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The Civil War in England


The civil war was the outcome of the cold war that was going on between the King and the Parliament over power for four decades. This started with Stuart’s reign and broke out as a civil war in Charles I’s reign. The in-between ruler King James I kept patience and managed without any open war.


A) Dissolving the Parliaments.

  • Charles I was restricted to get money or collect it from people without the order of the Parliament. So he dissolved the first parliament and levied taxes by his own authority.

  • He again called on a Parliament which was again resistant to his authority. So this time he dissolved it and imprisoned whoever opposed him.

  • Due to some circumstances he called on the third parliament in 1628. This parliament drew a charter named, the Petition of Rights.

  • According to this charter, the King has no rights to sanction money on his own or levy tax to people or imprison people without consultant. The king in need of money signed but later his attitudes differed which made the parliamentarians accuse him.

  • The king dissolved the parliament once again and imprisoned his haters. Then he ruled without any parliament for over 11 years.

  • During this period the king trusted two, they are: Thomas Wentworth (who became Lord Wentworth and Earl of Strafford later) – took care of the entire civil administration and Archbishop Laud- who managed all the ecclesiastical matters in the country.

B) Scotland and it’s Presbyterianism:

  • The national religion of Scotland was Presbyterianism.

  • On the advice of Archbishop Laud, King Charles, tried to bring Anglicanism in practice but, the first day where the sermons were performed created a riot which became a revolution.

  • The King made peace with Scotland as he did have any source to fight the rebels. And Presbyterianism once again became the national religion of England.

C) The Ship-money:

  • Following the advice of Thomas Wentworth, the King thought of extending his Revenue by raising ship-money from people.

  • Usually it was collected to the people from coastal areas only. But this time he charged the entire country.

  • This was opposed by many especially a rich man from Buckinghamshire, John Hampton opposed it by stating the Petition of Rights, that the King has no rights to collect taxes without the approval of Parliament.

  • And so, this case was taken to the court for justice.

  • The judge gave the verdict in favour of the King.

  • This incident provoked the irritation of the people.

D) The Long Parliament:

  • Charles again under pressed circumstances called on the Parliament after 11 years of his independent reign.

  • This Parliament lasted for years and so this was called ‘the Long Parliament’.

  • Again the parliament was not that favourable to the King and his trusties.

  • This Parliament was dominated by Puritans and they wanted to destroy Episcopacy (collective body of bishops).

  • Many disagreed to it and supported the King.

  • This time the whole nation was divided into two. i) the Royalists and ii) the Roundheads.

E) The Royalists:

  • The people who sided with the King are called the Royalists or the Cavaliers.

  • A majority of Nobel men and wealthy men, the great body of the clergy, both the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, all who supported Episcopacy and the Anglican ritual and all those liked the splendour of dress and a pleasure-seeking life joined his side.

  • The Roman Catholics also supported the King, because the Queen was a Roman Catholic and the King does tolerate them.

  • The king collected his army from Hertfordshire and Gloucestershire.

F) The Roundheads:

  • The people supporting the Parliament were nicknamed as the Roundheads.

  • Freeholders, merchants and shopkeepers of the towns, all the Protastants, Non- Conformists, municipal corporations and the majority of the House of Commons were in the Roundheads party.

  • London was the stronghold of the Parliamentarians.


A) First encounter:

  • Both the armies were led by great Earls and Lords.

  • The armies met at a place called, Edgehill which was twenty-nine miles north-west of Oxford.

  • The Parliamentary army did not perform well which disappointed Oliver Cromwell who fought along.

B) The Triple- attack:

  • Charles entered Oxford and made it his centre of all his military operations on October, 29, 1642.

  • In 1643, he planned to make a triple-attack on London from north, south and east directions where he has friends.

  • But that was a failure.

C) Roundheads under Pym:

  • The army under Pym made an agreement with the Scots.

  • The combined army defeated the Royalists army at Marston Moor near York in July 1644.

D) New Model Army:

  • Oliver Cromwell reorganised the Parliamentarian army which he called as the New Model Army.

  • It had 20,000 men in it.

  • Fairfax was the Commander-in-Chief.

  • Oliver Cromwell was the Lieutenant-General of the cavalry.

  • On June, 14, 1645 this army defeated the King at Naseby in Northamptonshire.

  • This defeat declined all the wealth of the King.


  • 5th May, 1646, the King flew from Oxford in disguise and surrendered to the Scots believing they will help him.

  • 20th June, 1646, the Oxford was captured.

  • 30th January, 1647, the Scots knowing that the King would not agree to suppress Episcopacy, they surrendered him to the Parliament.

  • 6th December, 1648, all the Presbyterians were turned away from the Parliament by Colonel Thomas Pride. (as the parliament was filled with Presbyterians in dominance.)

  • The assembly of the remaining was called, the Rump.

  • January, 1649, the Rump, set up a High Court of Justice consisting of 67 members to try the King for treason.

  • 19th January, the trail started and remained for a week.

  • On January 27, the death sentence of Charles I was read out to him by John Bradshaw, the President of the Court.

  • 30th January, 1649 the King was beheaded in front of a vast crowd.


  • The death of the King dropped Cavaliers from power. The hit was hard. Even after restoration the hit’s effect remained.

  • It gave path for England to prepare for Parliament democracy England.

  • The Puritans were abolished after restoration though this effect that caused gave people the spirit of independence.

  • This civil war marked the beginning of political parties in England. The Royalists and Roundheads remained with changes in their names.

  • It inaugurated revolutionary changes which were more or less settled with the Glorious Revolution in 1688.


Social History of England by Louise Creighton

An Introduction to the Social History of England by A.G.Xavier

A Short History of Social Life in England by M B Synge

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