In the middle of the 17th century, a revolution took place in England. In this country, those events prefer to be called the Civil War. In the course of its absolute monarchy was replaced by a constitutional one, and England itself became a republic for a time. Thanks to this revolution, England experienced an industrial revolution soon and firmly embarked on the capitalist path of development.
The conflict between the legislative and executive powers (parliament and the king) resulted in war, religious forces – Anglicans and Catholics with Puritans – collided with each other. In the course of the revolution, an element of the national struggle was noted – the English, the Scots, the Irish and the Welsh pursued their own interests.
We know about the English revolution mainly from several lessons of history, and artistic novels. It is not surprising that those events appear before us a succession of myths. It is worth debunking them and better understand the fateful events for England.
Revolution happened accidentally.
This is a long story. It appeared because during the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, many who survived the revolution survived. They began to spread the opinion that the war was an accident and that there was no one guilty in it, that everything happened by itself. However, this is not true. Recent archival data showed that aristocrats, opponents of Charles I, especially colleagues of the Earl of Warwick, were preparing to use military force in the early summer of 1640. For this there was an unofficial arrangement with the Scottish army and bribed regiments of the British militia, which was mobilized to pacify the Scots. The Warwick team had a military strategy in case the king refused to convene parliament. Four regiments of the Yorkshire militia were to join the Scots and advance on London. This became the backdrop for the first two years of the Long Parliament, convened by Charles I in November 1640. The king needed money to fight the Scots. Carl knew that he was surrounded by traitors. And that’s why it was not possible to get out of the constitutional impasse in 1640. For each side, the rates were very high. Carl showed himself ready to risk starting a civil war as early as May 1640, when he used Spanish troops against his own subjects. And in January 1642 the king tried to arrest five deputies. But in the end, the Parliament won the decisive battle, forcing the monarch to submit. The subsequent struggle was much more prolonged and bloody than the parties expected. But this war was not accidental.
Cavaliers were aristocrats, and round-headed – small landowners.
“Cavaliers” were called royalists, while supporters of Parliament received the nickname “roundhead”. They were helped by their short haircut. It was believed that the small nobility and middle class appeared on the side of the Parliament, and the nobility supported the king. In reality, in order to challenge the power of the monarch, Parliament should have a significant number of notable supporters. Historians consider this riot “noble”. Ancient nobility, who served in the government and at the court, protested against the king. These aristocrats had confidence in their unshakable position in any scenario. Classical royalists were, as a rule, from families that were not connected either with the court or with the government. It could have been the descendants of the newly rich nouveaux riches who received titles in the last century. Both sides were more or less equally supported by the rest of society. On both sides ground forces represented the lower classes. They did not particularly go into ideology, they were mainly interested in the big money promised for their support. And when the money was over, the soldiers were being held back by force. But history had a continuation. Both sides gradually ousted the nobility from their armies throughout the war. By 1649, only 8% of senior officers in the army of the Parliament had graduated from the university, the name being an opportunity to at least approximately be considered a noble.If you look at the Royalist field officers, then three quarters of them did not have their own coat of arms. In other words, they did not even represent a class of local self-government, let alone the central government.
The massacres in Ireland in 1641 were a one-way action.
The Irish rebellion of 1641 began as an attempt by local Catholics to defend their interests and restore the right to lands granted to Protestants from England and Scotland. However, there was a terrible bloodshed on religious grounds. This is one of the defining moments in the history of Ireland. However, the true story is very controversial. Historians focus on the ferocity of Catholics, who attacked Protestants and the suffering of those people. The basis of this view is the testimony of survivors. When Protestant settlers fled from Dublin, many of them testified about their negative experiences. And today Trinity College stores more than 8,000 documents on this topic. The volume of evidence says that the Protestants’ testimony dominated the narrative. And on the part of the Catholics there is practically no evidence or evidence. There can be no doubt that the Protestant settlers experienced a terrible traumatic experience. But in the first weeks of the uprising there were comparatively few murders. The vicious circle of violence was caused by the brutal and indiscriminate retaliatory attacks carried out by the colonial government in November-December 1641. The goal was the entire Catholic population of Ireland. There were instances of lynching, mass shootings and the destruction of entire communities. Such outright violence gave rise to a reaction, events developed spirally, turning into a full-scale religious war. The account of the sufferings of Protestants at the hands of the wild Catholics plays a key role in the religious history of Britain. And today this version finds many confirmations in the north of Ireland. However, this does not explain what actually happened in the first six months after the start of the riot. This was not a one-sided carnage, there was a real war with all the ensuing horrors for both sides.
The revolution has affected a few people.
It is believed that 10-20 percent of men in England and Wales participated in the Civil War. It was estimated that the number of deaths to the population was greater than during the First World War. Probably about 85 thousand people, mostly men, died in battle. Indirect losses counted up to 130 thousand people. These people died as a result of diseases that accompanied the troops. The fighting did not take place in all parts of the country, but all of them took part in hiring and deploying troops. A “pay” for this became the diseases brought and the forced maintenance of the army, usually without payment. National taxation was harder than ever. Prewar rates increased 10 times. And the revolution affected even the lowest strata, which were so poor that they could not pay taxes – excises on consumer goods increased. Management in many regions was destroyed, which, again, affected the poorest. Fertility fell by 10 percent compared to 1650, returning to the indicators of 20 years ago. The population began to decrease. The situation was worsened by crop failures and trade failures. Thus, one can speak of the powerful social, economic and cultural consequences of the revolution. It involved the masses of the people, preventing the state from extracting resources from its population. The civil war caused a demographic crisis. For the country, this became a powerful blow.
The conflict was restrained and gentlemanly.
Sometimes there is an opinion that the Civil War was a civilized conflict, in which aristocrats fought restrainedly and even reluctantly. The commanders on both sides did try to follow the military codes and rules of war proposed by the king and the Parliament. However, there was no question of disgust for this activity. The military fought as best they could to win glory.If necessary, there was no doubt that it was hard to crush the enemy. Civil war was a conflict of major battles and incessant harsh encounters, raids, sieges and assaults. Although the scale of hostilities and atrocities was not so great as in Europe during the recent Thirty Years’ War of 1618-1648, historians consider the English and Welsh experience to be close in this matter. For example, in December 1643, Royalist troops entered the village of Bartomlei in Cheshire. A group of 20 local residents, including women, hid in the tower of the church of St. Bertolin. The soldiers entered the church and forced the locals to descend. For this, the seats and the wooden floor were set on fire. Residents were offered pardon, in practice, 12 men were executed on the spot. After the truce in late summer of 1643, the king and the Irish rebel Catholics, who controlled most of their island, the authorities tried to transfer troops to the ships. The parliament adopted a tough stance against the “Irish royalists.” Any of their followers and national unions were brutally persecuted. Executions, murders, injuries or injuries of women traveling with insurgents have become commonplace. So it is wrong to consider those events as gentlemanly deeds. It was a real war in which the parties forgot about honor and the blood flowed by the river.
Cromwell won the war for parliament.
And although Oliver Cromwell was an important figure for the war, the general who led the troops of the Parliament to victory was Ferfax. It was he who was the commander in chief of the “Army of a new pattern”, based on democratic principles. He formed this army, trained him and developed a strategy for conducting military operations. Cromwell led the cavalry. Parliament was forced to create such an army, since its own original army was destroyed and scattered. Even those who were clearly unhappy with the service were called upon to call. As a result, Ferfax had to trust, in fact, robbers in the military uniform. One of the most important decisions of the general was the appointment of officers on merit, and not on social status. Ferfax had to deal with a real political struggle in the House of Commons and Lords to achieve this. But his army was really professional. In June 1465, Fairfax and his Army of the new model caught up with the king near Neusbi, Northamptonshire. The army of the Parliament won a decisive and crushing victory. The general combat plan belonged to Cromwell, but it was Ferfax right in the middle of the battle that took responsibility to change the plan. The Royalists believed that they were opposed, albeit more numerous, but a bunch of rabble. And when it became clear that the new army, assembled by Ferfax, was disciplined and well-organized, the cavalry fled. Ferfax did not know how to use military successes for political purposes, he simply knew how to fight. As a result, his army besieged Oxford, capturing the provisional royal capital. Interestingly, everything was done very decently, in contrast to the royalists, who became famous for their looting and looting. The Ferfax Army was so disciplined and controlled that it is difficult to find evidence of deaths and destruction from it in peaceful rural areas. Fairfax withdrew into the background, thinking more about the army, and not about politics. He did not accept the laurels of the winner, and the myth appeared that the war was won by Cromwell – a much more vivid historical figure.
Only British people took part in the Civil War.
Local historians have been interested for the last several decades to present civil war as an internal affair of the country. In practice, many people took part in the revolution from outside the British Isles. The most famous are the relatives of the king, Henrietta-Maria, his French wife, who led the Royalist army in the north in 1643 and the two nephews of Charles I, Prince Rupert and Prince Maurice. Both of them were half Germans.Dozens of foreign specialists in military equipment, artillery and fortification participated in the armies of royalists and parliamentarians. For a long time, England did not fight inside, her gentlemen gradually lost their military skills. Most of the foreign soldiers were French. Protestants from France and the Netherlands also fought, who opposed the king who supported the Catholics. People from outside Western Europe also took part in the revolution. One of the most famous foreign mercenaries was the Croats, Captain Carlo Phantom. He fought against the king. When the mercenary was asked what he was doing, he replied: “I do not fight for your cause, but for money and beautiful women.” But this is not the most striking example. In one exotic cavalry regiment, soldiers from Egypt, Mesopotamia and Ethiopia served. When the Army of the new model was first formed, it turned out to be several foreigners. But the parliamentarians reveled in the thought that this army was completely English. By the end of the war, three regiments of the French cavalry fought for the king. This fact was widely used by Parliament for propaganda purposes. People were taught that “outsiders” had a strong influence on the war, which was not true, at least because of the number.
For the parliamentarians, the war was of a religious nature.
It is tempting to think that the Parliament decided to unleash a war to protect religious freedoms. It is easy to believe in this, because there is a lot of evidence for driving such motivation within the framework of this legislative body. Many Puritans really believed that they would be the tools of the Lord in this Civil War. It is tempting and Cromwell to be perceived as a pious warrior, given his religion-rhetoric. However, it is worthwhile to carefully look at the motives of the general and immediately it becomes clear what was behind them. In his speech of 1655, analyzing the war, Cromwell said: “Religion was not a thing that was contested in the first place, but God directed us to this question and allowed us to solve it by showing what is the main thing for us.” Historians consider this statement a mistake or a reservation, but I think the general was honest. It was God, and not people, that could lead religious reform beyond the Civil War. The clergy could not force people to kindle a revolution only for the sake of religious ideas. So both parliamentarians and Puritans, like Cromwell, were very cautious in pointing out religion as an excuse for war. Instead, it was justified by the need to preserve the freedoms granted by law and attacked by Charles I. These people did not consider it legitimate to fight for their faith with the sword, since the only weapon can only be spiritual. But against the violator of the law on land, it was considered permissible to speak openly, collecting the army. But along with political freedoms and rights, the revolution also affected religion. The English Reformation was carried out with the help of parliamentary laws. Wales opposed the king. The idea that the Welsh were one of the most ardent royalists usually surprises people. Historical memory is refracted by the more modern traditions of left-wing radical politics. Many historians, working under the shadow of this image, honored the Welsh parliamentarians and Republicans, considering them representatives of the country’s true views throughout all times. But there was no more fervent hearth of royalist sentiment during the Civil War than Wales. This region is even nicknamed “the nurseries of the royal infantry.” Propaganda of that time called Wales fanatically loyal to Charles I. In one pamphlet it was noted that the appearance of the king was made by the men of North Wales by a herd of geese, which were ruled by a driver.
Wales perceived itself as a territory with a special relationship with the crown.
They believed that they could stop the bloodshed. An important part of this support was the protection of Charles I of conservative Protestantism, which was presented to local residents as the reincarnation of their own ancient religion. Parliamentarians also announced a more radical version.So the Welshmen became passionate defenders of the type of church that he liked with the monarch in her chapter. Only in some cities there was insignificant support of the Parliament, for example, in Rexme and Cardiff. But these voices belonged to the minority. For Carla Wales was a reliable source of money and troops, then, if necessary, could be deployed a springboard for the introduction of troops into Ireland.
Parliament wanted to enter into an alliance with Scotland.
There is a theory that in the middle of the 17th century the English parliament tried to integrate Scotland into the UK. In fact, the British tried to avoid this union for many years, reluctantly concluding it in the end. In the 1640s the Scots themselves urged the British to join the alliance, because they believed that a successful future for both countries lies only in the form of a federation. The English parliament resisted this for two reasons. The Scots could interfere with the strict separation of church and state with the superiority of the former. The British also did not want the neighbors’ parliament to impose any veto on their own policies. In exchange for supporting the Scots during the wars, the Parliament promised a federal union and a united church. However, after the abolition of the monarchy in England and Ireland and after the execution of Charles I in 1649, the Scots were declared their independence and the right to decide their own destiny independently. But the Scots refused to accept it, voting for the support of Charles II, as the king of England, Scotland and Ireland. And then there was the Battle of Worcester in 1651, when Cromwell defeated the Scots. Then the British had to make a choice: they could recall the army or capture Scotland and stop constant attacks on their country. As a result, it was decided to get rid of the threat, combining England and Scotland. This was a forced measure. The British went on without enthusiasm, considering it a reasonable necessity.