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The Stuart English Civil War

The English Civil War (or as it is more correctly called, the British Civil War) was a war between the English king Charles I and his supporters on one side and the English Long Parliament, which was led by Oliver Cromwell on the other side. The war began in the summer of 1642 and lasted seven long years until early 1649 when Charles I was deposed. Charles I was subsequently tried and executed by members of the Parliament.

In Britain, this war was often called simply "the civil war" which has led many to confuse it with the American Civil War. The English Civil War was by no means the only civil war ever fought in England or Britain although it is arguably the most significant one. Also known as the English Revolution, this war was also called The Great Rebellion especially among royalist circles.

Before The English Civil War, the English parliament was not actually a permanent part of the English government but rather temporary advisory committees who were consulted by the English monarchy on such matters as tax revenues. These committees were subject to dissolution at any time the monarchy deemed their purpose unjustified.

The relationship between the monarchy and the gentry was a tenuous one at best. The sole responsibility for collecting taxes lay in the hands of the gentry and the monarchy was heavily reliant on their accomplishment of this duty, in order to ensure the smooth collection of tax revenues. The monarchy however had little power to compel the gentry to do so. The Parliament for its part, allowed the gentry to meet and send tax policy proposals to the king in the form of bills although they had neither the power nor the means to force their wishes upon the monarchy.

A series of events followed which forged a widening gap between Charles I and the Parliament. Among these was his marriage to a French Roman Catholic Princess and his appointing of his personal favourite George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham, as the head of his armies in the controversial European Wars.

Parliament was opposed to English involvement in these wars to begin with and the appointment of George Villiers did not make them any happier. After Parliament dismissed Villiers for failure to perform his duties to their satisfaction, Charles then dissolved Parliament, which only served to widen the rift between both parties.

While Charles managed to get by without the existence of Parliament for more than a decade in a period infamously known as the Eleven Years of Tyranny, this period ended when he embarked on a succession of expensive wars that largely had disastrous results. These wars, which were known as the Bishop Wars of 1639 and 1640, were waged against the Scots in the north and their dismal results led to Charles recalling the Parliament in 1640.

The relationship between the monarch and Parliament failed to improve however and after the English Parliament's blatant disregard for the King's authority, war broke out between Parliament and a group of people who remained loyal to the King.

Original Authors: Doods Pangburn
Edit Update Authors: RPN
Updated On: 26/02/2007

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