a sigh of relief.

When he rolled into Edinburgh, Charles heart lifted – he was absolutely thrilled to bits with the reception of the Scottish people; he made the traditional ceremonial entrance into Auld Reekie and people lined the roads, and cheered him with the fragrance of their enthusiasm. Which is a good thing, because of course Edinburgh was smelly, hence the name Auld reekie. I think by the end of the 17th century, it’s a big place, 30,000 strong, but occupies only 140 acres inside the city walls – for which reason people built up, 14 or 15 stories high, so it’s got it’s very own character. And that Reekie bit – well apparently where the Georgian New Town is now was once a loch. Where everyone through their stuff – dead bodies whatever. So there was a whiff, combined with coal fires. I imagine after London, Charles felt right at home – London was smelly too.

At the same time Charles rolled into town, another delegation did too – it was led by John Hampden of ship money fame and Nathaniel Fiennes, the son of Lord Saye and Sele. They came to Edinburgh to renew and maintain their links with the Covenanter leadership. To try to keep them on the straight and narrow – and keep them firm in the cause in the face of the blandishments of their king.

Because Charles, officially at least, had come to make nice. Argyll and the Covenanters assumed that everything had been sorted anyway, that all their demands had been met in the Treaty of London. So Charles came to parliament on his first day, and made a pretty speech, and everyone thought, great, this is going to be plain sailing. Charles offered to grant assent to all those radical and revolutionary bills he’d agreed to – anything to keep everyone sweet, and become his Bessie mates in the coming struggle with the English. Assent as mentioned was given by touching the acts with his sceptre. But the response rather spoiled the mood – Nah yer aright was the response. As far as the Scots were concerned Acts passed by parliament no longer required royal assent. Wow. Charles gave way. Wow. And that is more than a symbolic defeat folks. Had he been French, that is Waterloo, Agincourt, Crecy, Poitiers all rolled into one. He’s not French of course, but hey, any old excuse for an English History podcaster,#don’ttalkabout Chastillon.

The Scots thought there was nothing more to discuss, but there were three issues. Firstly how would the incendiaries – Montrose Traquhair – be dealt with? This dragged on and on; Charles was determined that what happened with Strafford would not happen again, and it is an attractive trait in Charles – he was loyal to his friends. Eventually they came to a deal; Charles accepted they would be tried, but he would pass judgement, and in return for that, he would not appoint them to public office.

The next one was a biggie – the same one Pym had raised – parliament wanted to appoint ministers rather than the king. In this Charles took a bath again; it was agreed, essentially in a tortuous form of words, that parliament would have a veto. So again, dramatic stuff. The third one was that the Scots wanted to be given a say about decisions taken in England that could affect the Scots. Very tricky, very open ended, big problems of definition, doesn’t really get resolved. There was then a right old barney about who would be Chancellor; the obvious choice was Argyll – after all he was the most powerful man in Scotland. But Charles could not stand it.

In the end a compromise candidate was agreed – pointlessly really because Argyll would still be calling the shots whatever his job title. But all the bargaining had exhausted Charles. Being here in person brought it home to him just how isolated he really was, especially with Montrose locked up. Ok the Covenanter army was now completely disbanded, as was the English army at York, so that’s a dagger removed from his throat. But he seemed a long way from achieving a harmonious government at which he was the head. So, here comes then one of the saddest quotes of the entire civil war from an observer watching the king trying to build relationships and charm people into becoming his supporters and sticking it to the English. It simply wasn’t happening.

It would pity any man’s heart to see how he looks; for he is never at quiet among them, and glad he is, when he sees any man that he thinks loves him

It feels like me when I started going to parties, normally to the children of friends of my Mum because she insisted. Agony.

Well, that’s as maybe. But once more it may well be that Charles had secret plans and clever tricks. 11th October 1641, the general Alexander Leslie warned Hamilton, Argyll and Lanark that there were ultra royalist plots against them. Immediately, they fled the capital. Had Charles had done it again?

[1] Healey, J: ‘The Blazing World’ p144

[2] Adamson, J: ‘Noble Revolt’,

[3] Robertson, G: ‘The Tyrannicide Brief’, p61

[4] Adamson, J: ‘Noble Revolt’, P336

[5] Russell, C ‘John Hampden’, ODNB

5 thoughts on “377 After Strafford

  1. Question: when you talk about the Earl of Warwick, is that still the same family as the Earl of Warwick from Warwick the Kingmaker days? I guess I’m wondering how much these are the same families being the movers and shakers of the kingdom, and how much the old families have passed on/died out/not had heirs and these are new lines.

    1. Hi Teresa, and no, not the same family. Earldom’s usually get recreated with the end of one line. We are at the moment in the Third creation of the title, and the Rich family; the Earl of Warwick is Robert Rich, thouigh confusingly his son is also Robert, and supports the royalist cause. The Kingmaker was in the Beauchamp, first creation, thoiugh he was himself a Neville and married into it. The second created were the disastrous Dudleys, then on to the Rich.

      You might klnopw tis, but Wikipedia is avery good place to look; if you searchj for ther title thery give you a very good format and coverage of the title itself, and links to the individuals

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