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Why did people go to war in 1642?

Case study 1: 1637-39 – Source 2

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A legal complaint made by Sir Richard Strode about ‘ship money’, August 1639

(Catalogue ref: SP 16/427/32)

SP16/427/32; complaint about 'ship money', 1639
SP16/427/32; complaint about 'ship money', 1639
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SP16/427/32; complaint about 'ship money', 1639

What is this source?

This is part of a letter written by Sir Richard Strode. He claimed that ship money (a kind of tax) and other taxes which Charles I raised in the 1630s were illegal.


What's the background to this source?

Charles I ruled from 1629-40 without calling Parliament. This period was known as the Personal Rule. Kings could not normally go this long without talking to Parliament. They usually ran short of money and new taxes had to be approved by Parliament. However, Charles hated working with MPs. He tried to get the money he needed by collecting taxes like ship money and tallage (a tax on landowners).


It's worth knowing that...

There was a lot of opposition to ship money and other taxes. Richard Strode was a long-term opponent of the tax. He appears in government records in 1631, 1635, 1637 and 1639 complaining about ship money.


Your turn: What can we learn from this source?

  1. What happened to Richard Strode’s cow?
  2. Why was Strode upset about it?
  3. What is his attitude to being forced to pay the king ‘ship money’?
  4. Do you think Strode was more concerned about his cow or about the king ignoring Parliament and acting outside the law?
  5. Does this source give us any clues about why the kingdom went to war in 1642?