The English Civil War

Circa 1642-1649

Introduction to the War

The English Civil War began in 1642 when Charles I raised his royal standard in Nottingham. Charles strongly disagreed with Parliament about most things and commonly agued with them about money and religion. The division between Charles and Parliament was such that neither side was willing to back down and the country split into people who supported the king and those who supported the Parliament. In 1642 the first major battle broke out between them, to which both sides claimed success, with no decisive result. Later, in the battle of Marston Moor (1644), Charles lost control of England. Finally, in the battle of Naseby (1645), Cromwell's "New Model Army" inflicted a fatal blow to the Kings army. Charles did not recover from this defeat and his cause was lost. In 1646 Charles surrendered to the Scots rather than Parliament, hoping to collapse their alliance. However, the Scots took advantage of Charles and sold him to Parliament for 400,000 pounds. The final supporters of the king were defeated in Preston and the king himself was later executed.

Important People

Charles I - (Nov 19, 1600 - Jan 30, 1649) was monarch of England , Scotland, and Ireland from march 27, 1625 until he was executed in 1649. Charles was the son of King James VI of Scotland and shared similar views as him. Charles opposed the Parliament in the English Civil War of 1642-49.

Parliament of England - The legislature of the Kingdom of England with roots back to the medieval period. Very similar in power and authority to today's congress.

Oliver Cromwell - (April 25, 1599 - Sep 3, 1658) was an English military and political leader. He helped to create the New Model Army that lead to the downfall of the royalist forces.

Causes of the War

Direct -

  • The execution of Black Tom Tyrant the Earl of Stafford.
  • The demand for Charles I to get rid of the star council chamber.

Root -

  • Charles I watched his father and the parliament fight .
  • James believed in the divine rights of a king.

Through the Years

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King Charles I Arrests 5 MPs - January 4, 1642

Parliament tried to take King Charles's power away and locked one of his closest friends away. This led to King Charles trying to arrest 5 MPs or members of Parliament. This was the spark needed to start the war.

War Preparations - January, 1642

King Charles knew that war was inevitable so he began preparations by sending his wife Henrietta Maria to recruit Catholics. He also sent her to pawn the Crown Jewels in order to pay for more weapons. Meanwhile, Parliament recruited the help of the Militia.
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King Charles and Sir John Hotham - April, 1642

King Charles was after any kind of military advantage he could scrounge up. He was particularly interested in a cache of weapons he knew the location to in Hull. However he would have to go through Sir John Hotham who was already sided with Parliament, before reaching it. Sir John Hotham forced Charles to retreat back to York which then became his headquarters.
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The Nineteen Propositions - June, 1642

The Nineteen Propositions were given by Parliament to King Charles in an attempt to avoid the war. The main highlights were that ministers and judges should be appointed by Parliament and that all military and religious matters should be controlled by Parliament.

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King Charles Formally Declares War - August 22, 1642

King Charles declared war on the Parliament at Nottingham. Both sides hoped that the war would consist of one battle that decided the victor or to avoid battle in general.

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Portsmouth is Lost to Parliament - September 7, 1642

The crucial city of Portsmouth was the first place to fall to the Parliament.

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The Battle of Edgehill - October 23, 1642

The Battle of Edgehill was a large battle that threatened the King's sons, Charles and James. The outcome of the battle was that neither side could advance and it was declared a stalemate.

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Final Outcome

After everything, Charles cause was lost. The king actually helped in his own downfall and demise. In 1646 Charles surrendered to the Scots rather than Parliament, hoping to collapse their already weak alliance. The Scots took advantage of Charles and sold him to Parliament for 400,000 pounds. In 1647, he escaped to Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight and caused the short, second civil war in 1648. The remaining supporters of the king were defeated at the battle of Preston. He was put on trial at Westminister Hall in January 1649 and found guilty for "tyrant, traitor and murderer; and a public and implacable enemy to the Commonwealth of England." He was then executed on January 30th, 1649 with Oliver Cromwell's signature clearly legible on his death warrant.


Primary sources -

These primary sources include information such as King Charles' position and plans for raising standard in Nottingham in August and includes first hand accounts from both sides of a battle. I think they were written to show what they went through and to record events as accurately as possible. Also some of these sources were publicized for the public to understand what was occurring.

Other Sources -