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Why Did A Civil War Break Out In England 1642

2979 words - 12 pages

WHY DID A CIVIL WAR BREAK OUT IN ENGLAND IN 1642?The Civil War had many separate causes. If we are to believe Conrad Russell then religion was the most important aspect of the explosive nature of the war following 1640. Other historians such as John Morrill have pointed out that to look too closely at religion in high politics as almost a single factor of the war is a dangerous stance to take. Morrill espouses the view that whilst events in high politics were certainly at the centre of the explosion of the Civil War, it would be wrong for one to discount events in the counties. It is events in these areas that have taken historians such as Morrill to conclude that they acted as a detonator ...view middle of the document...

Whilst this therefore represented an ideological difference, there was too in the same way ceremonial differences. For example there was less emphasis on preaching and on the Bible, and more on sacramental aspects of the Church and on the Vicars role. William Laud (Archbishop of Canterbury, 1633-1640) who was the main driving force behind Charles's beliefs, thought that the Catholic Church was the only true Church and its only problem was its corruption. Under Laud several offensive changes were made to the layout of the Church. The most offensive of these was the changing of the Communion table to the 'alter wise' position at the east end of the Church. To many these seemed like a clear attempt to usher back in the Mass, and indeed it was over this issue that precipitated disruption and violence in Churches such as the ripping down of railings that enclosed the Communion table. Thus there was a general wariness of creeping Catholicism in the Caroline Court that was highlighted throughout the 1630's by what looked very much like Catholic antics by Charles's wife Henrietta Maria. All of this led Coward to write, "Some even became convinced that there was a Popish plot at Court, centered on Charles's wife, Henrietta Maria." Yet, this in its self was not something that led to Civil War. What it did do was aid in the creation of a negative aura and mistrust of Charles. This aura was intensified by Charles's lack of cooperation with parliament during his 'Personal Rule' which left his views unexplained and thus open to negative interpretation. Coward argues that on some doctrines, Laudianism and Calvinism were in fact similar.Charles's policies in Scotland and Ireland were crucial in bringing religion to the forefront of politics in England. Indeed, the events that took place in Scotland following 1637 and then later in Ireland, were of such importance, that they led Morrill to write, "In order to understand the collapse of Charles's power in England, we have to recognise the effect on English politics of the prior collapse of his power in Scotland and Ireland and the interaction between the events in all three Kingdoms."Charles's obsession with order coupled with his presumptuous and arguably mislead assumption of his own authority as Supreme Head of the Church of Scotland as well as England led him into a blunder ridden policy in Scotland that was to have implications for his status in England. John Kenyon argues that the Scottish Church was widely divergent to the English Church. Yet, in his ignorance of Scottish opinion and law, Charles introduced a new Book of Canons in 1635, based on English canons and went further in 1637 by putting a new English based Prayer Book into action. This provoked widespread demonstration in Scotland such as at St. Giles in Edinburgh, which in turn led to an invasion of England by the Scottish Covernanters, who opposed the stubbornness of Charles. In light of the financial pressures of the war as well as Charles's...

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