English Civil War

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English Civil War

English Civil War


In the 1640s, when the Civil War took place, England was one of the main powers in Europe. It was a constitutional monarchy and Charles I had been the Monarch since 1625. The war was the result of a quarrel between the King and the English Parliament over the question of weather the King or Parliament should have the last word in governing the country.

After his unsuccessful attempt to arrest five members of Parliament on January 4 1642, Charles1 left London and both sides prepared for war. Both of the armies were of equal numbers, each around 13,000 men2. The Royalists were superior in cavalry until the formation of Parliament's New Model Army in 1645. However, Parliament held the richer South and East and controlled London, the majority of the ports, and the navy. Parliament could charge taxes. The Monarch was dependent on his supporters generosity for ready money.

Charles I raised his standard at Nottingham in August 1642 and a number of inconclusive encounters followed. Although unchecked at Edgehill in October 1642, he abandoned an advance on London when confronted by a Parliamentary force at Turnham Green. He then withdrew to Oxford, which became his military headquarters. In 1643 the Royalists at Abwalton Moor won control of almost all Yorkshire on June 30. At the same time, Parliament was victorious at Winceby and took Lincoln. In the South-west there were Royalists victories at Lansdown and Broadway Down in July. Charles's nephew, Prince Rupert, captured Bristol. After the inconclusive first Battle of Newbury, in September, both sides sought allies. Parliament in the Solemn League and Covenant bought Scottish military aid. The King made peace with the Irish, thereby freeing troops for deployment in Britain.

Despite the Parliamentary victory at Marston Moor on July 2, in general the Royalist operations of 1644 were the more successful. It was only in 1645, following the formation of the New Model Army that the war took a decisive turn. The last Royalist army was beaten at Langport on July 10. The Scots swept through the North of England, and Parliamentary forces through the South-west. The year 1646 saw the final disbandment of Royalist's troops and the surrender of Oxford. The Scots handed Charles over as a prisoner to the Parliamentarians when they left England in January 1647. Charles was the tried and executed in January 1649.

This paper will assess the historians' views on who were the royalists and who were the parliamentary forces. It is also about a comparison and contrast of the historians' views of who were the royalists and who were the parliamentarians.

The Nature of the Struggle

The struggle has also been called the Puritan Revolution because the religious complexion of the king's opponents was prevailingly Puritan, and because the defeat of the king was accompanied by the abolition of episcopacy. That name, however, overemphasises the religious element at the expense of the constitutional issues and the underlying social and economic factors. Most simply stated, the constitutional issue was one between ...
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