The English Civil War

Jevons Wang, Ron Wang


Fought from 1642-1651, the English Civil War saw King Charles I battle Parliament. The war began as a result of a conflict over the power of the monarchy and the rights of Parliament. During the early period of the war, the Parliamentarians expected to retain Charles as king of England, but with expanded powers for Parliament. Though the Royalists won early victories, the Parliamentarians ultimately destroyed. As the conflict going on, Charles was executed in front of the public. Though Charles II was invited to take the throne in 1660, Parliament's victory set the nation on the path toward a parliamentary monarchy.

Root Causes

Religion was one of the main root causes of the English civil war. It was a country wide clash between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. King Charles, married Roman Catholic Henrietta Maria of France, which was a very unpopular and unsupported wedding. When Europe was under King James's reign, he caused massive tension between him and Parliament. Jame’s believed in the “Divine Right of the Kings” which pretty much meant that James thought he could do whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted. However, Parliament had monetary resources that James was short of most of the time. So they continuously clashed over custom duties, which Parliament stated James couldn’t collect without their permission. James suspended Parliament, and allowed his friends to help him run the country which offended Parliament members as they believed they had a right to rule the country. Also when James wanted to discuss marriage plans with his son Charles to a spain princess, Parliament was shocked, which strained the relationship between king and parliament even more.

Direct Causes

Charles, like his father believed that a king is always right. He butted heads with Parliament all the time, but mainly over money and religious issues. Charles hate for parliament caused him to lock the doors to the Parliament, which became known as the Eleven Years Tyranny. Where members of the Parliament were locked out of their building for eleven years and weren’t allowed to meet. Charles also taxed citizens heavily in order to gain money, and he did this through the Court of Star Chamber. Alongside the taxes, was his Ship Money tax, which forced everyone to pay money to upkeep the navy. People resented this tax, which caused John Hampden, rich member of parliament to stand up to it and refuse to pay it as Parliament didn’t agree with the tax. He tried as guilty in a court later on. In 1642, Charles rebanded Parliament as he needed them for the money, but besides that, they were terrible enemies. Later on in 1642, when he went to Parliament with 300 soldiers to arrest his five biggest critics. Here is where the war started as Parliament represented the people, and Charles was pretty much showing the country his true side by arresting them for just disagreeing with him.


Royalist forces defeated in 1651, power passed to the parliamentary monarchy of England. This remained in place until 1653, when Cromwell assumed power as Lord Protector. Ruling as a dictator until his death in 1658, he was replaced by his son Richard. Lacking the support of the military power, his rule was brief and the Commonwealth returned in 1659. The following year, with the government in dark, Gen. George Monck invited Charles II to return and take power. He accepted and by the Declaration of Breda offered pardons for acts committed during the wars, respect for property rights, and religious toleration. With Parliament's consent, he arrived in May 1660 and was crowned the following year.

Main Significance

After James ll escaped to France. The new King- William lll took over the power of England. He proclaimed the “Bill of Rights”, so the entire economy was controlled by the Capitalist, this move made the economy of England stable. Secondly, Henry Vll founded the Church of England, made it the main religion in England. Finally, the king of England has been a representation of England who doesn’t get involved in any political issues. Limited monarchy also came about after the war’s conclusion. Which allowed for a more distributed type of government between ruler and citizen. As before Charles I wanted Parliament to listen to everything he said, now that won’t be a thing anymore.

Key Events

  • Battle of Edgehill: Occurred in 1642. First major battle of the English Civil War. Earl of Essex was in command of Parliamentary army, while Charles lead the Royalist army, with Prince Rupert of Rhine, leading his army in battle. After a back and forth battle, the Parliamentary army retreated. Leaving the road to london open, which if Charles had taken advantage of and marched directly there, could have ended the war.

  • Battle of Marston Moor. Occurred in 1644. Largest battle taken place during the English Civil War. York was under siege by Parliamentarian forces and Scottish forces. Charles called for assistance from Prince Rupert. Upon arrival, Parliamentary forces lead by Lord Fairfax and Lord Manchester, retreated to Maston Moor, where they defeated Rupert. Causing York to surrender later on, and for Charles to lose Northern England.

  • Battle of Naseby: Occurred in 1645. Final battle of the first phase of the English Civil War. Thomas Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell lead the Parliamentary army New Model army to victory against Charles's main army.

  • Battle of Worcester: Last final fought between both sides. By now, Parliament's New Model Army was far superior to the Royalist. Royalists were crushed in battle, destroying all hopes of regaining power. Also forced Charles into exile, and securing Cromwell’s position in power, politically and military wise.

Key Figures

Charles I: Started the English Civil War. Fought for Royalists

Charles II: Son of Charles I, continued it on for his father. Also fought for Royalists

Oliver Cromwell: Led the Parliamentary army against the Royalists

Lord Fairfax: General and commander in chief of Parliamentary forces, was overshadowed as a general by Cromwell

Key Groups

Royalists: Were generally seen as more gentleman like, richer and more extravagant

Parliamentarians: Were seen as simple townspeople with who had very basic appearances and basic knowledge

Primary Source

Our main source is the Treaty of Oxford. Which was an unsuccessful attempt at peace between the Royalists and Parliamentarians. As Charles rejected the proposals made by the Parliament.