It was the death of the talented elder brother, Henry Frederick Prince of Wales
in 1612 brought him into the position of heir to the throne. His beloved only surviving
sister Elizabeth left the country in 1613 to live in Germany so Charles found himself in
the position of being an only child. He was a sickly child and had not travelled to
England until 1604. Under the care of Lady Carey he developed his walking abilities and
conquered his stammering. He travelled to Spain whilst a young man secretly to
court an Infanta of Spain, unsuccessfully.
In 1625 he succeeded his father and soon after married a Catholic French
Princess Henrietta Maria, the daughter of the dissolute Henry IV and his second wife Marie
de Medici. The marriage was a successful one in some ways as there is no recorded mistress
for Charles and they had many children over the period 1629-1644. She was known in England
by her contempories as Queen Mary. Their eldest daughter, Mary, the first Princess Royal
1631-1661, was married at 9 to the Prince of Orange and was mother of the Great General
William III Prince of Orange and King of England.
Charles' weakness was that he believed like his father in the 'divine right of
kings', thus believing that the king was above the law and answerable only to God. Further
to this the king was above parliament. He fell out with Parliament as a consequence to
this and dissolved three times and finally abolished it in 1629. There was to be no other
rule than his for 11 years.
Charles was actually a very cultured man and collected a large collection of
art, including many works by Van Dyck.
The King raised money by selling monopolies and by instituting a 'ship money'
tax. Things came to a head when he entered the House of Commons with an armed guard and
demanded the arrest of five Members of Parliament who had opposed him (they managed to
escape). It was the final straw, Charles left London and the first Civil War began.
Despite help from foreign relatives (his impoverished Palatinate nephews
Princes Rupert and Maurice - rather than the government of his wife's nephew Louis XIV
King of France) Charles failed to win the first War and surrendered in 1646 to the Scots
(his father was the King of Scotland and he was born there so he expected loyalty) who
handed him to the English.