World Coins

This Day in History: March 10

A circa 1629 to 1630 gold unite was issued during the early months of Charles I’s reign of Personal Rule without a Parliament. The king of England, Scotland and Ireland would become embroiled in the English Civil War just two years after the Parliament was restored.

Coin images courtesy of Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles.

Charles I of England, Scotland and Ireland has been called England’s most ill-fated monarch.

On March 10, 1629, he dissolved Parliament and had several members imprisoned, beginning the 11-year period known as the Personal Rule. This set into motion the events that led to the English Civil War and the death of Charles I in 1649.

Also known as the Eleven Years’ Tyranny, the period from 1629 to 1640 saw King Charles I rule without Parliament. The king was entitled to do this under the Royal Prerogative. His actions caused discontent among the ruling classes, but the effects were generally more popular with the common people.

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Taxation was a major concern during his reign, and early in his reign he expanded the ship tax across the country (reasoning that the whole nation was being defended, not just the port cities). This move proved somewhat unpopular. 

However, only Parliament could raise taxes outside of the king’s prerogative, so during Personal Rule, without Parliament enacting its taxes, the tax burden was relatively low. With the Thirty Years’ War raging across Europe, England was relatively prosperous during the 1630s.

Personal Rule came to an end after an unsuccessful effort to reform the then-Episcopal Church of Scotland to bring it and its liturgy into line with the Church of England. An invasion of Scottish forces in 1640 forced the king to call for the Short Parliament, which convened for a few days, before another Parliament was instituted.

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Demanding many changes, this Parliament prompted Charles I to leave London two years later, marking the beginning of the English Civil War. 

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