The Politics, Religion and society occurrences from 1628-1690
From 1628 until 1649 king Charles I ruled England. Throughout believing he had the divine right (this is the belief that he was a human representation of God, and offending the king is to offend God).The Parliament of England had less power than the king of England over controlling the country and their main use was to get the gentry to collect taxes for the king. Therefore, the king only summoned parliament when he needed revenue and the king could dissolve parliament at any time. He took advantage of his crown and he dissolved parliament for one year, but then reinstated them so he could obtain his subsidy. He ruled without calling parliament for eleven years (known as the eleven years of tyranny). He soon was also suspected to be Catholic which was not permitted in his position. The main indications of this were the addition of decoration in churches and his marriage to the French Catholic Princes Henrietta Maria. This all lead the to Civil war between the parliamentarians (roundheads) and the royalists (cavaliers) this lead to Charles I execution in 1649 and the abolishment of the monarchy. This Placed the country in the interregnum (between monarchs), and the Puritan, Oliver Cromwell ruled. In this assessment I will explore the significance of the politics, religion and society during the English civil war.
The civil war was significant in terms of religion. The main religious aspect that changed over this period were the monarch was required to be protestant yet king Charles I married a Catholic. He also introduced a high Anglicanism Into churches. These were a more sacramental version of the cofe and incorporated decoration and elaborate stone altars (instead of the plain wooden ones). People saw this as being more catholic and were suspicious of these of these changes. In the period between Cromwell’s leadership and just after king Charles’s death an array of new religions emerged with several perceptions on what was going to occur. One of the groups named the fifth day monarchists passionately believed that Jesus was going to lead us through this period.
After his fall the country radically changed to Puritan dividing England into eleven districts, each with a superior figure who ruled that specific district. They brought in a new way to go about life which consisted of works of light and works of darkness (works of light being the way you were supposed to conduct your life and the works of darkness frowned upon). For example the main works of darkness were dancing, sleeping in, gambling, betting, celebrations and even Christmas was banned due to the fact it had evolved into a celebration. On the other had the most important works of light were: Praying, Sharing, Preaching to the dead, reading the bible and consistently going to church.
During the Civil war common people didn’t really take sides, but as armies past trough, they forced men to join their army or they would harm or kill their families. They also were pillaged to feed and pay for the wars and they had to pay higher taxes to fund it too. The society during the civil war was quite annoyed after the execution of Charles I due to the fact the Puritans banned so called ‘fun’. The World Turned Upside Down is an English ballad, against the policies of Parliament relating to the celebration of Christmas. Parliament believed the holiday should be a solemn occasion, and outlawed traditional English Christmas celebrations (I mentioned the works of darkness previously and this was one). After Cromwell’s death the restoration of the monarchy occurred inviting King Charles’s son to rule the country, Charles II. He was soon named the merry monarch because he introduced all the works of darkness back into daily life.
Even though there were several changes in society all significant at the time none still apply in this present day. This is not a Puritan country; otherwise we would not have Christmas!
Another of the three main changes to England at the time of the Civil war was the politics. Many relate this period to a seesaw, parliament at one end and the monarchy at the other. Each victory either obtains raising their edge of the seesaw and each defeat having the reverse effect. To start with the monarchy (King Charles) and the parliament were engaged in a battle over control of the country due to the Kings Insolence, rejection of parliament and his seemingly Catholic views in a Protestant country. There were only three major battles in the English Civil War – Edge Hill (1642) Marston Moor (1644) and Naseby (1645). Soon after these battles he was overthrown mainly by Cromwell’s New Model Army which inflicted a fatal blow to the king’s army at the Battle of Naseby. Charles did not recover from this defeat and this caused him to lose the English Civil War, and eventually his head.
A committee named the Levellers who were a political group of radicals during the of the English Civil War challenged the control of Parliament. Between July and November 1647, the Levellers put forward plans that would have truly democratised England and Wales but would also have threatened the supremacy of Parliament. For this reason, the Levellers never gained the amount of support in the right places that they needed to succeed. During this stage after the civil war a picture was painted called the world turned upside down which replicated the hard ship and confusion the English went through.
Parliament took control and England became a republic, ruled by the commonwealth of England with a period where Oliver Cromwell ruled over the Protectorate as Lord Protector, due to in-fighting amongst members of the Parliaments.
The Commonwealth of England lasted for roughly 11 years (1649-1660) between Charles I decapitation and the restoration of the monarchy. Oliver Cromwell died in 1658, his son briefly became Lord Protectorate, but no one had confidence in him. The Romp Parliament was reformed but the Armies didn’t like how they were treated. To stop total decent into anarchy, king Charles II was brought back (Charles I son) to act as the king.
The restoration of the monarchy had the complete reverse effect on the seesaw reinstating most of the monarchy power. King Charles I reign as king continued for approximately another 15 years (1660-1685) until his death and James II was crowned. He was also the last Roman Catholic monarch to reign over England. And was shortly deposed in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. The Glorious Revolution was probably the first act that impacts on our life today. This conflict removed the present monarchy and brought in to new rulers, William and Mary in March 1689. Alongside the Bill of rights that restricts the monarchs’ powers. Some laws are:
The king was donated an amount of money to rule the country
Parliament controlled taxes
Some of these laws still apply Such as the king having to be Protestant.
The Glorious Revolution (seesaw)
The parliament has abolished the monarchy and has full control over the country.
The bill of rights (seesaw)
Parliament The Parliament has brought back the monarchy but the monarchy is directed by parliament.
Was the English Civil war significant?
The English Civil war is significant as it changed England’s politics, religion and society and some of these changes resulted in how our country is still run with a parliamentary monarchy form of government. We could still be in a republic if the restoration had not occurred. The Monarchy is still not free to choose his/her religion but must still be protestant if the Glorious revolution and the bill of rights.
In my opinion the most significant figure would have to be Cromwell. This figure inflicted great changes. Cromwell was important because he changed modern day British politics. He made an impact on history and showed that we can rule without a monarchy. He also was a great military leader who constructed the new model army, which was the main cause to parliament’s victory. Cromwell was also significant because he inflicted the Interregnum and the puritan stage. And practically lead Britain through this era. Both society and religion has changed a lot since the English Civil War as England has become more educated and diverse, but the Civil War had its biggest impact on how the country is run today. The war resulted in the parliamentary monarchy and the bill of rights, which formed the basic rights of people, which limited the monarchy and set the rules of parliament. Some of these rights are still active today.