Prince Charles (73) is now King Charles III. After the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II († 96), he was proclaimed king at London’s St. James’s Palace and took his oath.

King Charles III enters into a difficult and also a dark legacy

Because his two namesakes stand for what is probably the most serious crisis in the history of the British monarchy. Stuart King Charles I (1600-1649) plunged England into civil war through his tyrannical reign and is the only ruler to be executed for treason. His son Charles II (1630-1685) converted to Catholicism, hastening the decline of the monarchy’s power.

Charles I lost his crown and head

In 1625, Charles I not only inherited the throne, but also the enormous national debt of his predecessors. The king needed money to wage his hapless war with Spain (1625-1630). But he could only increase taxes with the consent of Parliament. Because the deputies refuse, he simply dissolves parliament in 1629. Eleven years there is none. Instead, Charles I extorted money by simply arresting citizens and only releasing them for ransom.

Charles I paid for his tyrannical rule with his life

Charles I paid for his tyrannical rule with his life

Photo: picture alliance / picture agency online/Sunny Celeste

But Charles I was unsuccessful with his absolutist rule. In 1630 he had to make peace with Spain because he could no longer afford war.

The treasury was tight because only parliament could decide taxes. And that’s where his Puritan enemies sat most of all. After the Scots had risen and invaded England, the king was forced to reconvene Parliament in April 1640. As expected, an argument broke out immediately. Charles quickly had it resolved again.

When the Irish then also started an uprising, Charles had to reconvene Parliament in November 1640 due to lack of money. MPs immediately initiate impeachment proceedings against the king’s advisers. A year later, they made serious accusations against Charles himself.

In 1642, the king marched into Parliament with 400 armed men to arrest five deputies whom he believed to be traitors. But the attempted coup against Parliament failed.

The citizens of London chased their king out of the city. Parliament raised an army. The civil war had begun. For seven years, the parliamentarians and the king fought bloody battles. After Charles was already militarily inferior in England, he fled to Scotland to try again with local forces to turn the tide. However, Charles Scots was crushed at the Battle of Preston in 1648 by Parliamentary troops under the command of Oliver Cromwell.

Charles was now practically a prisoner of Cromwell. When the king still refused to admit defeat, he was accused of treason in 1649 and eventually beheaded. England became a republic for the first time in its history, under the rule of MP and Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658).

Camilla and Lady Diana are related to Charles II

Charles II, the son of the beheaded king of the same name, had to flee from the Republicans to mainland Europe. From the mainland, the ruler in exile watched as Cromwell gradually transformed the republic into a dictatorship until his death in 1658.

Only thanks to the incompetence of Oliver Cromwell’s son Richard and the change of sides by Parliamentary General George Monck, one of Oliver Cromwell’s closest confidants, did Charles II regain the English throne in 1660. Because: Richard had to give up his rule in 1659 and flee into exile.

Charles II had 350 children - none of them legitimate

Charles II had 350 children – none of them legitimate

Photo: Getty Images

Charles ruled with absolutist traits and, like his father, was in a permanent clinch with Parliament. He flirted publicly with Catholicism, which was hated in England, and his wife was Catholic, so that two politicians plotted his murder.

And he was a womanizer. He had around 350 descendants – but no legitimate heir to the throne! Even Lady Di († 1997) and King Consort Camilla are among his distant descendants.

Charles II became a Catholic on his deathbed – a sacrilege in the English monarchy!

His brother James II (1633-1701) succeeded him, which Parliament tried to prevent in advance. Jacob had long since converted to Catholicism. He then became the last Catholic on the royal throne.

His attempts to fill more and more key positions with his co-religionist led Protestant Englishmen to fear that their king was plotting to bring the country back to Catholicism. That was probably his goal too.

King consort Camilla is related to Charles II - as is her husband and his late ex-wife Lady Diana

King consort Camilla is related to Charles II – as is her husband and his late ex-wife Lady Diana

Photo: dpa

Bitter irony: With the action, the king increased the mistrust of his Protestant subjects. In 1688/89 the “Glorious Revolution” took place. Deputies invited the governor of the Netherlands, Wilhelm III. (1650-1702) to ascend the English throne. The Dutch carried out the last successful invasion of England since William the Conqueror in 1066. James II was forced to flee into exile. The childless Dutchman became the new English king, William III.

The parliamentarians curtailed the power of the ruler and determined: A Catholic may never become king of England. That still applies today.

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