History OCR AS - English Civil War + Interregnum Facts (Part 2)

Part 2 of the facts on the English Civil War. This set covers the path to Civil War.


Long Parliament's First Session: November 1640 - A

This Parliament was generally agreed on what it needed to do. It was concerned wmostly with curbing the King's power and passing Acts of Parliament to destroy Personal Rule (undo what the King had done).


  • November - Long Parliament begins
  • Impeachment of Strafford + Laud
  • Parliament attacks Personal Rule
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Long Parliament's First Session: November 1640 - A


  • February - Triennial Act
  • March - Trial of the Earl of Strafford (Wentworth) begins
  • April - Prosecution of strafford fails to prove its case
  • Army Plot
  • May - Bishops' Exclusion Bill
  • Strafford executed
  • Riots in London
  • Act preventing the dissolution of Parliament without its own consent
  • June - Tonnage and Poundage Act
  • House of Lords rejects the Bishops' Exclusion Bill
  • July - Acts abolishing the Court of Star Chamber and the Court of High Commission
  • August - Act abolishing Ship Money
  • Limitation of Forests Act
  • Act prohibiting the Distraint of Knighthood
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Long Parliament's Second Session: October 1641 - W

The programme of the opposition became more radical. It aimed at fundamental constitutional change. A Royalist party was formed.


  • August - Charles visits Scotland
  • October - Irish Rebellion
  • November - The Grand Remonstrance
  • December - Militia Bill
  • Mobs control London
  • Rumours that the Queen is about to be impeached
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Long Parliament's Second Session: October 1641 - W


  • 4 January - Charles attempts to arrest the Five Members
  • Charles I abandons London for the north of England
  • February - Queen leaves England to seek foreign assistance
  • March - Militia Ordinance issued by Parliament without King's consent
  • April - Sir John Hotham refuses to surrender the royal arsenal at Hull to the King
  • June - Commissions of Array issued by the King
  • Nineteen Propositions
  • Fighting breaks out nationwide between rival militia captains
  • July - Parliament appoints a Committee of Safety to conduct military operations
  • Parliament votes to raise an army
  • August - Charles I's standard raised at Nottingham
  • War begins
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How Did the Long Parliament Begin? (1)

3 November 1640 - Parliament Opens:

  • Great hope and optimism for change as the King has no money + in a bad situation.
  • Puritans hoped compromises of the Elizabethan Settlement to be destroyed.

Catholic Conspiracies?

  • John Pym warned of a Catholic plot, spreading into every corner of the country, aimed at altering the kingdom in religion & government.
  • He accused the government of stirring up war with Scotland, using absolutism in Ireland and planning to use the Irish army to reduce England to order.
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How Did the Long Parliament Begin? (2)

King's Ministers Accused of High Treason:

  • Strafford and Laud impeached awaiting trial.
  • Thought the King's advisors, not the King, were to blame.
  • Parliament threatened to impeach any sheriff who had collected Ship Money or Tonnage & Poundage.
  • The King's Catholic secretary, Francis Windebank, fled to the continent.
  • Many courtiers left for their country estates (people scared about what Parliament was going to do - mainly Catholics).

The Root and Branch Petition:

  • Bishops in the House of Lords would cause a problem in Strafford's trial.
  • The Root and Branch Petition called the existence of bishops into question.
  • It called for the abolition of bishops (bishops weren't a feature for Puritans - come between you and God).
  • Petitions for and against this reform poured into Parliament.
  • This shows that religion was already a divisive issue.
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How Did the Long Parliament Begin? (3)

The Triennial Act:

  • In February 1641 the King signed this act. He had no choice as Scotland were occupying Newcastle - he needed Parliament's help.
  • A new Parliament would be called every 3 years whether the King called it or not.
  • Radical change as the King used to have the decision on whether to call Parliament (so had some power over Parliament). Began the process that would make Parliament a permanent feature of English politics.
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The Trial and Execution of Strafford (1641)

  • Strafford's impeachment by Parliament led to the most important state trial since the reign of Elizabeth I.
  • It was essential to Parliament's programme of reform (because Strafford would try to stop them), but it was a high risk strategy.
  • If Strafford survived he could cause severe problems for Parliament's leaders. He knew that they, including Pym, Saye and Sele, Brooke and others, had been in communication with the Scots (could be seen as treason).
  • 22 March 1641 - The trial began before the House of Lords.
  • Strafford was accused of trying to establish 'arbitrary government' (government that had no limits / checks so could do whatever it wanted).
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Accusations Made Against Strafford and His Defence

1. Making excessive profits from the customs in Ireland.

'I never knew the making of a good bargain turned on a man as treason.'

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Accusations Made Against Strafford and His Defence

2. Sir Henry Vane's testimony about Strafford's intention to use an Irish army to reduce the kingdom to order.

'If words spoken to friends, in familiar discourse, spoken in one's chamber, spoken at one's table, spoken in one's sick-bed shall be brought against a man as treason, this takes away the comfort of all human society. If these things be strained to take away life and honour it will be a silent world.'

  • Strafford claimed these things were said in private so shouldn't be used against him.
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Accusations Made Against Strafford and His Defence

3. 'If this treason had taken effect our souls had been enthralled to the spiritual tyranny of Satan, our consciences to the ecclesiastical tyranny of the Pope' (Catholic plot).

'Never a servant in authority beneath the King my master who was more hated and maligned, and am still, by these men than myself, and that for a strict and impartial execution of the laws against them. Hence your lordships may observe that the greater number of witnesses used against me are men of that religion.'

  • He said that Puritans are unfairly attacking him because he enforced laws against them.
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Accusations Made Against Strafford and His Defence

4. Strafford was accused, by a man who was nearly deaf, of saying 'The little finger of the King was heavier than the loins of the law' (the King has much more power than anything else).

'The witness 'appears to have such as infirmity of hearing that he must now be whoopt to at the bar, before he can hear'.

  • He must be shouted at to hear (hearing very poor so unlikely he heard what he said he did).
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Accusations Made Against Strafford and His Defence

5. 'It is the law that unites the King and his people, and the author of this treason hath endeavoured to dissolve that union even to break the mutual, irreversible, indissoluble bond of protection and allegiance whereby they are, and I hope ever will be, bound together.' Accused him of breaking the bond between Parliament + the King - avoiding Parliament and the law. The King did try to change laws which meant he broke bonds.

'The happiness of a kingdom consists in the just balance of the King's prerogative and the subject's liberty, and that these things should never be well till these went hand in hand together. I have and shall ever aim at a fair and founded liberty, remembering that I am a freeman, but a subject; that I have a right, but under a monarch.'

  • He was stating they had freedom + laws but everyone's under the King.
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The Bill of Attainder

  • 10 April 1641 - Pym dramatically changed tactics. Parliament hadn't expected Strafford to fight and were concerned he might win the trial.
  • The Commons abandoned the trial. Instead they brought a Bill of Attainder declaring Strafford a traitor. For this to succeed the King would have to sign the Bill.
  • The House of Lords, except for the Earl of Essex, was reluctant to condemn one of their own. Also Puritans were a minority in the House of Lords. They did not want to pass the Bill.
  • Pym, at this crucial moment, revealed the existence of an Army Plot.
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The Army Plot - May 1641

  • A group of army officers, with the King's support, had been plotting a coup.
  • Angered by the way that Parliament was treating the King, they planned to bring the army south from York to London, free Strafford + forcibly dissolve Parliament. The King went along with the plan.
  • 3 May 1641 - King sent 1000 soldiers to seize the Tower of London, but the Tower was well defended and the plot collapsed.
  • This was enough to persuade the Lords to pass the Bill of Attainder.
  • The Army Plot had brought the country to the edge of Civil War. Crowds gathered outside Whitehall Palace, which was poorly defended.
  • The King was worried for the safety of the Queen + his children. He was under intense pressure to sacrifice Strafford for the sake of peace.
  • On signing the Act of Attainder he committed what he saw as the greatest sin of his life.
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  • 12 May 1641 - Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford, was executed on Tower Hill.
  • King Charles had promised Strafford that he would come to no harm.
  • From his prison cell Strafford wrote to the King to release him from his obligation, hoping that his death would restore the kingdom to order.
  • In private, his thoughts were somewhat different: 'put not your trust in princes', he advised.
  • The King consulted the Privy Council. They advised him to sign the death warrant.
  • Right up to the King's own death in 1649 Charles believed that abandoning Strafford was the one true sin of his life, for which he and the kingdom were punished with Civil War.
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The Irish Rebellion: October 1641

  • Was revealed to Parliament by the Privy Council on 1 November 1641.
  • Earl of Leicester received letters from the Irish Council telling of it.
  • Thousands of English Protestants massacred.
  • Many castles and strongholds had fallen to the rebels (mostly Catholics).


  • London was filled with stories of atrocities committed by Irish Catholics on English & Scottish Protestants.
  • Accounts of atrocities were printed & circulated, illustrated with scenes of **** + torture. An army had to be raised...
  • The question was - who would raise the army? Could the King be trusted?
  • Meanwhile, Pym had been at work in Parliament.
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The Grand Remonstrance: November 1641

  • Pym wanted to halt the growth of a 'Royalist' party who thought the King had done enough (agreed to enough).
  • He presented 'The Grand Remonstrance'.
  • A one-sided account of Charles' reign.
  • Opposition MPs had been working on it for weeks.
  • Amongst other things, it asked for:
    • Parliament to control and approve the King's ministers.
    • Bishops + Catholic peers to be excluded from the House of Lords.
    • Root and Branch reform of the Church.
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What Was Pym's Aim?

  • Pym wanted to force MPs to further reduce the King's prerogative powers.
  • Couldn't vote on individual parts of the Remonstrance - had to vote on all 204 sections.
  • Couldn't reject the more radical parts or would be seen as opposed to Parliament.


  • It succeeded just - the Remonstrance only passed by 11 votes. 159 MPs voted for it, 148 voted against.
  • Nearly 200 MPs either abstained or did not attend the vote.
  • It helped quicken the development of a Royalist party.
  • Pym realised it had no chance of being passed in the House of Lords.
  • He published the Remonstrance anyway.
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The Five Members: 4 January 1642

  • The 'Attempt on the Five Members' was actually an attempt to arrest 6 people - 5 MPs and a peer.
  • These were: John Pym, John Hampden, Denzil Holles, Sir Arthur Haselrig, William Strode and the Earl of Manchester.
  • The King attempted to arrest Parliament's leaders.
  • Charles, his nephew Frederick and Charles' armed guard made their way to Westminster + into the House of Commons, entering the Commons chamber.
  • The King asked the Speaker to point out the MPs whose impeachment he had demanded the day before.
  • The Speaker famously replied 'May it please Your Majesty, I have neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak, except as the House shall direct me.'
  • He was essentially saying he answered to Parliament not the King and therefore would not point out the MPs - he could not say anything Parliament didn't tell him to.
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What Happened Next? What Were the Consequences?

  • The Five Members were not there. They had been pre-warned.
  • They had slipped out of the chamber and into a boat, which had taken them down the Thames to a safe house in the city.
  • The King commented, 'I see that all the birds have flown', and returned to Whitehall, humiliated.

What were the consequences?

  • Disastrous for the King.
  • Destroyed the growing impression that he was a king who could be trusted, destroying months of work made by moderate Royalists like Edward Hyde and Viscount Falkland.
  • Made the rumours of a Catholic plot more believable.
  • Lost the King support in the Lords, who approved the bill excluding bishops.
  • Made it impossible for Charles to remain in London.
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What Was Happening in London?

  • Angry mobs of apprentice boys roamed the streets (young men serving an apprenticeship to learn a skill - London apprentices were politically radical).
  • The London Trained Bands (companies of locally trained militia) were also angry and opposed to the King.
  • 10 January 1641 - King left London for Hampton Court.
  • Five Members returned to Parliament in triumph.
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What Events Gained Support for Who?

Events that gained support for the King:

  • Strafford's execution.
  • The Grand Remonstrance.

Events that gained support for Parliament:

  • Ship Money
  • The arrest of the Five Members
  • Army Plot to take the Tower of London
  • Catholic plot (+ Irish Rebellion)
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The Struggle for the Control of the Militia

  • Now the King and Parliament had to gain the support of the militia, the only trained military force available. They were not particularly adept.
  • This needed 2 things - an appeal to the loyalty of local officers, and a claim of legal authority.
  • Parliament struck first with the Militia Ordinance.
  • The King hit back with the Commissions of Array.
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The Militia Ordinance - March 1642

  • The first time in English history that Parliament claimed the authority to issue laws without the King's approval.
  • Parliament said necessity had driven them to it (to defend against the King's advisers).
  • It gave authority to the Lords Lieutenant to raise the militia to serve within the county.
  • The King condemned it.
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The Commissions of Array: June 1642

  • Issued by the King.
  • A medieval device issued to individuals or groups within counties.
  • The King's orders were for the county militia to assemble and place themselves under the orders of his officers.
  • Aroused suspicion - the King using outdated laws?
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The Nineteen Propositions: June 1642

  • Parliament made one last approach to the King in June 1642.
  • The Nineteen Propositions were, in effect, a declaration of Parliament's war aims - they were unrealistic and had no chance of passing.
  • They were written with the public in mind.
  • So was the King's rejection of them.

Some of the Nineteen Propositions:

  • Parliament to control appointments to the Privy Council & offices of state.
  • Policies to be arrived at through discussion in Parliament.
  • Parliament to control the education of the King's children.
  • Parliament to approve the marriages of the King's children.
  • Anti-Catholic laws to be strictly enforced.
  • Catholic peers to be excluded from the House of Lords.
  • Parliament to reform the Church of England.
  • The King to approve the Militia Ordinance.
  • Forts & castles to be put under Parliament's control.
  • Five Members to be cleared of all charges.
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The Call to Arms

  • Parliament passed a resolution raising an army on 12 July 1642.
  • It was placed under the command of the Earl of Essex (who had fallen out wit the King after the Bishops' Wars).
  • On 22 August 1642 the King raised his royal standard on Castle Hill in Nottingham, calling into existence a Royal army.
  • Now the men and women of England would have to choose - for King or for Parliament.
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Choosing Sides in the Civil War - An Orthodox View

People chose sides for the following reasons:

  • Religion: Protestant - Parliament, Catholic - King.
  • Class: Lower class - Parliament, higher class - King.
  • Geographical location: Urban areas - Parliament, country / rural regions - King.
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  • Both Clarendon (Royalist) and Richard Baxter (a Puritan minister and Parliamentarian supporter) support religion as a crucial reason for choosing sides.
  • Those against bishops, for 'godliness' and against Laud supported Parliament - these volunteers also destroyed Laudian innovations after they had joined up, sang psalms before battles and listened to sermons in their regiments.
  • Those for the Common Prayer Book, ritual and were not Puritan tended to be for the King.
  • Religious motivation spread through all classes, from the gentry to the poor - it was not just for the 'middling classes'.
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  • Clarendon stated that most of the gentry 'were enraged against the Parliament... yet the common people were too much inclined to them.'
  • Merchants were more likely to be Parliamentarian, as were 'men of no name' (unimportant people).
  • There was some exaggeration - it was more valuable to be seen to have the gentry supporting your cause - but it is borne out by commentators of both sides. Both claimed to have the support of the gentry, as it makes them look traditional + more popular.
  • More of the common were for Parliament and more of the gentry for King, but not all. There were exceptions.


  • Clarendon said that this was due to the envy of the middle classes for their betters.
  • Baxter said that royalist supporters chose the king because of the fear of upheaval and a desire to preserve their power + possessions.
  • The King's propaganda played into that fear.
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Geographical Location

  • Urban and manufacturing areas (e.g. London, the clothing areas of West Yorkshire + Somerset) were more likely to support Parliament.
  • East Anglia - the King never got a footing for support there.
  • Northern + Western areas tended to support the King.
  • Most sources say that religion and class were more important, but it depended where you lived - in some places the community was very influential.
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  • The situation was more complex than the orthodox view allowed for.
  • There wasn't uniform support for one side in a county - there was often an internal struggle before a county decided for King or Parliament.
  • Owed a lot to the key local political figures like Cromwell in Cambridgeshire.
  • It didn't happen suddenly - was a gradual process.
  • Religion can account for the allegiances of c. 50% of gentry. That can explain the behaviour of those that were the most committed.
  • Even in Yorkshire (over half the gentry were Puritan) that still leaves another 50%.
  • Not all counties were divided on such clear religious lines.


  • Some men were forced to take one side or pressurised to volunteer.
  • Some tried to avoid making a decision, like the Earl of Kingston who 'divided his sons between both sides and concealed himself'.
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Fighting to Avoid War

  • Throughout spring & summer 1642, petitions poured in to King + Parliament demanding that the two sides made up their differences.
  • Shows the uncertainty and lack of appetite for war by a lot of people.
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  • Some people in 1642 opted to choose no side at all.
  • In Staffordshire the JPs met to declare their county a neutral zone, in Cheshire + Yorkshire the commissioners of the two sides made a mutual agreement not to recruit in those counties.
  • In Lincolnshire the gentry declared they would not fight for or against the King and raised a troop of horse 'for the preservation of the peace'.
  • Leicester shut its gates to all 'foreigners' (people who weren't from Leicester) as they could be people recruiting for the King or Parliament.
  • When the Earl of Bath came to South Molton in Devon to recruit for the King the common people attacked the commissioners, as did the women, and drove them out of the town.
  • John Morrill found neutrality pacts attempted in 22 English counties.
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Neutrality Pacts

Two broad categories existed:

  • Agreements between the royalist commissioners of array and the parliamentarian militia commissioners to cease recruitment (usually where both groups were native to that county).
  • More extensive plans to exclude the war completely from certain areas, raising a local force to prevent others from entering the area. Most famous example: the Cheshire 'Treaty of Bunbury' in December 1642.


  • Emphasised how undivided and uncommitted the country was.
  • Demonstrated powerful fear of disorder - could persuade county committees to accept presence of either side if they would guarantee order (although generally benefited Royalists).
  • Enhanced the importance of individuals + minorities who were committed to a cause and clear about their intentions.
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Not a Permanent Option...

  • Neutralism was  not an option for long - until a battle + armies came to the county.
  • Neutrals were often plundered by both sides.
  • Neutrality agreements were not successful.
  • They do reveal the strength of local communities + their loyalties - dubbed 'localism'.
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A Resurgence of Neutralism: 1644-5

  • A revival happened in 1644, starting in royal territories along the borders of Wales and in the south-west.
  • Some royalist troops were less disciplined than others, and greater difficulties with pay increased the amount of looting.
  • Clubmen Associations were established, from which Royalist forces often suffered more.

Clubmen Associations:

  • Usually peasant associations formed to protect property and supplies.
  • Often taken over and more fully organised by local gentry.
  • Set out demands for national peace.
  • Sought to obtain a local truce.
  • No set format.
  • Put local needs first to regain control of the locality.
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Popular Risings: January & March 1645

  • Demanded the removal of all troops from the area.
  • Royalist generals made concessions to the gentry associations and crushed the peasant risings.
  • Could not retain control of the territory.
  • Didn't just affect the royalists.
  • Showed the general unpopularity of the war.
  • Raised doubts about the extent to which the population was committed to either cause.
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