The inadequacies of the financial system left behind by Elizabeth were to cause problems for both James 1 and Charles 1 and it was not until the end of the reign of Charles 11 that the monarchs ordinary revenues were really sufficient for government to operate as it wished.
The financial problems of James’ reign were caused by mainly his personal extravagance and a reduced income resulting from the sale of crown lands by Elizabeth and by James himself. This shortage of money left him at mercy of parliament, which capitalized on the situation by exerting “the power of the purse” to extort concessions from the king. In the Addled parliament of 1614, James’ refusal to give way to such pressure created an impasse in which parliament broke up without achieving nothing because the king was insisting on subsidies being voted before he would consider parliaments grievances, while parliament was demanding redress of grievances before it would supply the kings needs.
Experiments such as the personal rule of Charles 1 demonstrated that it was possible for a monarch to survive without recourse to parliament, as long as they could avoid war. Charles 11s final years gave an even more powerful indication of the strength of the monarch who had no need to call parliament.
It was war however more than anything that forced a monarch back onto parliament. This in turn gave mps the opportunity to raise other issues of concern. While matters such as exercise of the royal prerogative or religious change, may have been concern throughout the period it was only during the sitting of parliament that they could properly be brought up. The need for parliamentary finance forced a monarch to bargain and compromise, if they were to gain access to the funds that they needed.
James 1 dissolved parliament in 1621 for intruding on his royal prerogative, but had to recall it and strike certain compromises with it to obtain tax revenues for war against Spain.
Charles 1 was force to recall parliament in 1640 because the Scots war thereby opening up the possibility of renewed conflict with them, as he attempted to gain their financial backing.
More than any other time parliament’s power during a time of war was demonstrated in the reign of William and Mary, where the crown was forced to bargain away large areas of its prerogative in return for supply. The reign of William and Mary ushered in a new era of trust between king and parliaments, in which parliament kept the king well supplied with funds to fight an expensive war against Louis x1v France, while the king and queen consulted parliament on most issues and chose their ministers from among its leaders. The monarch still ruled but parliament had a definite role to play in government. The most momentous changes were in the field of finance. The separation of the expenses of government from those of the royal household, the provision of adequate funding for each, and the creation, 1964, of the Bank of England and the national debt amounted to a financial revolution.
It was inevitable that parliamentary privileges would increase at the expense of the prerogative powers of the crown, and it is a tribute to James’s political abilities that the concessions he was forced to make were not greater. The most significant involved parliament’s establishment of the right to debate foreign policy its revival of the process of impeachment of royal ministers that had lapsed after 1450, and the passing of a monopolies Act that prevented the king from granting monopolies to anyone other than the inventors or importers of the new processes. While the monopolies Act of 1624 was the first instance of the royal prerogative being limited by an Act of Parliament, a more serious challenge to royal power occurred during the following year when parliament refused to vote tonnage and poundage to the new king Charles 1. This was a serious blow to his dignity as parliament had voted it to each new king for the duration of his reign since the late fifteenth centaury.
Under the terms of the bill of rights of 1689, James 11 was declared to have abdicated and the throne was offered to William and Mary, who became joint sovereigns not so much by right of inheritance as by the choice of parliament. The bill of Rights also placed strict limitations on royal power, the power of the king to suspend laws which had enabled him to issue his declaration of indulgence were declared illegal, as were the maintain of an army in peacetime and the collection of taxes without the consent of parliament. A further clause stipulated that, in the future, no catholic would be allowed to occupy the throne. The 1690s were marked by a long and bitter wrangling over the constitution of the country. Even by the death of William it was clear that the glorious revolution had not brought about an end to political instability and conflict.
When James 1 came to the English throne he was faced with serious religious divisions across his three kingdoms. The existence of different religious groups presented a problem to government at a time when religious difference was associated with political disobedience and rebellion. The relatively enlightened approach adopted by James 1 in his religious policy helped to minimise the potential for conflict. Charles 1 attempts at imposing religious uniformity were to lead to war with the subjects of his northern kingdom and to force the recall of the English parliament. The implementation or Ireland was also to provoke rebellion among the catholic population and further heighten a sense of political crisis back in London. Charles 1 defeat in the First Civil War solved nothing. The parliamentary leaders wanted to limit the kings powers, not depose him, whereas Charles remained determined to resist any reduction to his authority and refused to compromise over religion. Arminianism was not easily distinguished in the minds of many from Catholicism and the fear that the king was being driven by sinister popish forces led many to take up arms for parliament.
Monarchy had to clearly associate themselves with the protestant because fear of Catholicism would lead to many problems. James 1 soon found that he had to enlighten his views towards catholic subjects if he was to gain the co operation of parliament. Later in his reign, his failure to align himself evenly with protestant cause was to create great confusion and concern among his subjects. Charles 11 alliance with Louis x1v of France and his attempts at introducing religious toleration disturbed many, doing much to create a climate in which an exclusion crisis was able to develop. The brevity of James 11 reign is in itself a testimony to the depth of anti catholic sentiment among hi subjects, as is their acceptance of his replacement on the throne by William of Orange. From Charles 11 reign on they could no longer claim to be a spiritual as well as the political leader of all his subjects. It was impossible to forget the horrors of the civil war or the execution of the king, both of which must have reminded the king and parliament of their advantages of settling their differences.