A proclamation by Charles I on playing cards and dice, 1638
(Catalogue ref: SP 45/10/212)
This is a royal proclamation (announcement or order) from 1638. Charles was effectively taking control of the trade in playing cards and dice.
The main purpose of a proclamation was to make people aware of a new law or rule. It would be read out in a public place, often the church on Sunday.
Parliaments often gave the king the right to control certain trades. This was usually to make sure that products in a particular trade were safe. Goods that were approved were given the seal of approval. Most trades accepted that they should pay a small fee to get the seal of approval.
Parliament usually gave the king the right to control a trade for a certain number of years. However, the king always controlled some important trades (e.g. the salt trade). Charles took control of many trades during the 1630s. In many cases he sold the control of the trade to one merchant or company, giving them a monopoly (sole control of a trade). Not surprisingly, many other merchants who got left out were upset by Charles’s actions.
People accepted that kings would try to use regulations like this to raise money, but in the 1630s many people felt Charles was going too far. From 1629-40 he ruled without calling Parliament (the Personal Rule) and instead used measures like this to get the money he needed.
For example, he banned the growing of tobacco except on royal plantations in 1638. He brought in strict laws in 1635 that made people pay fines for swearing and cursing. Many MPs were concerned that Charles was trying to find ways to raise money so that he could rule without ever calling Parliament.