Has history been unfair to Charles I?

For all Charles I's undoubted flaws, we should recognise that the much-maligned monarch was handicapped by his father's failings and chronic bad luck, says Tim Harris

A portrait of Charles I.

In early October 1640 Charles I, based temporarily at York following defeat at the hands of the Scottish Covenanters, sat down to a game of chess with the Marquess of Winchester. As Charles pondered how to play his bishop, Winchester quipped: “See, Sir, how troublesome these Bishops are?” Charles said nothing, but “looked very grim”.

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