The book Charles I: A Life of Religion, War and Treason by Christopher Hibbert take a closer look of the life of King Charles. The book is a biography of King Charles from the begging of his life a simple boy to what he came to be know globally and finally to his shame (treason). Christopher uses his creative mind in his book shed some light on how the kind grew from a simple boy who knew nothing and was very weak in character to a strong man who took the nations to a civil war. The books also take a look at the person who had great influence on the life of the king and how they shape him to be who he was until his death. The book also talks about the circumstances that led to his marriage to his marriage to Henrietta of Spain. Though the marriage many thought it was not going to work out because these two individuals came from different background, different culture and the political circumstances which surrounded the marriage hence they were doomed to divorce or even worse,,. Nevertheless, thought their union faced a lot of difficulty at the beginning everything turned into a perfect marriage which many envy.
The book also explains how the king drove the kingdom into civil war in 1642. The war put a signature to his reign and happy life, since it led to his execution. He was found guilty and condemned to treason. This execution led to a temporary end of the monarchy for the first time in the England history. The kingdom was put under the commonwealth that was established after the collapse of the monarchy rule. However, the monarch under a new king was restored back in full capacity in 1660. Therefore, this book is very important to the England history since it touches on how the country democracy and the rule of law were shaped after the civil war of 1662. The book highlight how monarchy nearly came to, hence the current generation should not take it for granted since many lost their lives in trying to restore the dignity of the country in the wars. The book also shows that the king or the queen is not above the law as many may think. The rulers can also face execution if they go against the law and the wish of the people. It is an interesting book which everyone especially from England should read to a glimpse of the great history of the kingdom.
This book Charles I: A Life of Religion, War and Treason by Christopher Hibbert as the name suggest gives a depth insight into the life of Charles Stuart a young boy who nobody thought he will one day be the ruler of the great Britain. Charles lived a holy life when he was a little boy; he followed the Christianity to his heart and led his life according to the bible. This made him have a good behavior than most kings before him on to this he turned out to be a very religious man. On the social life and to the eyes of the public, he was a small young boy who was shy of the public since he had a small physical body. As a result of this many didn’t give much attention to him since he lived his life away from the public eye. Due to his withdraw lifestyle; nobody ever gave a thought that he will one day be a full man to make important decision which will affect many lives leave alone a king. Despite being away from thorough scrutiny of the public or exposure to public affairs, he got solace and relieve under the care, guidance and close association with the duke of Buckingham; who nature and groom him into a gentleman full of confidence who turned to be a king. However, he became a great, weak and ruthless ruler in equal measure that the united kingdom of England has ever witness. This as the author show in his book, the king inner character such as lack of personal qualities of being a leader, strength to withstand the pressure and his past came to hunt him down. The lack of exposure to worldly things at young age weak character becomes his greatest weakness which made him not a man enough of being a king.
The death of his older brother Henry put him in an awkward position he wasn’t prepared. This put the kingdom into jeopardy hence the strongest kingdom become very weak due to lack of vision and slow in making decision that is a sign associated with a weak leader. The Charles acted as though he was no sure of his position in the monarch even on the civil wars he was undecided and stubborn; he could make his mind on whether to commit himself or not. This according to the writer is some of the factors that led to his fall as king and execution. Conceivably the author of this book intended to exemplify how actions of a single individual may play a central role in shaping the course of the nation’s history and subsequently how one’s character may be his/her own source of downfall.
According to the author, Charles’ character and too much reference to his father’s political doctrines was the root of his downfall. Quality leadership cannot be guaranteed by decisions of a single mind. Leadership is a collective role whereby representatives of people discuss issues of importance to their citizens. Just like his father, King James I, Charles I advocated for personal rule and absolute leadership. Since his accession to power, the parliament was dissolved and Charles I began a 11-year term of personal rule that was characterized by too much leadership flaws and failures that threatened a very strong monarchy. One of the major sources of flaws in Charles’ leadership was his character. Charles was very slow to decide and lacked touch with the common people. He believed that his word was final and servitude to the monarch was not a sign of loyalty but an obligation. As Hibbert points out, "Underlying melancholy there was a certain lack of sympathy in the King's responses, a defensive rejection of an intimacy that might reveal him as a less assured man than he tried to be. Few men ever felt that Charles liked them. Few servants ever felt that their services were truly appreciated: if they did not do their duty they were politely dismissed, if they did do their duty they were doing what was expected of them, they were treated well, but rarely with a hint of warmth or affection." (p.136).This is a testament that in his endeavor to become as an absolute leader as his father King James I, he lost touch with the common people.
Despite being sure of his powers and position as the leader/king, he was very slow, indecisive and unimaginative. He only encouraged dialogue or consultation as a last resort that usually came too late. This single character hugely compromised his leadership. For instance, in his attempt to arrest members of parliament, his decisions and subsequently the strategies came too late, something that caused him his position as a leader. After his defeat and the subsequent detention, the king remained very stubborn with several attempts to escape from the prison. Hibbert in this book illustrates what happens when the wrong person is given a job to rule. Arguably leadership and ability to govern is innately given. Before the accession to power, Charles was a likable man with a high moral standing. Despite being very reserved and of noble character, he lacked effective leadership abilities. Therefore as one reads the book, he/she discerns what happens when a person who lacks special attributes and personal strengths for a high position is set to be doomed. Hibbert in his book shows how Charles’ character became his destiny. The biography of Charles stands as a monument in the English history. His term of leadership is quite challenging and demeaning to the English monarch. The house of commons was intended to improve leadership, but King Charles viewed the parliament as a threat to his leadership. As much as he borrowed many political theories and strategies from his father, his character did not perfectly suit his leadership styles. Absolute leadership can only work for individuals of stout character and fast thinkers. These are traits that King Charles lacked. Moreover, an absolute ruler is in touch with people and rewards people accordingly for their actions. As the Hibbert points out in the book, no one ever felt appreciated by the king no matter how noble one endeavors to be in front of the king.
Debatably, a political misfortune in a nation may turn out to be a fortune in the long run. The events that occurred during the term of King Charles, including the English civil war, may be termed as a political misfortune in England. However, in other terms, these events were vital in the reformation of the monarch after the Commonwealth rule which preceded King Charles’ execution. After the reformation of the monarch in the 17th century, England was able to pick up and prosper to greater political and economic heights. Possibly, King Charles’ term of leadership was an eye-opener to many English citizens. It was thus the role of the English citizens to install mechanisms that restricted tyranny and ensured monarchical powers were checked to enhance quality leadership. It was during the reformation phase after the civil war that England built a robust parliament to reduce chances of dictatorship as witnessed during the reign of King Charles.
In conclusion, I agree with Hibbert that to be a king it takes more than aristocracy or inheritance but personal character. King Charles may have come from a very noble family with a high moral standing. However, he lacked the charisma of a leader that is a vital ingredient for quality leadership. As witnessed in the contemporary politics, when leadership role is given to a person who lacks leadership skills and talent, the subjects or the citizens suffer the consequences, as in the case of the English civil war that was solely caused by Charles’ inadequacies.
Hibbert, Christopher, and David Starkey. Charles I: A Life of Religion, War and Treason. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007. Print.