A dramatic and sweeping account from master storyteller Jacob Abbott, detailing the trials, tribulations, errors, and ultimate tragedy of Charles I (1600–1649), who achieved fame by becoming the only monarch of Britain to be executed after his country was plunged into a devastating civil war.
After detailing his early life’s adventures, including his unsuccessful attempt to marry a Spanish Habsburg princess, and his later marriage to the French Bourbon princess Henrietta Maria, Abbot provides the reader with a concise background to the origin of the English Civil War.
This work adeptly pinpoints the causes of Charles’s ultimate downfall: the odious influence of George Villiers, first Duke of Buckingham; his marriage to a Roman Catholic, which alienated many Protestants; his failure to successfully support the Protestant forces during the Thirty Years’ War; his attempt to force the Church of Scotland to adopt high Anglican practices (which led to the Bishops’ Wars); his quarrels with the Parliament of England over his royal prerogative, and the popular resentment against excessive taxes and his increasingly autocratic style of rule.
From 1642 onward, the increasing disturbances saw Charles plunged into the English Civil War, which pitted Royalists against Parliamentarians. For three years the battles raged back and forth across the land, and only ended with Charles’s defeat and surrender in 1645.
Even then, the drama was not at an end: Charles refused to agree to a constitutional monarchy, and escaped captivity in 1647. Re-captured, his increasingly diminished forces were finally overcome by Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army, and Charles was put on trial for treason and executed in public in the center of London in January 1649.
His death marked the abolition of the monarchy in Britain and the creation of a republic called the Commonwealth of England. The monarchy would only be restored in 1660, when Charles’s son was made king.
This is without doubt the most readable account of Charles I’s life and the backdrop to the Civil War ever written.
About the author: Jacob Abbott (1803–1879) was a native of the state of Maine who was a professor of mathematics and natural philosophy, a minister, and founder of two schools (the Mount Vernon School for Young Ladies in Boston and the Mount Vernon School for Boys, in New York City). He wrote more than 180 books and became famous for his easy-to-read style of history storytelling, stripped of the dry dustiness which characterized other texts.
Chapter I: His Childhood and Youth
Chapter II: The Expedition into Spain
Chapter III: Accession to the Throne
Chapter IV: Buckingham
Chapter V: The King and His Prerogative
Chapter VI: Archbishop Laud
Chapter VII: The Earl of Strafford
Chapter VIII: Downfall of Strafford and Laud
Chapter IX: Civil War
Chapter X: The Captivity
Chapter XI: Trial and Death