Charles: The First English Civil War

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Developing to War, February - August 1642:


  • Feb - Charles: Leaves London and takes his court to York. Henrietta Maria flees to Holland to raise money and troops.
  • March - Parliament: Issues a Miltia Ordinance without the King.
  • April - Charles: Refused at Hull when he tries to take over arsenal.
  • June - Parliament: Attempts to compromise with '19 propositions'.
    • King had to accept Milita Ordinance and Triennial Act, have his Privy Council approved by Parliament and have the 5 members pardoned.
  • June - Charles: Commissions of Array, a medieval army raising method and called all his supporters.
  • July - Parliament has navy support and Earl of Essex is commander of Parliaments army.
  • July - Charles: Prince Rupert is commander of the Royalist army.
  • August - War starts.
  • Commissions of Array vs Militia Ordinance, both were drawn up as a result of defence and mistrust.
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The First English Civil War, 1642-46


  • Charles and his Army:
    • Many victories in 1643, didn't coordinate forces well due to divided royal councils.
  • Council of War in Oxford:
    • Effective in the early years of war.
  • Earl of Newcastle:
    • Didn't march northern Royalist army to support London attack in 1643, could have won.
  • Prince Rupert:
    • Joined Newcastle in Marston Moor in July 1644 and suffered a major loss..


  • London Trained Bands:
    • Defended London in 1643, turned the civil war and won Parliament the first war.
  • Solemn League and Covenants:
    • Military, religious and political alliance with the Scots who sent forces south to help.
  • Committee of both Kingdoms:
    • Set up by Parliament and Covenanters and sorted civil war finances. 
  • General Fairfax and Northern Parliament forces:
    • Fairfax joined the forces in the east and Scots in Marston Moor.
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The First English Civil War, 1642-46

  • November 1642, Royalists failed to take over Turnham Green in London.
  • 1643, Royalists had many victories and seen as their 'high tide'.
  • But the victories didn't affect Parliament's ability to fight. 
  • July 1644, Parliament's best victory was at Marston Moor, the largest battle.
  • But they suffered defeats after and didn't take advantage.
  • This resulted Parliament in creating a New Model Army by Fairfax and Cromwell.
  • June 1645, Royalists fought the New Model Army at Naseby and lost, destroying all Charles capabilities to fight in England the same time his enemies fell in Scotland and Ireland.
  • New Model Army effectively defeated Charles' army in 1646.
  • 5th May 1646, Charles surrenders to the Scots in hope they gave him a better settlement than Parliament. 
  • He was sent to Parliament and arrested.
  • Parliament had won the First Civil War.
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Why the Royalists lost, 1642-46:


  • Royalist areas undercontrol were poor.
  • Clubmen who defended their locality from both armies mainly attacked Royalists.
  • Commissions of Array lacked legal weight to recruit others to join their force.
  • Administration - Royalist Council of War at Oxford = limited authority as commanders in the north were independent. Charles also decided to set up a seperate council in Bristil which removed capable men.
  • Indecisiveness - Charles and Royalists proved this throughout the war and when it came to taking advantage of support from the Aristocracy.
  • Generals - Chose influential local men as generals who lacked commitment and military skills.
  • Divisions - Royal councils were divided with different views led to a confusing policy and lack of leadership. E.g. Edward Hyde wanted peace with Parliament but Henrietta Maria councilled a continued war until victory. 
  • Charles as a military leader - Was poor, made himself commander in-cheif, wouldn've been successful if he brought generals and politicians together but meant in defeat he was purely responsible and ignored best advice.
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Why the Royalists lost, 1642-46:

  • Charles agreement with Catholics -  Charles negotiated an agreement in Septemebr 1643 with the Irish Catholic rebels who fought against the Protestant rule in 1641. He used the Irish army in England which was weak and Charles' supporters were disturbed by this.
  • Relying on Foreign - The fact he was negotiating with France and the Pope helped Parliament Propaganda and published letter of King.
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Why the Parliamentary won, 1642-46:

  • As Royalists had many weaknesses, Parliament had strengths and were effective. 
  • Parliament's war finance - Combined the executive and representative authority and developed methods of running the country without the King and introduced an assessment, a tax on income used to faise funds for a armies which made a lot of money.
  • John Pym and alliances - Pursuaded divided members to sign an alliance in the Solemn League and covenant with the Scottish in 1643 in return for a Presbyterian England. Scots sent 20,000 troops. 
  • Holding London - Able to spread propaganda, use finance such as city loans, use main industry of arms and use an already made administraion in the capital.
  • Local administrations and local communities - Parliament controlled areas that were quite rich and set up special committees in each county this led to the employment of local men who were dedicated. The Clubmen also came to favour the New Model Army over the Royalists.
  • Control of Navy - Allowed it to supply its forces and strongholds such as Hull and Plymouth. 
  • New Model Army - 1644 and 1645, Parliament restructured themselves. They were regularly paid proffessional soldiers who'd never lose a battle motivated by Puritanism. Charles defeat at Naseby in 1645 ended King's chances of winning the civil war but he was still King. 
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