Today on March 27, 1625, King Charles I ascended the throne as the new ruler of England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland.
Charles I was the second British monarch from the House of Stuart — the first royal family to unite the English and Scottish crowns. As the second son of King James I, he only became the new heir apparent after his older brother Henry suddenly died from Typhoid in 1612. Born in Fife, Scotland, Charles spent most of his childhood in his home country. Naturally, he developed a thick Scottish accent and also had a slight stammer that persisted throughout his life. He was granted the title of Duke of Albany at his baptism. From an early age, Charles was regarded as a timid and reserved man, yet maintained an even-tempered and courteous demeanor.
Three months after ascending the throne, King Charles married Henrietta Maria of France upon failing to secure a Spanish bride. His 15-year-old Bourbon princess was a devout Catholic and outwardly refused to partake in any Protestant ceremonies. Their marriage would later fuel further speculation among English nobles about the king's true religious beliefs. The royal couple bore six children together, including the future King Charles II and James II. Their ancestry ties back to many of today's royal bloodlines, including Queen Elizabeth II.
Charles' reign certainly got off to a rocky start (and that's putting it mildly). Like his father, he quarreled constantly with the English Parliament. Using his royal prerogative, Charles routinely levied new taxes without parliamentary consent. He unapologetically maintained an authoritarian rule over the entire government. But the big difference between Charles and his father was that the people generally liked King James — most ordinary civilians absolutely detested Charles. As king, he developed a deep mistrust for the elected house and placed little value on political maneuvering to achieve his goals. Charles firmly believed in the divine right of kings, and therefore, could act without any checks or balances. He earned a reputation for being a tyrannical ruler that sparked outrage among Britain's nobles.
Whether he realized it or not, the days of absolutism were coming to an abrupt end. On January 5, 1642, King Charles boldly entered the House of Commons with armed soldiers to arrest the five ringleaders against him. His actions had now pushed Parliament over the edge. After years of mounting tensions, the English Civil War formally broke out between the Parliamentarians and the royalists later that year. Following nearly four years of brutal fighting, the royalist forces under Prince Rupert were decisively beaten at the Battle of Naseby. The king was later captured by Scottish soldiers, who eventually transferred him over to Oliver Cromwell.
Parliament imprisoned the king after refusing to accept their demands for political reform and a constitutional monarchy. With rumors of foreign intervention growing by the day, Cromwell moved to have Charles tried for treason. A kangaroo court swiftly convicted him and ordered his immediate execution. On January 30, 1649, an unknown executioner beheaded King Charles I in London. The monarchy was abolished, and an era known as the 'Commonwealth of England' officially began. In 1660, Charles II returned from exile in France to restore the crown under much different terms than his father.