20 Things Everyone Should Know About Charles I, the Only English Monarch to Ever Be Executed

Charles’s Father, James I, in a portrait attributed to John de Critz, England, c.1605. Wikimedia Commons

19. His father, James I, was paranoid and autocratic.

When Elizabeth died childless, pretty much whoever she named as her heir would thus infuriate a large part of the divided population. James VI of Scotland succeeded her, to the chagrin of Catholics who hoped that he would have the same faith as his Catholic mother, Mary Queen of Scots. Alas, James was a pious Protestant. For Catholics, he was not only a heretic but an interloper without a sufficient claim for the crown. Disgruntled Catholics spent the rest of his reign trying to m****r poor James, most famously trying to blow him up during the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.

These attempts at assassination all failed, but made James extremely paranoid. He had a special coat made that was thicker than the length of any sword to stop him being stabbed. He was a firm believer in witches in his early reign, personally supervising the trial of Scottish witches accused of plotting against his wife. But despite the level of opposition to his reign, James firmly believed that he had been chosen by God and was thus infallible. He consequently refused to listen to Parliament if their advice didn’t suit him, and once ruled without it for seven years.