The English Civil Wars were faught between Charles I of England and a powerful body of his subjects, the parliamentarians. The Wars were to end with the defeat and execution of the King and the foundation of a short lived republican Commonwealth with a Huntingdon Gentleman at its head.

This was by many called a Puritan Revolution as many of the king's opponents were Puritans. The conflict was to be simply stated by others to have been a war between a king who claimed to rule by divine right and a Parliament who's right to rule or govern the nation independent of the Crown. Charles was to make none of the concessions that his father had made so the conflict was set into motion. Parliaments attempts to restrict the King's powers failed, Parliament was not called from 1629 to 1640 and only then because Charles wanted money for the Bishops' Wars. In the 1630's Charles attempted to impose a prayer book in Scotland and this led to riots and War. Charles invaded to restore order and this ended in a farce and failing miserably he was forced to sign the Treaty of Berwick in 1639. Charles could only do this whilst he had no Parliament, but this led to great British resentment, and for his personal rule to collapse, and Parliamentto be returned.

At the same time Charles recalled to Court his Lord Deputy of Ireland, Thomas Wentworth Earl of Strafford. A Yorkshire Landowner, Wentworth was a man of great capabilities. He had made great reforming moves in finance and administration, but in the process made groups of Northern and Irish landowners and State Officials resentful. A successful Scottish invasion in the Autumn of 1640 left Charles having to sign the Treaty of Ripon and accept a temporary occupation in the North by the Scottish. Charles summoned the Peers for advice and recalled his Parliament, the 'Long Parliament'. In an attempt to appease the Parliament Charles allowed his advisor Strafford to be impeached by Parliament and quickly executed.

Parliament tried to promote the 'Grand Remonstrance' which contained a list of the evils of Charles' reign. It also attempted to gather an army with a militia bill. Charles organised the army himself and refused many of the Parliaments demands. Attempts were made by both sides to obtain popular support, Charles was backed by the nobles, Anglicans and Catholics, Parliament backed by the trading and artisan groups, with some support from the Scotch Covenanters.

The First Civil War between the two parties was mainly indecisive, until the tide was turned by the ability of Cromwell with the victories at Marston Moor and Naseby. The King surrendered in 1645 and the first civil war ended.

Charles eventually escaped in 1647 and the Second Civil War was faoght. Thomas Pride (fated to be a regicide) caused Pride's Purge where he led a regiment to Parliament and expelled Royalist and Presbyterian members who opposed the condemnation of Charles I in 1648. Also thrown out were those who were anti-army. The survivors, The Rump Parliament' sentenced and beheaded Charles I for treason in 1649.

There had been many gains for the English in the War. The middle class emerged, religious toleration was increased and the position between the Parliament and the King was settled when the King was restored in 1660. The Glorious Revolution in 1688 was to confirm many of the gains.


1629 Charles I dissolves Parliament determined to govern without one.
1633 Archbishop Laud translated to be Archbishop of Canterbury
1634-40 Ship Money Case
1637 Hampden's case supports Charles I's claim to collect Ship money
1637-40 Breakdown of Charles's government of Scotland and two attempts to impose his will by force
1640 Long Parliament summoned
1641 Remodelling of the government in England and Scotland; abolition of conciliar courts.
1642 King Charles raised standard at Nottingham. The Battle of Edgehill (Indecisive).
1644 Battle of Marston Moor (Parliamentary Victory)
1645 Battle of Naseby (Parliamentary Victory)
1646 Charles I surrendered to Scottish Army.
1648 Royalist and Presbyterian rising supressed by Cromwell and New Model Army.
1649 Charles I beheaded.
1649-50 Cromwell Invaded Ireland
1650 Cromwell defeated Royalists under "King Charles II" at Dunbar, Scotland.
1651 Battle of Worcester, the last battle of the Civil War, Parliamentary Victory.


Useful Links

The King Charles Society

English Civil War Society

The Sealed Knot
Sir John Owens Regiment of Foote


May 2006
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