Lead up to civil war 1640-42


The Formation of the 'anti-court consesus'

Lots of people were voting for the elections of the Long Parliament this year. In some cases, Sheriffs didn't even check in county elections that all voters were allowed to vote, therefore vast crowds voted and the majority of MP's were well aware of the views of their constituents 'Choose no court papist, ship money sheriff' was the cry. 

November 1640- The country gentry going into Parliament were united in a set of negative attitudes, with a fairly clear idea of what they wanted to stop.

1. They were determined to stop the 'slide' of the church into catholicism. They believed that Laudian changes had be reversed.

2.Wanted to punish or neutralise the Kings 'evil advisors', namely Windibank,Finch, and especially Laud and Strafford.

3.Restore old constitutional balance between the rights of his subject and the rights of the King.

4. Eliminate the financial innovationsof personal rule i.e forest fines and ship money

5. Prerogative courts, Star Chamber and High Commission were also marked down for elimination.

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The attitudes of MP's

The King was in a weak position in November 1640, however the country gentry coming up to Parliament did not come up feeling confident that they had the upper hand. 

There was a general feeling that this might be the last chance to reverse trends of 1630's before England became a Roman-Catholic dominated, absolutist state. Apprehension was centred on Strafford, whose record in Ireland and in the Council of the North indicated a minister who could ruthlessly get things done, and could make absolutism work.

The anti-court consensus, with its fear of Roman Catholic conspiracy and its hatred of the court and the King's ministers, was united in what it wanted to prevent, what it wanted to destroy, but the majority had no-forward looking programme of reform, no real idea of creating a new consititution giving more power to the Commons and talking power from the Crown.

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Aim of MP's in 1640

They had come up toLondon to restore old constitution as they saw it. It was not their aim to start a revolution. They can be seen as 'conservative' and with the exception of 60 or so 'court MP's' who supported the Crown, they were united of what they disliked, does not mean that they shared a vision of what the future should hold.

The factors that held them together were 

Fear of popery, and fear of absolutism

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Conclusion to the first session of Long Parliament

The majority of the country MP's were satisfied with the First session of the Long Parliament. Still a lurking fear of Roman Catholic conspiracy, and some MP's were having doubts about Pym's use of the mob to pressurise the Lords into passing measures. However Pym's skill at keeping the commons together meant that, until summer of 1641, the commons were reasonably united.

Despite the general unanimity of the first session, under the surface there were cracks that Pym was plastering over. Important questions remained about the question of the future organisation of the church and the role of Parliament in relation to the Crown. Mpst MP's wished to maintain a balanced constitution. 

The aims of the anti-court consensus had largely been acheieved by the summer of 1641, where was Parliament meant to go next? Was there any need for further legislation? Could Charles be trusted with 'mixed constitution' ?

Pyms acheivement had been to keep the mainly negative anti-court consensus together, but this was going to become increasingly difficult. However the distrust of Charles was still a strong factor holding Parliament together.

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The Second Session of the Long Parliament

October 1641- Parliament re-assembeled. Potential splits began to be apparent. Pym was convinced that Charles was not to be trusted. If Parliament did not put further restraints on royal power, once Parliament dissolved itself Charles would go back to his 'absolutist ways'.

The role of Henrietta Maria

With the elimination of the previous advisors, Pym now saw Henrietta Maria and her associates at court as being dangerous influence over Charles. She never understood the ideas behind the English constitution. 

Support For Charles                                                                                                             A group emerged in the House of Commons who could be called the 'Constitutional Royalists'. Their leading members were Sir Edward Hyde and Viscount Falkland. They were true 'conservatives' and they had opposed the royal policies of the 1630s as being radical and undermining the constitution. They disliked Laudian changes to the church and had agreed to the execution of Stafford. To conservatives such as Hyde the reforms of 1641 had restored the balance between King and Parliament. Church of England was back to its proper position with the fall of Laudian bishops.Concern was that now extremist puritans would destroy the CoE and Pyms policy would lead to consitiutional change. The king must be trusted otherwise the constitution won't work.

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Charles' growing popularity

Many MP's were sympathetic to their views and there are signs that in the autumn of 1641 Charles was becoming more popular. This may be partly due to the increasing activities of religious radicals,with growth of unauthorised preaching and disturbances in churches. Unrest occured in many towns and cities this was partly caused by a trade depression. In these circumstances the King represented stability. 

Charles fails to keep to a consistent attitude

If he followed the moderate constitutional path advised by Hyde and Falkland, he could have presented himself as: the symbol of order and stablility, a trustworthy monarch who would rule according to the law, respecting his subjects' rights while protecting his own rights.

This might have undermined Pym's position. The use of the London mob and his apparent desire to push on with further constitiutional changes were begining to cause alarm in the Houseof Commons among the naturally conservative gentry. Pym was determined to carry on as he was a strong believer in R.C conspiracy manipulating the king. Feared his life if the king were to regain total freedom of action. He was aware of the influence Maria had. 

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The Grand Remonstrance

Started by listing all the policies and actions of Charles that had caused the Commons to distrust him. It then made some demands which it justified because of previous track record of Charles and his ministers. The main points were:

Parliament should choose the Kings ministers.

Parliament should be able to remove the Kings ministers

There should be a conference of religious ministers to reform the CoE

There was a Roman Catholic conspiracy to undermine rhe constitution and religion of England; the commons should investigate it and have the right to punsih those involved.  

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The break-up of the anti-court consensus

The Grand Remonstrance was the rock on which the 'anti-court consensus' finally broke up. It was drawn up during october and presented to the commons in November 1641. Much of the remonstrance can be seen as Propaganda. Designed to do the following

Remind members of the past action of Charles

Re-assert the existence of a Roman Catholic conspiracy

Justify what were clearly 'revolutionary' demands- the right of the commons to choose the King's ministers and control of the militia.

These were clear invasions of the royal prerogative and could not be seen as restoring the 'old constitutions'. The Remonstrance divided in the House of Commons. After heated debates, including drawn swords in the house it was passed by 159 votes to 148

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Consequences of the Grand Remonstrance

Many members had been disturbed by Pyms use of the mob to pressure for a favourable vote.

The remonstrance was printed and published. This was the last straw for many conservatives. In other words for many conservatives. In other words, the conservative gentry were already disturbed by Pym's willingness to use the mob to bring political pressure on the House of Lords. They were horrified that 'the people' were being involved in politics by Pyms publication of the remonstrance.

Pym was seen undermining social and political order. 

Some MP's were already very disturbed at the signs of public disorder,with authorised preaching,floods of pamphlets and rioting. Anarchy could now be seen as a threat as great as Charles' absolutist policies. 

Significance of Grand Remonstrance

Could not be trusted with controlling an army. It was a direct on Charle. Political issues were deliberatly and openly targeted. The debate as to whether to publish the Grand Remonstrance shows the division in Parliament.

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The Irish Rebellion

November 1- news broke out of a rebellion in Ireland.The rebels claimed falsely in Charles' name. Rebellion also strengthened the beleief in R.C conspiracy. 

Why a rebellion

The scottish revolution and Wentworths return to England prompted Irish Catholics to act. Uprising Catholics in Ireland wanted to get rid of English rule.

Charles' mistakes

Charles didn't appoint the Earl of Essex as commander of the troops to be raised for the re-conquest in Ireland. That was a military appointment that would have reassured the House of Commons. Essex was associated with all reforms of the past year. Charles failed to nominate a commander.

End of 1641- Charles felt more confident, he turned to advice from the group at court which surrounded Henerietta Maria. Appointed Thomas Lunsford as gov. of Tower Of London, this was a big mistake. This seemed to be a confirmation of Charles' secret desire to regain freedom of action through a military coup. 

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The Five Members Coup

Charles wanted to arrest Pym, Hampden, Strode, Haslerig and Holles. The impeachment was not carried out and Charles decided on what was in effect a military coup.

5th January- He entered the House of Commons tih 300 troops to arrest the five men. 


Commons were outraged by this breach of priviledge.

The King was surrounded by an angry mob as he left the commons and the five members returned in triumphant. 

The whole affair made the civil war more likely

Swung many MP's back to Pym, as this was what he was predicting: a military coup encouraged by Roman Catholics. 

The kings departure from London was also crucial. It created a situation oftwo sides negotiating at a distance.

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