Character of Charles I (19/11/1600 — 30/1/1649)
From 'History Of The Rebellion' by the Earl Of Clarendon

 Charles 1st (19/11/1600 — 30/1/1649

It will not be unnecessary to add a short character of his person, that posterity may know the inestimable loss which the nation then underwent, in being deprived of a prince whose example would have had a greater influence upon the manners and piety of the nation than the most strict laws can have.

To speak first of his private qualifications as a man, before the mention of his princely and royal virtues; he was, if ever any, the most worthy of the title of an honest man; so great a lover of justice, that no temptation could dispose him to a wrongful action, except it were so disguised to him that he believed it to be just. He had a tenderness and compassion of nature which restrained him from ever doing a hard-hearted thing; and therefore he was so apt to grant pardon to malefactors that the judges of the land represented to him the damage and insecurity to the public that flowed from such his indulgence. And then he restrained himself from pardoning either murders or highway robberies, and quickly discerned the fruits of his severity by a wonderful reformation of those enormities. He was very punctual and regular in his devotions, so that he was never known to enter upon his recreations or sports, though never so early in the morning, before he had been at public prayers; so that on hunting days his chaplains were bound to a very early attendance. He was likewise very strict in observing the hours of his private cabinet devotions, and was so severe an exactor of gravity and reverence in all mention of religion, that he could never endure any light or profane word in religion, with what sharpness of wit so ever it was covered.

His kingly virtues had some mixture and allay that hindered them from shining in full lustre, and from producing those fruits they should have been attended with. He was not in his nature bountiful, though he gave very much, which appeared more after the Duke of Buckingham's death, after which those showers fell very rarely; and he paused too long in giving, which made those to whom he gave less sensible of the benefit. He kept state to the full, which made his court very orderly, no man presuming to be seen in a place where he had no pretence to be. He saw and observed men long before he received them about his person; and he did not love strangers nor very confident men. He was a patient hearer of causes, which he frequently accustomed himself to, at the Council Board, and judged very well, and was dexterous in the mediating part; so that he often put an end to causes by persuasion, which the stubborn-ness of men's humours made dilatory in courts of justice.

He was very fearless in his person, but in his riper years not very enterprising. He had an excellent understanding, but was not confident enough of it; which made him often-times change his own opinion for a worse and follow the advice of a man that did not judge so well as himself. This made him more irresolute than the conjuncture of his affairs . would admit. If he had been of a rougher and more imperious nature, he would have found more respect and duty; and his not applying some severe cures to approaching evils proceeded from the levity of his nature and the tenderness of his conscience, which in all cases of blood made him choose the softer way and not hearken to severe counsels how reasonably so ever urged. He was always an immoderate lover of the Scottish nation, having not only been born there, but educated by that people and besieged by them always, having few English about him till he was king, and the major number of his servants still of those who he thought could never fail him, and then no man had such an ascendant over him, by the lowest and humblest insinuations, as Duke Hambleton had.

There were so many miraculous circumstances contributed to his ruin that men might well think that heaven and earth conspired it, and that the stars designed it,-though he was from the first declension of his power so much betrayed by his own servants that there were very few who remained faithful to him; yet that treachery proceeded not always from any treasonable purpose to do him any harm, but from particular and personal animosities against other men. And afterwards the terror all men were under of the parliament, and the guilt they were conscious of themselves, made them watch all opportunities to make themselves gracious to those who could do them good; and so they became spies upon their master, and from one piece of knavery were confirmed and hardened to undertake another, till at last they had no hope of preservation but by the destruction of their master. And after all this, when a man might reasonably believe that less than a universal defection of three nations could not have reduced a great king to so ugly a fate, it is most certain that in that very hour when he was thus most wickedly murdered in the sight of the sun, he had as great a share in the hearts and affections of his subjects in general, was as much beloved, esteemed and longed for by the people in general of the three nations, as any of his predecessors had ever been. To conclude, he was the worthiest gentleman, the best master, the best friend, the best husband, the best father, and the best Christian that the age in which he lived produced. If he was not the best king, if he was without some parts and qualities which have made some kings great and happy, no other prince was ever unhappy who was possessed of half his virtues and endowments, and so much without any kind of vice.