How far was the English Civil War a consequence of rule over multiple kingdoms Essay Example
How far was the English Civil War a consequence of rule over multiple kingdoms Essay Example

How far was the English Civil War a consequence of rule over multiple kingdoms Essay Example

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  • Pages: 7 (1903 words)
  • Published: December 26, 2017
  • Type: Essay
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In 1641, following the passing of the Grand Remonstrance in England, a statement was made that "If the Remonstrance had been rejected I would have sold all I had the next morning and never have seen England more, and I know there are many other modest men of the same resolution”[1]. This historic document listed numerous grievances against King Charles I, including concerns about the 'catholic conspiracy', local land distributions, parliament's right to bypass the Crown's decisions if necessary, and various foreign, legal, and financial policies.

Oliver Cromwell expressed the widespread dissatisfaction towards Charles I's tyrannical rule over England, as the monarchy faced mass criticism in the lead-up to the Civil War. While Cromwell's relief over the remonstrance's ratification reflects the majority's views, other underlying factors also contributed to the Civil War. The Crowns' control over Scotland and


Ireland was a crucial element that inevitably led to conflict. However, it is essential to consider various other factors such as Charles I promoting 'High Anglicanism' and choosing to marry a Catholic, which further fuelled protestant England's grievances towards the Crown.

The origins of the Civil War were multifaceted, including the fear of popery, economic stagnation, Charles I's personal rule, and debts from the Elizabethan era. To analyze the causes of the war, one must first consider the question of ruling multiple kingdoms. By taking into account this factor along with tackling the substantial economic problems present, we can compare the relative importance of each contributing factor. England faced several problems in ruling multiple kingdoms, including differing religions and political bodies in Scotland and Ireland. Although often called 'the English revolution,' the triggers that led to the Civil Wa

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originated from uprisings in Scotland and Ireland.

Conrad Russell alleges that the Civil War was not initiated by the English but rather by the Scots and Irish, providing them with an opportunity[2]. Despite various circumstances that led to the occurrence of the Civil War, the impact of these events on the English parliament was lesser compared to the uprisings in Scotland and Ireland, which are expounded below. Primarily, Charles I was deeply troubled by religion in Scotland and Ireland. Since these territories were essentially English colonies during the 17th century, Charles I considered it crucial to establish a standardized religion in order to increase cohesiveness in those areas and prevent instability[3].

Despite Scotland's Presbyterian church structure, Charles I advocated for a church system similar to England's. This caused widespread protests, including organized riots in St Giles, due to Charles I's installation of the 1636 Book of Canons, which took an anti-Presbyterian stance. Ruling over multiple kingdoms proved difficult as the Scottish population was not subservient to Charles I's interests. This disconnect caused financial problems and further issues for the King. In June 1639, Charles I made a pact with the Scots, leaving all Scottish matters to their own governance. Additionally, the treaty of Ripon in 1640 forced Charles I to provide compensation to the Scots as they remained in northern England, further highlighting Scottish defiance against English rule [4] [5].

Moreover, following an unsuccessful English military attempt to confront the Scots at the Tees, parliament was obligated to raise funds to cover the compensation imposed by the Scots in 1640. This proposal was not well received in England since prior taxes were already straining the population, shown through

the Ship money tax of 1634 that taxed coastal towns for their defense [6]. Additionally, it is important to note that "most people paid ship money with little open dismay" until the added burden of the Scottish war [7]. Hence, Scotland's situation can be considered a significant catalyst for the Civil War, as previous payment of potentially contentious taxes had been made before.

Parliament came to realize that the king's ability to govern England was hindered by the substantial debts he accrued from conflicts in Scotland and Ireland. Charles exhibited tyrannical behavior and demonstrated a lack of consultation with educated individuals in parliament, which led to members questioning his capability as a ruler. Additionally, the English Crown attempted to impose religious conformity in Ireland, similar to its efforts in Scotland. Under Charles I's guidance, Thomas Wentworth aimed to Anglicize Ireland by converting all Catholics to English Protestantism. However, when Wentworth's military force was withdrawn from Ireland to address rebellions in Scotland, dissatisfaction with the forced adoption of Protestantism surfaced among the Irish population. [8]

The rebellion in Ireland seriously weakened Charles I's position and he had to seek financial support from parliament to raise an army to prevent further uprisings. Historians, including Stevenson, have noted the possibility of other kingdoms revolting after news of one kingdom's fall spreads. The Scots' success in the Bishops' wars inspired the Irish to revolt and made it necessary for them to do so. This is similar to the collapse of Soviet Satellite States during the end of communism, as well as France and Spain's struggle for money to support military efforts in their respective kingdoms during the 17th


At the start of the century, French war expenses were 5m livres, rising to 33m in 1635 and 38m in 1640. Despite major taxes bringing in 10m livres, the financial strains of war pushed both the French and Spanish monarchies “to the verge of collapse”[11]. While it may seem obvious that the cost of maintaining multiple kingdoms led to their inevitable collapse and subsequent Civil War (as seen in Scotland and Ireland), this view is too simplistic. Although money was needed to fund armies in these regions, and confrontations between the Crown and parliament were bound to occur in England, it was not solely the rule over multiple kingdoms that contributed towards Civil War.

The grievances that led to the English Civil War were fueled by factors such as the lack of a stable system of bureaucratic taxation and the oppressive personality of Charles I. Additionally, the economic environment presented following Elizabeth I’s reign was unstable due to her debts of at least ?400,000 at her death. It may also be argued that without religious intervention and the absence of stable taxation, risings in Scotland and Ireland may not have occurred. Charles I’s supposed ‘personal rule’ or ‘eleven years tyranny’ also potentially contributed to the causes of the English Civil War.

We have previously shown in this essay that the introduction of Anglicanism by Charles I into both Ireland and Scotland, along with his ruling over multiple kingdoms, caused conflicts. However, it was not just him but also the heavy financial burdens that contributed to the Civil War. This section will concentrate on Charles' political dictatorship within England and why it resulted in national and

local grievances. During his 'eleven years tyranny,' Charles made a significant effort to spread his power and influence over many aspects of English society. The court culture is a clear example of where this tyranny becomes most evident.

According to reports, Charles desired to exert the same level of control over the external world that he held over his own inner world. This was evident in his harsh and oppressive handling of litigation in court cases. An instance of this is seen in the treatment of Alexander Leighton, a court minister who had written articles that criticized bishops and advocated for parliamentary rule over the monarchy. Leighton was fined ? 10,000, subjected to a severe flogging, had both his ears mutilated, and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment[15].

The 'personal rule' of King Charles I in England caused widespread discontent, particularly due to his dismissive attitude towards his ministers and the perception that the representative body should have some influence in court decisions. Although this type of tyranny was not common, it led to unprecedented levels of oppression and fueled resentment towards the unrepresentative and illegitimate king. The English peasantry had previously been apathetic towards the administration of the king, but their discontent grew due to conflicts sparked by enclosures of forests and wastes, marshes, and fens that left them feeling disrespected and disloyal towards the king. [16]

To some extent, Charles aimed to increase his popularity and support among the landed gentry by implementing reforms. However, the arbitrary and undemocratic nature of his policymaking resulted in conflict with parliament, exacerbating the causes of the Civil War. With peasants comprising a significant portion of the English population in the

17th century, alienating them could prove disastrous for Charles. Addressing the role of popery in promoting the Civil War, it appears that Charles I's religious policies were initially reasonable. Nevertheless, prior to the repairs initiated by Archbishop Laud and Charles, the church and clergy had been in a poor state due to low authority and financial independence of bishops.

Despite efforts by Laud and Charles to increase the importance of communion and other ceremonial forms of practice, such as the use of communion tables resembling Catholic altars, these attempts were often viewed as oppressive and linked to accusations of moving towards Roman Catholicism. This perception was fueled by Charles' marriage to Henrietta Maria, a Catholic, in 1625, and contributed to fears of a popish rebellion that threatened Protestantism. According to Conrad Russell, these fears were widespread from 1640-1642 and led to negative sentiment towards the monarchy. This fear was not universal in England, but it contributed to growing concerns and accusations against the king.

After 1642, pamphlets and newspapers largely focused on the belief that Catholic infiltration of the state caused the Civil War. Reports on Charles' armed forces often described them as "papistical, jesuitised, and Romish." This resulted in English citizens expressing doubts about Charles' ability to uphold the faith. While these grievances did contribute to the likelihood of a civil war, the fear of popery itself was not the sole cause. The fear of a Catholic conspiracy was one factor among many that led to the Civil War, but it did not tip the balance. According to Russell, it was only during the war with Scotland, rebellion in Ireland, and political deadlock in England that

these accusations were taken seriously.

The breakdown of relations between the Crown and parliament was the true cause of the English civil war. This was evidenced by rebellions in Scotland and Ireland where repeated pleas for finances to stop insurrection were unanswered, leading to a deterioration of the relationship between parliament and the Crown. While Charles' political tyranny did contribute to mounting grievances, such as the violent prosecution of Alexander Leighton and seizure of land from peasants, these disputes were often on a small/local scale and not enough to prompt outright war. Though the "eleven years tyranny" of Charles showed England's population how unrepresentative and illegitimate he was, it did not result in a large-scale conflict. Therefore, it can be concluded that rule over multiple kingdoms ultimately led to the English civil war.

Considering the impact of the 'fear of popery' on the Civil War's development, it appears that complaints about alleged Catholic altars in Protestant churches were not widely circulated enough. The rebellions in Scotland and Ireland took advantage of popular discontent with the monarchy, and religious conformity was crucial for stability. The campaigns against Catholicism in Ireland and for Anglicisation in Scotland faced strong opposition, and England lacked the finances and resources to maintain their influence there. Thus, the significance of these rebellions should not be underestimated.

The largest causes of the war were created by the consistent demand for finances to build an army.

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