The English Civil War was a complicated, intellectual war between the two most powerful forces in England: Parliament and the King. Conflicts between the two powers began when King Charles I dissolved Parliament in 1625 because they would not give him the money he demanded to fund his war against Spain. Parliament, who was lead by John Pym, felt that the King was showing favouritism towards the Roman Catholics, especially since Charles had recently married the Roman Catholic French Princess. Although Charles recalled Parliament in 1626, he proceeded to dissolve the second Parliament mainly because it attempted to impeach him. John Pym, who had been prevented from being elected to the second Parliament, was re-elected into the third Parliament and was looking for revenge on King Charles. He refused to give Charles supplies for his war until certain issues such as forced loans, compulsory billeting and arbitrary imprisonment had been addressed.
The King attempted to bargain with Parliament, agreeing that Parliament could no longer be dissolved and that it had to be called regularly. When the Irish rebellion broke out, Pym took the opportunity to blame Charles and his administration for the rebellion. Pym stated that the parties at fault should be dismissed and replaced with people approved by Parliament. Charles attempted to impeach Pym and others, but word of his plans leaked out and the individuals got away.
This was the beginning of conflicts between Parliament and the King and although discussions between the two groups went on until March of 1641, war was inevitable. When the war began, it was clear that the King held the upper hand. However, after four years of fighting (1642 – 1646), Parliament emerged victorious, lead by Oliver Cromwell who had obtained leadership after the Marston Moor battle. Although it took more then eighteen years for the results of the civil war to settle, there were no long term effects of the war. While there were minor reforms to the system, the people, the Church and the Monarchy of England went back to living their lives relatively the same as they had before the start of the English Civil War. Violence during the English Civil war effected hundreds of thousands of English civilians.
However, while violence killed thousands of people…the impact of the war – as a war – was surprisingly limited. Casualties during the war were high: 190 000 people died in England and 868 000, or 11.6% of the population, perished within the British Isles. This number was only a third of the amount of people who died in England during the great plague of 1570 – 1670.
King Charles II was content with putting things aside and starting over again, and it seemed like the people of England were too. Although women and children lost husbands and fathers, their loses were quickly replaced by new husbands or relatives to help out. By the end of the war, most people simply wanted to get on with their lives since there was nothing that they could about the people they lost during the war. Many people forgot their differences and were found even marrying across the barriers which were created during the war. Damaged property was quickly repaired since it created jobs for civilians looking for work. Buildings were destroyed, but since the war was not as explosive as the wars we know today, they were easily rebuilt.
Cities were sacked, however most were mended; citizens lost possessions, but they were easily rebought; royalists forced residents of London to cut down trees for fuel by cutting off their coal supply, but the trees grew back. It seemed like civilians were anxious to forget the wars and restore their lives to what it was before the war by returning to life as it were. A more difficult transition for the common folk of England was the re-civilization of the soldiers, but even that did not create many effects. It was a complicated procedure to merge the soldiers into society as every day working people, however since it took place at two different times; once when Cromwell was dissolving the army and once when the new Parliament was attempting to rid themselves of the army completely. Because of this, it affected both sides in different ways at different times.
This process limited the wars long-term effects. The city of London literally scratched out its history of cooperating with Cromwell by drawing lines through the appropriate pages of its record books. It was almost as if the people of England erased the memory of the Civil War and started their lives where they left off before the war started. Another aspect of society which was effected during the English Civil War was the Church and religion.
In a sense, religion played a role in the suspicion which arose within Parliament. It was because of a suspected favoritism towards Roman Catholics that John Pym turned against King Charles I. And because of the Irish Rebellion in which the Irish rose up against the English Protestants, Parliament felt that there was a conspiracy against English liberty in which Charles was participating. Parliament, who was composed of mainly Puritans, was fighting a war for their freedom in what they believed was a conspiracy against them.
In 1645, six days before the execution of Archbishop Land, the Book of Common Prayer was abolished in favour of the Presbyterian directory of worship. This appeared to be the end of an era for the Church of England. During the Civil War, many new religions emerged. Baptists did not believe that children should be baptized, Levellers were far more radical, accepting the sacredness of private property but they demanded new laws that would protect the poor as well as the wealthy. Diggers opposed the private ownership of land and sought the abolition of wage labor. Ranters rejected the idea of Heaven, Hell and sin and thought that true salvation could be found only in drink and sex.
Because England was in a state of anarchy during the war, rebels destroyed churches and cathedrals without a trace of guilt. Religious festivals, opposed by the Puritans were practiced by Anglicans in order to raise money for the church. In the 1650s, Oliver Cromwell attempted to unite all Protestants in a single-state church with outside tolerance. This idea failed since the possibility of a single all-embracing state church was impossible even before revolution. From then on, England possessed two Protestant nations as well as a Roman Catholic minority. After the Monarchy was revised and the events of the Civil war were finished, the Church of England regained its title as the established church of the country.
Once again, any other religions were not tolerated by it and the church expelled Presbyterian ministers. The Church of England had returned to its state from before the war, almost as if the destruction of alters and cathedrals in rebellion had never happened. The Monarchy of England was severely affected by the Civil War during the actual events of the war, however, it was restored almost back to normal after the occurrences had been resolved. Soon after Parliaments victory, King Charles I was charged on the terms that he had personally started and waged war against Parliament.
Oliver Cromwell, the leader of Parliament, took office over England in 1653 with the title Lord Protector. He began dissolving his army soon after Parliaments victory as well as dissolving the Rump Parliament. Cromwells government was beginning to seem familiar to many civilians as it was beginning to be run similar to the monarchy which Cromwell wanted to reform. He was making laws without the advice of Parliament as well as ignoring their authority when it came to setting taxes. Despite his decreasing popularity, Cromwell was offered the throne of England, which he refused. When Cromwell died in 1658, his son Richard Cromwell tried too hard to enforce his fathers policies and the Wallingford house party, lead by Fleetwood, coaxed him down from power. However, the Wallingford house party was forced to recall the Rump Parliament, whos priorities were clearly in restoring the power of the army.
Lambert, who was a Parliamentary general during the war, was recalled to help to dissolve Rump Parliament. The Royalists joined with the Presbyterians and Lambert, and together they called for an election of a new Parliament. They won their fight and sent a petition up to the rump wanting a select senate which would speed up the dissolution of parliament and confirm Fleetwood as Commander in Chief and Lambert as second in command. This was the spark which started the conflagration that destroyed the commonwealth. Unfortunately, the restoration of the Monarchy was not that simple. Monck, a general from Scotland who had been one of Cromwells most loyal friends and companions, marched into England and demanded that Rump Parliament be recalled. Fleetwood and Lambert were obligated to follow Moncks orders and restored the Rump Parliament.
Almost immediately after it was reintroduced, it turned its forces against Fleetwood and Lambert. Lambert was captured and fearing for his own safety, Fleetwood allowed the Scottish Army to invade England with no resistance. Once Monck had established control over London, he informed the Rump Parliament that the civilians would be satisfied with nothing less than a newly elected parliament. However, the Rump Parliament still refused to give up their position.
They could not hold out for that much longer and eventually, they were forced to resign. Once the Rump was dissolved, Monck had a secret meeting with Charles II, who was heir to the English throne, and his advisor. During this meeting, Monck laid out certain rules which he said that the King must oblige by. Charles, who did not agree with the terms that Monck set out, took a letter to the new Parliament explaining what Monck was doing.
At the same time, Lambert escaped from his imprisonment and called a reunion of his men to try to overthrow Monck. Monck, who insisted that all regiments of Parliament say that they will obey him without a question and abide by any decision of Parliament. was overthrown on Parliaments decision to offer Charles II the throne of England. Eleven years after his fathers execution, Charles II crossed the English channel to be crowned King of England and to mark the restoration of the English Monarchy that had been abolished during the Civil War. The first task of the reestablished Monarchy was to rid themselves of Oliver Cromwells army.
The Monarchy had full Parliamentary support to complete this task. Charles formed the 1st Regiment of foot guards and with Moncks army, the 2nd Regiment of foot guards was made. What was originally Cromwells Regiment of horse was divided into the Duke of Yorks lifeguards and the Royal Horse Guards.
This was the beginning of the British Regular Army. Although it was almost impossible to demolish the entire army, King Charles II did the best job that he could. Charles II was compelled to make an Act of Indemnity and Oblivion, which some criticized as indemnity to enemies, oblivion to friends. However, this was simply a reflection of the fact that Parliament won the English Civil War and that restoration of the Monarchy was an act of grace. Because of this, Parliament and the King made some agreements: the King could never take money from citizens without consenting with Parliament first as well as never operating outside the courts of the common law through the Star chamber- a forum for commonfolk to voice their opinions. As well, the King had complete power over military decisions and no one would have powers over the King. Despite all the chaos and disorder within the Monarchy and Parliament, constitution and structure or society and government appeared untouched by the traumatic events.
With the exception of the agreements between Parliament and the Monarchy, things were restored back to how they were before the war. The king was once again chronically short of money and depended on Parliament for money. Once again, it seemed as though the events that occurred during the English Civil War had never occurred. While the Civil War was taking place, many issues in society went through reform.
The people of England lost a lot of family members who were close to them, the Church of England was cause for a lot of rebellions as religions emerged and formed and the Monarchy was completely dissolved only to be revived again by the winners of the war- Parliament. However, once the dust had settled, there were only a few changes which had occurred in English society. Everything else was like the clocks had been turned back to before the Civil War.
: The English Civil War was different then the ones in Scotland or Ireland since there were no major long-term effects. It is believed that this is because the Civil War in England was simply a product of short-term events as well as miscalculations from the king, and not because of long-term effects building up like those in Ireland and Scotland. Although the English Civil War disrupted the entire society of England while it took place, England and its infrastructure was almost identical only a few short years after, as it was before the war began.Bibliography: