It was back in 1642 when the English Civil War began. This war was fought over 3 separate wars which occurred up until 1651. The first two of the three occurred from 1648 to 1649 with the third occurring from 1649 until 1651. Before the physical wars occurred though, there were a number of armed conflicts that had occurred between loyal supporters of King Charles I and those who supported the Long Parliament. It would be back on September 3 of 1651 that the Parliament would win at the Battle of Worcester.
After the ending of the English Civil War, King Charles I would be tried, found guilty and executed. Furthermore, his son Charles II was forced into exile and the monarchy was replaced with the Commonwealth of England. The Commonwealth of England would last until 1953 when it would be replaced by the Protectorate until 1659. At this time, the whole of England was under the rule of Oliver Cromwell.
While technically considered to be three separate wars, due to the fact that there was a common denominator in that the Parliamentary was fighting against the monarchy and in such short intervals in an attempt to achieve the same goals, the term the English Civil War was used in the singular form to constitute the entire event as one consciousness. Furthermore, these wars occurred not just in England, but also in Ireland and Scotland as well for which it has also become known as the Wars of Three Kingdoms.
The war itself was not fought as a means of determining who would go on to rule the nation, but rather it was done as a means of changing the system of governance which had prevailed in both Ireland and Britain for centuries. Due to this fact, many historians may also refer to the English Civil War as simply the English Revolution. However, no matter who you are, the concept was the same and that was the vast majority wanted to see an end to the single ruled monarchy and the beginning of the Parliament in which no ruler could make a decision without the consensus of the Parliament which in turn represented the people of the nation.
Up until the point in which Charles I accessed to the throne, there had been a peace between Scotland and England. His father, James I of England had wanted to unite the three kingdoms so that they were but one kingdom. Up until this point in time, the past monarchs had been bound to a tradition of sorts, but in the combining of the three kingdoms into one, Parliamentarians felt the move would destroy time honoured traditions and gave Charles even more power over the people.
Charles I believed that in exchange for a just rule, he would receive the utmost loyalty. As a result of this belief, he felt that anyone questioning his decisions, orders or proclamations to be an insult to him. One right after another, a series of events would unfold between the English Parliament and Charles I that would eventually lead to a war between the two entities.
Up until the war was ended, the English Parliament did not actually play an important role in the decision making process, but rather it was one of an advisory and taxation purpose. The Parliament was actually at that time able to be shut down by the monarch should he or she wish it to be so. The monarch would require money and as such he would seek the members of the Parliament who would tax their people. In exchange for this, they were granted the rights to make proposals for changes as more or less an advisor, but they could not actually do much more than that.
At the time which Charles I took the throne, England was widely protestant and his choice of marriage to Henrietta-Marie de Bourbon who was a Roman Catholic raised concern amongst the Parliament who thought that the heirs to the throne would grow up as Catholics. He also made the decision to engage in the already existing conflicts in Europe for which he set off to join the Thirty Years’ War which once again infuriated the Parliament. The reason for the later was that war meant a need for money which meant that the members of the existing Parliament would have to tax their people to pay for Charles I’s war in Europe. The members of Parliament instead refused to grant him the taxes which led to financial difficulties for the monarchy.
Without the proper finances, Charles went to war anyway in order to relieve the Huguenots and with the Duke of Buckingham leading the battle Charles was sure to win. The Duke of Buckingham already held a monopoly at the time which further infuriated Parliament to the point that they made the decision to impeach him. Seeing as though the Parliament could be done away with at anytime back in those days, Charles I chose to dissolve the Parliament.
Now Charles had created a problem for himself because he was entering into a war at the time. While he may have been able to save the Duke of Buckingham from being impeached, he still needed a Parliament because he needed the finances and so he decided to assemble a new Parliament. This occurred back in 1928, and the next decade would become known as the Eleven Years' Tyranny due to the fact that Charles openly refused to consult the Parliament for anything. During this rule of tyranny, the Parliament continued to refuse Charles the money he needed to finance his war and while he wanted to convene Parliament, he chose against it as he felt he would need it later. Instead, he set out for new ways of creating the much needed tax money through various schemes including the taxation of inner counties to support the Royal Navy against a fake attack.
It was during these personal rule years that the hate for Charles I as the monarch of England began to spread. He joined the High Anglicanism church and even appointed William Laud as the Archbishop of Canterbury in order to reform the church into more of a ceremonial one. Several writers attacked Laud and Charles for this complaining that it was an attempt to make England once again Catholic and as a punishment for this their ears were severed clean from their heads.
From England to Scotland, Charles attempted to make his way across the three kingdoms and force upon them the new church and its policies for which Scotland refused. In Edinburgh back in 1638, a riot broke out resulting in the National Covenant, a loyal protest of the change of churches and views.
Charles went ahead and summoned an assembly at the Church of Scotland, but by the time the assembly was to occur, the Scots began a build-up of their army. As a result of this build-up, Charles too began one. He headed off to the Scottish border to put an end to the madness which actually ended up in a truce between the two sides in what became known as the Bishops War. Of course all of the while, he was still lacking of the funds he needed to end the truce and squash the rebellion altogether so he set out to reconcile with Parliament and re-establish it, but the members would not hear of an invasion of Scotland resulting in the Short Parliament as it was quickly dissolved after only a few weeks.
Deciding to break the truce anyway and without the proper funds for his military, Charles suffered a defeat against the Scotts who in turn invaded England. During this invasion, they occupied the areas which today make up Durham and Northumberland. To prevent the Scotts from further advancement, Charles was forced to pay a sum of £850 every single day or they would take the money through pillaging.
Desperate to end this invasion and in need of large quantities of money to keep the Scots at bay, in 1640 he assembled Parliament once again. This Parliament became known as the Long Parliament and was even more hostile towards Charles I. In order to continue on, he basically had to bend to their every beck and call during which they forced him to pass legislation which would forbid any monarch to dissolve Parliament ever again.
It was in 1641 when Thomas Wentworth, the 1st Earl of Strafford was arrested, sentenced to the Tower of London and finally executed which resulted in the Irish Catholics taking the first blow in the war. Fearing Protestant control, Ireland fell into chaos. Charles sent 400 soldiers to squash the chaos and arrest five members of the House of Commons for treason. Upon his arrival, William Lenthall announced that his loyalty was to the Parliament and not to the king which led to the First English Civil War.
With the rural communities in support of Charles I and the Royal Navy in support of the Parliament, the two met on the battlefields for the first time with roughly 15,000 men to a side. Of course things expanded rapidly until just about every member at all levels of society had chosen one side or the other.
By the time of the Second English Civil War, Charles I attempted to negotiate an agreement between the Scots where he made a promise of church reform. The agreement was made and with Charles as a prisoner, the second of three wars began with Parliamentarians on one side, and loyal Scots on the other side. Because of this treaty, it was considered to be treason and as such, the Parliament had to make the choice of whether to return him to the throne, or try him. However as this was going on, with Charles I a prisoner and Parliament still refusing to consider him the ruler, a small army marched upon Parliament in which 45 members were arrested, 146 were prevented entry and the remaining 75 members were allowed to enter and set up Charles’s trial for treason. He was obviously found guilty of treason and was beheaded a short time later.
As far as the third of the three Civil Wars, this one was to take place against Ireland who had been in a rebellion since 1641. Throughout the entire time period of the previous two wars, Ireland had been rebelling but had not been party to the conflicts. Of course all this changed after the beheading of Charles I and rebellion became threats which turned into action. Furthermore, Scotland had been in it’s own civil war during this entire time and with Charles no longer in the picture, the entire dynamics of Scotland’s civil war changed completely.
In stepped Charles II who had landed in Scotland back in 1650 and signed the National Covenant his father started. With this signing Charles II now had an entire nation backing him which made him a threat to England. Leaving Ireland after squashing the rebellion, Oliver Cromwell headed to Edinburgh in which by the end of 1950, The English army had control over most of southern Scotland.
Unable to stop Charles II at the time, who had already begun marching onto England to retake the throne. Unfortunately though, by 1651, Cromwell and his army caught up with Charles II at Worcester in which Cromwell defeated him. Escaping through a series of safe houses, Charles II went into exile in France putting an end to the English Civil War.Original Authors: Nick
Edit Update Authors: M.A.Harris
Updated On: 06/03/2009