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From the Puritan point of view, James hated their religion and their political ideas. The Puritans also reacted against the systematic abuse of granting royal patents and monopolies to the worthless favorites of James. In turn, James threatened to drive the Puritans out of the country and so in , the Puritans established the "Holy Commonwealth" in the New World. James died in and was succeeded by his son, Charles I , r. Unlike his father, Charles was personable and dignified, temperate and level headed.

He patronized the artistic work of Flemish painters like Van Dyke and Rubens. He also won his popularity by his anti-Spanish policies and by sponsoring a government which was both benevolent and efficient. For the most part, Charles stood on the side of the common people and tried to protect them. However, like his father, Charles believed in the divine right theory of kingship. This court convinced him of the righteousness of his actions. But Charles was even more pro-Catholic and anti-Puritan that his father.

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He also had a French wife, Henrietta Maria. The first major explosion with Parliament came when Charles entrusted affairs to George Villiers, the Duke of Buckingham , who was a poor administrator of men and things. Parliament tried to impeach him because he refused to vote supplies for the Thirty Years' War. Charles dissolved Parliament and resorted to an illegal "forced loan. This was a landmark legal decision. The king would now observe the rights of his subjects which, among other things, demanded an end to the billeting of troops in private homes and trials by martial law.

The Petition also declared arbitrary taxation and imprisonment as illegal.

A second session of Parliament in showed Charles' duplicity. Parliament passed two resolutions. First, whoever brought innovations in religion into the country was an enemy of the kingdom. This resolution was directed against Charles and his support of Catholicism. Second, whoever levied customs duties without consent of Parliament was an enemy of the kingdom. In short, because Charles lacked the proper statesmanship, the Puritan Revolt began. Parliament was not called again for eleven years. The Puritans made their appeal to the defense of the constitution and the rights of all English subjects, specifically to protect religious toleration.

But the basic issue was the divine right theory of kingship. According to the Puritan argument, divine right destroyed any and all appeals to the law. It eroded property rights and threatened personal rights as well. Most Englishmen simply wanted to limit the king's prerogative to rule. Even in , both Houses wanted to preserve the King's prerogative, restore Parliament's privileges and restore liberty to all English subjects. Charles was weak in financial and administrative affairs.

He could raise money only through Parliament, which in the early 16th century was restrained by the landed gentry.

What caused the English Civil War? - 5 Minute History

Administrative power came from the local gentry or Justices of the Peace and sheriffs, who resented the attempt by the central government to remove their authority. In terms of religion, Charles had a powerful entity to control, the Church of England. The Anglican Church was produced by the Reformation. The major question was simply this -- after the break with Rome how should the Church be reformed? The Puritans arose in late 16th century and basically wanted more change than Elizabeth would allow and so they concentrated on changing the method of governing the Church.

There were many sorts of Puritans. All were Calvinist, all believed in predestination, and all believed it necessary to purify the Church from Catholic popery. The Presbyterians, for instance, wanted a system of Church government based on a hierarchy of Elders. The Independents or Congregationalists, wanted each congregation to be legally independent of every other one. The individual Church was the highest authority. And finally, the Separatists wanted to separate from the established Church altogether.

Eventually, the Puritan challenge split into two groups -- those who stressed reform of Church structure, and those who stressed liberty of conscience and religious toleration. The Long Parliament tried to impeach some of Charles' favorites and went on to abolish the high courts of the Star Chamber and the High Commission. Charles accepted these developments but meanwhile built an army to counteract Parliament.

In , a Triennial Act was passed which provided that Parliament be called into session at least once every three years. Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford was impeached and ultimately executed for treason while the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Laud , was impeached and imprisoned. In October , a rebellion against English rule in Ireland broke out.

Although the king raised an army to defeat the rebellion, there were those in Parliament who feared Charles would use the army against them. Under the leadership of John Pym c. The Remonstrance also demanded church reform and parliamentary control of the army and over royal appointments.

Such arguments split the parliamentary party and as a result, many moderates went over to Charles. In January , Charles made the bold step of attempting to arrest John Pym and four other opposition leaders. By this time, civil war was inevitable. Charles raised his standard at Nottingham on August 22, At first, Parliamentary forces were routed until , at Marston Moor, where the Kings forces were checked. Merit not birth or wealth became the only criteria for membership -- social class meant nothing. Cromwell was a solid member of the gentry and lived the life of a country gentleman.

He spent a year at Cambridge where he studied mathematics and law. He was brought up a Puritan and experienced his spiritual conversion at the age of twenty-eight. He belonged by birth to the English ruling class and came from a family that did not really have a great amount of wealth but certainly wielded much power. In actual fact, he was from a Reformation family and his wealth was relatively new.

Treason and The State by Orr, Alan D

His family intermarried with other such families when Cromwell sat in the Long Parliament of at the time, twenty of his kinsmen sat as well. He married into a wealthy manufacturing family and his eldest daughter was married to General Henry Ireton , Cromwell's right hand man in the New Model Army. Cromwell's background helps to explain why he was opposed to the "leveling" movements within the Puritan Revolution itself.

He worked to support authority and property and believed that class distinctions were the cornerstone of society. But what did Cromwell object to in Charles I? On the one hand, Cromwell abhorred the arbitrary taxation of subjects which meant that property was not safe. On the other hand, and perhaps of greater importance, as a confirmed Independent, Cromwell believed in religious freedom and toleration.

Contemporaries and later critics saw Cromwell as a hypocrite. However, he sincerely believed that God had chosen him to lead His people and he attributed his military victories to God rather than to his own strategy and tactic. On January 1, , Charles I was charged as a "tyrant, traitor and murderer; and a public and implacable enemy to the Commonwealth of England.

The only people Cromwell allowed into Parliament were those who supported the trial -- this was the Rump Parliament. Cromwell at first opposed bringing the king to justice but then took a leading role at his trial. Charles, of course, never accepted the judgment that he had broken the social contract with his people -- "Princes are not bound to give an account of their actions but to God alone. No one was really safe, not even the king.

A charge of guilt was reached on January Seven days later, Charles I was sentenced :. For all which treasons and crimes this Court doth adjudge that he, the said Charles Stuart, as a tyrant, traitor, murderer, and public enemy to the good people of this nation, shall be put to death by the severing of his head from his body. With the death of Charles, the monarchy was also abolished and a republic declared. By , nearly everyone in England and had enough of the Puritan experiment in government.

Charles II , r. Thus ended the Civil War and began the era of the Restoration. The significance of the Puritan Revolt stretches outside the years to The English Civil War at home was another. The effect of the Puritan Revolt in America is clear. But the effect on the continent was small since the Puritans did not universalize their message. Nevertheless, the Puritan Revolution was a bold movement in European history. The major weapon was the New Model Army, the first mass, democratic army. To fight Charles I, Parliament needed its own army and so the New Model Army marked a break in tradition linking the English crown with the army.

The New Model Army was motivated by a new spirit -- these were men who fought not for money but for service and belief: "We were not a mercenary Army, hired to serve any Arbitrary power of a state, but called forth and conjured by the several Declarations of Parliament, to the defense of our own land and the people's just rights and liberties. On one side, stood Cromwell, Ireton and the officers, and on the other, the common soldiers. In August , Ireton drew up the " Heads of Proposals ," a document that retained a government by kings and the two Houses of Parliament.

The militia would be controlled by the Lower House. The soldiers responded with " The Agreement of the People ," which specified manhood suffrage, equal electoral divisions, biennial Parliaments, and freedom of religion and equality before the law. The Putney Debates which followed have a modern feel to them since what we are witnessing is democracy in the making. Colonel Rainborough, who represented the commoners, argued that every man who contracts with a civil government ought to have a voice in that government. Ireton argued that giving men without private property a political voice would endanger liberty and property.

It was December all over again — the officers were planning a coup. Their gamble failed. They succeeded in removing Richard from power, but at the cost of losing control of the London crowd. The factional politics created by this political vacuum destabilised the government. In the uncertainty that followed — which seemed to many observers to threaten a third civil war — General Monck purged his Scottish army of republican radicals and began a long march south.

Owen and other republicans wrote to ask his intentions, but his answers were ambiguous and evasive. What was clear was that the revolution was being unwound. Republican idealists had scuttled the government in the hope of renewing the ideals of the revolution. It was too much to hope for. The English republic did not collapse because of external pressures. After all, the revolutionary regime had excelled in its military activities: having conquered Ireland, Scotland and Jamaica, and having quashed the last serious Royalist rebellions, its future might have appeared to be secure.

Trial of Archbishop Laud

Instead, the republic collapsed in upon itself. It grew increasingly indebted to the military and by the later s the arrears of pay that were owed to soldiers grew so significant as to threaten to bankrupt the regime. Its administrators pursued different political settlements for England, Ireland and Scotland, creating strategic ambiguities as to what a republican government should look like and the extent to which it should draw in at a local level the traditional social leaders.

Most seriously, the republic proved to be incapable of sustaining the religious and political ideals upon which it had been founded. Skip to main content. Google Tag Manager. History Matters. The End of the English Republic. The English republic was brought down by the same forces that brought it to power. Crawford Gribben Published 08 October The English republic was over, undermined by its own political ends.