- Explain how Cromwell rose to power.
- Charles I’s belief, inherited from his father, that the power of the crown is God-given and that the king does not have to respect the position of the English Parliament, shaped his reign and led to a political crisis that in the end would cost him his own life.
- After the 1628 Parliament drew up the Petition of Right, Charles I avoided calling a Parliament for the next decade, a period known as the “personal rule” or the “eleven years’ tyranny.” During this period, Charles’s lack of money determined policies.
- Charles finally bowed to pressure and summoned another English Parliament in November 1640. Known as the Long Parliament, it passed laws that strengthened the position of and protected Parliament.
- Charles and his supporters continued to resent Parliament’s demands, while Parliamentarians continued to suspect Charles of wanting to impose episcopalianism and unfettered royal rule by military force. After Ireland first descended into chaos, cities and towns declared their sympathies for one faction or the other.
- The English Civil War (1642–1651) pitted the supporters of King Charles I and later his son and successor, Charles II, against the supporters of Parliament. Its outcome was threefold: the trial and execution of Charles I, the exile of Charles II, and the replacement of English monarchy with, at first, the Commonwealth of England (1649–53), and then the Protectorate (1653–59) under Oliver Cromwell’s personal rule.
- In 1653, Cromwell was invited by his fellow leaders to rule as Lord Protector of England (which included Wales at the time), Scotland, and Ireland. As a ruler, he executed an aggressive and effective foreign policy.
New Model Army
An army formed in 1645 by the Parliamentarians in the English Civil War and disbanded in 1660 after the Restoration. It differed from other armies in the series of civil wars referred to as the Wars of the Three Kingdoms in that it was intended as an army liable for service anywhere in the country (including in Scotland and Ireland) rather than being tied to a single area or garrison. Its soldiers became full-time professionals rather than part-time militia.
The name given to the supporters of the Parliament of England during the English Civil War. Also known as Parliamentarians, they fought against Charles I of England and his supporters, the Cavaliers or Royalists, who claimed rule by absolute monarchy and the divine right of kings. Their goal was to give the Parliament supreme control over executive administration.
An English Parliament that lasted from 1640 until 1660. It followed the fiasco of the Short Parliament, which had been held for three weeks during the spring of 1640, and which in its turn had followed eleven years of parliamentary absence.
eleven years’ tyranny
The period from 1629 to 1640, when King Charles I of England, Scotland, and Ireland ruled without recourse to Parliament. The King was entitled to do this under the Royal Prerogative. His actions caused discontent among the ruling classes, but the effects were more popular with the common people.
A name first used by Roundheads as a term of abuse for the wealthier male Royalist supporters of King Charles I and his son Charles II of England during the English Civil War, the Interregnum, and the Restoration (1642–c. 1679). It was later adopted by the Royalists themselves.
The English Parliament after Colonel Thomas Pride purged the Long Parliament on December 6, 1648, of those members hostile to the Grandees’ intention to try King Charles I for high treason.
Thirty Years’ War
A series of wars in Central Europe between 1618 and 1648. Initially a war between various Protestant and Catholic states in the fragmented Holy Roman Empire, it gradually developed into a more general conflict involving most of the great powers.
tonnage and poundage
Certain duties and taxes first levied in Edward II’s reign on every tun (cask) of imported wine, which came mostly from Spain and Portugal, and on every pound weight of merchandise exported or imported. Traditionally it was granted by Parliament to the king for life until the reign of Charles I.
Petition of Right
A major English constitutional document that sets out specific liberties of the subjects that the king is prohibited from infringing. Passed in 1628, it contains restrictions on non-Parliamentary taxation, forced billeting of soldiers, imprisonment without cause, and the use of martial law.
Background: The Stuarts and the English Parliament
Elizabeth I’s death in 1603 resulted in the accession of her first cousin twice-removed King James VI of Scotland to the English throne as James I of England, creating the first personal union of the Scottish and English kingdoms. As King of Scots, James had become accustomed to Scotland’s weak parliamentary tradition, and the new King of England was genuinely affronted by the constraints the English Parliament attempted to place on him. Despite tensions between the King and Parliament, James’s peaceful disposition contributed to relative peace in both England and Scotland. However, his son and successor, Charles I of England, did not share his father’s personality, and engaged in even more tense conflicts with Parliament. Charles’s belief, inherited from his father, that the power of the crown is God-given and that the king does not have to respect the position of the English Parliament, shaped his reign and led to a political crisis that in the end would cost him his own life.
Having dissolved Parliament in 1627 after it did not meet the king’s requirements and threatened his political allies, but unable to raise money without it, Charles assembled a new one in 1628. The new Parliament drew up the Petition of Right, and Charles accepted it as a concession in order to obtain his subsidy. The Petition did not grant him the right of tonnage and poundage, which Charles had been collecting without parliamentary authorization since 1625. Charles I avoided calling a Parliament for the next decade, a period known as the “personal rule” or the “eleven years’ tyranny.” During this period, Charles’s lack of money determined policies. First and foremost, to avoid Parliament, the king needed to avoid war. Charles made peace with France and Spain, effectively ending England’s involvement in the Thirty Years’ War.
Charles finally bowed to pressure and summoned another English Parliament in November 1640. Known as the Long Parliament, it proved even more hostile to Charles than its predecessor, and passed a law that stated that a new Parliament should convene at least once every three years—without the king’s summons, if necessary. Other laws passed by the Parliament made it illegal for the king to impose taxes without parliamentary consent and later gave Parliament control over the king’s ministers. Finally, the Parliament passed a law forbidding the king to dissolve it without its consent, even if the three years were up.
Charles and his supporters continued to resent Parliament’s demands, while Parliamentarians continued to suspect Charles of wanting to impose episcopalianism and unfettered royal rule by military force. Within months, the Irish Catholics, fearing a resurgence of Protestant power, struck first, and all of Ireland soon descended into chaos. In early January 1642, accompanied by 400 soldiers, Charles attempted to arrest five members of the House of Commons on a charge of treason, but failed to do so.
A few days after this failure, fearing for the safety of his family and retinue, Charles left the London area for the north of the country. Further negotiations by frequent correspondence between the king and the Long Parliament proved fruitless. As the summer progressed, cities and towns declared their sympathies for one faction or the other.
The English Civil War
What followed is know as the English Civil War (1642–1651), which developed into a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians (“Roundheads”) and Royalists (“Cavaliers”). The first (1642–1646) and second (1648–1649) wars pitted the supporters of King Charles I against the supporters of the Long Parliament, while the third (1649–1651) saw fighting between supporters of King Charles II (Charles I’s son) and supporters of the Rump Parliament. The war ended with the Parliamentarian victory at the Battle of Worcester on September 3, 1651.
The overall outcome of the war was threefold: the trial and execution of Charles I, the exile of Charles II, and the replacement of English monarchy with, at first, the Commonwealth of England (1649–1653), and then the Protectorate (1653–1659) under Oliver Cromwell’s personal rule. The monopoly of the Church of England on Christian worship in England ended with the victors consolidating the established Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland. Constitutionally, the wars established the precedent that an English monarch cannot govern without Parliament’s consent, although the idea of Parliament as the ruling power of England was legally established as part of the Glorious Revolution in 1688.
Oliver Cromwell’s Rise
Oliver Cromwell was relatively obscure for the first forty years of his life. He was an intensely religious man (an Independent Puritan) who entered the English Civil War on the side of the “Roundheads,” or Parliamentarians. Nicknamed “Old Ironsides,” he was quickly promoted from leading a single cavalry troop to being one of the principal commanders of the New Model Army, playing an important role in the defeat of the royalist forces. Cromwell was one of the signatories of King Charles I’s death warrant in 1649, and he dominated the short-lived Commonwealth of England as a member of the Rump Parliament (1649–1653). He was selected to take command of the English campaign in Ireland in 1649–1650. His forces defeated the Confederate and Royalist coalition in Ireland and occupied the country, bringing an end to the Irish Confederate Wars. During this period, a series of Penal Laws were passed against Roman Catholics (a significant minority in England and Scotland but the vast majority in Ireland), and a substantial amount of their land was confiscated. Cromwell also led a campaign against the Scottish army between 1650 and 1651.
In April 1653, he dismissed the Rump Parliament by force, setting up a short-lived nominated assembly known as Barebone’s Parliament, before being invited by his fellow leaders to rule as Lord Protector of England (which included Wales at the time), Scotland, and Ireland from December 1653. As a ruler, he executed an aggressive and effective foreign policy. He died from natural causes in 1658 and the Royalists returned to power in 1660, and they had his corpse dug up, hung in chains, and beheaded.