"In or about the year of our Lord 1640, when all the troubles of England were swelling to an outburst"
King Charles I of England, 1630w
Public DomainKing Charles I of England, 1630w - Credit: Sir Anthony van Dyck

King Charles I, who ruled England from 1625 to 1649, was a firm believer in the divine right of kings and absolute monarchy, and he clashed frequently with Parliament as a result.  Between 1629 and 1640 he dissolved Parliament altogether and ruled as absolute monarch, a period known as the Eleven Years’ Tyranny.  He made himself very unpopular, levying a range of taxes and fines to raise money for the crown, and attempting to move the Church of England toward a more ceremonial form of High Anglicanism, which was perceived by Protestant objectors – and Puritans in particular – as a stealthy return to Catholicism.  Charles’ need to raise revenue to fight off a Scottish invasion in the north led him to reconstitute Parliament in 1640.  This "Long Parliament" made a number of legislative changes to strengthen the power of Parliament against the King.   The Remonstrance of 1641 called for substantial curtailment of royal authority in favour of Parliament, and sweeping changes in church and state.  This alienated moderates who opposed absolutism but nonetheless remained royalists and Anglicans. 

In January 1642, Charles attempted to arrest five members of the House of Commons on a charge of treason. Parliament refused to hand them over, asserting the authority of Parliament over the King.  Over the course of the year, Parliament and King became increasingly polarised, and cities and towns began to declare their sympathies for one faction or the other. By August 1642, civil war had divided England, pitting the Royalists, or Cavaliers, against supporters of the Long Parliament, the Roundheads.


The Battle of Marston Moor, 1644
Public DomainThe Battle of Marston Moor, 1644 - Credit: John Barker