09 Jul 2009

Sample Essay: English Civil War

The English Civil War fought between Parliamentarians and Royalists between 1642 and 1651 which consisted of a succession of armed disagreements and political intrigues. The first and civil wars were potholed the followers of King Charles I against the advocates of the Long Parliament. This paper focuses on the major causes of occurrence of English Civil war. Reason of English Civil war: The English Civil War occurred due to numerous reasons. The English Civil War began in 1642 when Charles I hoisted his royal standard in Nottingham.

Charles’ Personality:  One of the important causes of outbreak of the English civil war was the persona of Charles I.  The situation of the realm had started to turn down under the control of James I.  Charles had a very dissimilar personality as compared to James. By nature, he was egotistical and strongly believed in the rights of kings. He had observed the bitter affiliation between his father and Parliament and assessed that Parliament was totally imperfect. He had an image that king could not be immoral. His snobbery was ultimately led to execution of war (www.bbc.co.uk). Charles never anticipated becoming King because his elder brother, Henry had to resume the job of king, but when he expired unexpectedly in 1612. He hated having to rule with Parliament. He supposed that he had a capability to rule alone and do whatever he liked. Such views created more conflict between him and the MPs (Russell 1990). Another reason which caused English civil war was lack of funds in Charles monarchy. When his father James died in 1625, Charles came to the throne and at that time he had very little cash. Once Charles became King, the County Faction1 desired him to fight with the Catholics in Spain, so Charles implemented taxes on them to utilize in war. But they rebuffed to pay sufficient. That was great issue and no one stopped the occurrence of war. Parliament blamed the King that he was responsible for the outbreak of war (www.bbc.co.uk)

Marriage of Charles I was also an important ground in the eruption of the civil war. The issue was heated up with marriage of Charles with Henrietta Maria, who was French Catholic. That was objectionable to the Puritan and Parliament became more hardnosed in the new sovereignty. The public, particularly the Puritans were against the marriage and did not want to agree to Catholic as Queen. The quarrel heightened and caused to war.

Dispute between Charles and Parliament:   The split between Charles and Parliament had great disagreement on several issues. No one was willing to back down over the principles that they held and war was predictable to find the solutions of their conflict. The country was divided into two groups. One group consisted of those who advocated the king and another group of those who supported Parliament. Disagreement between Charles and parliament   were continually increasing over many issues. Charles disagreed with parliament mainly on the issues of money and religion in 1625 to 1629. In 1629, Charles followed the tactics of his father. The leaders of the parliamentary party Coke, John Pym, Sir John Eliot, and John Selden wanted ways to limit the powers of the king. The Parliament of 1625 approved him the right to collect taxes. When he failed to raise money without Parliament, he was compelled to call a new one in 1628. The new Parliament drew up the Petition of Right, and Charles accepted it in order to get his financial assistance. He continued to charge customs duties. This act was unacceptable to parliamentarians and they declared unlawful under the Petition of Right. He repudiated to conduct Parliament meet. When Members of Parliament arrived at Westminster they found that the doors were locked with large chains and padlocks. They were locked out for eleven years. Charles ruled by using the Court of Star Chamber. To increase funds for the king, the Court heavily fined those brought before it. Rich men were forced to buy titles. If they refused to pay, they were fined the same amount of money that would have cost for a title anyway. In 1635 Charles ordered that everyone in the country should pay Ship Money. This was previously a tax paid by coastal towns and villages to pay for the maintenance of the navy. The reason for executing such taxes was that coastal areas were most benefited from the navy’s security. Charles determined that everyone in the territory is benefited from the navy’s protection so everyone should pay taxes. Principally, Charles’s step was right, but this issue caused a more squabble between both sides. John Hampden was one of the influential men in the nation. He had been a Member of Parliament. He didn’t follow the order of Charles and refused to pay the new tax as Parliament had not agreed to it. During that time Parliament was also not assembling as Charles had locked the MP’s out. By 1642, relations between Parliament and Charles had worsened (Fletche 1981). The relationship was objectionable to Charles. In 1642, he went to Parliament with 300 soldiers to arrest his five main opponents. The Parliament already had a message in advance about the arrest by someone close to the king. They escaped timely and went to London to hide themselves from the King. Charles had shown his true side. Charles attempted to arrest five Members of Parliament because they challenged his policies. Even Charles sensed that these steps had created disagreement between him and Parliament. After six days, Charles left London and headed to Oxford to raise an army to battle Parliament for control of England. To arrange finance for a final resolution Charles had to call a new Parliament. The Long Parliament sat from 3 November, 1640. This time Charles did not sack Parliament and Parliament played its own tactics. Parliament blamed for what went immoral on the King’s consultants; Charles also tried to mend the gap by signing Strafford’s death warrant, passing a bill that permitted for Parliament not to be dissolved without its own approval, a bill making ship money unlawful and other bills that taken together bulldozed the support of prerogative government. All of these causes led to some important events in 1641 and 1642. It turned out that the implementation of Strafford had been a blunder. Without Strafford to control over Ireland, the Irish revolted in 1641.

These factors increased an impenetrable problem that who would control the Army, King or run Parliament. John Pym initiated through passing the Militia Bill and the Grand Remonstrance. It included the whole list of wrong activities; the Charles had done in his sovereignty. It was passed by 11 votes, which meant that while most of the Commons had earlier been against him, now almost half of them supported him. it was the King’s a foolish step. On the advice of his Queen Charles decided to detain the five ringleaders. On 4 January, 1642, Charles tried to get into the Commons to arrest the five MPs and found that after he and his guards had battered the door down, the MPs had been cautioned and were not present. This step turned the majority of Parliament members not in favor of him because it was held to infringe of Parliamentary freedom. Then the escaped MPs marched past up and down London protected by the Trained Bands, an army of part-time soldiers. After this, Charles escaped to Nottingham. He raised his standard and a civil war was erupted (Royal 2004).

Conclusion: The English Civil War of the seventeenth century was evidently a progress which virtually no one expected. The English Civil Wars commenced initially as a clash over monetary matters between the Charles I and Parliament.  The other causal issues of that time concerned the religion of the nation which at the time included Scotland, Ireland, and part of North America. The king’s peculiar behavior was major cause for upsurge of English civil war.


1)  FletcheAnthony. The Outbreak of the English Civil War. Publisher: New York University Press. Place of Publication: New York. Publication Year: 1981. Pp: 322.

2)  Royal, Trevor; “Civil War: The Wars of the Three Kingdoms 1638-1660”; Pub Abacus 2006

3)  Russell Conrad. The Causes of the English Civil War. Publisher: Clarendon Press. Place of Publication: Oxford. Publication Year: 1990. Page Number: 185, 161.

4)  The Causes of the English Civil War. http://www.bbc.co.uk.

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