King Charles I was the son of James VI.. He was born in 1600 and became king when his father died in 1625. From the start, Charles had a troubled relationship with Parliament and in 1629 he dissolved it, and ruled without it for the next eleven years. In 1633 William Laud became Archbishop of Canterbury, and between them Charles and Laud took action against any who wouldn’t accept the government (i.e. Episcopalianism) or worship of the Church of England. In Scotland, attempts to enforce the worship of the Church of England led to the signing of the National Covenant in 1638.
After his army was defeated during the First Bishops’ War Charles was finally forced to recall Parliament to try and raise money to fight the Scots again. When Parliament refused to grant him the money, he dissolved it and went to war anyway. This Second Bishops’ War again ended in defeat for the king.
With Newcastle occupied by the Scots, Charles was then forced to call the Long Parliament in 1640. The members of the Parliament were angry at the king for going to war without having the money, and suspicious of what his actions against their fellow-Protestants in Scotland. Civil war broke out between the king and the Parliament in 1642.
Following the signing of the Solemn League and Covenant, the Scots had sent an army to help the English Parliament. In 1646, Charles surrendered to the Scottish army, who handed him over to the Parliament in 1647. In January 1649, Charles was charged with high treason against the people of England, and executed, wearing two shirts so that he wouldn’t shiver in the cold and make it look like he was afraid.
His execution shocked the whole of Europe.
BCW: Charles I
Mark A. Kishlansky and John Morrill, ‘Charles I (1600–1649)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, Oct 2008