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The English Civil War of 1642 is some of the events that characterized world history after 1500. Although it is often argued that those who had been involved in the war were rather concerned about the Monarchical rule and wanted to replace it with Republican rule, various factors participated in instigating and triggering the war. For instance, the 1642 Civil War is much attributed to the conflicting attitudes that the residents had towards the royal authority while on the other hand, issues to do with religion equally played a role, which would escalate into major conflict. Particularly, King Charles I had the outright believe that he was exercising his rule under the Divide Right of Kings. In this sense, Charles believed himself as a King chosen by God and therefore, the decisions he made would not be questioned or challenged in any sense. However, the ideology did not auger well with the faction that believed that there ought to have been a limit as with regard to the Royal authority. In their view, the people through their representative were to have more say on the manner in which the nation was being run or governed. Hence, the paper outlines the historical events that defined the war with a detailed description of how religion, Parliament influence and money contributed to the English Civil War 1642.
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Major Events of the War
The English Civil War dates back to 1642 when King Charles I made a decision on raising his royal standards in Nottingham. The decision had been driven by the split between Charles and the Parliament. In this case, neither the Parliament nor Charles was willing on backing down over the set principles. Therefore, a war was inevitable as this was the only way through which things were to be set straight. The situation led to a major split in the country, with people allied to both parties, either supporting the Parliament or the King. For the King, he had relied on the support of west and northern England. On the other hand, the Parliament had a broader support from the east and south. However, in garnering support by each side, the situation is said to have been more confused. For example, for the local landowners, they had been wooed, they were being wooed by either side to raise their regiments (). In this case, the landowners played a significant role in the war because they could influence or balance the power between the two parties. The war would also see troop recruited from as far as Scotland, and Ireland as well as the soldiers who fought the Thirty Years War. The locally Trained Bands were equally included into the war. Therefore, the war attracted a diverse supply of troops and as such, would lead to the variation in the quality and composition of the troops. The variability of the soldiers also meant a difference in the quality of the command, and as such, the war had attracted amateurs.
One of the aspects or specifics of the war is that the Parliament had anticipated and prepared for the war. The control of the parliament would be seen from the manner in which they were marginally more prepared, commanding London and main trading ports like Plymouth, Bristol, and Hull (). The Parliament also received better support from the navy and as such, was responsible for the better supply. However, for the Parliament, a major impeding factor was the fear of committing entirely to war because failure or defeat would have meant treason. The war began at Midlands, as the Parliament forces being guided by Earl of Essex confronted the royalist soldiers led by Prince Rupert. Another confrontation occurred at the Powick Bridge, 23rd September 1642. During the confrontation, the royalist soldiers gained a little victory, and this would spar little fear on the Parliament forces. A major version of the war took place a month later, at Edgehill, Warwickshire, although it proved inconclusive as both sides showed their unreliability, with no side gaining any advantage or progress in the war(). A critical point of the war was when Charles tried to make advancement to London, being forced back at Turnham Green as the large parliamentary forces confronted him.
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1643 was a successful year for the royalist, as they began well, with the campaign season going in their favor. For instance, the term ‘Royalist Summer’ was coined to show how the group had marched and advanced in the war through endless victories. The year marked the capture of Bristol and Lord Hopton’ victories within the southwest region meant further victories for the royalists. Up north, things looked grim for the Parliament with Lord Fairfax’s army being defeated at Adwalton Moor. However, the victories were neither sufficing for the Royals to have a complete dominance and as such, the parliament got the chance to fight back. The year ended with the war being inconclusive, and the Parliament left with limited army officers to fight and guide the war.
The war would continue in 1644, with the Scots Covenanter forces entering the war in support of the parliament and with their influence, York would be put under siege. Despite the response from the royalists, the strong combined Parliament force smashed their attack and eventually, the North remained under the influence and custody of the parliament. Through Sir William Waller and Earl of Essex, plans were being arranged to capture Charles although he would slip out of Oxford. Further defeats by the Parliament army weakened the royalists, with Charles heading south but the parliament army joined force in a bid to break the royalists.
One of the advancements in the war was the Self-Denying Ordinance law passed by the parliament in 1645, stating that the members of the Parliament were not to take any command or order from the armies. The basis for introducing the law was to ensure more professionalism and command in the army, although only Oliver Cromwell and Sir. Thomas Fairfax were exempted from the law. In this sense, a new model army was formed, combining the force of Earl of Manchester, Waller, and Essex. Through this strategic approach or advancement, the parliament received a boast of being led by an army that had the possibility of ending the war. Through this ordinance, the Royalist Oxford army was pursued. The events that followed were the series of First Civil War battles as well as sieges that would eventually lead to the total defeat of the royalists and a major victory to the Parliament led forces. 1646 saw the last pitch battle being fought at Stow-on-the-Wold. The final events marked the surrender of King Charles I, where he surrendered to the Scots in Newark, at Southwell, 5th May 1646. Handing over of King Charles I to the parliament practically ended the war, with the Royalist garrison in Harlech Castle, Wales surrendered in 1647, May 13th.
Causes of the War
Religion has been regarded as one of the major contributors to the English Civil War. Religion played a significant role in the European conflicts, especially the raging wars between the Protestantism and the Catholicism. At the point Of King Charles, I rule, his reign had been marked by the distrust of the Roman Catholics, especially since the reign of Queen Mary I saw the prosecution of many Protestants. The memory of attack from the Roman Catholics on England were apparent with the Spanish Armada of 1588, Gunpowder Plot, 1605 and the plot by the Catholic to blow up James I in the parliament house as well as the Thirty Years War all signified a major religious conflict instigated by the fact that the Roman Catholics were focused on seeing to it that the Protestantism ideology was wiped out in the entire of Europe. King Charles had a strong ascription towards religion, basing his argument that he was ruling with the Divine Right of Kings. He had a greater preference for the High Anglican worship style, using rituals, ceremonies, and ornamentation. In this case, he regarded the positions of priests and bishops as outright outstanding. However, all did not go well with the Protestants as they viewed his beliefs and perceptions to be promoting Catholicism. The appointment of Archbishop Laud to be part of the high priests also brought about major divisions and distrust from the Protestants. His appointment would see the introduction of a new Payer Book, a revision of the English Prayer Book. The introduction of this book marked the beginning of trouble, as the riots broke out, in Edinburgh, with the protests that the new book was quite similar to the Catholicism prayers. A major war was raging as this was being viewed as an attack on the Protestant religion and infringing on their freedom of worship. The refusal by Scots to adopt the Prayer Book was regarded by Charles I as being disrespectful to the royal authority. In 1639 for instance, King Charles tried to enforce the new Prayer Book to Scots by sending an army, and from this point, King Charles was making a war declaration on the Protestants. These factors would be responsible for the civil war that broke out in 1642.
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Nonetheless, money has been singled out as a major contributory factor to the English Civil War 1962. More so, King Charles lacked money, caused by his father, King James, who had lived a lavish life thereby depleting the royal treasury. On the other hand, the cost of running Charles I’s household was equally high and costly. Particularly, as a patron of the arts, King Charles had spent a lot of the money on musicians assigned to entertain his court and majorly buying works of art. The situation meant that King Charles had to rely on the Parliament on handouts constantly and this would also mean asking the Parliament to grant more taxes. However, the Parliament would not heed the advice on giving more money and in refused, Charles sought more sources through forced loan. In this sense, he forced the tax levies without seeking the consent of the parliament. Any refusal to pay for the loan would result in imprisonment even without a trial. As this continued, resentment and discontent was growing among the subjects, and this would lead to the enactment of the Petition of Right in 1628, barring the king from levying taxes on subjects without seeking the Parliament having to assent to such requests. Although the law was introduced, King Charles did not obey it, and the petition never got the chance to be enacted as a statute.
The influence of the Parliament in controlling sources of income led to Charles dismissing its authority and beginning a ‘Personal Rule’. In this sense, he would seek the possible non-parliament sources of income. Mainly, he exhausted and exploited the royal powers by imposing knighthood fees on the land owners. Other tactics were the selling of the monopolies to the rich merchants, although the Parliamentary Statute had forbidden this decision. He used his powers to reinstate the forests into the ancient limits to get the chance to levy forest fines on those who had found themselves within the newly created boundaries. Other actions would include hi demand for the ship money targeting all the England counties. Besides, after being defeated by in the First Bishop’ War, Charles recalled the parliament asking for money to campaign against the Scots. However, the parliament would decline this request, and this would lead to his decision of dissolving the parliament. The huge debts would lead Charles to turn to the Parliament, but the members seized the chance to request and air their proposals for reforms. From this, the Parliament showed its discontent and distrust in Charles I rule. It had to pay for the unsuccessful Bishops’ Wars and also pay the Covenanters.
The reign of James I marked a major breakdown in the relationship between the Monarchy and the Parliament. The problem was then shifted to Charles I second. The parliament had refused any calls for money and funding and was against the tax levies. For instance, the Short Parliament in 1640 called to raise money to fund the Second Bishop’s War was declined.
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The English Civil War of 1642 remains to be one of the significant events in the world’s history that shaped the politics and rule in England and Europe. Of particular emphasis are the events that led to the war. As the paper outlines, religion was a major factor at play because the majority Protestants who were in the parliament were against the imposition of the Catholicism values by King Charles who believed himself as a divine King chosen by God. On the other hand, extravagant and lavish lifestyle led King Charles into debts and this would lead to fall out with the Parliament that had to approve sources of income and the taxation. In return, Charles would consider his own means (non-parliamentary means) for funding the many Bishop Battles he had waged. Finally, the parliament played a major role in instigating the war, more so protesting the ideas of King Charles I. The strong army by the Parliament side fought to the end to see the fall and surrender of King Charles I.
- Charles I. Ending of Hostilities. 10 June, 1646.
- Russell, Conrad. “Why did Charles I fight the Civil War?.” History Today 34. 6(1984): 31.
- Newman, P.R. The Old Service: Royalist Regimental Colonels and the Civil War, 1642-46. Manchester University Press, 1993.
- Parliament. “The Petition of Right”. 7 July, 1628.
- Parliament, House of Commons. The Self-Denying Ordinance. 3 April 1645.
- Brown, John. “The Kings Majesties Alarm For Open War”. August 25. 1642.