What Caused The English Civil War? Essay Sample

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This essay is about the English Civil War, and how it was caused. In June 1642, Civil War broke out. It is difficult to say exactly why Civil War broke out because there were problems between Parliament and King Charles I. The English Civil War was fought to see who should have the most power over England, Parliament or Charles I. The King believed that his right to rule came from God, so Charles had more say in governing than Parliament. Parliament wanted more say in governing the country, but the King wouldn’t let Parliament have a say. Some people took sides with Charles I and some people took sides with Parliament, but not in a simple way. Many families were split up because they chose sides and fought with each other. Parliament’s supporters were nicknamed ‘Roundheads’, and the Royalists were nicknamed ‘Cavaliers’. The people who didn’t take sides were forced to make a choice between the King and Parliament. The English Civil War was caused by lots of problems, all of which included Charles.

Charles had disagreements with other countries, many of which led to battle, such as the war with Spain which Charles lost in 1625. There were other wars with different countries. Charles went to war in 1628 against the French and lost. In 1640 Charles went to battle with the Scots and lost. He had to pay the Scots to leave England. This war caused financial difficulties. In 1626 Charles asked Parliament to raise money for him and Parliament refused because they thought Charles wasn’t spending his money wisely. He was mainly spending his money on artwork by Van Dyke and Ruben. Parliament thought that Charles I should be setting better examples to his people by spending his money on things that were needed. This caused general money problems which were reflected in the political area. In 1629 Charles locked MPs out of Parliament for 11yrs. This made Parliament strongly believe that they should have more say in running the country. Charles firmly believed in the ‘Divine Rights of Kings’, and that it was his right to rule his country. Charles appeared to favour Catholicism and many feared that Charles was bringing up his children as Roman Catholics.

There had been religious discontent since the reign of Henry VIII. Between 1639 and 1640 The Bishops’ Wars were fought between the Scots and the English forces led by Charles I. Charles wanted to enforce Anglican reforms onto the Scottish church. Charles was furious that his proposals were rejected by the Scottish Assembly at Glasgow in 1638 and quickly tried to form an English force to march on Scotland in 1639. As Charles did not have the money to do this he was forced to leave Scotland without fighting a battle. Charles found out that Scotland had been plotting with the French so he decided to launch a military expedition. This time, Charles called Parliament in order to get money. When Parliament formed, they immediately wanted to discuss grievances against the government, and were generally opposed to any military operation. Their demands were that Charles’ evil ministers must be punished, ministers should be appointed who will advise Charles to follow sensible policies and some of these ministers should come from Parliament. Other demands were that the King must get rid of courts such as the Star Chamber which allowed him to look upon his opponents, regular meetings of Parliament must be held and last but not least there can be no taxes without Parliament’s agreement.

Charles resolved these demands by banishing other ministers (including Laud) to prison, critics who worked for Charles within parliament were appointed Charles’ advisors and the courts of the Star Chamber and the High Commission were abolished. Charles completed the other demands by making a rule that Parliament should meet at least three times a year, he made ships money illegal and the Tunnage and Poundage Act which meant Charles could collect customs duties for only two months more. The long Parliament could not be dissolved by Charles without its agreement. The tension between Charles and Parliament was still great. This tension was brought to a head on January 4th,1642 when Charles attempted to arrest five members of Parliament. This attempt failed, since they were spirited away before the King’s troops arrived.

Charles left London and both he and Parliament stocked military resources and recruited troops. Charles officially began the war by raising his standard at Nottingham in August, 1642. At this stage of the war, Parliament had no wish to kill the king. It was hoped that Charles could be reinstated as ruler, but with a more constructive attitude towards Parliament. The majority of the country were neutral in the Civil War, and both sides only had about 13,000 men. The areas of Royalists support tended to be the North, West and Wales. Parliament were supported by the richer South and East, including London. Parliament also held most of the ports, since the merchants that ran them saw more profit in a Parliament-lead country. Parliament definitely had more access to more resources than the King, and could collect taxes. Charles had to depend on donations from his supporters to fund his armies.

Charles’ supporters were made to give his armies three things. These three things were food, taxes to keep the army going and themselves to fight for him. This effected communities and families because they got split up. Village homes were destroyed and many innocent people suffered. Some people tried to stop the attacks on their villages.. Before the English Civil War started there were many problems between Charles and Parliament. Both Parliament and the King ordered armies to be organised. People were forced to make a choice about which side they were going to support. There were many battles between the King and other countries and Charles lost all of them. Charles then paid the Scots to leave England and that set off money problems between the King and Parliament.

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