English Civil War

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The English Civil War (1642–1651) was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians ("Roundheads") and Royalists ("Cavaliers") over, principally, the manner of England's government. The first (1642–46) and second (1648–49) wars pitted the supporters of King Charles I against the supporters of the Long Parliament, while the third (1649–51) saw fighting between supporters of King Charles II and supporters of the Rump Parliament. The war ended with the Parliamentarian victory at the Battle of Worcester on 3 September 1651.

The overall outcome of the war was threefold: the trial and execution of Charles I; the exile of his son, 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. 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.

Princes are not bound to give an account of their Actions but to God alone. ~ Charles I of England
May it please your Majesty, I have neither eyes to see, nor tongue to speak in this place, but as this House is pleased to direct me, whose servant I am here. ~ William Lenthall
I had rather have a plain, russet-coated Captain, that knows what he fights for, and loves what he knows, than that you call a Gentleman and is nothing else. ~ Oliver Cromwell
A few honest men are better than numbers. ~ Oliver Cromwell
"And when did you last see your father?" by William Frederick Yeames
English Civil War Map 1642 to 1645
Battle of Naseby, 14 June 1645
Cruel necessity. ~ Oliver Cromwell
Demi-culverin circa 1587, a typical field artillery piece used during the English Civil War
This is a righteous judgement of God upon these barbarous wretches, who have imbrued their hands in so much innocent blood. ~ Oliver Cromwell
You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately... Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go! ~ Oliver Cromwell

Quotes[edit]

  • The English Civil War occupies a strange niche in contemporary memory. To all official appearances, no episode of the country’s modern past is so parenthetical. Leaving no reputable trace in common traditions or public institutions, it looks in established retrospect like a blackout in the growth of the collective psyche. Our only republic remains under ban, a historical freak. Rosebery could raise a statue to Cromwell outside Parliament: eighty years later, Benn could not even get him onto a postage stamp, at a time when Rosa Luxemburg adorned ordinary West German mail.
    Such treatment, it might be argued, is not without all justice. For in a comparative perspective, did not the English Civil War – however traumatic at the time – prove in the end to be the least significant of the political upheavals that accompanied the birth of the leading nation-states of the capitalist world? Set beside the Dutch Revolt, America’s War for Independence, the French Revolution, Italy’s Risorgimento, the unification of Germany, let alone the Meiji Restoration in Japan, the overthrow of the English monarchy seems of a different order: not a modern starting point of institutional development, more an exotic intermission. If this is so, however, there remains a paradox. For what would be the most barren convulsion has produced the most fertile literature. The volume of modern writing on the French Revolution – the only possible rival – is larger than on the English. But intellectually it is thinner.
    • Perry Anderson, Spectrum: From Right to Left in the World of Ideas (2005), Ch. 12 : Civil War, Global Distemper: Robert Brenner
  • A born soldier of humble origins, Cromwell's military record in the Civil Wars was second to none. His 'reign' as Lord Protector from 1653 to 1658 has marked him for later generations as either a visionary political figure or a loathsome tyrant, and both cases are equally arguable; his religious bigotry, and the bitter fruit it bore in Ireland, are sadly beyond dispute. He remains secure in his reputation as one of the most extraordnary Englishmen who ever lived.
    • Stuart Asquith, New Model Army, 1645-1660 (1981), p. 6
  • On 4 January 1642, accompanied by courtiers and royal guards with their swords drawn, the king marched into the House of Commons to arrest Pym and four other parliamentary leaders on a charge of high treason. Commandeering the speaker's chair, his eyes surveying the membership, he called out Pym's name, then Holles's, but there was no response. The five MPs had got wind of their imminent arrest and fled. The king, exasperated, asked the speaker, William Lenthall, where they had gone. He replied with a ringing assertion of parliamentary privilege: "May it please your Majesty, I have neither eyes to see, nor tongue to speak in this place, but as this House is pleased to direct me, whose servant I am here." In the short term, Charles was humiliated, forced to leave in a huff amid shouts of "privilege, privilege!" by his defiant Commons. In the long run, it was clear that there could be no peace, let alone cooperation, between king and parliament. Nor did he feel safe in the Puritan-controlled metropolis. In February he put the queen on a ship bound for the continent and then fled with the court to York.
    • Richard Bucholz and Newton Key, Early Modern England, 1485-1714: A Narrative History (2009), p. 249
  • By this stage, military action of some kind between king and Parliament was inevitable. That is not to say that either wanted war. Centuries of belief in the Great Chain of Being and monarchy were difficult to break. But now, with rebellion in Scotland and Ireland fueling military solutions in England, no one knew how to make peace. Each side armed itself, either in reaction to the violence abroad or out of fear of violence at home. Each could only view the other's posture of "self-defense" as threatening war. In March, Parliament, fearing a popish plot, passed a Militia Ordinance and, acting on it without royal consent, seized all the garrisons it could and egan t raise troops. In June, the king began to do the same, resorting to raising forces through a Medieval precedent, the Commissions of Disarray. This presented local leaders with a difficult choice- whose order to obey? Finally, on August 22, 1642, King Charles raised the royal standard- tantamount to a declaration of hostilities- at Nottingham. The English Civil War had begun.
    • Richard Bucholz and Newton Key, Early Modern England, 1485-1714: A Narrative History (2009), p. 249
  • Cromwell's charge at Naseby determined the Civil War. When the grim Ironsides rode down the more splendid cavalry that mustered under the royal standard, they destroyed Charles's last chance of keeping the open field. Thenceforth, all he could do was to move about amongst his strongholds, the reduction of which was the only work that remained to be accomplished by the victorious army of the parliament. One after another, some by storm and some by famine, garrisoned cities, towns, and fortified mansions fell into the hands of Fairfax and Cromwell, and as the year 1645 approached its termination, the parliamentary forces began to hem in the king's last place of retreat, the loyal and beautiful Oxford, the capital of the Cavaliers. The Roundheads were first discerned from the old tower of Oxford Castle, crowning the heights at a distance from the city. They soon approached nearer, commanding every road, and seizing every defensible point; but it was not until Fairfax had cleared the West, and driven the Prince of Wales to Scilly, that he returned northward with the main body of his troops, and prepared to invest Oxford in due form.
    • John Bruce (editor), Charles I in 1646: Letters of King Charles the First to Queen Henrietta Maria (1968), p. v
  • The question then arose- What was the king to do? His friends, even the most sanguine, deemed his cause irretrievably lost. Without money, his supporters ruined by the sacrifices they had already made, his garrisons compelled to plunder as their only means of support, and the country consequently universally disaffected towards the royal cause, it was impossible that the king could carry on the contest any longer. What then was he to do? He had now tried almost all possible courses. He had endeavoured to govern with a parliament, and had failed. He had striven to do so without a parliament: in that also he had failed. Again, he had been induced to call a parliament by which he had been driven into concessions, but they were made grudgingly, in bad faith, and with the clear intention of being resumed as soon as possible: in this course he had also failed. Lastly, he had appealed to the final arbiter of national disputes, and again the result had been adverse to his hopes. His subjects, esteemed the most loyal people in Europe, had met him, front to front, in the open field. His choicest troops, commanded by some of the bravest of the English nobility, had been beaten in many successive engagements, and, finally, had been cut to pieces and utterly destroyed. What now remained for him to do? Peace, upon the best terms that could be obtained, was the ardent longing of every one. The staunchest Cavaliers saw that submission was a bitter but unavoidable necessity. The victorious party must have its way. The cause had been decided in their favor. The losers must submit.
    • John Bruce (editor), Charles I in 1646: Letters of King Charles the First to Queen Henrietta Maria (1968), p. v-vi
  • Such was the feeling and the reasoning of the Cavaliers, but not of the king. Submission was a thing to which Charles could never be brought. It was his candid avowal with respect to his own character, that he could never yield in a good cause; which every man thinks his own cause to be. True, it was no longer possible for him to gain his ends by active measures; but he had not ceased to be a power in the State. If he could not govern, he might prevent his enemies from doing so. The weary and exhausted country could have no peace without him. If those who were opposed to him desired tranquility, they must have it upon his terms. He was beaten, vanquished, ruined, but no earthly power could induce him to sacrifice his royal dignity by yielding the principal points which were in dispute.
    • John Bruce (editor), Charles I in 1646: Letters of King Charles the First to Queen Henrietta Maria (1968), p. vi-vii
  • He believed that the machine of government could not act without him; that if he could only keep the public affairs long enough in the condition of dead-lock to which they were reduced, his enemies would be wearied, or would be forced by the people, into yielding to his terms. His mind was as full as ever of the most exalted notions of the sacred and indefeasible character of his royal authority. All who opposed him were, in his estimation, wicked rebel whom God would judge. It was his place to govern, and that of his people to submit. His sins of misgovernment never occurred to him. Regret that for many years his course of action had been totally wanting in the kingly virtues of justice and fair dealing never entered his mind. It never troubled him that he had sought to govern in defiance of his own concessions, in opposition to the even then acknowledged principles of the constitution, and in breach of his coronation oath. The only things which grieved him were his concessions to the popular fury which himself had roused. While such was Charles' state of mind, peace was out of the question. On the side of parliament, it was clearly seen that when a king sets up his standard against his people, he must conquer or submit; and that if, having failed to conquer, he refuses to submit, he must be deposed. To have yielded to him on the ultimate points of the contest, would have been to have relinquished the fruits of the warfare in which parliament had been victorious. What then was to be done? Simply to follow him through a succession of messages and answers, until it became apparent to the people that the country must be governed without him. That was the course for parliament, but what remained for the king? Nothing but to fall back upon his old course of intrigue.
    • John Bruce (editor), Charles I in 1646: Letters of King Charles the First to Queen Henrietta Maria (1968), p. viii-ix
  • Without much talent for intrigue, or even much dexterity in its practice, Charles had great fondness for being engaged in it. In all difficulties it was his resource, and at the time with which we are dealing he was fanatically sanguine that some one or other of his little subtle stratagems would ultimately succeed. We are accustomed to associate the notion of fanaticism with the opposite party only. They concluded that the cause of the parliament was righteous and favored by God because it was successful. Every one sees this to have been a dangerous judging of the ways of Providence from partial results. We can all join in condemning conclusions so presumptuous and so illogical. But the same reasoning was equally rife at Oxford as at Westminster. Charles attributed his want of success in the war to God's anger against him for his concurrence in the death of Stafford. He confidently anticipated the approach of a time when he should have drained the cup of vengeance. Mercy would then, he presumed, take the place of justice, and the storm of heavenly wrath, transferred from him, would fall heavily on the heads of his enemies. To help on the ends of Providence, to expedite, as he supposed, the coming of that happy day, and to gain time until it shoud dawn, were the objects of the many intrigues in which he was involved during the year 1646.
    • John Bruce (editor), Charles I in 1646: Letters of King Charles the First to Queen Henrietta Maria (1968), p. ix-x
  • During the civil war the naval contribution to the parliamentary cause was secondary. Victory was decided on land. The fact that Parliament had control of the navy was none the less vital in making victory possible. If the king had retained control of the fleet the royalists could have blockaded London, and the resulting economic dislocation might easily have generated enough popular pressure to force Parliament into peace on almost any terms. During the war the navy's undramatic work in protecting commerce kept up the level of customs revenues and helped finance the war-effort. The navy was an effective deterrent to any foreign monarch tempted to send help to Charles. It assisted land campaigns by transporting supplies and reinforcements and by providing mobile artillery. It played an important role in maintaining the outposts at Hull and Plymouth, and contributed to the capture of Bristol and Newcastle. The earl of Warwick, as Lord High Admiral, and his vice-admiral and successor William Batten provided vigorous and effective leadership.
    • Bernard Capp, Cromwell's Navy: The Fleet and the English Revolution, 1648-1660 (1989), p. 2-3
  • During the interregnum the navy's role was far more spectacular. The rulers of continental Europe were horrified by the execution of the king in January 1649 and all repudiated the new Commonwealth. The navy was thus needed to protect England from possible invasion and to force foreign powers to recognize the new regime. Over the next eleven years it was almost continuously in action, both defensive and offensive.
    • Bernard Capp, Cromwell's Navy: The Fleet and the English Revolution, 1648-1660 (1989), p. 3
  • In July 1642 Charles I's splendid navy defected to Parliament without firing a shot. Throughout the First English Civil War the king thus faced the humiliation of fighting his own 'royal' navy. Far more was at stake, of course, than injured pride. As Clarendon observed, the loss of the fleet was 'of unspeakable ill consequence to the king's affairs', and dealt a devastating blow to his chances of winning the war. While command of the navy could never guarantee victory, without it Parliament would have faced almost certain and rapid defeat.
    • Bernard Capp, The Civil Wars: A Military History of England, Scotland and Ireland, 1638-1660 (1998), edited by John Kenyon and Jane Ohlmeyer, p. 156
  • Winning control of the navy in 1642 represented a financial as well as military coup for Parliament. It ensured that in the struggle ahead the commercial life of the capital retained some degree of normality, and that customs revenues flowed into parliamentary not royal coffers. Had Charles retained control of the fleet and a major port, the course of events would have been very different. He would then have been able to bring in munitions and supplies from the continent without obstruction. More important, a blockade of the Thames, cutting off London's food and fuel supplies and strangling its economic life, would have triggered mass demonstrations by the hungry and unemployed, and intense pressure from the merchant community. In all probability, Parliament would have been forced to sue for peace on almost any terms the king cared to offer.
    • Bernard Capp, The Civil Wars: A Military History of England, Scotland and Ireland, 1638-1660 (1998), edited by John Kenyon and Jane Ohlmeyer, p. 157
  • Inevitably naval operations diverted enormous sums that could have been poured into the war-effort on land. But such calculations miss the point, for without maritime trade would have been helpless against the massed privateers, and it is not hard to discern a doomsday scenario. Without a stable maritime trade to generate customs revenues, Parliament would have lost a significant part of its income. Even more important, the crippling of London's commerce would have brought tens of thousands of hungry and angry citizens on to the streets. In those circumstances, parliamentary leaders would have had little choice but to settle for whatever terms Charles might offer. Much the same applies to the military situation. In the absence of a parliamentary fleet, continental powers would certainly have poured far more arms and ammunition into the royalist war-effort. It is quite likely too that Parliament would have lost all control in Ireland, and certain that after the cessation in 1643 many thousand more troops would have crossed the Irish Sea to join the king. They would have placed Charles in a much stronger military position in 1643-4, and it is conceivable that they might have proved decisive before the Scots' intervention in 1644 restored the balance.
    • Bernard Capp, The Civil Wars: A Military History of England, Scotland and Ireland, 1638-1660 (1998), edited by John Kenyon and Jane Ohlmeyer, p. 176
  • The navy's greatest contribution, then, lay in defining the terms of the land war in Parliament's favour. It sustained Parliament's economic position and revenues while cutting off the king's main lines of supply. As in the two World Wars of the twentieth century, naval preponderance was essential to avoid defeat, and a precondition for the victory that only land forces could deliver. Modern civil war historians have tended to marginalize the navy's contribution. Perhaps one should reflect on the fact that the parliamentary leaders, however desperate for cash, were never attracted by the option of keeping the navy in harbour to save money. They recognized that it would be a false and perhaps fatal economy.
    • Bernard Capp, The Civil Wars: A Military History of England, Scotland and Ireland, 1638-1660 (1998), edited by John Kenyon and Jane Ohlmeyer, p. 176
  • The parliamentary navy had played a significant, if secondary, part in the civil wars; the civil wars played a still more significant part in the navy's own history, accelerating its evolution and fitting it for the primary role it was to play in the imperial ages ahead.
    • Bernard Capp, The Civil Wars: A Military History of England, Scotland and Ireland, 1638-1660 (1998), edited by John Kenyon and Jane Ohlmeyer, p. 191
  • Princes are not bound to give an account of their Actions but to God alone.
  • Thus goaded, Charles, accompanied by three or four hundred swordsmen- "Cavaliers" we may now call them- went down to the House of Commons. It was January 4, 1642. Never before had a king set foot in the Chamber. When his officers knocked at the door and it was known that he had come in person members of all parties looked upon each other in amazement. His followers beset the doors. All rose at his entry. The Speaker, William Lenthall, quitted his chair and knelt before him. The King, seating himself in the chair, after professing his goodwill to the House, demanded the surrender of indicted Members- Pym, Hampden, Holles, Hazelrigg, and Strode. But a treacherous message from a lady of the Queen's Bedchamber had given Pym a timely warning. The accused Members had already embarked at Westminster steps and were safe amid the train bands and magistrates of the City. Speaker Lenthall could give no information. "I have only eyes to see and ears to hear as the House may direct," he pleaded. The King, already conscious of his mistake, cast his eyes around the quivering assembly. "I see that the birds are flown," he said lamely, and after some civil reassurances he departed at the head of his disappointed, growling adherents. But as he left the Chamber a low, long murmur of "Privilege" pursued him. To this day the Members for the City take their places on the Treasury bench at the opening of a session, in perpetual acknowledgement of the services rendered by the City in protecting the Five.
    • Winston Churchill, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Volume Two: The New World (1956), p. 229-230
  • Upon this episode the wrath of London became uncontrollable. The infuriated mobs who thronged the streets and bellowed outside the palace caused Charles and his Court to escape from the capital to Hampton Court. He never saw London again except to suffer trial and death. Within a week of his intrusion into the House the five Members were escorted back to Parliament from the City. Their progress was triumphal. Over two thousand armed men accompanied them up the river, and on either bank large fores, each each with eight pieces of cannon, marched abreast of the flotilla. Henceforth London was irretrievably lost to the King. By stages he withdrew to Newmarket, to Nottingham, and to York. Here he waited during the early months of 1642, while the tireless antagonisms which rent England slowly built him an authority and an armed force. There were now two centres of government. Pym, the Puritans, and what was left of the Parliament ruled with dictatorial power in London in the King's name. The King, round whom there gathered many of the finest elements in Old England, freed from the bullying of the London mob, became once again a prince with sovereign rights. About thee two centres there slowly assembled the troops and resources for the waging of civil war.
    • Winston Churchill, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Volume Two: The New World (1956), p. 230
  • The King's large plan for 1643 had failed. Nevertheless the campaign had been very favourable to him. He had gained control of a great part of England. His troops were still, on the whole, better fighting-men than the Roundheads. Much ground lost at the beginning of the war had been recovered. A drift of desertion to the royal camp had begun. All could see how even were the forces which rent the kingdom. On both sides men's thoughts turned to peace. Not so the thoughts of Pym; he looked to the Scots; by substantial money payments he induced a Scots army of not less than eleven thousand men to intervene. He led Parliament on September 25 into signing a Solemn League and Covenant among themselves and with the Scots to wage war with untiring zeal. It was a military alliance expressed in terms of a religious manifesto. Then on December 8 Pym died, uncheered by success, but wearied by misfortune. He had neglected his private affairs in the public cause, and his estate would have been bankrupt had not Parliament, as some expression of their grief and gratitude, paid his debts. He remains the most famous of the old Parliamentarians, and the man who more than any other saved England from absolute monarchy and set her upon the path she has since pursued.
    • Winston Churchill, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Volume Two: The New World (1956), p. 245-246
  • Marston Moor was the largest and also the bloodiest battle of the war. Little quarter was given and there were four thousand slain. Newcastle's "white-coats" fought to the death, and fell where they stood. They had boasted that they would dye these white coats with the blood of the foe. They were indeed reddened, but with their own blood. Night alone ended the pursuit. A disaster of the first magnitude had smitten the King's cause. His Northern army was shattered and the whole of the North was lost. The prestige of Rupert's cavalry was broken. The Marquis, brokenhearted, fled into exile. Rupert, whom nothing could appal, gathered up the remnants of his army and led them safely south to Shrewsbury.
    • Winston Churchill, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Volume Two: The New World (1956), p. 253
  • Cromwell rode in from the Army to his duties as a Member of Parliament. His differences with the Scots and his opposition to Presbyterian uniformity were already swaying Roundhead politics. He now made a vehement and organised attack on the conduct of the war, and its mismanagement by lukewarm generals of noble rank, namely Essex and Manchester. Essex was discredited enough after Lostwithiel, but Cromwell also charged Manchester with losing the second Battle of Newbury by sloth and want of zeal. He himself was avid for the power and command which he was sure he could wield; but he proceeded astutely. While he urged the complete reconstitution of the Parliamentarian Army upon a New Model similar to his own in the Eastern Counties, his friends in the House of Commons proposed a so-called "Self-Denying Ordinance," which would exclude members of either House from military employment. The handful of lords who still remained at Westminster realised well enough that this was an attack on their prominence in the conduct of the war, if not on their social order. But there were such compelling military reasons in favour of the measure that neither they nor the Scots, who already dreaded Cromwell, could prevent its being carried. Essex and Manchester, who had fought the king from the beginning of the quarrel, who had raised regiments and served the Parliamentary cause in all fidelity, were discarded. They pass altogether from the story.
    • Winston Churchill, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Volume Two: The New World (1956), p. 256
  • During the winter months the Army was reconstituted in accordance with Cromwell's ideas. The old personally raised regiments of the Parliamentary nobles were broken up ad their officers and men incorporated in entirely new formations. These, the New Model, comprised eleven regiments of horse, each six hundred strong, twelve regiments of foot, twenty-two hundred strong, and a thousand dragoons, in all twenty-two thousand men. Compulsion was freely used to fill the ranks. In one district of Sussex the three conscriptions of April, July, and September 1645 yielded a total of 149 men. A hundred and thirty-four guards were needed to escort them to the colours. At the King's headquarters it was thought that these measures would demoralise the Parliamentary troops; and no doubt at first this was so. But the Roundhead faction now had a symmetrical military organisation led by men who had risen in the field and had no other standing but their military record and religious zeal. Sir Thomas Fairfax was appointed Command-in-Chief. Cromwell, as Member for Cambridge, was at first debarred from serving. However, it soon appeared that his Self-denying Ordinance applied only to his rivals. The urgency of the new campaign and military discontents which he alone could quell forced even the reluctant Lords to make an exception in his favour. In June 1645 he was appointed General of the Horse, and was thus the only man who combined high military command with an outstanding Parliamentary position. From this moment he became the dominant figure in both spheres.
    • Winston Churchill, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Volume Two: The New World (1956), p. 256
  • The Story of the Second English Civil War is short and simple. King, Lords and Commons, landlords, merchants, the City and the countryside, bishops and presbyters, the Scottish army, the Welsh people, and the English Fleet, all now turned against the New Model Army. The Army beat the lot.
    • Winston Churchill, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Volume Two: The New World (1956), p. 274
  • By the end of 1648 it was all over. Cromwell was Dictator. The Royalists were crushed; Parliament was a tool; the Constitution was a figment; the Scots were rebuffed, the Welsh back in their mountains; the Fleet was reorganized, London overawed. King Charles, at Carisbrooke Castle, where the donkey treads the water wheel, was left to pay the bill. It was mortal.
    • Winston Churchill, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Volume Two: The New World (1956), p. 274
  • We must not be led by Victorian writers into regarding this triumph of the Ironsides and of Cromwell as a kind of victory for democracy and the Parliamentary system over Divine Right and Old World dreams. It was the triumph of some twenty thousand resolute, ruthless, disciplined, military fanatics over all that England has ever willed or wished. Long years and unceasing irritations were required to reverse it. Thus the struggle, in which we have in these days so much sympathy and part, begun to bring about a constitutional and limited monarchy, had led only to the autocracy of the sword. The harsh, erratic, lightning-charged being, whose erratic, opportunist, self-centred course is laid bare upon the annals, was now master, and the next twelve years are the record of his well-meant, puzzling plungings and surgings.
    • Winston Churchill, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Volume Two: The New World (1956), p. 274
  • I tell you we will cut off his head with the crown upon it.
  • Cruel necessity.
    • Oliver Cromwell, reported remark upon his viewing the body of Charles I after his execution (January 1649), as quoted in Oliver Cromwell: A History (1895) by Samuel Harden Church, p. 321
  • God made them as stubble to our swords.
    • Oliver Cromwell, in a written remark after the defeat of Royalist forces in the Battle of Marston Moor. As quoted by John Richard Green in his book History of the English People, Volume III: Puritan England 1603-1660, The Revolution 1660-1688 (1882), p. 230
  • This is a righteous judgement of God upon these barbarous wretches, who have imbrued their hands in so much innocent blood.
  • You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately... Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!
    • Oliver Cromwell, in his speech dissolving the Rump Parliament (20 April 1653)
  • What really weakened the royalist war-effort was the fact that the conflict had a greater impact on its territories than on those of Parliament and thus the financial machinery could not be managed properly. In particular, the war impinged closely on some of its most prosperous areas, creating a general sense of insecurity there and affecting the amount of revenue received. This, in turn, necessitated the introduction of various expedients to obtain money and essential supplies, including special levies, free quarter, and requisitioning. As final defeat stared them in the face, royalist units engaged in ever more self-destructive activity just to keep themselves alive. They started a vicious circle by robbing their own shires. Looting engendered hatred from civilians; it also rendered the countryside incapable of paying the tax upon which the soldiers' pay depended; this in turn drove the soldiers to more frantic looting. As long as the royalists had an army it could be used to coerce the population but the catastrophe of Naseby in June 1645 took away even this.
    • Peter Edwards, The Civil Wars: A Military History of England, Scotland and Ireland, 1638-1660 (1998), edited by John Kenyon and Jane Ohlmeyer, p. 269-270
  • A quick victory offered Charles the best chance of winning the war. In the autumn of 1642 he had an opportunity to do so but failed for reasons that were not primarily due to deficiencies in supply. There certainly were shortcomings in this area but Parliament had its own problems too. The longer the war went on, the more likely it became that Parliament, with its commercial and economic superiority, would win. The royalists did make good use of the facilities at their disposal and focused their efforts on the production of war matériel. They exploited their natural resources, developed existing industries, and founded new ones where necessary. However, their workshops, mills, and furnaces could not produce enough goods to meet the demands of their armies, forcing the king to reply increasingly upon imports.
    • Peter Edwards, The Civil Wars: A Military History of England, Scotland and Ireland, 1638-1660 (1998), edited by John Kenyon and Jane Ohlmeyer, p. 270
  • In the wreck of the royal cause we may pause for a moment which brings out in relief the best temper of both sides. Cromwell, who was sweeping over the Southern counties to trample out the last trace of resistance, "spent much time with God in prayer before the storm" of Basing House, where the Marquis of Winchester had held stoutly out through the war for the king. The storm ended its resistance, and the brave old Royalist was brought in a prisoner with his house flaming around him. He "broke out," reports a Puritan bystander, and said, 'that if the King had no more ground in England but Basing House, he would adveture it as he did, and so maintain it to the uttermost,' comforting himself in this matter 'that Basing House was called Loyalty.'" Of such loyalty as this Charles was utterly unworthy. The seizure of his papers at Naseby had hardly disclosed his earlier intrigues with the Irish Catholics when the Parliament was able to reveal to England a fresh treaty with them, which purchased o longer their neutrality, but their aid, by the simple concession of every demand they had made. The shame was without profit, for whatever aid Ireland might have given came too late to be of service. The spring of 1646 saw the few troops who still clung to Charles surrounded and routed at Stow. "You have done your work now," their leader, Sir Jacob Astley, said bitterly to his conquerors, "and may go to play, unless you fall out among yourselves."
    • John Richard Green, History of the English People, Volume III: Puritan England 1603-1660, The Revolution 1660-1688 (1882), p. 244-245
  • With the close of the Civil War we enter on a time of confused struggles, a time tedious and uninteresting in its outer details, but of higher interest than even the war itself in its bearing on our history. Modern England, the England among whose thoughts and sentiments we actually live, began, however dimly and darkly, with the triumph at Naseby. Old things passed silently away. When Astley gave up his sword the "work" of the generations which had struggled for Protestantism against Catholicism, for public liberty against absolute rule, in his own emphatic phrase, was "done." So far as these contests were concerned, however the later Stuarts might strive to revive them, England could safely "go to play." English religion was never to be more in danger. English liberty was never to be really in peril from the efforts of kings after a personal rule. Whatever reaction might come about, it would never bring into question the great constitutional results that the Long Parliament had wrought. But with the end of this older work a new work began. The constitutional and ecclesiastical problems which still in one shape or another beset us started to the front as subjects of national debate in the years between the close of the Civil War and the death of the King. The great parties which have ever since divided the social, the political, and the religious life of England, whether as Independents and Presbyterians, as Whigs and Tores, as Conservatives and Liberals, sprang into organized existence in the contest between the Army and the Parliament. Then for the first time began a struggle which is far from having ended yet, the struggle between political tradition and political progress, between the principle of religious conformity and the principle of religious freedom.
    • John Richard Green, History of the English People, Volume III: Puritan England 1603-1660, The Revolution 1660-1688 (1882), p. 245-246
  • The vexed question of the effectiveness of artillery in the Civil War is not a simple matter to answer. The utility of guns during a siege was indisputable but the effectiveness of artillery depended as much on the skills of the gunners and the placing of the guns as it did on the reluctance of the target units to endure their fire. The ability to use guns in new ways was only in part understood in the Civil War and thereafter the use of artillery changed very little at least until the Napoleonic Wars. The Duke of Cumberland could be seen aligning his guns between his units in the front line at the Battle of Culloden. Incremental changes in the use and preparation of artillery can be seen, but not until the latter half of the 18th century did its use become much more mobile. Although there had been refinements in the use and production of artillery, the gun barrels that were used in the Crimean War were still smooth bore muzzle-loading guns that would not have appeared alien to the members of the artillery train of the 1640s and 50s.
    • Chris Henry, English Civil War Artillery 1642-51 (2005), p. 42
  • Historians are in general agreement that Charles I was a lamentable failure as a monarch and by 1640 he had alienated most of his subjects. While far from being a stupid man, Charles was temperamentally authoritarian, holding to an exalted notion of the nature of kingship as God-given and denying opposition any legitimacy. Cold and aloof, he lacked basic political skills and judgment and came increasingly to be seen as untrustworthy. He made concessions with the greatest of reluctance, and sought to reverse them later, and gained a well-deserved reputation for deviousness by negotiating with opponents while, at the same time, planning to use force against them. He pursued unpopular policies, none more so than his disastrous religious policy, and he was personally responsible for the decision to impose the Scottish prayer book which set the whole chain of events that would eventually lead to civil war in motion. Yet the entire responsibility for the conflict cannot be laid at Charles' door even though he had an important part to play in making it possible.
    • Keith Lindley, English Civil War and Revolution: A Sourcebook (1998), p. 5
  • There would have been no civil war without the creation of a party around the king and it is allegiance to the royalist party that first requires explanation. The royalist party was not principally composed of defenders of arbitrary royal government and long-established ministers and servants of the crown. Crucial to the formation of a viable party was the support of political moderates, such as Culpeper, Hyde and Falkland, who revered the ancient constitution and defended the rue of law with as much enthusiasm as their parliamentarian counterparts. They had been among the principal critics of the abuses of the personal rule and the ministers responsible, and had supported the Long Parliament's initial reform programme. They believed in regular parliaments, taxation by consent and the abolition of prerogative courts. They were consistently maintaining their commitment to the rule of law when they later opposed parliament's innovatory measures, especially legislation by ordinance without the king's consent.
    • Keith Lindley, English Civil War and Revolution: A Sourcebook (1998), p. 16-17
  • How far social and economic factors shaped party allegiance is a much more contentious question which revisionist historians tend to treat dismissively. It is true that there has been no convincing class-conflict analysis of the rival parties. Peers, gentry, merchants and the middle and lower ranks of society can be found in significant numbers, and with equivalent degrees of commitment, on both sides. However, local studies have concluded that, away from the south-east and eastern England, a much higher proportion of the landowning elite of peers and gentry became royalists than parliamentarians. In London too the fertile ranks of the wealthy and traditionally powerful were especially powerful territory for royalism, although the party also had definite popular roots as well, and the same pattern may obtain in other cities and large towns.
    • Keith Lindley, English Civil War and Revolution: A Sourcebook (1998), p. 17
  • An attempt to relate party allegiance to agricultural regions (with royalism the pattern in settled arable regions and parliamentarianism in wood-pasture areas) has only been partially successful, with the obvious objection that the royalism of northern England and Wales fails to conform to this model. There is much more force in the argument that a 'moral panic' triggered by the fear of popular unrest and disorder, and a growing belief that traditional authority and privilege were being undermined, led large numbers of the elite to rally to the king as a symbol of order and orthodoxy. A marked increase in the number of agrarian riots in the early 1640s, large-scale demonstrations in the capital and popular pressures on parliament, disturbances in churches as Laudian innovations were reversed, attacks on well-born papists and malignants by their social inferiors, subversive pamphlets and sermons as censorship collapsed, and the activities of sectaries all combined to convince some royalists, understandably but mistakenly, that their world was about to be turned upside-down.
    • Keith Lindley, English Civil War and Revolution: A Sourcebook (1998), p. 17-18
  • Most parliamentarians in 1642 were not supporters of a party that was intent on wresting power from the king and vesting it in parliament. They still hoped for an eventual political settlement that would retain all the essential features of the ancient constitution, including a critical role for the monarchy. As yet no principled defense of resistance to a monarch who would not agree to such a settlement had been developed. Parliamentarians prepared to fight their king hiding behind the fiction that they were engaged in self-defence against royalist aggression (for whic 'evil counselors' rather than the king himself were responsible) or, in the doctrine of the king's two bodies, that they were upholding the authority of the king while fighting against his person.
    • Keith Lindley, English Civil War and Revolution: A Sourcebook (1998), p. 18
  • In the early part of 1642 only two small minorities saw a resort to force as either necessary or inevitable. There were a few wholehearted royalists who for some time had been telling the king that if he did not show a willingness to defend his rights by force he would never be able to stop the steady erosion of his power; and there were a few radical puritans who were ready to resort to force to bring about sweeping changes in the government and doctrine of the church. But the vast majority of the two Houses of Parliament, of the nobility and gentry in general, of the government officers, of the lawyers, of the mayors and aldermen of the towns, of the leading merchants, in other words, the great bulk of the governing classes, still deplored the thought of resolving the disagreement by force, and still hoped for and expected agreement between the king, Lords and Commons.
    • Brian Manning, The English Civil War and After, 1642-1658 (1970), p. 2
  • Yet they were steadily being divided into two parties during 1642; parliamentarians, who distrusted the king and demanded more restrictions on his power, at least for a time until they could trust him with greater power again; and royalists, who were unhappy about reducing the power of the crown too much, and longed to be able to trust the king. This was not a division over religious or political ends. Thus men from the same social background and with the same economic interests, with similar political and religious ideas, found themselves in opposite parties, for the decision they had to take in 1642 was not a decision about the best form of government for the church or for the state, nor about the changes in the social or the economic order, but simply whether or not to trust Charles I.
    • Brian Manning, The English Civil War and After, 1642-1658 (1970), p. 2-3
  • Many of those who distrusted the king and regarded his obstinacy as the only obstacle to agreement consented to the raising of an army under the command of the Earl of Essex because they thought that a show of force would make the king more reasonable. They believed that no more than a show of force would be necessary because the king appeared to have few supporters and small means to raise an army; he would not be able to fight and would be obliged to negotiate. But the king proved to have more supporters and greater resources than at first appeared. For many were willing to trust him now that he seemed almost powerless. They did not wish to see him forced into an abject surrender which would permanently weaken the crown. They supported him because they thought that when parliament saw that he had the means to fight it would moderate its demands and reach an agreement without bloodshed. So by the end of summer 1642 there were two armies on foot in England, and the country found that it had drifted into a civil war that few wanted to fight.
    • Brian Manning, The English Civil War and After, 1642-1658 (1970),p. 3
  • Distrust was the main obstacle to agreement between king and parliament, but it might not have been an insurmountable obstacle without the conjuncture of other factors, which involved the lower classes in the crisis and drove a deeper wedge into the ruling class. These other factors were the fear of papists, the sharp decline of trade and industry, and an upsurge of class-feeling and class-hostility.
    • Brian Manning, The English Civil War and After, 1642-1658 (1970), p. 3
  • It is fairly easy to conjure up in the imagination a picture of the New Model Army as a Bible-reading, Psalm-singing soldiery which forsook shops and fields for pikes and muskets in support of the Parliamentary cause. Such intimations of piety are born out to some extent in the writings of the chaplains of the New Model. Indeed, for Cromwell and the Army chaplains the Civil War was primarily a religious struggle. "Religion was not the thing at first contested for," said Cromwell, "but God brought it to that issue at last; and gave it unto us by redundancy, and at last it proved that which was most dear to us." Not only were the issues religious ones, but from the point of view of the chaplains the soldiers were religious also.
    • Leo F. Solt, Saints in Arms: Puritanism and Democracy in Cromwell's Army (1959), p. 13-14
  • Despite these views it is doubtful that the rank and file of the New Model Army were as deeply imbued with religious ideas as the chaplains contended. Two cogent arguments to this effect may be cited: the use of impressment in addition to voluntary enlistment, and the plundering of churches. The second argument is not unanswerable; the desecration of churches as was actually defended by chaplain Robert Ram as being essentially an expression of intolerance toward Anglicanism- i.e., toward superstition and idolatry- growing out of an ardent desire for more simplified ecclesiastical forms. The impressment argument is much stronger. Five Parliamentary ordinances from February to June, 1645, dealt with the impressment of men for the Parliamentary forces. On 12 May the Venetian ambassador commented that the violence and force used by Parliament to compel men to serve in the Army was "cooling off" the favor of the common people. Peters, while making no claims for their religiosity, noted how serviceable the worst of the impressed men had been under the example of the other soldiers. General Fairfax observed that good soldiers had come out of the King's Army after the surrender of the Royalist garrisons. Good impressed soldiers, although not by definition irreligious, could hardly have been inspired by the same religious zeal, at least to begin with, which had prompted others to volunteer.
    • Leo F. Solt, Saints in Arms: Puritanism and Democracy in Cromwell's Army (1959), p. 14-15
  • Most of the Army preachers believed that the New Model was an army of saints who were possessed by the Holy Spirit and were thus assured of their own salvation- to the point of believing that they were victorious in battle because God had been in the midst of them. "If God be for us," ran the text from Romans 8:31, "who can be against us?"
    • Leo F. Solt, Saints in Arms: Puritanism and Democracy in Cromwell's Army (1959), p. 24
  • William Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle (1592-1676) commanded the Royalists in northern England, and during 1643 made heavy work of defeating a small parliamentarian army. In 1644 he faced the invading Scots, and his tardiness in joining Prince Rupert before Marston Moor may have cost the Royalists victory. After the battle he fled to the Continent, where he wrote a book on horsemanship which remains his chief claim to fame.
    • John Tincey, Soldiers of the English Civil War (2): Cavalry (1990), p. 15
  • Prince Rupert was more than an inspiring leader; despite his youth he had wide experience of continental warfare, and was a keen student of military theory. His daring and skill gave victory to the Royalist horse in most of the early battles of the Civil Wars.
    • John Tincey, Soldiers of the English Civil War (2): Cavalry (1990), p. 15
  • The rate of cannon-fire was very slow. The process of sponging-out and reloading was deliberate and complex. Powder was kept in small budge barrels near the guns, which were fired by the application of linstock to the touch-hole. The risk of premature explosions was very great, and it is doubtful whether it was possible to fire more than one round every three minutes. By the time of Waterloo it was possible, using grapeshot, to get off as many as three rounds a minute for short periods. With grape-shot the recoil was reduced and it was not necessary to run the guns up between rounds. But by 1815 all sorts of improvements had been made, with guns lightened and means of traction improved.
    • Peter Young, The English Civil War Armies (1973), p. 6
  • The musket in common use was a heavy matchlock, which even a trained soldier could not hope to fire more than once a minute. Though it might kill or main at 200 yards it was not likely to hit the target at a range of more than 50 yards. The reason for this inaccuracy was that the bullet did not fit the smooth-bore barrel at all tightly, and therefore, when propelled towards the target, it tended to wander. The disadvantages of match were all too obvious: by night it could betray the position of the musketeers, and in foul weather it simply went out.
    • Peter Young, The English Civil War Armies (1973), p. 6
  • One comes across another form of musket during this period: an early flintlock known as the 'snaphance' or 'firelock.' It was comparatively rare, and soldiers so armed were usually employed to guard the train of artillery. There was less chance of unfortunate accidents if its escort consisted of men armed with flintlocks rather than with matchlocks.
    • Peter Young, The English Civil War Armies (1973), p. 6
  • Sir Thomas Fairfax, later Third Baron Fairfax of Cameron (1612-71), served at the siege of Bois-le-Duc (1629) and in the First Scots War. From 1642 to 1646 he was the life and soul of his father's small force which kept up the unequal struggle with Newcastle's Northern Army until it was destroyed at Marston Moor. His tactical skill and gallant leadership as well as his victories at Wakefield (21 May 1643), and Nantwich (25 January 1644) led to his selection as commander of the New Model Army, whose victories at Naseby, Langport, Torrington and elsewhere put an end to the First Civil War. Fairfax, a taciturn man, was no politician, and power gradually passed to his second-in-command, Oliver Cromwell. His wife's sympathies were Royalist and he played no part in the trial of Charles I.
    • Peter Young, The English Civil War Armies (1973), p. 7
  • Artillery had proved its worth in battles as well as in sieges as early as the middle of the fifteenth century; it was decisive at Castillon as at Constantinople. But its progress had been slow, and, at the time of the civil wars, many of its characteristics were still unsatisfactory. Ranges were short, rates of fire slow, equipment heavy and means of traction uneconomical. Nevertheless, both round-shot and case-shot were damaging missiles, which could score heavily on a troop of horse or a stand of pikes, whilst for siege work the big guns were invaluable.
    • Peter Young, The English Civil War Armies (1973), p. 30
  • England in August 1642 was in the midst of harvest, the fields covered in shocks of corn or standing golden brown ready for the sickle. But the time had come for another and bitter harvest. The long months of move and counter move between King Charles and his Parliament were over, culminating with the monarch's leading armed men into the House of Commons to arrest five members, only to find his birds flown. Now, with the raising of the royal standard at Nottingham on 22 August, the country lay under the shadow of fratricidal Civil War.
    • Peter Young and Wilfrid Emberton, The Cavalier Army: Its Organization and Everyday Life (1974), p. 19

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