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Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 29.djvu/179

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James I
of England
173

the sale of baronetcies is erroneous. As soon as the need was past in Ireland, he invariably repaid to the new baronets the sums at which they were assessed (Receipt and Issue Books of the Exchequer, Record Office).

Before the end of 1613 increasing financial difficulties turned James's thoughts in the direction of summoning another parliament. In vain Bacon reminded him of the necessity of having a popular policy if he was to conciliate popular feeling. When the new parliament met in 1614, James offered merely to repeat on a smaller scale the policy of bargaining with the House of Commons which had been at the bottom of the failure of the Great Contract in 1610. He also, through certain influential personages known as the Undertakers, attempted to influence the elections. The House of Commons, instead of voting subsidies in return for small concessions, declared the impositions to be illegal, and asked for the restoration of the nonconforming clergy. After a short session James dissolved his second parliament, which, as it passed no acts, is known in history as the Addled parliament.

The dissolution took place on 7 June. Before he ventured on the step he had sent for Sarmiento, the very able Spanish ambassador, who was afterwards known as the Count of Gondomar, asking him whether he could depend on the support of the king of Spain. It was a new and by no means a fortunate departure in James's English career, though it was in accordance with his readiness to rely on foreign aid when he was king of Scotland alone. Hitherto he had sought a good understanding with Spain to support his continental policy; he now sought it to support him against his own subjects.

As the Spanish alliance was to be sealed by a Spanish marriage between James's surviving son, Charles, and the Infanta Maria, Digby was sent back to Spain to see what chance there was of the scheme proving acceptable there. A Spanish bride might bring with her a considerable portion. In the meanwhile James was in great extremities. He sent to the Tower four of the most violent of the opposition in the late House of Commons. To Sarmiento he unbosomed himself of his grievance in having to tolerate a parliament so disorderly, and then, on the ground that fresh troubles were breaking out in Cleves and Juliers, he appealed to the country to make him voluntary gifts under the name of a benevolence, an appeal which, after considerable pressure from the government, resulted in bringing in about 66,000l., none of which was spent in assisting protestants in Cleves and Juliers.

The scission which was declaring itself between James and his subjects led to increased severity on one side and to increased outspokenness on the other. In 1614 Oliver St. John was sentenced to fine and imprisonment for denying in violent and unbecoming language the legality of the benevolence, though his punishment was remitted on his acknowledging his offence. In the same year a clergyman named Oliver Peacham [q. v.] was committed to the Tower for having written, though he had not preached or published, a sermon in which he attacked James's government. Peacham's affair led to a new stage in the dispute between Coke and the king. The judges had been hitherto considered the fit counsellors of the king on questions of law, and in January 1615 James wished to have their advice on legal questions arising out of Peacham's case. At Bacon's recommendation, however, James took the unusual course of ordering that they should be separately consulted, in order to prevent them from being no more than the echo of the overbearing and self-opinionated Coke. Coke, of course, was very angry, and delivered an opinion as opposed as possible to that which the court lawyers desired to elicit from him.

Moral causes were contributing with political differences to sap James's position in England. In 1613 his favourite, Rochester, was anxious to marry Frances Howard, wife of the Earl of Essex, and the marriage with Essex was annulled by a commission which James appointed for the purpose. Before the end of 1613 Rochester was married, and created earl of Somerset. By his marriage he became closely allied to the family of Howard, most of the members of which were catholics or semi-catholics, and warmly in favour of the Spanish alliance. The opponents of the Spanish match consequently set themselves against him by putting forward young George Villiers as a rival favourite, and in 1616 had the satisfaction of seeing both the earl and countess convicted of the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury [q. v.] James commuted the death-penalty into one of imprisonment. They were afterwards released, but James never saw either of them again [see Carr, Robert, Earl of Somerset ]. At the time of the trial James exhibited signs of great anxiety, as if he feared lest Somerset should reveal some dangerous secret. It is probable that his anxiety was caused by his knowledge that Somerset knew more about his dealings with Spain than he cared to have openly told. The Spanish negotiations, indeed, were being pushed steadily on, and in 1616 James sent Hay to Paris to break off a