English Civil War, 1642-1648

A.) Pre-History

King Charles I. had not called Parliament since 1628, trying to rule absolute. The Ulster massacre of protestants in 1641 forced him to sent a (costly) force to Ireland; when the Scots (on whom the Book of Common Prayer had been imposed by Archbishop Laud) rose in revolt, King Charles needed money and had to call Parliament.
In Parliament, a vocal minority of Puritans made demands which ultimately would increase the political influence of Parliament at the expense of the King. Charles attempted to have the Puritan leaders arrested during a Parliament session (Jan. 4th 1642); this act brought King and Parliament on a confrontation course.

B.) The Course of Events

Two forces, the Cavaliers (Royalists) and the Roundheads (Parliamentary Side) faced each other, the latter commanded by the Earl of Essex. The Battle of Edgehill Aug. 22nd 1642 was a Royalist victory. The Royalists took Bristol, but failed to take Gloucester (summer 1643). In January 1644, a Scottish army invaded (fighting alongside the Parliamentarians); in the Battle of Marston Moor (July 2nd) the Royalists were defeated; York surrendered July 16th. The leadership of the Parliamentarian forces quarreled.
In 1645, Cromwell's New Model Army appeared on the scene, a small, well-trained and highly motivated force. In the Battle of Naseby it defeated numerically superior Royalist forces (June 14th 1645). On May 5th 1646, King Charles surrendered to the Scots.

While the victorious New Model Army occupied London and debates over England's political future were held, King Charles escaped from Hampdon Court (Nov. 11th 1647). The victorious alliance of Scots and Parliamentarians, even the Parliamentarians themselves, was conflict-ridden, a fact Charles tried to exploit. First he offered reconciliation with the Scots; then, individual officers (holding fortified cities or fortresses) chose the side of the King (Pembroke, Carlisle, Berwick). A second civil war broke out. The Royalists suffered defeats in the Battles of Maidstone (June 1st 1648) and Preston (Aug. 17th 1648).

C.) Legacy

While moderate Parliamentarians supported negotiations with the King, Oliver Cromwell insisted on the King being tried for treason. Charles II. was sentenced and executed 1649. England entered into the era of Commonwealth and Protectorate. The war continued, in Ireland, Scotland and in King Charles II.' invasion of England 1651 (see Cromwell's Irish Campaign 1649-1653; Anglo-Scottish War 1650-1651).

British Civil Wars, Commonwealth and Protectorate, 1638-1660
Article English Civil War, from Wikipedia
The Causes of the English Civil War, from History Learnung Site
The English Civil War, from History Learning Site
English Civil War, from Spartacus Schoolnet
DOCUMENTS Documents on the English Civil War (9 Docs, 1638-1649), from Hillsdale

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on June 13th 2003, last revised on November 18th 2004

Click here to go Home
Click here to go to Information about KMLA, WHKMLA, the author and webmaster
Click here to go to Statistics

Impressum · Datenschutz