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The English Civil War


In all things is to bee lauded and praised the goodly order of GOD, without the ... made king; he and his wife Mary become joint king and queen. Bill of Rights ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The English Civil War

The English Civil War
  • Amanda Flather
  • CS101
  • Lecture 5

Lecture Outline
  • Introduction
  • Divine Right Theory
  • The English Civil War Context and Causes
  • Constitutionalism and Contract
  • The Glorious Revolution
  • Conclusion

The Regicide The Execution of Charles 1 (1649)
  • Sixteenth century western Europe expressed
    unfaltering loyalty to a patriarchal Christian
    God and to a view of the world as his creation.
  • Hierarchy regarded as part of Gods divinely
    appointed plan and guarantor of stability.
  • Reflected in belief in a Great Chain of Being.
    God had arranged the universe in a certain order,
    and so the structure of society should reflect
    this in its own composition

Great Chain of Being Rhetorica Christiana (1579)
Homily on Obedience (1559)
  • In all things is to bee lauded and praised the
    goodly order of GOD, without the which no house,
    no Citie, no Commonwealth can continue and
    endure, or last.For where there is no right
    order, there reigneth all abuse, carnall liberty,
    enormitie, sinne, and Babylonicall confusion.

  • Rebellion was blasphemy as well as treason
  • How and why was it that
  • Charles 1 was executed in 1649 and
  • James 11 was deposed in 1688?

Charles 1 Anthony Van Dyck
James 11
Divine Right Theory
  • Medieval political theorists had seen kings as
    deriving their authority from God, but as obliged
    to rule in accordance with law and in
    consultation with the nobility.
  • Most people accepted that a prince was divinely
    ordained, and that to deviate from hierarchy was
    blasphemy but many theorists also accepted that
    if a prince ruled tyrannically he could be
    removed by his subjects.  

The Original Contract
  • Natural Law led the people to establish the state
    and government.
  • Direct democracy impracticable and so the people
    delegate one (monarch) or a few (aristocrats) to
    rule. However, the people placed limitations on
    their rulers' power. The conditions on which
    people granted power to their rulers was termed
    the "original contract.
  • The theory of the original contract could be used
    to justify resistance to tyrants. The people had
    a right to judge if a monarch was acting
    tyrannically and in breach of contract.

Absolutism and Divine Right Theory
  • More authoritarian views of government developed
    during 16th century when France was torn apart
    by the Religious Wars between Catholics and
  • Some French writers began to argue that only a
    strong central government could prevent anarchy,
    and that resistance to the monarch was never
    legitimate. The most important French absolutist
    theorist was Jean Bodin (1530-1596), who in
    1576 published Six Books of the Commonwealth.
  • Bodin argued that the sovereign could not be
    limited by human laws - since whatever
    institution had the right to judge if the law
    were being infringed would itself be the real

Absolutist Theory
  • There must be one - and only one - sovereign in
    every state (although it can be a body consisting
    of more than one person).
  • The sovereign holds all legitimate power and
    should never be actively resisted.
  • If the sovereign commands a contravention of
    God's law, disobey, but accept the punishment (
    "passive obedience").

Absolutism and Divine Right
  • Divine right theory was a branch of absolutism
  • Most divine right theorists thought that monarchy
    was the best form of government and that monarchs
    should never be resisted by the people.
  • Divine right theorists insisted that the ruler's
    authority was from God alone (not from the
    community). They quoted Scripture in their
  • Proverbs 8.15-16 By me kings reign, and princes
    decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles,
    even all the judges of the earth.

Divine Right and Patriarchalism
  • Patriarchalism defended divine right theory. It
    rested on the widely-held belief that husbands
    had authority over their wives and fathers over
    their children. This power was held both to be
    natural (since every society in the world
    accepted it) and divine (since God endorsed it in
    the Bible).
  • Some theorists argued that sovereigns as
    naturally held power over their states as fathers
    did over their families.
  • A monarch was no more accountable to his subjects
    than a father was to his children.  

Robert Filmer (1588-1653) Patriarcha (1631 pub.
James 1 Paul van Somer (15761621)
(No Transcript)
James 1 Patriarchy and Divine Right
  • … Kings are not onely GODS Lieutenants upon
    earth, and sit upon GODS throne, but even by GOD
    himselfe they are called Gods.
  • …Kings are also compared to Fathers of families
    for a King is trewly Parens patriæ, the politique
    father of his people. (James 1 speech to
    Parliament 1610)
  • 15971598The Trew Law of Free Monarchies
  • Basilikon Doron

Charles 1 Van Dyck
Charles and Divine Right
  • Charles was like his father in that he believed
    in authoritarian and absolutist government
  • Unlike James 1 he was distant wanted to use
    divine authority but didnt like people E.g.
    Royal Gift of Healing Charles 11 touchedc.

  • Many of his subjects became convinced essentially
    that Charles was like Satan
  • Gods greatest lieutenant became a traitor who
    failed to protect true religion or ancient law
  • What de-stabilized the state and caused the
    English Civil War?

(No Transcript)
Did Charles 1 cause the English civil War?
  • Long term structural weaknesses
  • crown financially weak- no standing army- king
    dependent on co-operation of the landed classes.
  • Religious division England was a moderate
    Protestant state, anti-popish, but contained
    within it significant minority of radical
    Protestants and Roman Catholics
  • Problem of Multiple Kingdoms- Charles king of
    England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, each with
    a very different political and religious
  • Short term causes
  • Charles personal rule (1629-40) use of
    prerogative to collect taxes deemed unlawful by
    many, and use of royal courts to remove political
  • Religion-Charles supported high-church
    Laudianism (or Arminianism), widely seen as
    a backdoor to popery.
  • Charles provoked a crisis in 1637 by imposing his
    religious policies on the Calvinist Scots

The Political Debate
  • Collapse of authority
  • Collapse of censorship
  • Extraordinary debate
  • The end of patriarchy? Challenge to belief that
    husbands had natural right to control wives
  • The end of monarchy?

Parliamentary Resistance and the Original
  • Parliament went to war with King Charles I in
    defense of the liberties of the English people,
    and of the established Protestant religion.
  • Parliamentarians believed that the king's
    policies threatened both religion and liberty.
  • Many of them argued against the theory of divine
    right of kings, and claimed that monarchs got
    their powers not from God alone, but from the
  • Parliament drew on the idea that the first king
    had been granted authority by the people in an
    original contract which defined and limited his
    power. A king who infringed the contract, they
    said, could be resisted by his subjects.

Radicalism and The Revolution
  • Most parliamentarians were not democrats but
    elitists who argued that the people - who had
    originally been sovereign, and who had granted
    authority to the king - were not the mass of the
    population, but the wealthy, landowning members
    of society.
  • Different ideas began to spread in the
    parliamentarian army, especially from 1645.
  • The Levellers proposed a new constitution called
    the Agreement of the People, with frequent
    Parliaments elected by all adult males.
  • These ideas were popular in London and in the
    army. Many soldiers came to believe that they,
    and other ordinary people, should be given a
    share in political power. They had risked their
    lives fighting against the king and wanted some
    tangible rewards.

The True Levellers
  • Another group led by Gerard Winstanley, who
    called themselves the "True Levellers" and who
    became known as Diggers, advocated the abolition
    of property.
  • These religiously-inspired radicals wanted a
    system of communal farming, and believed that
    government would be unnecessary as rural harmony
    would blossom in the absence of property rights.

The True Levellers
  • "But when once the Earth becomes a common
    treasury again, as it must, for all the
    prophesies of Scriptures and reason are circled
    here in this community, and mankind must have the
    law of righteousness once more writ in his heart,
    and all must be made of one heart, and one mind.
    Then this enmity in all lands will cease, for
    none shall dare to seek a dominion over others,
    neither shall any dare to kill another, nor
    desire more of the Earth then another …" From
    The True Levellers Standard Advanced (1649).

Royalism, Absolutism and Thomas Hobbes
  • Royalists supported the King and principle of
    hierarchy against what they believed to be the
    threat of anarchy.
  • Hobbes, a Royalist and defender of the King
    published two influential works of political
    thought De cive (1642, 1647) and Leviathan (1651)

Royalism, Absolutism and Hobbes
  • The most basic axiom of Hobbes' system of
    political thought was that everyone naturally
    aims at self-preservation. He argued that in "a
    state of nature" (i.e. where there was no
    government), life would be completely insecure.
    Without any protection against aggression, life
    would be miserable and dangerous.  
  • "No arts no letters no society and which is
    worst of all, continual fear, and danger of
    violent death and the life of man, solitary,
    poor, nasty, brutish, and short" (Hobbes,
    Leviathan, 1.18).
  • Under such conditions, people would be willing
    to surrender their own powers to an absolute
    government that would protect them from everyone
    else. Hobbes argued that the sovereign's power
    was absolute - (s)he made the law, and no other
    law could limit sovereign power. The only right
    Hobbes left to subjects was the right to defend
    themselves against the sovereign's direct

(No Transcript)
  • Hobbes put forward his arguments in a specific
    historical context, to defeat the revolutionary
    legions contending in the 1640s against the
    British monarchy. The Civil War was a very
    violent war, in which perhaps 180,000 people
    died. Hobbes hoped that the fear of death would
    serve as a weapon against that group of men who
    plunged England into civil war, the political
    corollary of the state of nature.

  • Hobbes was the great counter-revolutionary,
    warning that the revolutionary pressures for
    freedom and liberty were potentially so dangerous
    that they had to be countered at all times by
    fierce, state directed repression.
  • Only through the agency of the state could men be
    kept safe and could the fear of death, universal
    to all men, be kept at bay.
  • Can you see links between these arguments and
    those made by Western governments today?

The Civil War
  • Parliament won because of its 1) alliance with
    Scots- creates two fronts against the royalists
    2) support of London, which provides sound
    financial base 3) creation of New Model Army,
    with committed leaders (Fairfax, Cromwell) and
    disciplined soldiery.
  • Post-War all sides want a compromise settlement
    retaining the monarchy. Charles tries to play off
    his enemies (Scots, English Parliamentary groups-
    Presbyterians and Independents- and the Army)
    against each other, and stirs up 2nd civil war.
  • King soon defeated, tried and executed 1649.

The Stuarts Restored
  • The Commonwealth and Protectorate 1649-59
  • Restoration. Cromwell dies Sept. 1658. Regime
    dependent on his personality, and collapses
    within months. Army stages new coup but has no
    viable proposals for a settlement, and no leader
    of Cromwells stature.
  • Near-collapse of government, late 1659 paves way
    for Moncks entry and peaceful Restoration under
    Charles II, May 1660.

Charles 11
What went Wrong? The Exclusion Crisis
  • By mid-1670s, a looming succession question.
    Charles had no legitimate children his brother
    and heir James a zealous Catholic convert.
  • Catholicism still seen as sinister, and
    associated with absolutism.
  • 1678- revelation by Titus Oates of a (bogus)
    Popish Plot to murder Charles and put James on
    the throne.
  • National panic- calls for James to be excluded
    from the succession. 3 new Parliaments, 1679-80,
    all exclusionist. Charles refuses to give way.
    Political nation splits into Tories (loyalists)
    and Whigs (exclusionists). Deadlock, and fear of
    new civil war. 41 is here again.

No civil war- why not?
  • Memories of 1642- people knew where it might
    lead. ii. No certainty that James would ever
    become king. iii. Whigs could not agree on an
  • Charles kept his nerve, panic subsided. When he
    died (Feb 85), James succeeded without

James Duke of York
Why did James 11 blow it? The Glorious Revolution
  • James had a supportive Parliament, strong
    finances, able to double the size of the army to
  • BUT- provocative policies Jamess sense of a
    Catholic mission, and his political style-
    authoritarian, absolutist, arbitrary.
  • aroused fears of popery and arbitrary rule. Royal
    pregnancy raised fears of Catholic succession.

Two Treatises of Government (1689) by John Locke
provided a theoretical justification for
resistance to James II.

Locke and Contract Theory
  • Locke expounded some original notions.
  • But many of his ideas differed little from
    earlier Parliamentarian and resistance theorists.
    He accepted that a contractual relationship
    existed between people and their governors, and
    that governors could be resisted if they breached
    the terms of this agreement
  • He opposed patriarchalism, denying that political
    and paternal power were equivalent.

The Glorious Revolution 1688
  • 1688 Revolution.
  • William of Orange (husband of James Protestant
    daughter Mary) led an army to intervene/invade at
    invitation of some Protestant aristocrats.
  • James had the larger army (25,000 against
    Williams 14,000) but lost his nerve and fled.
  • William made king he and his wife Mary become
    joint king and queen.

Bill of Rights
  • Declaration of Rights drawn up by Parliament and
    read to William and Mary at their Coronation.
  • levying of money for, or to the use of the
    crowne was illegal. All elections should be held
    freely without any force. No standing army in
  • constitutional provisions the rule of law
    Parliament - should be free elections, frequent
    parliaments and freedom of speech the limits on
    the monarch.
  • Declaration later turned into a statute, the Bill
    of Rights in 1689

Consequences of 1688
  • 1688 Settlement provides that the king must
    always be a Protestant (this is still in force)
  • said kings must rule by law, call regular
    Parliament, not keep a standing army in peace
  • More important was the new political climate now
    clear that any English king who went too far
    could and would be thrown out.