Letter XXXII


It may be partially correct to assume that I chose this letter because it is so short, but another major reason I selected it is that it provides evidence to support two of the major accusations made in the annotations to The King’s Cabinet Opened:  that “nothing great or small is transacted without [the queen’s] privity & consent” and that “[t]he Queen appears to have been as harsh, and imperious towards the King … as she is implacable to our religion, Nation and Government.”

Throughout the letter, one gets the idea that King Charles I is bowing to Queen Henrietta Maria’s authority.  It begins with the king stating that he is surprised to find that the queen seems displeased with his last letter, something that he immediately apologizes for, stating “you write as if I had in my Letter something which had displeased you.  If that hath been, I am very innocent in my intention.  I only did believe that it was necessary you should know all.”  Although this doesn’t directly support the accusation that the queen has been imperious towards the king, it does demonstrate that she has power in her relationship with the king, something that was very controversial in a patriarchal society that believed the king should be the dominant political figure.  In this case, he was not living up to his political role or his gender role.

After apologizing for his previous letter, the king apologizes for allowing Lord Ier to decipher the letters he has been receiving from the queen.  (Lord Ier was trusted to decipher messages between the King and Queen.)  In a pleading tone, he explains why he was allowing Lord Ier to decipher them and says that if she would like him to, he will not allow anyone in the world to see their letters.  This supports the idea that nothing great or small can be transacted without the queen’s consent.  In this case, the king is not allowed to use a trusted decoder  to perform the potentially time-consuming activity of deciphering a letter, a relatively small matter that the king presumably should have the authority to make a decision about.  This is controversial because the queen’s control over the king could easily translate into political influence over the English people.

Given the historical context of The King’s Cabinet Opened, I can see some similarities between the publishers and modern-day whistleblowers such as Snowden and Manning (primarily the desire to expose something that “the people” should know but don’t), but I would like to point out one major difference.  In “The Banality of Systemic Evil,” an opinion piece for The New York Times, Peter Ludlow argues that modern whistleblowers take action against a system when they feel that the system is violating a moral principle that cannot be addressed within the system.  Although the publishers of The King’s Cabinet Opened claimed to be taking action due to a moral principle (and it very well may be true that they did), it must be kept in mind that their primary motivation was that they were the political opposition to the king.  Although whistleblowers’ actions are political in nature, their actions are much less likely to result in personal political gain than in personal hardship.  If modern whistleblowers do not have a lot more to lose, they certainly have much less to gain (personally) than the publishers of the King’s Cabinet Opened.  In this way the two events are not completely analogous.


One thought on “Letter XXXII

  1. Trey,

    You gave a great explanation of the events of the letter and their controversies. You explained each person’s role within the letter and cited all requirements. You related it back to modern controversies effectively, isolating the common issue between them and explaining your argument well.


    Grade: S

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