Factors that Affected the Outcome of the First Civil War
In the 1630’s and 1640’s Britain was divided by civil war. The British
civil war forced fathers and sons, cousins, brothers and friends to
choose sides and fight against the enemy which would often mean family
members. The two sides (the Royalists, who fought for King Charles the
second, and the Parliamentarians, who fought for parliament) both had
strengths and weaknesses. It is these that decided the course of the
war but it is commonly argued that the reason for the result was the
Royalists inability to capitalise on an early advantage and
parliaments growing strength.
King Charles’ army seized an early advantage in the first civil war.
Large parts of the country such as South Wales and the South West were
on the side of the King. In addition to this he soon gained control of
most of northern England. The King, at this stage of the war had
superior troops to those of Parliament and had greater resources
despite Parliament controlling most trading centres and ports.
Charles’ initial plan to march on London was a sound one; however, in
order for him to have achieved victory in this manner it was crucial
that Charles capitalized quickly and decisively upon his early
advantage. Unfortunately for him by allowing his army to be drawn into
battle at Edgehill he missed the opportunity to do this. However, the
door was not shut entirely in the Kings face and most historians agree
that were it not for the battle fought for Parliament by the voluntary
London Trained Bands at Turnham Green then the king would probably
have had an open road to London. As Angela Anderson puts it, ‘’Had
Prince Rupert’s cavalry been as strong in discipline and tactics as
they were in attack then Edgehill might have been a clear and decisive
victory for the Crown’’.
A great strength of Parliaments was that the Parliamentarians
controlled most ports and centres of trade and commerce. This was by
virtue of the fact that most merchants, craftsmen and tradesmen sided
with the Parliamentarians, mainly as a matter of default. They
wouldn’t support the king because of his imposition of tunnage and
poundage tax on merchants. Without the income that holding such
important places would have brought Charles struggled to fund his war
effort and was forced to rely increasingly upon taxes upon and
donations from those who supported him.
Parliament also used taxes to fund their war effort; however, as the
King would not give assent to anything passed in parliament they were
forced to pass ordinances in place of acts.
As Parliament controlled the ports this prevented King Charles from
generating income and war funds through customs duties or trade.
Without this crucial income Charles was always at a monetary
disadvantage to Parliament. As a result of this...