The Causes of the English Civil War
In this essay I am going to explain why the civil war broke out in
1642. The English civil war broke out on 22nd August 1642. It caused
many deaths and divided some families. There were many reasons for
this, including religious arguments, financial arguments, the actions
of Charles himself, all the causes were linked together,
(Parliamentarian and Royalist) some of the events of 1642 and the
demands made by parliaments for more power and also I am going to
explain the long - term causes and the short - term causes also know
as the triggers.
There are many different reasons for the causes of the English civil
war but first I will start with the religious disputes over
archbishops Laud's reforms of the church. Reforms were introduced that
made churches more decorated (like catholic churches) Charles I
collected customs duties without parliaments permission, he married a
French catholic who was unpopular with his people. The Bishops' Wars
were fought between the Scots
and English forces led by Charles I.
These conflicts paved the way for the uprising of Parliament that
began the English civil wars
Charles I was attempting to enforce Anglican reforms onto the Scottish
church. However the Scots were opposed to this, and even wanted to
destroy the control that bishops had over the church. To this end,
Charles' reforms were rejected by the Scottish Assembly at Glasgow in
Charles was furious that the Scots had rejected his proposals, and
hastily formed an English force with which to march on Scotland in
1639. He did not have the funds for such a military expedition, nor
confidence in his troops, so he was forced to leave Scotland without
fighting a battle.
The unrest continued in Scotland, and when Charles discovered that
they had been plotting with the French he again decided to mount a
military expedition. This time, Charles called Parliament in order to
get funds (1640).
The second cause was the financial quarrels between the king and
parliament. When parliament formed, they immediately wanted to discuss
grievances against the government, and were generally opposed to any
military operation. This angered Charles and he dismissed parliament
again, hence the name "Short Parliament" that it is commonly given.
Charles went ahead with his military operation without Parliament's
support, and was beaten by the Scots. The Scots, taking advantage of
this, went on to seize Northumberland and Durham.
Charles found himself in a desperate position, and was forced to call
parliament again in November, 1640. This parliament is known as the
The third cause was the demands made by parliament for greater share
government. The tension between Charles and Parliament was still
great, since none of the issues raised by the Short Parliament had
been resolved. This tension was brought to a head on January 4th, 1642
when Charles attempted to arrest five members of parliament. This
attempt failed, since they were spirited away before the king's troops
Charles left London and both he and parliament began to stockpile
military resources and recruit troops.
Charles officially began the war by raising his standard at Nottingham
in August, 1642. At this stage of the wars, parliament had no wish to
kill the king. It was hoped that Charles could be reinstated as ruler,
but with a more constructive attitude to parliament. Parliaments were
supported by the richer South and East, including London. Parliament
also held most of the ports, since the merchants that ran them saw
more profit in a parliament-lead country.
Parliament definitely had access to more resources than the king, and
could collect taxes. Charles had to depend on donations from his
supporters to fund his armies.
The fourth cause was that Charles I ruled without parliament. Charles
I dissolved parliament because of all the disputes and ruled without
it for 11 years. King did not like the wealth, power or ideas of
parliament. He began making the decisions about taxes without
The fifth cause was that the ship money argument. Without parliament,
Charles had to think up new pays of raising money, e.g. ship money
which was paid in times of war by people living the coast, now had to
pay by all people even though there was no war.
The sixth cause was that the parliament was recalled and demanded
reforms. King Charles I wanted money, so he reopened the parliament to
get money but they demanded the reforms e.g. never to be shut down
These are called the long - term cases.
Some M.P.S demanded more reforms from the king in a new list called
'the grand remonstrance' other M.P.S stick up for the king because he
has already greed to some reforms.
A rebellion starts in Ireland where Catholics murdered 200,000
The England wondered if Charles supported the Catholics.
Charles I try to arrest five M.P.S while parliament is in session, but
they had escaped before hand. This lost the king a lot of respect and
showed he wanted to control parliament after all. Parliament and the
king argued over who control the Army. Only six days after trying to
arrest the five Members of Parliament, Charles left London to head for
Oxford to raise an army to fight Parliament for control of England. A
civil war could not be avoided.
By 1642, relations between Parliament and Charles had become very bad.
Charles had to do as Parliament wished as they had the ability to
raise the money that Charles needed. However, as a firm believer in
the "divine right of kings", such a relationship was unacceptable to
These are called the short - term causes.
From the beginning of his reign, King Charles quarrelled with
parliament about power.
King Charles dismissed parliament in 1629 and ruled without it for 11
In 1635, King Charles made everyone pay the ship money tax.
The Scots rebelled against the new prayer book which the king and
archbishop laud introduced in Scotland.
In 1638, the Scots invaded England.
King Charles asked parliament for money to raise an army.
Parliament made King Charles agree to reforms in 1641.
King Charles and archbishop laud made changes of the Church of England
which were unpopular.
The puritans were angry about the king's Catholic sympathies.
These are shot - term causes and long - term causes, they are linked
together between causes and how they lead to civil war.
I think there were almost as many reasons for people to fight the
civil war as there were people fighting. Briefly, however, the main
reason for the war was the king Charles I and his various parliaments
did not agree about anything - religion, how the country should be
run, how England should behave towards other countries and so on. This
was made worse by the fact that Charles I, believing that kings got
their power from god and so could rule as they chose, made no attempt
to keep his parliament happy. He spent eleven years ruling without
parliament at all. When the long parliament, called in 1640, tried to
make him change his ways and he refused, war broke out. (Some
important things may not have set off the war, without the small