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Charles I
James I

Charles I (1600-1649) became king in 1625. During the next four years, he called three Parliaments and dissolved each one because the members would not submit to his demands. In 1628, he accepted the Petition of Right drawn up by the third Parliament. But he violated it by raising money unlawfully.

From 1629 to 1640, Charles ruled without Parliament. He tried to force Scotland to use English forms of worship, but in 1639 the Scots rebelled. Charles had to call Parliament to obtain the money he needed to fight the rebels. He dismissed one Parliament after three weeks, but had to summon another, the Long Parliament. It met from 1640 to 1653, and held its last session in 1660. When the king tried to seize five parliamentary leaders in 1642, civil war broke out. Charles had the support of most of the nobility, gentry, and clergy. The Puritans and the merchant class supported Parliament. Oliver Cromwell became a leading general of the parliamentary army. He won important battles at Marston Moor in 1644 and Naseby in 1645. Charles fled to Scotland, and the war ended in 1646.

Soon afterward, however, Scottish leaders turned Charles over to Parliament. Later, the army seized the king. But he escaped and made a secret agreement with the Scots. A second civil war began in January 1648 and lasted about seven months. Charles was again seized by the army. He was convicted of treason by Parliament in 1649 and beheaded.