Impact of the English Civil War (1642–1651)

Modified: 9th Jul 2023
Wordcount: 1420 words

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The English Civil was an important part of English Revolution in 17th Century. It was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists. It lasted ten years-from 1642 to 1651. According to the opinions of the historians, the English Civil war in 17th century could be divided into two parts: the first English Civil war and the second English Civil War. At last, the Parliamentarians won the war. It caused a big change in English political system.

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The parliamentarians and the royalists stood for the benefits of different people. The parliamentarians stood for the benefits of the new bourgeoisies, new nobles, yeomen, and most of the commons. [2] The royalists stood for the benefits of the king, the old nobles, the priests and the bureaucrats and the magnates. With the development of the economy, the conflicts between them became more serious.

England was one of the blankets of Capitalism. [3] Since the 13th century, many nobles and people who had money began to buy lands and managed their farms. Many farmers who lost their lands became the main labors for the development of the capitalism. Many farmers worked in one farm, and the products of the farm will go to market directly. Besides the agriculture, the commerce and industry got a great development. With the development of the economy, bourgeois became an important part of the society. However, under the reign of the king, the economy developed very slowly. The feudality blocked the development of the economy. In addition, Charles I levied upon heavy tax from the citizens for his luxurious life and the war. More and more people opposed the reign of Charles I. Charles I did not care the people, and continued to carry out his policies. He even decided to break the parliament. The conduct of Charles I had enraged people. Rebellions happened in many places.

In November, 1641, the parliament made and passed a document to accuse the bad conduct of Charles I, and required him to give industry and commerce freedom. [4] The most important point of this document was that the government should listen to the parliament. However, Charles I did not agree with this kind of document. To response the rebellion, he captured the members of the House of Commons, but he failed at last. Further negotiations by frequent correspondence between the King and the Long Parliament through early summer proved fruitless. In August 22, 1642, Charles I declared to crusade against the members of the Parliament who rebelled him. This thing caused the first English war between parliamentarians and royalists.

Comparing the powers of the two camps, the camp supporting parliament was in dominant position. The areas the parliament controlled were developed. Four fifths of the tax was got from these areas. [5] Most of the people support the parliament. In addition, the army of the parliament controlled important harbors and navy. However, the parliament was in a hard condition in the beginning. To change the bad condition of the war, in 1645 Parliament reaffirmed its determination to fight the war to a finish. “It passed the Self-denying Ordinance, by which all members of either House of Parliament laid down their commands, and re-organized its main forces into the New Model Army (“Army”), under the command of Sir Thomas Fairfax, with Cromwell as his second-in-command and Lieutenant-General of Horse.” [6] At the Battle of Naseby on 14 June and the Battle of Langport on 10 July, the Parliamentarians effectively destroyed Charles’ armies. Charles was eventually handed over to the English Parliament by the Scots and was imprisoned. This marked the end of the First English Civil War.

After the First English Civil War, the royalists were hurt seriously. The power fell into the hand of the Presbyterianism. All polices they made were for their own benefits. Most of the people’s rights were not protected, and their bad conditions of life were not changed. They thought the first English Civil War was not the end of the revolution. They decided to continue the revolution until their rights and benefits were protected. [7] At the same time, Charles I negotiated a secret treaty with the Scots, on 28 December 1647. Under the agreement, called the “Engagement”, the Scots undertook to invade England on Charles’ behalf and restore him to the throne on condition of the establishment of Presbyterianism for three years. [8] Then, he used all kinds of methods to encourage people to rebel. Suddenly, a series of Royalist uprisings throughout England and a Scottish invasion occurred in the summer of 1648. The second English Civil war broke out. Parties of revolution seek to cooperation to fight the war. During the second war, the army of the parliament conquered every difficulty, and succeeded at last. The second English war ended with the victory of the parliament. Charles I was sent to the court of trial. At the end of the trial the 59 Commissioners found Charles I guilty of high treason, as a “tyrant, traitor, murderer and public enemy”. [9] He was beheaded on 30 January 1649.

Shortly after the King’s execution, Parliament abolished the office of the King and the House of Lords. It declared that England shall be governed as a Commonwealth. Commonwealth was established in England. The government ruled by elected representatives of the people. But England’s supposedly republican Commonwealth actually turned out to be a military dictatorship under Cromwell. [10] To protect his reign, he tried his best to clean up all threats. At last, he brought Scotland and Ireland under English control. His armies swept though both countries and put down all resisting forces. [11] 

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English Civil War is a great fight between parliamentarians and royalists. During the war, the new nobles and the bourgeoisies held the leadership, and most of the common people supported them to fight. That assured the victory of the parliamentarians. The victory of parliamentarians ended the reign of dictator. New nobles and bourgeoisies take the power of the nation. The right of the King was abolished. England was declared to be Republic. “Democracy was closer to Britain. It was the climax of English Revolution.” [12] 

English Civil War was an important event in the history of British. Besides the political consequence, it had a great effect on the development of the military and the economy. During the English Civil War, Cromwell established advanced army. It improved the strength of the English army. The new nobles and bourgeoisies took the power of the nation. They could make policies that stood for the benefits of bourgeoisies. It promoted the development of capitalism. In addition, the victory of English Civil War encouraged the revolutions of other countries.

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