William Sterling

Charles I

The Life and Times of Charles I

This was a one day course run at the City Lit on Sunday 23rd March 2014.  It is the second in a series of one day courses on the kings and queens of England.  The next one will be Queen Anne.  This is how Charles I was advertised:

As the second son, Charles was never meant to become king. He rose to the challenge and tried to live up to his father’s ideals of kingship. Sadly this led to Civil War and death.

This course will cover the background to how the Stuarts succeeded to the English throne from already being rulers of Scotland and what effect this dual role had on them and their subjects. Charles’s childhood in the shadow of his brilliant brother Henry will be looked at and how Henry’s sudden death thrust him into the centre of politics. Charles’s personal life will also be looked at including his problems in finding a wife and producing heirs as well as his religious convictions and how this affected his role as monarch. His attempts to rule without Parliament will be looked at and how this led to Civil War and the ultimate loss of his throne.

Below is a timeline showing the background and Charles’s life as described in the course with some further details

Charles I Timeline

Music played an important part in Charles’s life and I played a number of extracts of music he would have heard in the class.  Below are four spreadsheets with a general list of composers from his lifetime, a selection of music written after the death of his brother, music from the celebrations of his sister’s marriage and possible music for his coronation.

Charles I composers rev

In response to the feedback forms I shall be adding a family tree and a booklist at a later date.

Family Trees

At the class I was asked about family trees showing the connections between the Tudors and the Stuarts.  Below are two trees which I have developed to show the descent of the Stuarts from Henry VII’s elder daughter, Margaret, and the descendants of his younger daughter, Mary, who were rivals to James VI during the last years of Elizabeth’s reign.  There are two versions of the tree; the larger one has all the descendants I can find to the eighth generation after Henry VII and the smaller one shows all the descendants of Charles I plus some of his sister, Elizabeth’s, showing the position of George I as well as some of Mary Tudor’s immediate heirs.

The large one shows 485 direct legitimate descendants of Henry VII.  Generally I have only included legitimate children.  The exceptions are two sons of James V who were uncles of James VI and his closest relatives during his childhood.  I have not included all their descendants.  There are also some whose legitimacy was questioned.  Both Mary I and Elizabeth I were declared illegitimate by their father in the 1530s although reinstated in the 1540s.  Catherine Grey’s marriage was declared illegal by Elizabeth I and her descendants were regarded as illegitimate by some.  Charles Louis, eldest son of Frederick and Elizabeth of Bohemia unilaterally declared his first marriage dissolved but many did not recognise the legitimacy of the children by his second and third wives.  Otherwise Frederica Countess of Mertola would have been the senior Protestant heir to Queen Anne.  I have also included some of James VI’s relatives on his father’s side to show how he was related to his favourite Esmé Stuart and his descendants immortalised by Van Dyck who fought and died for Charles I in the Civil War.

Stuarts large

Stuarts small