I’ve always wondered: What was King Charles like, as a person and a human being?
Here are some of my thoughts at this time (which is all speculation of course):
I always thought I’d find a polite, kind, and considerate person.
Despite this I think I’d find him a person hard to know and to be friends with. After a while I would probably give up trying to be friends with him.
I’d find he tends to be quiet and withdrawn, having a reserved disposition.
He would be guarded, unwilling to discuss his feelings or the details of his life.
He’d be non-dominating and with a lack of assertiveness.
He’d appear, probably, rather slow.
I’d probably find out that he is boring as a person and possibly quite ‘stuffy’.
I’d also probably detect a ‘quiet arrogance’.
He would uphold and defend what he believed to be true, but he would not force it onto you.
In effect, what I’d find is that he is probably what I’d describe as an ‘insecure introverted’ type of person, as his dominant trait. I’d expect to find the strengths and weaknesses they have, and it appears that he does have those traits.
An introvert, as I use it, is someone who is very interior-like. Life seems centered around interior experiences, not exterior experiences. Naturally, there are gradations to this. Some people are slightly introverted, others are excessively introverted, to the point it could be described as an ailment. It seems to me that Charles, as a person and a human being, was very introverted, probably more than most, but not to the point it was an ailment.
Many of the traits and problems of introversion help to create a sense of insecurity. A lot of introverts are insecure socially and in other situations, and often appear so. This does not mean they are always insecure. Oftentimes they are very secure interiorly or in some other way.
Sometimes, their introversion just appears as an insecurity or gives the illusion of insecurity when, in reality, they are not. They just aren’t very good socially or aren’t comfortable with external experiences. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if an introvert’s insecurity is real or an illusion.
My feeling’s is that Charles was both a little insecure as a person and, at times, he only appeared that way.
WEAKNESS OF THE ‘INSECURE INTROVERT’:
Like many introverts, such as myself, he would be awkward socially and sort of reserved. What would dominate is his inner personal self. This would make his personal interests very important and critical. Oftentimes, introverts seem almost oblivious to what’s going on around them, as they are so engrossed in their interior world. This might make Charles appear neglectful and, possibly, unfeeling to other people, which often appeared the case.
As with many introverts he retreated into himself when there was conflict. There is a tendency to not be confrontational or to cause problems with people. He was not a person to argue or dispute or cross people.
He always had difficulty making friends. This is not uncommon with introverts. Some may never make friends at all. Because of their interior nature they seem aloof and distant. There also seems a lack of social charisma as well. They could walk in the room and no one would notice. Charles appears to have these traits.
Charles had a difficult time making friends with females. I don’t think he was all that intimate with any female, even his wife. It appears that no female ever tried to win his affections either, suggesting that he had no appeal to the opposite sex. He did not have a close relationship with his mother either. In fact, it seems the image of a ‘mother’ may have been lacking in his life. People who do not have a good ‘mother’ image often become narcissistic and self-concerning . . . sort of introverted, that is to say. He was embarrassed, apparently, when guys talked about girls as well. It was remarked once that he “blushed like a modest maiden” when overhearing this type of conversation.
In addition, introverts have a tendency to need a ‘thing’ for support. Often they may ‘latch’ on to something or someone and hold onto it tight, almost obsessively. His history shows a repetitive need to have to look up to someone for support. The most famous is the Duke of Buckingham.
Introverts also have a tendency to not be ‘outward’ or outgoing. They are not known for getting things done or getting people to do things. They do not make leaders, nor are they people that tend to inspire people. Their social skills often are meager as well. All these traits Charles has shown.
They tend to be shy or shy-like. Charles seemed to be shy, particularly in his younger years. His being made King appears to of forced him to grow out of a lot of his shyness though, particularly as he grew older.
Because of their shy and interior way, introverts tend to not be social and end up suffering loneliness. It appears that his years below about 20 were lonely. I tend to feel that, for all his life, he always felt a little lonely deep down.
STRENGTHS OF THE ‘INSECURE INTROVERT’:
His introverted nature also probably gave him a great strength, as introverted people often have a deep inner strength that extroverted people don’t have. I think he has shown this great inner strength and resolve from time to time, particularly on his execution day. His unflinching belief and lack of doubt has always been something to admire. The very trait that made him awkward and insecure socially would be the thing that, in the end, gave him the greatest strength.
His introverted nature and need for inner support probably helped him to be very religious (unlike his father). Introverted types tend to have a religious bent. He was known to be very religious with a great belief in God.
Introverts also tend to be very faithful and committed to things. They seldom bounce around in beliefs and ideals. They also tend to be unchanging. Charles has repetitively displayed these traits.
Introverts can also often display almost superhuman acts of self-restraint. They seldom ‘fly off the handle’. In Charles early twenties someone was supposed to of remarked about “his self-restraint causing amazement.” He even showed great self-restraint at his trial and execution.
KING CHARLES STUTTERING
There is a question as to the effect of his stuttering on his personality. Apparently, it was a problem, particularly in the position he was in as King. This problem could of accentuated his introverted personality and reinforced his social awkwardness and insecurity. This may of led him to be, perhaps, overly polite, for the polite kind quality of King Charles I is almost legendary. Even his enemies admired his kind and gentle way. It’s very possible he accentuated this to help overcome his social awkwardness created by his introverted personality and stuttering.
We know that he tried to cure his stuttering by putting rocks in his mouth as he spoke but it didn’t work. We are told that he found it better to think of what he was going to say before he said it. This is probably why he often appeared ‘slow’ to many people and with a careful speech.
(also see my article “Thoughts on the effects of stuttering on King Charles I and the English Civil War“.)
CHARLES SLOW MATURITY
We know that King Charles matured slowly. There is evidence that he still could not walk or speak at the age of three (though we’re not sure how accurate that is). Supposedly, his father had him wear braces to help him to walk. He was also shorter than normal. Even as a teenager he struck people as not mature for his age. This makes me wonder if he had some sort of a deficiency of some sort. I’m not sure what that’d be though. It also makes me wonder if there was more to his insecurity than meets the eye.
CHARLES RELATION WITH HIS FATHER
I always felt he was embarrassed or ashamed of his father. His father tended to be dirty, rude, and immoral, which clashed with Charles introspective religious sentimentality. A gut feeling of mine is that he had a conflict with his dad. We’ll probably never know what that is for stuff like that involves the intimacies of life, which is not recorded.
CHARLES AND THE ‘KINGSHIP’
My personal feeling is that he was unprepared for being a King. His character, I always thought, clashed with the requirements that are needed for a King.
It also appears that Charles expected to be obeyed as King, regardless of the matter. In his first parliament of 1625 he was supposed to of said that, “his condition would be miserable if he could not command and be obeyed.” I still feel this is a very significant statement by Charles . . . and said at the beginning of his reign. In a way, it is a prelude to the trouble of his reign. Part of the reason for this statement, basically, is that parliament was trying to do something, but Charles didn’t seem to notice. He was too busy trying to do some other thing. Here we see the beginning of Charles tendency to not realize the motives of other people or to take them into consideration (such as Parliament). As I said above, introverts are often oblivious to other people and things going on around them, as they are engrossed with their own concerns. This trait, it seems, caused much problem in his reign.
I have always been under the impression that Charles, with his introverted character and social awkwardness, tended to rely on the image of the ‘King’ to compensate for his inadequacy. Because of his inability to be aggressive and commanding he expected the image of the ‘King’ to do it for him. In other words, he used the image of the ‘King’ to get things done, not his personality. When he said something as ‘King’, he expected it to be obeyed.
And the evidence is that he did use the image of the ‘King’ when he needed it.. He saw the ‘King’ as unmovable and unchangeable and with superhuman power. It was, in a way, a rock for him to stand upon in his dealings with the country. In fact, I’ve always been under the impression that he saw the ‘King’ as something like a parent that took care of everything for him.
It is perhaps because of his reliance on the image of the ‘King’ that he defended it so well, for the ‘King’ defined his relevance. He was not at all that willing to relinquish any power or authority at all.
I always thought it was interesting that one of the first acts when he was king, on March 31, 1625, was to clear away the rabble that always hung around the court gates. He also made it so the courtiers could not just walk into his room. People had to wait for their time according to their rank. This shows his methodical and organized thinking, common among interior-minded people.
These are some of my initial thoughts in regard to King Charles character.
(I wrote this in 2009)
Copyright by Mike Michelsen