Grand Council of Charles I, 1642
Agenda: English Civil war - Battle of Edgehill
When King Charles I first ascended the throne in March 1625 after the death of his father, James I, the teeming multitudes buzzed and bubbled, with an air of optimism regarding his rule. This soon faded, as a harsher truth revealed itself. Charles I believed in his divine right as King, and so struggled to control the Parliament which resented his attempts towards becoming a despot. He began by dissolving the Parliament in 1625, and then again in 1626. In 1629, he scored a hat trick. For the third time in five years, he dismissed the parliament and decided to rule single-handedly, arresting parliament leaders. This went on till 1640, and came to be known as the ‘Eleven Years Tyranny’. Due to a lack of support, he resolved to force loans and taxes. This, coupled with a wide array of both religious and economic issues, sowed the seeds for a seventeenth-century United Kingdom, plagued with unrest and instability for the public. In addition, he also angered the Puritans, not only by incessant persecution by his advisers but also by inciting feelings of provocation from the Presbyterian Scots Covenanters.
In early 1640, he issued a Parliament that became known as the ‘Short Parliament’. The aim of this was to secure grants, but rather they refused to grant money until grievances were redressed. They criticized the King, and demanded better conditions. As a result, this was dissolved after just 3 weeks. The Scots then advanced into England and forced their own terms on Charles I.
Later in the year, the Long Parliament was formed, under John Pym, a harsh critic of the King who gained a lot of support. As a result, Acts were passed that prohibited the Parliament from being dissolved without consent, and Charles I advisers were imprisoned or condemned to death. This led to direct confrontations between Charles and the Parliament and acted as a catalyst for immediate havoc.
As 1641 emerged, Radical Protestants destroyed religious images found in churches that they perceived as “idolatrous”. In October 1641, there were protests from Catholics in Ireland, where they demanded a return of the lands that were confiscated, an end to discrimination against anti-Catholics, and greater self-governance in Ireland. The Grand Remonstrance of 1641 also saw John Pym draft all of the King’s abuses since 1625, and the idea of him destroying Protestantism conspired. Soon, Charles I heard rumours that his wife was intended to be impeached, due to scheming with Irish rebels. He decided to take immediate action. Soon he saw how some members of his Long Parliament had connived with the Scots that were invading. Today, he attempts to arrest the five members he believes are involved in this collusion .
In King Charles’ Long Parliament, there were two factions. The first was the Parliamentarians, who fought against King Charles I. Their goal was to give the Parliament supreme control over the executive administration of the United Kingdom.
The second was the Royalists, supporters of the King, who believed in the principle of the divine right of kings and claimed rule by an absolute monarchy.
Delegates, it is upto you to shape the future of this historic Kingdom, answering crucial questions to act as your guiding light - was King Charles I really wrong in his beliefs and actions? Were negotiations possible? In what way, can a secure Parliament be created, one that recognizes the lacunas from history, and weaves these in to create a steady, long-lasting constitutional framework? What should King Charles I do with the five people that betrayed him?
Letter from the Director
It is my privilege to welcome you to Cathedral Model United Nations 2023, and to the Grand Council of Charles I, 1642, a super-specialized committee that promises to be the most challenging, fast-paced, and unique committee of this conference. My name is Karan Parekh; together with my adept and passionate executive board, I aim to give you an unforgettable committee experience.
In June 1626, King Charles dissolved parliament for the first time, a prelude to his inevitable autocratic rule. The seeds of dissent were subsequently sown in Britain as a result of his use of the Royal Prerogative to force loans from the gentry and nobility to pay for his excursions across Europe in support of his protestant cause. The precedent for dissolving parliament would lead to eleven years of “tyrannical” divine right to rule the three lands.
Fast forward to September 27th, 1642. A bleak and dire winter morning sets the scene. King Charles rejected the nineteen propositions to the distress of the parliamentarians and began amassing his army by employing the Commission of Array. Meanwhile, the parliamentarians have firmly established themselves in the midlands and leveraged the Military Ordinance to seize power. Tensions spike to a paramount state as the first sign of fighting has broken out only four days prior at the Battle of Powick Bridge. In a final attempt to dissuade the inevitable war an emergency council has been summoned by Charles I; the royalists and parliamentarians must come to a consensus on what action would most benefit England.
In this committee, both factions have an enormous responsibility and will bear the brunt of all public scrutiny. Negotiation and deliberation between both sides to quell the demands of the other and prevent war. If war is inevitable the question becomes for how long, it can be delayed while you make preparations for strengthening your individual prestige as well as that of your faction by sequestering the neutral lords of the land or by striking deals with the opposing faction. Further, in the case of war new roles will have to be allotted based on the capability and political might of each delegate. For the purpose of this committee, the Executive Board will function as King Charles I.
As a director, I would advise every delegate in this committee to find a fair balance between diplomacy and domination and to delicately handle the interplay between individual aspirations, your faction’s goals, and the interests of England. A level-headed approach to lobbying and a concise logical framework for speeches is implored. Bearing in mind that there is room for radical action in the form of communiques. The ability to take drastic yet reasonable action in response to a crisis will be of utmost importance and rehabilitating England through the lens of legislation is most favourable.
Finally, I, Karan Parekh, am in my 2nd year of the IBDP and in the 12th grade in The Cathedral and John Connon School. My interests lie in Economics, History, and Philosophy. My hobbies run the gamut from video games to chess to debate. I sincerely hope that this will be a memorable endeavour for you all as this is my 5th and final CMUN, having attended 12 MUNs as a delegate and been part of the Executive Board for 4. Please feel free to approach me regarding any questions you may have or to simply chat. Though I expect an extremely high level of debate and competition, I do also anticipate that it will be an enjoyable experience for all of you.
I hope you come ready in August to engage in an exhilarating exchange of ideas. Until then.
The Grand Council of Charles I, 1642