Letter XI

The King’s Cabinet Opened was written by Victorious St. Thomas Fairfax. He published them although King Charles obviously was the original author of the letters being written to his wife during wartime. He was writing them to Queen Henrietta during the first English Civil War. He wrote her many letters because communication was obviously stricken due to the lack of mobility of the Army. Plus, the war had many time periods filled with waiting that men had to find something to keep them occupied. In the preface it explains exactly the meaning behind all the letters, it is basically explaining that the King should have been making decisions based on his own judgment, not Queen Henrietta’s.

            It is obvious from the letters that the King has given the Queen complete and total power in his absence, “the King’s councils are wholly managed by the Queen.” This was a total and complete taboo in this time. On top of this, the queen was also French Catholic, which also distasteful in this era. The English people knew that her influence would not help them out in the long run. This obviously did not matter to King Charles. Absolutely no decisions were made without her opinion and thoughts on it were first made, although this was unknown to the public. To start out you can see that the relationship between the King and Queen Henrietta is special by the way he addresses the letters to her with a  “Deare heart.” From the outside looking in their marriage appears to be filled with love and kindness if he would go out of his way to not only update her on his travels and ask her what she thinks about practically everything, but also refer to her as being his heart. Looking at letter XI we can see that a simple summary to begin with is that King Charles speaks of a man named Montrose, who’s actual name is James Graham (1st Marquess of Montrose.) He is one of the King’s supporters. King Charles reports good news from him to his wife. He says the army seems solid and reassures his wife that everything is in order in that area.


In the area of his son however, he mentions to his wife that his son has taken on a “gentleman of the bedchamber.” This sounded life a reference to homosexuality but in reality it was not like that. He simply hired a man who was basically an assistant to him. This almost seems like something frivolous to consult his wife about but when you dig deeper into the letters, we learn that he seemed to consult his wife on basically everything. His main reason for concern is that he does not want another man influencing his son that comes from another religion and a different country. He clearly states that he “refused the admitting of him till I shall hear from thee (referring to the Queen).”  He does not punish or stop his son though until he first hears what the Queen has to say about it. I can see why Charles II would want someone else to consult with that has another opinion on things, it makes problem solving and other things easier plus it may be a benefit having an outsider’s view, but the King would have none of that. This is quite a hypocritical thing to think because he was gaining opinions from Queen Henrietta whose background was completely different from the country he was ruling.

              The letter and the article on Snowden are intertwined because of one main point; the idea of deception from the government. King Charles crossed his people by consulting with Queen Henrietta and in recent times, a type of similar scandal has happened. Snowden exposed how the American government was violating privacy by looking into individual’s personal records and information. After these letters that King Charles wrote to his wife were exposed, the general public was downright shocked to know that a woman was making such a huge impact on the decision making of the King. In both cases the general public felts extremely fooled and violated to a point that huge controversies broke out. Although they both deal with different situations regarding what was going on with the time period, both concern the rulers and government and their opinion of them.

Madison Johnston

Works Cited:






The King’s Cabinet, Wherein He Left His Spine (Letter 3)

The reign of King Charles I was not a successful one. It was marred by civil war, religious conflict, and perhaps worst of all, marital strife. A series of letters between the King and various other political figures (including his wife, Queen Hentrietta Maria, of France) was released by anti-monarchy members of parliament, which sparked a series of damaging controversies that may well have contributed to the end of Charles’ reign.

The third letter appears to be among the most significant, as Charles outright says to the Queen that he does not order her, only requests (“this is an opinion, not a direction”). The letter itself concerns primarily “the D. of Lorrains,” or the Duke of Lorraine. The Duke was likely Nicholas Francis, who had been forced to abdicate the Duchy to his brother Charles IV. The Duke then ended up in temporary exile (as did Charles IV, the actual Duke of Lorraine at the time of the letter’s writing, so it is unclear who is truly being referenced in the letter), unable to return to his land due to the ongoing 30 Years War.

King Charles asks his wife – the sister of King Louis XIII of France – if she would allow the Duke to pass through France back to his land. The King gives his motivation for this request as an intention to acquire a port in western France. The most interesting thing about this letter, however, is that the King requests this of his Queen. In England, the King ruled above his Queen (especially when she was French and a Catholic), yet Charles’ backbone seems to melt away when dealing with her.

This ties in well with several modern example of the government expose. Perhaps most notably, Edward Snowden revealed the NSA’s spying programs, which gathers information about everyone in America (though the NSA claims it did not).  The critical element of controversy surrounding these two events is most likely the revelation that power and sovereignty does not lie where the people were led to believe it does.

While in the case of the King’s Cabinet the controversy extended farther (including outrage over the Queen’s religion, nationality and sex), the revelation that the King – the rightful head of state of England – was not the one making important political decisions. And not only that, but he was being meek about it, not even attempting to regain power he lost. In America, power is supposed to reside with the people, and yet we find out from a man who is now a wanted criminal that the government has been lying to us about what it does and how much control we have over it.

If the government can treat us all as criminals and tap our phones without warrants, we cannot truly be in control of our (supposedly) democratic country. Similarly, if the King of England bent like a wet napkin every time his wife looked in his direction, the English people could not be confident that their nation was being led properly by its true leader.

Other controversies also ran throughout the rest of the letters, involving the Queen’s nation of birth, status as sister of King Louis of France, and religion (which happened to be the same religion as the generally-disliked Irish). The third letter did not have much to do with these sides of the controversy, but they’re worth acknowledging, as they too were power kegs left waiting to blow.

King Charles and Edward Snowden: Unpatriotic or Revolutionary?

“The King’s Cabinet Opened,”or more directly named, “Certain Packets of Secret Letters and Papers Written with the Kings own Hand and taken in his Cabinet at Nasby-Field, June 14 1645,” written by Victorious St. Thomas Fairfax, leaves little to the reader’s imagination with its descriptive title and author (source of publication rather). The letters of correspondence between King Charles and confidants were confiscated by the troops of St. Thomas Fairfax after the royalist defeat at the Battle of Nasby. The letters were then compiled and released to the public as “The King’s Cabinet Opened,” a controversial “tell-all” of sorts. The preface to the work states its purpose; to expose the goings-on and scandalous sharing of information by King Charles and to “encourage” others to believe he was in the wrong. It states: “Nor dare we smother this light under a bushel, but freely hold it out to our seduced brethren; for so, in the spirit of meekness, laboring to reclaim them, we still speak, that they may see their errors, and return to the right way” (The King’s).

I will explain in detail the content of Letter III from “The King’s Cabinet Opened.” In this letter King Charles I (monarch of England Scotland and Ireland from 1625-1649), is writing to his wife Queen Henrietta Maria of France concerning Nicholas Francis, Duke of Lorraine. The King wish for Henrietta to grant the Duke passage through France, believing this rout will be “found the best, there being not so many places to choose on, anywhere else” (The King’s). King Charles refers to Henrietta as “Dear Heart,” and indicates his longing to see her. In relation to the Duke, he tells Henrietta that the request to have the Duke pass through France because it would be “easier” all around is “an opinion, not a direction” (The King’s). Though the familiarity and respect the King shows his queen would probably be enough to deem this letter scandalous, the King also confides a few details about his current state in battle. Then, King Charles pretty much asks the Queen’s permission to grant titles to certain men.

There are two huge reasons that King Charles’ sharing of information as well as respect shown to his wife were so controversial. Firstly, Queen Henrietta was a French Catholic, a mix not well looked upon by Charles’ people. Secondly, the King and supposed “ultimate ruler” was giving a huge amount of respect and responsibility to a woman. The people saw this sharing of information and power as treason to their kingdoms. Some may say that Charles was even “punting” his responsibilities away to be fulfilled by a less-qualified person.

To relate controversy in “The King’s Cabinet” to a current issue of “treason” a parallel can be drawn with the Edward Snowden case. Edward Snowden, a man sworn to protect information concerning the National Security Agency, released information about government surveillance programs to the public. In two articles of contrasting opinion, one from The New Yorker and one from The New York Times, the “good” and the “bad” sides to what Snowden did are weighed. I believe that the tone of “The King’s Cabinet” is similar to the tone of the New Yorker article “Edward Snowden’s Real Impact.” Snowden, not unlike King Charles, is portrayed as having betrayed his country. Snowden’s logic is somewhat compared to murder when article writer Jeffrey Toobin says:

The assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy led directly to the passage of a historic law, the Gun Control Act of 1968. Does that change your view of the assassinations? Should we be grateful for the deaths of these two men? Of course not. That’s lunatic logic. But the same reasoning is now being applied to the actions of Edward Snowden.                       (Edward Snowden’s)

The conflict of man vs. country runs through both of these writings/situations. Though the conflict was and is still very real, the intentions of the accused, (King Charles and Edward Snowden respectively) are debatably good or evil. Patriotism is an ideology in jeopardy in both circumstances. In the case of King Charles, giving a French Catholic woman the reigns in a protestant/English nation makes King Charles seem to be in favor of the French, and against his own people. As for Snowden, exposing national secrets that would/did certainly make the government look bad and secretive was arguably anti-American. I think that in both the cases of Charles and Snowden, one must determine whether the convicted are as guilty as they are made out to be.

The King’s Cabinet



Edward Snowden’s Real Impact


God Save the Queen!

Richard Derderian

ENGL 382

Group #3 assignment

The letter that I chose to undertake and unpack is number 14.  In this letter, the king is writing to the queen informing her of the good news that the city of Oxford is free from the rebels.  He says that it is his hope that this letter will reach her sooner than he could have expected now that the city of Oxford has been taken from the rebels.  The king chronicles the events, talking about how he “believes the rebels are weaker than they are thought to be.”  In the letter, the king speaks of how the rebels raised their siege and fled from Oxford to Brackley, and then to Brickhill before he and his men could come near them.  He almost sounds disappointed when he says “I thought they would have fought with me.”  He reasons that they did not fight with him because of their many distractions, and goes on to list the places of the battles that have the rebel army spread out.  These struggles are mentioned briefly in the preface in which the editor says “but were our cause altered, as it is not; or were we worse rebels then formerly, as none can affirm which takes notice of our late sufferings.”  The editor obviously is on the rebel’s side, referring to it as “our cause” and talking about “our patience”.  It is interesting to read from the perspective of both opposing sides.

After talking about business, the king then turns his attention to the queen.  He tells her that he believes his mistakes will not harm or trouble him and that they are needless, but he is still tedious to tell her about them.  On a more personal note, the king says that the letter from Fitz Williams assuring him of her full recovery from an injury makes him capable of taking contentment in these successes among loss, one on the battlefield, and one of his lover.  The king closes on a tender note, saying that after this rebellion is dealt with that the queen’s company is the only reward he expects and wishes for.

I could see how this letter could be considered controversial to some extent, but do not believe it to be as offensive as many of the other entries.  I believe that this letter is controversial because the king is consciously allowing the murder of his own people.  That is ludicrous to think about, but sometimes violence may be the only answer against a rebellion.  Edward Snowden would probably want the people to stand up to their government in this situation.  “Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring.” (Edward Snowden’s Real Impact)  Snowden believes that the people have a duty to fight against these crimes committed by their government.  It is their right to fight against their government if they are knowingly killing their own people.

Another way this could be considered controversial is because the king is sharing information and details of the battlefield with his wife.   I don’t think that Snowden would necessarily agree with the king sharing this information with his wife.  He would pretty much think that the king sharing information like this would be a detriment to society, apparent here:  “For society to function well,” he wrote, “there have to be basic levels of trust and cooperation, a respect for institutions and deference to common procedures.”” (The Banality of Systematic Evil) Another way it could be considered to be controversial is because the king writes about how he has made mistakes but believes they will not have any consequences.  It is almost like he brushes over mistakes that may have resulted in the loss of life like they are no big deal, as if he is infallible.  He shows no lament for what is happening to his own people.  I would be upset if I knew that’s how much my king valued my life.


1.)  http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2013/08/edward-snowdens-real-impact.html

2.)  http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/15/the-banality-of-systemic-evil/?_r=2


The King’s Third Letter

In the third letter of The King’s Cabinet Opened, the King writes to the Queen, asking why she will not give Duke Nicolas Francois de Lorraine, a French, Catholic aristocrat, passage through France. He believes that letting him through will “secure and facilitate the Sea transportation in respect of landing on the Western Coast.” However, he tells his wife that “this is an opinion, not a direction.” This begs the question, why isn’t it a direction? He is the King, after all. Later in the letter, he discusses who to give certain titles and positions, but only if the Queen agrees. Why is the King discussing these matters with his wife in the first place?
In the beginning, and for the second half of the letter, the King basically sweet talks his wife, saying that he longs to be together again. He says that he cannot be content until he returns to her. This seems really displaced in a letter talking about military strategy. What the King is basically doing is buttering up his wife so that she will let the Duke through France.
This letter shows that, indeed, “the King’s councils are wholly managed by the Queen.” The King does not act like one’ instead he is constantly seeking his wife’s approval and advice on matters of the state. While this might be a desirable quality in a modern marriage, this is scandalous in royalty in the 1600s. Not only are matters of the state being controlled by a woman, “the weaker sex,” but she is also French and Catholic, two of the most hated attributes a person could have in 17th century England. The fact that she is undermining the King—and that he is letting her—is an outrage.
This relates to the government exposés started by Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, and Wikileaks because the public is informed of the faults in the government. In the case of the King’s Cabinet Opened, the commoners realized that the Queen was in more control of the government that the King. Snowden informed the public of the NSA’s surveillance, calling into question the constitutionality of its actions. Manning leaked classified documents from the Department of Defense and State to expose corruption within the cabinet of the Iraqi government. Wikileaks, founded by Julian Assange, acts as a medium in which these government exposés can be facilitated. These leaks show that the government is not as powerful or morally conscious as they want us to believe. The fact that it can be undermined by a commoner—or someone of the weaker sex—causes the public to lose faith and respect for the government.




Letter VII

Letter VII is a letter from King Charles I to his Queen. The King is in London negotiating a treaty with Parliament. He is writing to the Queen telling her that the negotiations are not going  well. The King is very affectionate in his letter using “dearheart” and “without thy company I can neither have peace nor comfort within myself.” He reassures the Queen that even though there has been little progress in London with the treaty that hes commissioners are capable of standing their ground and achieving a compromise.

Then the King admits that she does have right to be worried about him being in London because of those with the same persuasion as “Percy.”

“Percy” is actually Algernon Percy, 10th Earl of Northumberland. Percy is the highest ranking royal official that switches sides and becomes the King’s opposition as they work on the treaty of Uxbridge.

The last two sentences of the letter are very personal. The King is telling the Queen how much she means to him and how because of his love for her he will do his best to end the war. For 17th century England, reading these private letters could have sparked even more controversy toward the King and the power the Queen held over him. During the times the Spanish Catholic Queen was allotted influence in the King’s decisions, Englishman and women might not have enjoyed that so much because the law of the land demanded Protestant beliefs. But looking back at the events from modern day it more or less just seems like a sweet text message the president might send the first lady to catch her up on how his day is going.

If we were able to see the messages the president texted or emailed the first lady, with the government shut down in effect, some U.S. citizens might be feel, “why is he texting when the government is shut down?” Others might feel that this act makes him more relate-able to the public. As the annotation says, “They may see here in his private letters what affection the King bears to his people…it comes from a Prince seduced out of his proper sphere.”

Modern examples of government exposes are, in effect, similar to the King’s Cabinet Opened. The actions of Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning are modern and concerning international problems that come with progress, but the end reactions of the public are similar.

The information Edward Snowden took with him overseas is incredible. The fact that a man — without a high school diploma, who worked for a contractor that was hired by the NSA to compile mobile phone information — was able to take all of this private information out of the country shocked citizens of the U.S. and the rest of the world. The controversy is: Snowden was capable of selling or giving away government compiled information. The fact that the NSA is even compiling this information, which was news to most U.S. citizens. And that every day, average American citizen had access to this information.

The reactions by the public are similar to those reactions of the King’s Cabinet Opened. Citizens found out information that the government thought to be private, for the sake of the people. This time it’s our own private information and not the King’s but reactions are the same. Citizen’s wanted to know how this is even legal, like English men and woman wanted to know how it was legal for the Queen to be Catholic. The ideal that so long as we follow the rules (laws), the government’s job is to protect its citizens, is being threatened in both cases because the government is not following the rules that the citizen’s understand as laws they must also follow. Whether it is invasion of privacy or adhering to religious law, when the government undermines the knowledge of its citizens all hell will break lose.

Scandals of the Past and Present

I for one am a great admirer between King Charles I and his wife, Queen Henrietta. Just in the way he addresses the letters, “Deare heart,” convey a relationship deeper than that of a marriage of politics. With that aside, I do see how the relationship could be questionable especially where being a King came with certain responsibilities and expectations. The letter that I most enjoyed reading was Letter XI. Though it captured the emotion shared between the two that I so enjoyed, it also caught my attention with the line “gentleman of the bedchamber,” which I later learned was not evidence of the King Charles I son Charles homosexuality (the scandal of which would have been so interesting during this era). Besides learning new terms, the letter did bring forth evidence of two major accusations in the annotations in The King’s Cabinet Opened. Those being: “It is obvious that the King’s Counsels are wholly managed by the Queen” and “nothing great or small is transacted without [the queen’s] privity & consent.” These two problems arising not only because the King should be making his own decisions especially at this time, the English Civil War, but also the people grew worried of the Queen’s influence because of her religious background. People feared Queen Henrietta, a French Catholic; opinions would do no good for the good of England as a whole, an influence that was unquestionably strong in their relationship.

            Letter XI upon first glance seems like a husband informing his wife of his travels and asking opinions on their son. King Charles I begins apologizing for the lack of letters due to their traveling, it being harder to send them from when he was at Oxford. He informs the Queen various travails of the war lately before turning to the pressing matter at hand, the one of their son Charles. The King is at a loss of what to do seeing as how, without his permission Charles appointed a new “gentleman of the bedchamber” (not a lover, someone whose “duties included assisting the King at his dressing, waiting on him when he ate in private, guarding access to him in his bedchamber and closet and providing noble companionship, generally” [British History]). This being a questionable matter and shows the decision-making between the monarchies, one behind closed doors. Was it really so bad for the King to consult his wife though? I feel that it might have benefited the English with the opinions of two ruling instead of a one man who made choices without second thoughts or opinions. At the same time, however, it is easily understood that an opinion so influential was by not only a foreigner of different country descent, but also religious as well.  The opinions of the Queen were also problematic with the reasoning behind the civil war, “problem solving” (history learning site).  The matter of the war would not be so easily won with that of a King who could not even handle his own problems without the assistance of his wife.

 The case concerning Snowden has similar backings to that in The King’s Cabinet Opened”. Snowden exposure of the Government spying on its people was a matter of the people that they had every right to be informed of, quite like the English who deserved to know who in fact was behind their decision making in their government and their lives.  Both were scandals of their time and in both ideologies were obstructed; Snowden’s being more a right to privacy of the American people and the King’s more a matter of a right to their religious ideologies. Scandals wreck governments and countries apart, the only way for progress in whatever era is a relationship between citizen and government where decisions are beneficial to both parts of the relationship.

King’s Cabinet Opened Letter XI


Gentleman of the Bedchamber


The English Civil War