Historical Interpretations of the causes of the English Civil War



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Historical Interpretations of the causes of the English Civil War
Here is a summary of the main differences in the historiography on the causes of the English Civil War.
Whig Historians: Explain the Civil War in terms of the clash between liberty (freedom of the people) and absolutism (the tyranny of Charles’ monarchy). They see the Civil War as a result of a parliament struggle to prevent the king from undermining the traditional rights and freedoms of the English people. They see the Civil War as an inevitable event and focus on long-term issues.
Marxist Historians: Shift the focus from constitutional issues (ie away from the idea of it being a struggle between king and parliament over who should have the right to govern). They emphasise the role of class conflict and a rising bourgeois class (middle class) who challenge the way the country is run and provoke hostilities. They see the Civil War as an inevitable event and focus on long-term issues.
Revisionist Historians: Challenge the idea that the Civil War was inevitable because of ideological or class struggle. They emphasise the role of short-term factors, such as Charles’ personality and the divisive effects of his religious policies.
Post-Revisionists: Also challenge the idea that the Civil War was inevitable. They often focus on the English Civil War as part of a larger British perspective (ie they stress the importance of events in Scotland and Ireland). Some also admit that long-term causes (before the reign of Charles) may have an important place in provoking conflict.

The different sources on the A3 sheet show the difference of opinion amongst historians.

You need to decide which of the above schools of thought the different historians fit into.

Record your ideas and reasons on the table.




Historian

School of Thought

Reasons for your decision

What does this historian consider the main reasons for the outbreak of war

Christopher Hill










John Morrill










Richard Cust and Ann Hughes










Conrad Russell










Derek Hirst









Historical Interpretations of the causes of the English Civil War

Long-term causes of the Civil War

Short-term causes of the Civil War








Which school of though do you most agree with? Explain your answer carefully


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