chapter  2
7 Pages


Unlike his father, Charles was not born to rule. His childhood was privileged, but scarcely favoured. Although he escaped the debilita­ ting attacks of porphyria which dogged James, and which probably accounted for his elder brother Henry’s early death in November 1612, he was so sickly a child that his parents left him behind in Scotland in 1603 and subsequently had difficulty placing him, as English courtly households were fearful that he would die on their hands (149). At the age of four he was unable to walk ‘nor scant stand alone’ according to Sir Robert Carey, to whose wife Charles’s welfare was eventually entrusted (101, p. 11). Born at Dunfermline in November 1600, Charles was several years younger than Henry (born in February 1594) and Elizabeth (born in August 1596), and spent much of his childhood separated both from them and from his parents. He was never to have much personal contact with his brother and sister; for by 1612, as Charles grew stronger, James was already exercised about the marriages of his elder children. For diplomatic reasons, he hoped to marry Henry into a Catholic royal family, and Elizabeth into a Protestant one. Henry had Catholic friends, but his Calvinism was strong and he had other ideas (188). He worked hard, using his developing range of conti­ nental contacts, to further the marriage of his sister to the most important of the Calvinist princes, Frederick of the Palatinate. He died on the eve of the marriage, before putting his father to the test over his own reluctance to take a Catholic wife (198). Within a few months, during the winter of 1612-13 Charles, in the absence of both his parents, led the mourners at Henry’s funeral, and for the last time, as it was to turn out, bade farewell in person to Elizabeth and Frederick, after lingering with them at Canterbury on their way to the coast. The contacts which he had begun to make with his family thus rudely shaken, he resumed his solitary state, but this time as heir to the thrones not only of England and Ireland, but of his native Scotland too. He had twelve years in which to accustom himself to an unprecedented inheritance.