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The English Civil War: Causes, Costs and Benefits Term Paper


The English Civil War broke out in 1642 and lasted for nine years (Coates 1-2). The parliament and monarchial administration disagreed on the ideals and principles upheld by each side and their unwillingness to cede ground on any issue (Henry and Delf 2). In the end, a war became the only option to settle their issues (Henry and Delf 2-6). The war occurred in three stages or periods. The first two stages occurred in 1642–1646 and in 1648–1649 (Backman 1-10) involving the Long Legislature and King Charles the first. The final stage occurred in 1649–1651 and involved the Rump Legislature and the Royal leadership under King Charles the second (Backman 3).

Ultimately, the Parliament emerged victorious and made changes both to justice and governance system. When it comes to the law, the English Civil War acted as a platform for establishing governance standards for future English leaders. That is, they had to derive consent or approval from Parliament whenever they wanted to pursue in issue of national interest (Henry and Delf 4). This paper discusses the English civil war in terms of causative factors, costs/disadvantages, and advantages/benefits.

Factors that led to civil war

Whig school of thought

According to Whig school of thought, the Civil War resulted from a protracted struggle between the Monarchial rule and parliamentary rule (White 3-5). In this case, the parliament wanted the conventional rights of people preserved, whilst the royal leadership wanted to expand its right in a way that would allow it to dictate issues (Backman 4-6).

Marxist school of thought

According to Marxist school of thought, the English Civil War was purely a class war (Henry and Delf 5-7). That is, those who benefited a lot from the dictatorship of Charles the first such as lords and church leaders, strongly defended his leadership, whilst parliament with the support of middle classes such as industrial and trading groups strongly resisted the monarchial leadership (Coates 2).

Revisionist school of thought

Revisionist, on the other hand, indicated that the English civil war arose from different factors each having a significant impact. For instance, Anglican doctrines were to be imposed on the Scottish and were strongly resisted (Coates 4). King Charles then had to use the military to enforce his directive. With this, he also forced the legislature to raise the tax in order to get sufficient amount of money to sustain the army (Backman 7). However, other groups still resisted his directive as no side was willing to compromise.

Local demands and problems

The monarchial leadership was also resisted as a result of local displeasures (Backman 10-13). For instance, the livelihood of many people was negatively impacted after the enforcement of drainage-schemes. With this, many people thought that King Charles was too insensitive to local grievances (White 4). This aspect saw many easterners join parliament a group that played a role in resisting the tyrannical leadership of King Charles.

Unwilling to convene parliament

Since the King was not able to raise money or revenue through the legislature, he was not willing to convene it (Henry and Delf 23-25). This meant that he would use other orthodox means to raise money. He started by bringing back into effect some outdated principles. For example, those who failed to turn up for coronation of the king were to pay a certain fine. The King also introduced ship tax payable by inlanders for sustenance of the Royal Navy. The wealthy were also compelled to purchase titles. Those who refused were fined heavily (Henry and Delf 9). Some people refused to pay any of these taxes arguing that they were unlawful. They were taken to courts and fined heavily for refusing to abide by the set laws (Backman 5). This aspect provoked widespread fury against the king’s leadership.

The constitutionality of parliament and a show of power

Before the civil war, the English Parliament did not have any permanent responsibility provided for in law and constitution. The parliament only convened on temporary basis and only served as an advisory committee to the royal leadership (White 6-10). The king also would dissolve it whenever he wanted. As such it lacked legal powers to force its will upon the government. This issue did not please many people especially parliamentarians.

As a show of power and strength, in 1941 parliament ordered for the execution of Strafford, the key adviser to the King. In addition, parliament demanded for the abolition of the Star Chamber court (Backman 23-33). This issue savored the relationship between the king and parliament, with the king leading an army to parliament to arrest his main opponents.

The concern of parliament with regard to the petition of right

When the king married Henrietta Maria, a catholic, many people raised concerns over the issue (White 3). The concerns were centered on a possibility of raising catholic children including future monarch leaders. This was a deep seated issue based on the fact that England was officially protestant under the Church of England (White 4). The other aspect is the decision by the king to intervene on the European Protestant war. This meant that the expenditure would increase something that parliament was unwilling to sanction.

The number of people who perished

During the English civil war, figures for casualties are not reliable, although some rough estimates have been provided (Henry and Delf 11-13). These estimates point out that England suffered a loss of about four percent, Scotland about six percent and Ireland about forty percent of the entire population. From this figures, it is apparent that Ireland was hard hit by the civil war than England and Ireland.

Gains or advantages

A number of ordinary people derived a lot of benefits from the lawlessness of civil society during the war period (Backman 2). People living in the countryside seized many things such as timber and estates from the church leadership and the royal family. Living conditions improved particularly for communities living on acquired estates. After the first stage of the civil war, it became apparent that the traditional way of life advanced by the king had started fading. Some element of democracy was also introduced (Henry and Delf 4). Ultimately, since the monarchial leadership was declared null and void, three countries, Scotland, Ireland and England, were administered under the commonwealth of England.

Conclusion

The English Civil War resulted from the disagreement between the parliament and the monarchial leadership or the government. Whilst the king had absolute powers to dictate on whatever he wanted, the parliament kept enhancing especially in the context of sanctioning tax collection for the government. Often, parliament would not yield to the demands of the king, leading to protracted sideshows and eventually the war that claimed many lives.

Works Cited

Backman, Clifford. The cultures of the West: a history, New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2013. Print.

Coates, Ben. The impact of the English Civil War on the economy of London, 1642-50, Aldershot, Hampshire: Ashgate Press, 2004. Print.

Henry, Chris and Brian Delf. English Civil War artillery 1642-51, Oxford, London: Osprey Publishing, 2005. Print.

White, Michelle. Henrietta Maria and the English civil wars. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Press, 2006. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2020, June 4). The English Civil War: Causes, Costs and Benefits. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-english-civil-war-causes-costs-and-benefits/

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"The English Civil War: Causes, Costs and Benefits." IvyPanda, 4 June 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/the-english-civil-war-causes-costs-and-benefits/.

1. IvyPanda. "The English Civil War: Causes, Costs and Benefits." June 4, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-english-civil-war-causes-costs-and-benefits/.


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IvyPanda. "The English Civil War: Causes, Costs and Benefits." June 4, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-english-civil-war-causes-costs-and-benefits/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "The English Civil War: Causes, Costs and Benefits." June 4, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-english-civil-war-causes-costs-and-benefits/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'The English Civil War: Causes, Costs and Benefits'. 4 June.

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