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The English Civil War: Tone Of The British Government

The English Civil War was the war that set the tone of the British Government to this very day. Conflicts between parliament and kings started to turn English citizens against each other due to their political stance. The English Civil War began to change the manner of government, make the king accountable to the law and protect the rights of men. Although the Civil war lasted from 1642-1651, the build up to the war started many years before when James I was on throne and became more severe as Charles I was named King.

It all began when King Charles refused to obey the Petition of Rights as he forced taxes upon citizens to be able to afford wars. At this point the relationship between the king and parliament had been bad enough due to not being called upon after a decade. The king only reached out to parliament when he needed money to go to war and of course he never received, and tried to go to war by him self which costed him defeat against Scotland. After many altercations with parliament, citizens began to choose a side as a war was in sight.

These two sides were known as the Roundheads (who were for parliament) and the Royalists (who supported the king). Charles began to weaken and weaken as he lost many battles to the parliaments ‘New Model Army’. He later turned himself over to the Scots who turned him over to parliament for an exchange of 400,000 pounds. At the end of the war when the Roundheads had won the battle, it led to evolving the Monarchy into a Commonwealth Republic lead by Oliver Cromwell. Causes There were multiple reasons to the breakout of the civil war including Charles I’s mentality towards ruling, creating problems with regards to religion, money, parliament.

As protestant nation, the English disliked and distrusted Catholics due to prior actions , their relationship with the French, and the rebellious Catholic Irish. However, many in England were worried that Charles didn’t feel the same as he married a French Catholic, Henrietta Maria of France, and was creating a Church of England that was too close to Catholicism for comfort. This not only worried the English that Catholicism would be foisted up against them but also frustrated many because of the dark relationship between the English and Catholics such as the French, Irish and the Scots.

Charles wanted to establish England into following Anglicanism where it is almost identical to Catholicism except the head would be the king rather than being the pope. The British considered that being only one hiccup away from Catholicism. If the perceived threats to the religious establishment in England were not enough, Charles was a terrible politician, especially when it came to understanding and dealing with Parliament. The king thought that he was a supreme ruler and that he could make decisions on his own without the confirmation of parliament.

As time went on the feud between Charles and parliament grew it finally hit the point where citizens began to take a side. Matters came to a head in January 1642 when Charles entered Parliament and attempted to arrest the chamber’s leaders who he accused of treason. Charles failed as the leaders had been warned and had left the building. As the petition of rights put restrictions on imprisonment without cause, the parliament had had enough. The city of London largely sided with Parliament, and Charles chose later that month to leave the city, fearing for his own safety.

Charles’ devotion for going to war put the Nation into trouble financially. To be able to go to war, Charles needed the correct funding which parliament refused to keep paying, in which from then on, Charles decided he would find his own way of making money through charging illegal taxes upon his people. Ship money was one of Charles’ most popular taxes. In 1634, Charles taxed the coastal counties to pay for the support of the Royal Navy and in 1635, he extended the levy in the inland counties. He imposed Ship money until 1640.

Although, this wasn’t Charles’s only way of receiving money. King Charles also raised funds from the Scottish nobility. As imagined a leader of a protestant nation asking for money from a Catholic nation frustrated parliamentarians deeply. Charles believed that he had supreme power and that he could accuse anyone of a crime without proven guilty in the court of Star Chamber. Rulers had absolute power and could do whatever they wanted. Regular civilians had no say in any of the country’s government, as the ruler had complete power over all its citizens.

They lacked civil rights, they could be unlawfully arrested whenever it felt necessary. The English Lords and Commons sent a list of proposals known as the Nineteen Propositions to King Charles I of England, in York at the time. These were rules that Long Parliament had written for Charles I to obey. Relatively similar to the petition of rights that was a document trying to restrict charges taxed to citizens without the consent of parliament. Before the end of the month the King rejected the Propositions and in August the country descended into civil war.

Securing Change The English Civil war consisted of many battles with the loss of many soldiers. Reaching a Commonwealth government came through diplomacy and military actions. Charles’ once tremendously strong army began to die. They won multiple battles in the beginning but as the New Model Army came into hand which won the two most important battles. The battle of Preston and Naseby. Charles’ capture was coming to sight after he had turned himself over to the Scottish thinking they would protect him. Instead, the Scots turned over Charles I for 400,000 pounds.

Once Parliament had gotten a hold of Charles, they made several attempts to try to negotiate with Charles though he refused to obey the rules set out my parliament. Charles had escaped but quickly recaptured again. Charles was brought to Whitehall and the House of Commons passed an ordinance accusing him of plotting to enslave the English people. He was taken to court January 1649 and shortly after he was given a sentence. “the said Charles Stuart, as a tyrant, traitor, murderer and a public enemy shall be put to death, by the severing his head from his body”.

The idea of a Commonwealth government did not last as ten years later the Monarchy was then re-established. Consequences After Charles I was executed, Oliver Cromwell had become the leader of a Commonwealth Republic. Where he assigned his generals to be governors and tossed out the idea of parliament as he claimed them of being ‘lazy’ and ‘useless’. He used his New Model Army to enforce his religion, Puritan Conservatism, which included tight and restricting laws that put an end to swearing, fornicating, horse races, theaters, pubs, Christmas and more. These were called the blue laws.

Puritanism was just another form of Protestantism; it was known to be very plain and straight forward. People who supported the royal movement were also given a 10% income tax to pay for the New Model Army, this tax was placed without a parliament to stand in the way. Oliver Cromwell was named Lord Protector and not crowned king, which allowed him to not have to listen to parliament. In 1658 Cromwell died of kidney infection and malaria, and his son, Richard Cromwell took over his job as Lord Protector. The English all saw Richard as a terrible ruler and unsuited for the job.

In little time, the English army forced his departure. This lead to argument between the parliament on how England should be ruled. Shortly after Charles II was invited back to England after hiding in France. He was crowned king and forced to sign a constitution that outlines all his powers. Charles II later went after all who helped killed his father Charles I, including Cromwell even though he was already dead. With the reestablishment of the Monarchy, where citizens celebrated the return of all the activities Cromwell had taken away from them such as plays, shows, Christmas, and parties are only a few examples.

Still celebrated to this very day, it went down to be known as Oak Apple Day because Charles II had hid in an Oak tree during his escape. Enlightened Thinkers The Civil War played a large impact on many citizens thought there were two that stood out the most. Thomas Hobbes was known for his most famous piece of work, The Leviathan. The cover of the book itself is an image of a significant figure overtop of a village as he’s wearing armor made of people. I believe this was to represent his belief in a superior leader and his people having his back no matter what.

Just how Charles I expected. He needed his peoples support through taxes and warfare. Thomas Hobbes believed that it is always better to have security rather than liberty in a country. He was therefore deeply against the English Civil War. Throughout his life, Hobbes believed that the only true and correct form of government was the absolute monarchy. He also believed that every single human at heart was selfish and did everything for their own good. According to Hobbes, if government didn’t exist, humans would always be fighting with one another.

In this state, Hobbes said, the life of a man was ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. ‘ The other very well-known enlightened thinker was known to be John Locke. Locke just like Hobbes favored the Monarchy, although, unlike Hobbes he believed that the best monarchy is one that was severely limited in power. He was most known for his belief in religious freedom and tolerance which came from the freedom of religion law passed by Charles II. Catholicism was never accepted by the English but after Locke created reasoning for the acceptance of religion and tolerance it became more common to be catholic in England.

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