The English Civil War 1642-49
the causes of the Civil War?
Charles I was son of King James. His queen was the Catholic Henrietta
Maria, something which annoyed the Puritans. Charles believed in Divine
Right - which meant he believed he was chosen by God and that therefore
Parliament should do as he said.
Parliament, however, felt they represented the people and should have
more control over running the country.
When Charles asked for more money they gave him only a fraction of what
he asked for - so he dismissed them. Calling a third Parliament in 1628
he again failed to get enough money from them. He closed Parliament and
it remained closed for eleven years. For money he charged fines and taxes
on the people.
In 1637 he needed to create an army against the Scots so he had to call
a Parliament to raise the money to pay them.
They met in 1640 and before they would give him money they gave him a
list of complaints, called "The Grand Remonstrance." Charles
agreed to many limits on his powers but this was too much.
He tried to arrest the leading MPs and although he failed, a mob gathered
and marched on the palace to demonstrate their anger. Charles was forced
to move to Nottingham to raise his own army there, while his wife escaped
The main question now was "who should rule the country?"
Would it be the Royalists, known as Cavaliers, represented
by the House of Lords, the Court, who were usually Roman Catholics or
Church of England and supported King Charles.
Or would it be the Parliament side, known as Roundheads,
represented by the House of Commons, who were usually Puritans, merchants
or members of the navy, eventually led by its General Oliver
Each side had an army of only about 70,000 men and although there were
many small skirmishes there were only three great battles; the Battle
of Edgehill (1642), Naseby (1645) and Worcester.
Oliver Cromwell was brought in to train troops in East Anglia and in 1644-5
Parliament created what was called The New Model Army, a well organised,
equipped and disciplined army under the command of Fairfax.
Fairfax and Cromwell together defeated Charles at Naseby at which the
king's army was almost wiped out; Charles surrendered to the Scots, who
in turn gave him to Parliament.
In December 1648 soldiers surrounded Parliament, keeping Charles' supporters
out and on January 30th 1649 King Charles I was executed.
Parliament was now in control of the Republic of England. Oliver Cromwell,
commander in chief of the army, abolished the House of Lords and, when
the House of Commons started arguing, he took control as Lord Protector.
The Puritans took advantage of the situation and enforced strict rules
against Sunday activities, closing down theatres, maypole dancing and
even Christmas Day, while destroying stained glass windows in churches
because they were too decorative.
Cromwell's later campaigns in Ireland, the massacres of Drogheda and Wexford,
crushed Catholic Ireland - and arguably caused the continuing unrest in
Ireland even today. With Charles (Bonny Prince Charlie) calling on his
support from those who had supported his Scots grandfather, the Stuart
King James, Cromwell nevertheless savagely defeated the Scots too. In
1651 the Royalist army was surrounded and destroyed in Worcester. After
several narrow escapes Charles II escaped to France.
Cromwell died in 1658 and soon a new Parliament asked Charles' son to
return and become the new king. Charles II was brought back from France
by Edward Montagu and his return is recorded in detail by Samuel Pepys.
Cromwell had diminished the absolute power of the King, been tolerant
towards Jews and some other minority groups, resisted some extremists,
took better care of the mentally ill, improved the prisons and registered
all births and deaths. However his brutality in Ireland and the execution
of the King would always count against him.
whole page into four boxes - 2 columns and two rows plus headings
Now read the page above
again and place the facts in the boxes. You decide whether a fact
about Charles shows him in a good light or a bad light. Remember
the same facts may show, for example, Parliament as bad and Charles