There was another great matter of displeasure, and that was the way in which the king raised money. The right way is that he should call his Parliament together, and the House of Commons should grant him what he wanted. But there were other means. One was that every place in England should be called on to pay so much for ship money. This had begun when King Alfred raised his fleet to keep off the Danes; but it had come not to be spent on ships at all, but only be money for the king to use. Another way that the kings had of getting money was from fines. People who committed some small offence, that did not come under the regular laws, were brought before the Council in a room at Westminster, that had a ceiling painted with stars—and so was called the Star Chamber—and there were sentenced, sometimes to pay heavy sums of money, sometimes to have their ears cut off. This Court of the Star Chamber had been begun in the days of Henry VII., and it is only a wonder that the English had borne it so long.
One thing Charles I. did that pleased his people, and that was sending help to the French Protestants, who were having their town of Rochelle besieged. But the English were not pleased that the command of the army was given to the duke of Buckingham, his proud, insolent favorite. but Buckingham never went. As he was going to embark at Portsmouth, he was stabbed to the heart by a man named Felton; nobody clearly knows why.
Charles did not get on much better even when Buckingham was dead. Whenever he called a Parliament, fault was always found with him and with the laws. Then he tried to do without a Parliament; and, as he, of course, needed money, the calls for ship money came oftener, and the fines in the Star Chamber became heavier, and more cases for them were hunted out. Then murmurs arose. Just then, too, he and Archbishop Laud were trying to make the Scots return to the Church, by giving them bishops and a Prayer-book. But the first time the Service was read in a church at Edinburgh, a fishwoman, named Jenny Geddes, jumped up in a rage and threw a three-legged stool at the clergyman’s head. Some Scots fancied they were being brought back to Rome; others hated whatever was commanded in England. All these leagued together, and raised an army to resist the king; and he was obliged to call a Parliament once more, to get money enough to resist them.
The long parliament. A.D. 1641—1649.
When Charles I. was obliged to call his Parliament, the House of Commons met, angered at the length of time that had passed since they had been called, and determined to use their opportunity. They speedily put an end both to the payment of ship money and to the Court of the Star Chamber; and they threw into prison the two among the king’s friends whom they most disliked, namely, Archbishop Laud and the