This study of the character and policies of Charles I provides an analysis of the political crisis leading to his personal rule in England during the years before the civil wars. It fills a gap in the historical literature of the period by integrating ideological with political developments and English with international affairs. It is also a contribution to the wider European history of a critical phase of the Thirty Years War. The book offers a new way of understanding Charles by demonstrating how ill-suited his personality was to the workings of the political world. It also argues that Charles’s innovatory rule created a new pattern of national politics deeply destructive in its effects. The book gives a gripping account of the king’s willingness to pervert the due process of law in dealing with his political opponents, as well as investigating his failures in religious and foreign policy.