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The National Archives Civil War
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What kind of king was Charles I?

Case study 1: Monarchs before Charles I - Source 3

Simplified transcript

Part of a speech by James I to Parliament in 1609

(Catalogue ref: SP 14/53/31)

[Extra explanations are in square brackets.]

Source 3a

And now because any Christian is bound to say what he believes, I think it is my duty to let my people know what I believe.

Kings are gods on earth and this is shown in 3 ways.

1. They are compared to god and are said to be gods on earth, you can’t deny it.

Source 3b

2. They are the great fathers of the family. [The king is like the father of his people.]

3. They are heads of the political body. [The king is the head of the country.]

They are like gods, for God makes and unmakes things, and so do kings. God has power of life and death and so do kings. God is accountable to no man, nor are kings. God raises people up and pulls them down and so do kings. All things are within the power of God, and so the goods of his subjects are within the power of the king. And this is generally understood to be true about a king. ……

In the beginning some kings were chosen by the people, some by conquest, some otherwise. Then they governed as they saw fit. But since they have governed by laws, it may now be said to them: ‘you are either a king according to the law or you are not a king'. And so, whoever persuades a king to stop ruling by his laws, persuades him to be a tyrant [an absolute ruler who rules without restrictions, often harshly]. The king must swear at his Coronation to observe the Laws etc.