D) First Civil War - Religion and Politics

Political situation and events of the first English Civil War

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  • Created by: lucyf
  • Created on: 17-04-14 18:55
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  • First Civil War - Religion and Politics
    • Parliament
      • Not united body - loose groupings of 'like-minded gentry'
        • Held together by Pym until his death (December 1643)
          • Policy of attempting to negotiate with King, while setting up financial + administrative machines to win war
      • Peace Party
        • Led by Denzil Holles
        • Most reluctant to fight King - always hoping for settlement
        • Most only wanted end of Anglican Church
          • Not further restraints on King's powers
      • Middle Party
        • Largest group 1642-3
        • Broadly stuck to Nineteen Propositions
        • Led by Pym
        • Always hoped King would see reason + negotiated settlement could be found
      • War Party
        • Grew as war dragged on
        • Believed King would not see reason + negotiate meaningfully until defeated
          • Once defeated, could negotiate from position of strength
        • Led by Sir Henry Vane + Sir Arthur Heselrige (both future republicans)
        • Not all 'radicals'
          • Many just wanted war over as quickly as possible
    • Parliament's organisation for war
      • Finances
        • Assessments system set up (February 1643)
          • Each county under Parliamentary control paid a tax - organised through County Committees
            • County Committees often held onto money raised + used for defence of own areas instead of central war effort
        • Compulsory loans introduced (May 1643)
        • Fines put upon Royalist supporters in Parliamentary areas (March 1643)
          • Estates confiscated, could only regain them by 'compounding' - heavy fine based on value
        • Pym's ruthless policies = provided enough money to fight war
      • Manpower
        • Impressment ordinance passed (August 1643)
          • Enabled Parliament to conscript men
          • By 1645: at least 50% Parliament's men = forced to fight
          • Measure of Pym's control that such radical measures could be passsed
            • Helped by failure of negotiations with King (spring 1643, Oxford)
              • Once clear King = not in mood for compromise, even most Peace Party reluctantly accepted measures
    • Solemn League and Covenant + Cessation
      • Solemn League + Covenant (September 1643)
        • Pym dying - last contribution to Parliamentary cause
        • Scots wanted establishment of Presbyterian Church settlement in England after victory
          • Many MPs less enthusiastic about this - but needed help
            • Decided to bide time before opposing or watering down intolerant Scottish Presbyterianism
      • Cessation (September 1643)
        • Made easier for Pym (accused for bringing in foreign help)
        • Released Royal troops who had fought Irish rebels for service in England
        • Irish Catholic confederates granted Charles £30,000
          • Confirmed view of many English about King's fondness for popery
            • At least Scots = Protestants
    • Pym's achievements + death
      • One historian: 1640-3 = reign of 'King Pym' (completely dominated Parliament)
        • Driving force behind Parliamentary opposition to King since Short Parliament (May 1640)
        • Parliament's (virtually undisputed) leader when machinery of Personal Rule + Laudian control of Church had been destroyed (1641)
          • Parliament had followed 19 Propositions with shooting war largely at his prompting
        • Set up machinery to win war + held together various shifting coalitions within Parliament
      • Died December 1643
        • War Party vs. Peace Party
          • Middle Party (vast mass of MPs that supported Pym) virtually ceased to exist after death
            • Majority moved towards War Party
          • Split grew during 1644
        • Religious issues
          • Independency had been growing since 1642
            • Helped by collapse of Church authority
          • Presbyterians were clear majority in Parliament
            • Independent MPs were growing in numbers + influence
          • Presbyterians + Independents could agree on many political issues
            • Mistake to assume Presbyterians = automatically more conservative
            • Was a potential split - would show itself when a final Church settlement would have to be made
        • Manchester vs. Cromwell
          • Manchester = intolerant Presbyterian - inclined to Peace Party
            • Conduct of operations against King = less than dynamic
          • Cromwell, cavalry commander = hero of War Party
            • Seemed to be only commander with drive + military competence to win war
          • Relations rapidly deteriorated in summer 1644
            • Quarrel eventually fought out in Commons
              • Result = defeat for Peace Party
                • Majority of MPs voted to remove Manchester, Essex + other Parliamentary commanders by passing a 'Self-Denying Ordinance' (3 April 1645)
                  • Meant no member of either House could hold a commission in the army
                    • Cromwell granted a dispensation to continue in his command
                    • Face saving device to remove Manchester + Essex without charging them with incompetence
    • End of the war
      • New Model army set up (February 1645)
        • Victory of War Party over Peace Party = complete
      • Many who had voted for Self-Denying Ordinance + setting up of New Model army = formerly moderate Middle Party
        • Hadn't become sympathetic to Independency or wanted to move harsh measures against King
          • Not radicals wanting to crush King - conservatives trying to end war
        • Failure of negotiations with Charles = fear that war would go on forever
          • Long war = high taxes, social discontent, collapse of trade + perhaps collapse of traditional authority
      • War ended - summer 1646
        • War Party ceased to have any meaning
        • King was beaten + threatening social, religious + political undercurrents = surfacing outside Westminster
        • Basic conservatism of majority of MPs reasserted itself
          • MPs not radical in religion or politics - expected to be able to negotiate a settlement with the King now war was won
    • Developments outside Parliament
      • End of censorship = great outpouring of pamphlets on religious and political ideas
        • 1/5 people could read - pamphlets read to those who couldn't
      • Religious groups
        • Independents
          • Most important development
          • Opposed by Anglicans + Presbyterians
            • Believed in one state church which all should belong to
          • Believed in some form of national church - but without powers to make people attend services
          • Grew before Civil War (strongest in East Anglia)
            • Spread through Parliamentary army from cavalry of Eastern Association
          • Cromwell was patron
          • By 1646 = challenging Parliamentary Presbyterianism
        • The Sects
          • Far more radical than Independents
            • Believed in a 'gathered church' or like-minded members
            • Rejected any idea of state church organisation
          • Degree of 'religious mania' developing by 1646
            • Tiny sects claiming to have the absolute truth
              • Scared Presbyterians and even some Independents
      • Political groups
        • Levellers
          • Most important political development outside Parliament
          • Ideas first circulated in pamphlets
            • Main pamphleteers = John Lilburne, William Walwyn + Richard Overton
          • Not well-organised political party with clear leadership structure
          • Ideas (sometimes modified) had spread London, but army was most influenced by/in Levellerism
          • Radical religious ideas had been spreading with unauthorised preaching
            • Some became entwined with radical political ideas
          • Ideas
            • All men are free and equal
            • All equal in eyes of God - so should be in society
            • Englishmen were free in past - enslaved by 'The Norman Yoke'
            • Electoral system should be reformed
              • Equal electoral districts
              • All men over 21 should vote
          • Radicals in politics = small minority, but treatment of army by Parliament over arrears of pay (1647) played into Leveller's hands
          • Failed to force through radical political programme at Putney Debates (1647)
            • Majority of army trusted Cromwell rather than Leveller spokesman
            • Majority more interested in issues (pay) than paper constitutions
            • No clear leadership or structure
            • Most dynamic army representative (Rainsborough) killed in Second Civil War
        • Clubmen
          • People living in the countryside in the west
          • Tired of increasing anarchy of war
            • Soldiers living for free, destroying their crops, terrorising their neighbourhoods
          • Organised districts into defensive pacts
            • Not organised by gentry (like failed neutrality pacts of 1642-3)
          • Farmer, cottagers + artisans practising self-help
            • May not have been very successful but showed they could act independently of gentry 'masters'
          • Highlighted slide towards anarchy that was occuring
      • Parliamentary army became hotbed of new religious + political ideas
      • War meant collapse of traditional rule in the countryside
        • Gentry often absent
        • Courts didn't function regularly
        • In some ways, society in danger of dissolving under stress of war
  • Led by Pym
  • One historian: 1640-3 = reign of 'King Pym' (completely dominated Parliament)
    • Driving force behind Parliamentary opposition to King since Short Parliament (May 1640)
    • Parliament's (virtually undisputed) leader when machinery of Personal Rule + Laudian control of Church had been destroyed (1641)
      • Parliament had followed 19 Propositions with shooting war largely at his prompting
    • Set up machinery to win war + held together various shifting coalitions within Parliament
  • Independency had been growing since 1642
    • Helped by collapse of Church authority
  • Undercurrents of other divisions surface
    • Manchester vs. Cromwell
      • Manchester = intolerant Presbyterian - inclined to Peace Party
        • Conduct of operations against King = less than dynamic
      • Cromwell, cavalry commander = hero of War Party
        • Seemed to be only commander with drive + military competence to win war
      • Relations rapidly deteriorated in summer 1644
        • Quarrel eventually fought out in Commons
          • Result = defeat for Peace Party
            • Majority of MPs voted to remove Manchester, Essex + other Parliamentary commanders by passing a 'Self-Denying Ordinance' (3 April 1645)
              • Meant no member of either House could hold a commission in the army
                • Cromwell granted a dispensation to continue in his command
                • Face saving device to remove Manchester + Essex without charging them with incompetence
  • Fighting to bring King to terms, not defeat him
    • Parliamentary army became hotbed of new religious + political ideas

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