Second son of King James VI of Scotland, later James I of England, he was not the heir apparent until the death of his older brother, Henry, Prince of Wales, in 1612. He was crowned king, following the death of his father, on March 27, 1635 and soon after married the Catholic Henrietta Maria, sister of Louis XIII of France.
He was influential in expanding England's colonial possessions, serving as the first king over the royal colony of Virginia, and granting charters for Massachusetts Bay, Maryland, and the Carolinas. Maryland ('Terra Mariae') was named in honor of his wife, the queen.
Charles, however, was less successful in handling domestic problems, and his long feud with Parliament erupted in the English Civil Wars (1642-49), which he lost and for which he lost his head. His son and heir, Charles, would be recalled from exile and the monarchy restored in 1660, following an 11-year reign by Oliver Cromwell and Puritan colleagues.