The causes of the English Civil War covered a number of years. The reign of Charles I had seen a marked deterioration in the relationship between Crown and Parliament. This breakdown may well have occurred as early as 1625 when it became clear to Parliament that Charles was going to allow George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, to maintain his huge influence on the Crown despite the death of James I. Therefore, there were long term causes of the war and short term causes that actually sparked off the conflict.


1637: Charles attempted to get the Scots to pray in the same way that Laud had ordered the English to do. This the Scots were not prepared to tolerate and riots broke out in Edinburgh and spread across Scotland.


1638: Charles sent an army to Scotland to put down the riots. It failed to do this and the English force was defeated by the Scottish one.


1639: Charles called home from Ireland Strafford. Strafford had ruled Ireland with force and he had built up a good army. Charles hoped that Strafford could do the same for an English army.


1640: In April, Charles called for a Parliament to grant the money needed to fight a war in Scotland. Parliament refused to grant the money needed and cited Laud and Strafford as men who were abusing the authority that had been given to them. Charles dismissed Parliament after it had sat for just three weeks. In August Scottish forces attacked England. Northumberland and Durham were taken over and an English force was defeated. In November Charles was forced to call Parliament again to acquire the money needed to pay the Scots to leave England. Only Parliament had the financial means to deal with the situation and both they and Charles knew this. Laud and Strafford were both sent to the Tower of London.


1641: In May Charles attempted to get Strafford released from the Tower but failed. On May 12th Strafford was executed after he was tried for treason and charged with planning to use his Irish army to defeat Parliament. Between June and August Parliament started to dismantle the way that Charles had ruled England during the ‘Eleven Years Tyranny’. Royal courts were ended – the most important being the Court of Star Chamber. In November Ireland rebelled. The relationship between Charles and Parliament further worsened over the clash they had over whether the Church of England should be the model that Charles wanted or whether, as Parliament wished, it should move to a Puritan model with the abolition of the bishops. In December it became clear that Parliament and Charles had no common ground.


1642: In January Charles attempted to arrest his five most prominent critics in the House of Commons. They fled into London before Charles arrived at the House. The City of London’s troops sided with Parliament and with this Charles had no choice but to flee his capital. For the next eight months Charles attempted to get support for his cause and any attempt to resolve the problem ended in failure. In August Charles raised his standard at Nottingham and declared war on Parliament.

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