Extracts from a letter written by Parliament to Charles I, 13 January 1646
(Catalogue ref. SP 16/513/10)
This letter to Charles was signed by the speakers of both Houses of Parliament and by the Commissioners for the Parliament of Scotland.
This letter is their reply to Charles’s letter of December 1645, which you can read in source 2 of this case study.
By the time this source was written it was clear that Charles was losing the war. He eventually surrendered in May 1646. The problem for both sides was to work out peace terms.
Most MPs were so sick of war that they just wanted to restore Charles as king and stop paying taxes to support the army. However, there were some MPs and many army commanders who wanted to force Charles to accept some restrictions on his power. They wanted him to agree to listen to Parliament more and to stop raising taxes. They also wanted him to obey the law and not simply put his opponents in jail. Many Puritan MPs and soldiers also wanted to undo all the changes Charles and Archbishop Laud had brought into the church. They wanted simpler churches with no decorations and simpler church services based on Bible reading.
Although Parliament and the Scots defeated Charles in battle, there was no question of ruling without him. The idea of ruling without a king was not acceptable to any of the MPs, army officers or Scots. The main issue was whether Charles would be king with no restrictions on his power, a few restrictions, or a lot of restrictions.
Charles tried to make peace with both Parliament and the Scots in 1645. The Scots had been against him since 1637 and Parliament had been at war with him since 1642. Parliament and the Scots had become allies in 1643 and fought together against Charles.