1625 Jan 1
, England

The English Civil War broke out in 1642, less than 40 years after the death of Queen Elizabeth I. Elizabeth had been succeeded by her first cousin twice-removed, King James VI of Scotland, as James I of England, creating the first personal union of the Scottish and English kingdoms.As King of Scots, James had become accustomed to Scotland's weak parliamentary tradition since assuming control of the Scottish government in 1583, so that upon assuming power south of the border, the new King of England was affronted by the constraints the English Parliament attempted to place on him in exchange for money. Consequently, James's personal extravagance, which resulted in his being perennially short of money, meant that he had to resort to extra-parliamentary sources of income. Moreover, increasing inflation during this period meant that even though Parliament was granting the King the same nominal value of subsidy, the income was actually worth less.

This extravagance was tempered by James's peaceful disposition, so that by the succession of his son Charles I in 1625 the two kingdoms had both experienced relative peace, internally and in their relations with each other. Charles followed his father's dream in hoping to unite the kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland into a single kingdom. Many English Parliamentarians were suspicious of such a move, fearing that such a new kingdom might destroy old English traditions that had bound the English monarchy. As Charles shared his father's position on the power of the crown (James had described kings as "little gods on Earth", chosen by God to rule in accordance with the doctrine of the "Divine Right of Kings"), the suspicions of the Parliamentarians had some justification.

Sir Edward Coke, former Chief Justice who led the Committee that drafted the Petition, and the strategy that passed it

Petition of Right

1628 Jun 7
, England

The Petition of Right, passed on 7 June 1628, is an English constitutional document setting out specific individual protections against the state, reportedly of equal value to Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights 1689. It was part of a wider conflict between Parliament and the Stuart monarchy that led to the 1638 to 1651 Wars of the Three Kingdoms, ultimately resolved in the 1688 Glorious Revolution.

Following a series of disputes with Parliament over granting taxes, in 1627 Charles I imposed "forced loans", and imprisoned those who refused to pay, without trial. This was followed in 1628 by the use of martial law, forcing private citizens to feed, clothe and accommodate soldiers and sailors, which implied the king could deprive any individual of property, or freedom, without justification. It united opposition at all levels of society, particularly those elements the monarchy depended on for financial support, collecting taxes, administering justice etc, since wealth simply increased vulnerability.

A Commons committee prepared four "Resolutions", declaring each of these illegal, while re-affirming Magna Carta and habeas corpus. Charles previously depended on the House of Lords for support against the Commons, but their willingness to work together forced him to accept the Petition. It marked a new stage in the constitutional crisis, since it became clear many in both Houses did not trust him, or his ministers, to interpret the law.

Charles I at the Hunt, c. 1635, Louvre

Personal Rule

1629 Jan 1 - 1640
, England

The Personal Rule (also known as the Eleven Years' Tyranny) was the period from 1629 to 1640, when King Charles I of England, Scotland and Ireland ruled without recourse to Parliament. The King claimed that he was entitled to do this under the Royal Prerogative.

Charles had already dissolved three Parliaments by the third year of his reign in 1628. After the murder of George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, who was deemed to have a negative influence on Charles' foreign policy, Parliament began to criticize the king more harshly than before. Charles then realized that, as long as he could avoid war, he could rule without Parliament.

Signing of the National Covenant in Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh

Bishops' Wars

1639 Jan 1 - 1640
, Scotland

The 1639 and 1640 Bishops' Wars were the first of the conflicts known collectively as the 1639 to 1653 Wars of the Three Kingdoms, which took place in Scotland, England and Ireland. Others include the Irish Confederate Wars, the First, Second and Third English Civil Wars, and the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland.

The wars originated in disputes over governance of the Church of Scotland or kirk that began in the 1580s and came to a head when Charles I attempted to impose uniform practices on the kirk and the Church of England in 1637. These were opposed by most Scots, who supported a Presbyterian church governed by ministers and elders and the 1638 National Covenant pledged to oppose such "innovations". Signatories were known as Covenanters.

Charles I | ©Gerard van Honthorst

Short Parliament

1640 Feb 20 - May 5
, Parliament Square

The Short Parliament was a Parliament of England that was summoned by King Charles I of England on 20 February 1640 and sat from 13 April to 5 May 1640. It was so called because of its short life of only three weeks.

After 11 years of attempting Personal Rule between 1629 and 1640, Charles recalled Parliament in 1640 on the advice of Lord Wentworth, recently created Earl of Strafford, primarily to obtain money to finance his military struggle with Scotland in the Bishops' Wars. However, like its predecessors, the new parliament had more interest in redressing perceived grievances occasioned by the royal administration than in voting the King funds to pursue his war against the Scottish Covenanters.

John Pym, MP for Tavistock, quickly emerged as a major figure in debate; his long speech on 17 April expressed the refusal of the House of Commons to vote subsidies unless royal abuses were addressed. John Hampden, in contrast, was persuasive in private: he sat on nine committees. A flood of petitions concerning royal abuses were coming up to Parliament from the country. Charles's attempted offer to cease the levying of ship money did not impress the House.

Annoyed with the resumption of debate on Crown privilege and the violation of Parliamentary privilege by the arrest of the nine members in 1629, and unnerved about an upcoming scheduled debate on the deteriorating situation in Scotland, Charles dissolved Parliament on 5 May 1640, after only three weeks' sitting. It was followed later in the year by the Long Parliament.

Charles signed a bill agreeing that the present Parliament should not be dissolved without its own consent.

Long Parliament

1640 Nov 3
, Parliament Square

The Long Parliament was an English Parliament which lasted from 1640 until 1660. It followed the fiasco of the Short Parliament, which had convened for only three weeks during the spring of 1640 after an 11-year parliamentary absence. In September 1640, King Charles I issued writs summoning a parliament to convene on 3 November 1640. He intended it to pass financial bills, a step made necessary by the costs of the Bishops' Wars in Scotland. The Long Parliament received its name from the fact that, by Act of Parliament, it stipulated it could be dissolved only with agreement of the members; and those members did not agree to its dissolution until 16 March 1660, after the English Civil War and near the close of the Interregnum.

Ship Money Act

Parliament passed the Ship Money Act

1640 Dec 7
, England

The Ship Money Act 1640 was an Act of the Parliament of England. It outlawed the medieval tax called ship money, a tax the sovereign could levy (on coastal towns) without parliamentary approval. Ship money was intended for use in war, but by the 1630s was being used to fund everyday government expenses of King Charles I, thereby subverting Parliament.

George Goring (right) with Mountjoy Blount (left), to whom he revealed details of the First Army Plot

Army Plots

1641 May 1
, London

The 1641 Army Plots were two separate alleged attempts by supporters of Charles I of England to use the army to crush the Parliamentary opposition in the run-up to the First English Civil War. The plan was to move the army from York to London and to use it to reassert royal authority. It was also claimed that the plotters were seeking French military aid and that they planned to seize and fortify towns to become Royalist strongholds.

The exposure of the plots allowed John Pym and other opposition leaders to gain the upper hand by imprisoning or forcing into exile many of the king's supporters, including his wife Henrietta Maria. According to Conrad Russell, it remains unclear "who plotted with whom to do what" and that "Charles I's plots, like his grandmother's lovers, are capable of growing in the telling". Nevertheless, there were clearly real attempts to negotiate the movement of troops to London.

James Butler, Duke of Ormond, who commanded the royal army during the rebellion

Irish Rebellion

1641 Oct 23 - 1642 Feb
, Ireland

The Irish Rebellion of 1641 was an uprising by Irish Catholics in the Kingdom of Ireland, who wanted an end to anti-Catholic discrimination, greater Irish self-governance, and to partially or fully reverse the plantations of Ireland. They also wanted to prevent a possible invasion or takeover by anti-Catholic English Parliamentarians and Scottish Covenanters, who were defying the king, Charles I. It began as an attempted coup d'état by Catholic gentry and military officers, who tried to seize control of the English administration in Ireland. However, it developed into a widespread rebellion and ethnic conflict with English and Scottish Protestant settlers, leading to Scottish military intervention. The rebels eventually founded the Irish Catholic Confederacy.

Lenthall kneels to Charles during the attempted arrest of the Five Members. Painting by Charles West Cope

Grand Remonstrance

1641 Dec 1
, England

The Grand Remonstrance was a list of grievances presented to King Charles I of England by the English Parliament on 1 December 1641, but passed by the House of Commons on 22 November 1641, during the Long Parliament. It was one of the chief events which was to precipitate the English Civil War.

The Flight of the Five Members. | ©John Seymour Lucas

Five Members

1642 Jan 4
, Parliament Square

The Five Members were Members of Parliament whom King Charles I attempted to arrest on 4 January 1642. King Charles I entered the English House of Commons, accompanied by armed soldiers, during a sitting of the Long Parliament, although the Five Members were no longer in the House at the time. The Five Members were: John Hampden (c. 1594–1643) Arthur Haselrig (1601–1661) Denzil Holles (1599–1680) John Pym (1584–1643) William Strode (1598–1645)Charles' attempt to coerce parliament by force failed, turned many against him, and was one of the events leading directly to the outbreak of civil war later in 1642.

Militia Ordinance | ©Angus McBride

Militia Ordinance

1642 Mar 15
, London

The Militia Ordinance was passed by the Parliament of England on 15 March 1642. By claiming the right to appoint military commanders without the king's approval, it was a significant step in events leading to the outbreak of the First English Civil War in August.

The 1641 Irish Rebellion meant there was widespread support in England for raising military forces to suppress it. However, as relations between Charles I and Parliament deteriorated, neither side trusted the other, fearing such an army might be used against them.

The only permanent military force available were the Trained bands, or county militia, controlled by Lord lieutenants, who in turn were appointed by the king. In December 1641, Sir Arthur Haselrige introduced a militia bill giving Parliament the right to nominate its commanders, not Charles, which was passed by the House of Commons.

After failing to arrest the Five Members on 5 January, Charles left London, and headed north to York; over the next few weeks, many Royalist members of the Commons and House of Lords joined him. The result was a Parliamentary majority in the Lords, who approved the bill on 5 March 1642, while confirming doing so was not a violation of the Oath of Allegiance.

The bill was returned to the Commons for approval the same day, then passed to Charles for his royal assent, required for it to become a legally binding Act of Parliament. When he refused, Parliament declared on 15 March 1642 "the People are bound by the Ordinance for the Militia, though it has not received the Royal Assent".

Charles responded to this unprecedented assertion of Parliamentary sovereignty by issuing Commissions of Array, although these were statements of intent, with little practical impact on the raising of armies. Parliament continued to pass and enforce Ordinances throughout the 1640s, most of which were declared void after the 1660 Restoration; an exception was the 1643 excise duty.

Nineteen Propositions

Nineteen Propositions

1642 Jun 1
, York

On 1 June 1642 the English Lords and Commons approved a list of proposals known as the Nineteen Propositions , sent to King Charles I of England, who was in York at the time. In these demands, the Long Parliament sought a larger share of power in the governance of the kingdom. Among the MPs' proposals was Parliamentary supervision of foreign policy and responsibility for the command of the militia, the non-professional body of the army, as well as making the King's ministers accountable to Parliament. Before the end of the month the King rejected the Propositions and in August the country descended into civil war.

First English Civil War

First English Civil War

1642 Aug 1 - 1646 Mar
, England

The First English Civil War was fought in England and Wales from approximately August 1642 to June 1646 and forms part of the 1638 to 1651 Wars of the Three Kingdoms. Other related conflicts include the Bishops' Wars, the Irish Confederate Wars, the Second English Civil War, the Anglo-Scottish war (1650–1652) and the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland. Based on modern estimates, 15% to 20% of all adult males in England and Wales served in the military between 1638 to 1651 and around 4% of the total population died from war-related causes, compared to 2.23% in World War I. These figures illustrate the impact of the conflict on society in general and the bitterness it engendered.

Political conflict between Charles I and Parliament dated back to the early years of his reign and culminated in the imposition of Personal Rule in 1629. Following the 1639 to 1640 Bishops' Wars, Charles recalled Parliament in November 1640 hoping to obtain funding that would enable him to reverse his defeat by Scots Covenanters but in return they demanded major political concessions. While the vast majority supported the institution of monarchy, they disagreed on who held ultimate authority; Royalists generally argued Parliament was subordinate to the king, while most of their Parliamentarian opponents backed constitutional monarchy. However, this simplifies a very complex reality; many initially remained neutral or went to war with great reluctance and the choice of sides often came down to personal loyalties.

When the conflict began in August 1642, both sides expected it to be settled by a single battle, but it soon became clear this was not the case. Royalist successes in 1643 led to an alliance between Parliament and the Scots who won a series of battles in 1644, the most significant being the Battle of Marston Moor. In early 1645, Parliament authorised the formation of the New Model Army, the first professional military force in England, and their success at Naseby in June 1645 proved decisive. The war ended with victory for the Parliamentarian alliance in June 1646 and Charles in custody, but his refusal to negotiate concessions and divisions among his opponents led to the Second English Civil War in 1648.

Battle of Edgehill

Battle of Edgehill

1642 Oct 23
, Edge Hill

All attempts at constitutional compromise between King Charles and Parliament broke down early in 1642. Both the King and Parliament raised large armies to gain their way by force of arms. In October, at his temporary base near Shrewsbury, the King decided to march to London in order to force a decisive confrontation with Parliament's main army, commanded by the Earl of Essex.

Late on 22 October, both armies unexpectedly found the enemy to be close by. The next day, the Royalist army descended from Edge Hill to force battle. After the Parliamentarian artillery opened a cannonade, the Royalists attacked. Both armies consisted mostly of inexperienced and sometimes ill-equipped troops. Many men from both sides fled or fell out to loot enemy baggage, and neither army was able to gain a decisive advantage.

After the battle, the King resumed his march on London, but was not strong enough to overcome the defending militia before Essex's army could reinforce them. The inconclusive result of the Battle of Edgehill prevented either faction from gaining a quick victory in the war, which eventually lasted four years.

English Civil Wars: For King and Country ! | ©Peter Dennis

Battle of Adwalton Moor

1643 Jun 30
, Adwalton

The Battle of Adwalton Moor occurred on 30 June 1643 at Adwalton, West Yorkshire, during the First English Civil War. In the battle, the Royalists loyal to King Charles led by the Earl of Newcastle soundly defeated the Parliamentarians commanded by Lord Fairfax.

Storming of Bristol

Storming of Bristol

1643 Jul 23 - Jul 23
, Bristol

The Storming of Bristol took place from 23 to 26 July 1643, during the First English Civil War. The Royalist army under Prince Rupert captured the important port of Bristol from its weakened Parliamentarian garrison. The city remained under Royalist control until the second siege of Bristol in September 1645.

First Battle of Newbury | ©Graham Turner

First Battle of Newbury

1643 Sep 20
, Newbury

The First Battle of Newbury was a battle of the First English Civil War that was fought on 20 September 1643 between a Royalist army, under the personal command of King Charles, and a Parliamentarian force led by the Earl of Essex. Following a year of Royalist successes in which they took Banbury, Oxford and Reading without conflict before storming Bristol, the Parliamentarians were left without an effective army in the west of England. When Charles laid siege to Gloucester, Parliament was forced to muster a force under Essex with which to beat Charles' forces off. After a long march, Essex surprised the Royalists and forced them away from Gloucester before beginning a retreat to London. Charles rallied his forces and pursued Essex, overtaking the Parliamentarian army at Newbury and forcing them to march past the Royalist force to continue their retreat.

Reasons for the Royalist failure to defeat the Parliamentarians include shortage of ammunition, the relative lack of professionalism of their soldiers and the tactics of Essex, who compensated "for his much lamented paucity of cavalry by tactical ingenuity and firepower", countering Rupert's cavalry by driving them off with mass infantry formations. Although the numbers of casualties were relatively small (1,300 Royalists and 1,200 Parliamentarians), historians who have studied the battle consider it to be one of the most crucial of the First English Civil War, marking the high point of the Royalist advance and leading to the signing of the Solemn League and Covenant, which brought the Scottish Covenanters into the war on the side of Parliament and led to the eventual victory of the Parliamentarian cause.

A 17th-century playing card shows English Puritans taking the Covenant

Parliament allies with the Scots

1643 Sep 25
, Scotland

The Solemn League and Covenant was an agreement between the Scottish Covenanters and the leaders of the English Parliamentarians in 1643 during the First English Civil War, a theatre of conflict in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. On 17 August 1643, the Church of Scotland (the Kirk) accepted it and on 25 September 1643 so did the English Parliament and the Westminster Assembly.

Siege of Newcastle | ©Angus McBride

Siege of Newcastle

1644 Feb 3 - Oct 27
, Newcastle upon Tyne

The siege of Newcastle (3 February 1644 – 27 October 1644) occurred during the First English Civil War, when a Covenanter army under the command of Lord General Alexander Leslie, 1st Earl of Leven besieged the Royalist garrison under Sir John Marlay, the city's governor. Eventually the Covenanters took the city of Newcastle-on-Tyne by storm, and the Royalist garrison who still held castle keep surrendered on terms.This was not the first time that Newcastle-on-Tyne had changed hands during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. The Scots had occupied the city during the Second Bishops’ War in 1640.

Oliver Cromwell at the Battle of Marston Moor (1599–1658). Cromwell's reputation as an effective cavalry commander and leader was cemented by his success at Marston Moor.

Battle of Marston Moor

1644 Jul 2
, Long Marston

The Battle of Marston Moor was fought on 2 July 1644, during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms of 1639 – 1653. The combined forces of the English Parliamentarians under Lord Fairfax and the Earl of Manchester and the Scottish Covenanters under the Earl of Leven defeated the Royalists commanded by Prince Rupert of the Rhine and the Marquess of Newcastle.

During the summer of 1644, the Covenanters and Parliamentarians had been besieging York, which was defended by the Marquess of Newcastle. Rupert had gathered an army which marched through the northwest of England, gathering reinforcements and fresh recruits on the way, and across the Pennines to relieve the city. The convergence of these forces made the ensuing battle the largest of the civil wars.

On 1 July, Rupert outmanoeuvered the Covenanters and Parliamentarians to relieve the city. The next day, he sought battle with them even though he was outnumbered. He was dissuaded from attacking immediately and during the day both sides gathered their full strength on Marston Moor, an expanse of wild meadow west of York. Towards evening, the Covenanters and Parliamentarians themselves launched a surprise attack. After a confused fight lasting two hours, Parliamentarian cavalry under Oliver Cromwell routed the Royalist cavalry from the field and, with Leven's infantry, annihilated the remaining Royalist infantry.

After their defeat the Royalists effectively abandoned Northern England, losing much of the manpower from the northern counties of England (which were strongly Royalist in sympathy) and also losing access to the European continent through the ports on the North Sea coast. Although they partially retrieved their fortunes with victories later in the year in Southern England, the loss of the north was to prove a fatal handicap the next year, when they tried unsuccessfully to link up with the Scottish Royalists under the Marquess of Montrose.

Second Battle of Newbury

Second Battle of Newbury

1644 Oct 27
, Newbury

The Second Battle of Newbury was a battle of the First English Civil War fought on 27 October 1644, in Speen, adjoining Newbury in Berkshire. The battle was fought close to the site of the First Battle of Newbury, which took place in late September the previous year. The combined armies of Parliament inflicted a tactical defeat on the Royalists, but failed to gain any strategic advantage.

Oliver Cromwell At the battle of Marston Moor

New Model Army

1645 Feb 4
, England

The New Model Army was a standing army formed in 1645 by the Parliamentarians during the First English Civil War, then disbanded after the Stuart Restoration in 1660. It differed from other armies employed in the 1638 to 1651 Wars of the Three Kingdoms in that members were liable for service anywhere in the country, rather than being limited to a single area or garrison. To establish a professional officer corps, the army's leaders were prohibited from having seats in either the House of Lords or House of Commons. This was to encourage their separation from the political or religious factions among the Parliamentarians.

The New Model Army was raised partly from among veteran soldiers who already had deeply held Puritan religious beliefs, and partly from conscripts who brought with them many commonly held beliefs about religion or society. Many of its common soldiers therefore held dissenting or radical views unique among English armies. Although the Army's senior officers did not share many of their soldiers' political opinions, their independence from Parliament led to the Army's willingness to contribute to both Parliament's authority and to overthrow the Crown, and to establish a Commonwealth of England from 1649 to 1660, which included a period of direct military rule. Ultimately, the Army's generals (particularly Oliver Cromwell) could rely on both the Army's internal discipline and its religious zeal and innate support for the "Good Old Cause" to maintain an essentially dictatorial rule.

Battle of Naseby, hand-coloured copper engraving by Dupuis after Parrocel, 1727 (for Rapins History, v.2, p. 527)

Battle of Naseby

1645 Jun 14
, Naseby

The Battle of Naseby took place on Saturday 14 June 1645 during the First English Civil War, near the village of Naseby in Northamptonshire. The Parliamentarian New Model Army, commanded by Sir Thomas Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell, destroyed the main Royalist army under Charles I and Prince Rupert. Defeat ended any real hope of Royalist victory, although Charles did not finally surrender until May 1646.

The 1645 campaign began in April when the newly formed New Model Army marched west to relieve Taunton, before being ordered back to lay siege to Oxford, the Royalist wartime capital. On 31 May, the Royalists stormed Leicester and Fairfax was instructed to abandon the siege and engage them. Although heavily outnumbered, Charles decided to stand and fight and after several hours of combat his force was effectively destroyed. The Royalists suffered over 1,000 casualties, with over 4,500 of their infantry captured and paraded through the streets of London; they would never again field an army of comparable quality.

They also lost all their artillery and stores, along with Charles' personal baggage and private papers, which revealed his attempts to bring the Irish Catholic Confederation and foreign mercenaries into the war. These were published in a pamphlet titled The King's Cabinet Opened, whose appearance was a great boost to the cause of Parliament.

Battle of Langport

Battle of Langport

1645 Jul 10
, Langport

The Battle of Langport was a Parliamentarian victory late in the First English Civil War which destroyed the last Royalist field army and gave Parliament control of the West of England, which had hitherto been a major source of manpower, raw materials and imports for the Royalists. The battle took place on 10 July 1645 near the small town of Langport, which lies south of Bristol.

Siege of Bristol

Siege of Bristol

1645 Aug 23 - Sep 10
, Bristol

The Second Siege of Bristol of the First English Civil War lasted from 23 August 1645 until 10 September 1645, when the Royalist commander Prince Rupert surrendered the city that he had captured from the Parliamentarians on 26 July 1643. The commander of the Parliamentarian New Model Army forces besieging Bristol was Lord Fairfax.

King Charles, almost stunned by the suddenness of the catastrophic loss of Bristol, dismissed Rupert from all his offices and ordered him to leave England.

Charles I Insulted by Cromwell's Soldiers | ©Paul Delaroche

Scots deliver Charles to Parliament

1647 Jan 1
, Newcastle

After the third siege of Oxford, from which Charles escaped (disguised as a servant) in April 1646. He put himself into the hands of the Scottish presbyterian army besieging Newark, and was taken northwards to Newcastle upon Tyne. After nine months of negotiations, the Scots finally arrived at an agreement with the English Parliament: in exchange for £100,000, and the promise of more money in the future, the Scots withdrew from Newcastle and delivered Charles to the parliamentary commissioners in January 1647.

Charles at Carisbrooke Castle, as painted by Eugène Lami in 1829

Charles I escapes captivity

1647 Nov 1
, Isle of Wight

Parliament held Charles under house arrest at Holdenby House in Northamptonshire until Cornet George Joyce took him by threat of force from Holdenby on 3 June in the name of the New Model Army. By this time, mutual suspicion had developed between Parliament, which favoured army disbandment and presbyterianism, and the New Model Army, which was primarily officered by congregationalist Independents, who sought a greater political role. Charles was eager to exploit the widening divisions, and apparently viewed Joyce's actions as an opportunity rather than a threat. He was taken first to Newmarket, at his own suggestion, and then transferred to Oatlands and subsequently Hampton Court, while more fruitless negotiations took place. By November, he determined that it would be in his best interests to escape—perhaps to France, Southern England or Berwick-upon-Tweed, near the Scottish border. He fled Hampton Court on 11 November, and from the shores of Southampton Water made contact with Colonel Robert Hammond, Parliamentary Governor of the Isle of Wight, whom he apparently believed to be sympathetic. But Hammond confined Charles in Carisbrooke Castle and informed Parliament that Charles was in his custody.

From Carisbrooke, Charles continued to try to bargain with the various parties. In direct contrast to his previous conflict with the Scottish Kirk, on 26 December 1647 he signed a secret treaty with the Scots. Under the agreement, called the "Engagement", the Scots undertook to invade England on Charles's behalf and restore him to the throne on condition that presbyterianism be established in England for three years.

Second English Civil War

Second English Civil War

1648 Feb 1 - Aug
, England

The 1648 Second English Civil War was part of a series of connected conflicts in the British Isles, incorporating England,Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. Known collectively as the 1638 to 1651 Wars of the Three Kingdoms, others include the Irish Confederate Wars, the 1638 to 1640 Bishops' Wars, and the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland.

Following his defeat in the First English Civil War, in May 1646 Charles I surrendered to the Scots Covenanters, rather than Parliament. By doing so, he hoped to exploit divisions between English and Scots Presbyterians, and English Independents. At this stage, all parties expected Charles to continue as king which combined with their internal divisions allowed him to refuse significant concessions. When the Presbyterian majority in Parliament failed to dissolve the New Model Army in late 1647, many joined with the Scottish Engagers in an agreement to restore Charles to the English throne.

The Scottish invasion was supported by Royalist risings in South Wales, Kent, Essex and Lancashire, along with sections of the Royal Navy. However, these were poorly co-ordinated and by the end of August 1648, they had been defeated by forces under Oliver Cromwell and Sir Thomas Fairfax. This led to the Execution of Charles I in January 1649 and establishment of the Commonwealth of England, after which the Covenanters crowned his son Charles II king of Scotland, leading to the 1650 to 1652 Anglo-Scottish War.

Battle of Maidstone | ©Graham Turner

Battle of Maidstone

1648 Jun 1
, Maidstone

The Battle of Maidstone (1 June 1648) was fought in the Second English Civil War and was a victory for the attacking Parliamentarian troops over the defending Royalist forces.

Battle of Preston 1648 | ©Graham Turner

Battle of Preston

1648 Aug 17 - Aug 19
, Preston

The Battle of Preston (17–19 August 1648), fought largely at Walton-le-Dale near Preston in Lancashire, resulted in a victory for the New Model Army under the command of Oliver Cromwell over the Royalists and Scots commanded by the Duke of Hamilton. The Parliamentarian victory presaged the end of the Second English Civil War.

Colonel Pride refusing admission to the secluded members of the Long Parliament

Pride's Purge

1649 Jan 1
, House of Commons

Pride's Purge is the name commonly given to an event that took place on 6 December 1648, when soldiers prevented members of Parliament considered hostile to the New Model Army from entering the House of Commons of England. Despite defeat in the First English Civil War, Charles I retained significant political power. This allowed him to create an alliance with Scots Covenanters and Parliamentarian moderates to restore him to the English throne. The result was the 1648 Second English Civil War, in which he was defeated once again. Convinced only his removal could end the conflict, senior commanders of the New Model Army took control of London on 5 December. Next day, soldiers commanded by Colonel Thomas Pride forcibly excluded from the Long Parliament those MPs viewed as their opponents, and arrested 45. The purge cleared the way for the execution of Charles in January 1649, and establishment of the Protectorate in 1653; it is considered the only recorded military coup d'état in English history.

The Execution of Charles I, 1649 | ©Ernest Crofts

Execution of Charles I

1649 Jan 30
, Whitehall

The execution of Charles I by beheading occurred on Tuesday 30 January 1649 outside the Banqueting House on Whitehall. The execution was the culmination of political and military conflicts between the royalists and the parliamentarians in England during the English Civil War, leading to the capture and trial of Charles I. On Saturday 27 January 1649, the parliamentarian High Court of Justice had declared Charles guilty of attempting to "uphold in himself an unlimited and tyrannical power to rule according to his will, and to overthrow the rights and liberties of the people" and he was sentenced to death.

Commonwealth of England

Commonwealth of England

1649 May 1 - 1660
, United Kingdom

The Commonwealth was the political structure during the period from 1649 to 1660 when England and Wales, later along with Ireland and Scotland, were governed as a republic after the end of the Second English Civil War and the trial and execution of Charles I. The republic's existence was declared through "An Act declaring England to be a Commonwealth", adopted by the Rump Parliament on 19 May 1649. Power in the early Commonwealth was vested primarily in the Parliament and a Council of State. During the period, fighting continued, particularly in Ireland and Scotland, between the parliamentary forces and those opposed to them, as part of what is now generally referred to as the Third English Civil War.

In 1653, after dissolution of the Rump Parliament, the Army Council adopted the Instrument of Government which made Oliver Cromwell Lord Protector of a united "Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland", inaugurating the period now usually known as the Protectorate. After Cromwell's death, and following a brief period of rule under his son, Richard Cromwell, the Protectorate Parliament was dissolved in 1659 and the Rump Parliament recalled, starting a process that led to the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. The term Commonwealth is sometimes used for the whole of 1649 to 1660 – called by some the Interregnum – although for other historians, the use of the term is limited to the years prior to Cromwell's formal assumption of power in 1653.

Cromwellian conquest of Ireland

Cromwellian conquest of Ireland

1649 Aug 15 - 1653 Apr 27
, Ireland

The Cromwellian conquest of Ireland or Cromwellian war in Ireland (1649–1653) was the re-conquest of Ireland by the forces of the English Parliament, led by Oliver Cromwell, during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. Cromwell invaded Ireland with the New Model Army on behalf of England's Rump Parliament in August 1649.

By May 1652, Cromwell's Parliamentarian army had defeated the Confederate and Royalist coalition in Ireland and occupied the country, ending the Irish Confederate Wars (or Eleven Years' War). However, guerrilla warfare continued for a further year. Cromwell passed a series of Penal Laws against Roman Catholics (the vast majority of the population) and confiscated large amounts of their land. As punishment for the rebellion of 1641, almost all lands owned by Irish Catholics were confiscated and given to British settlers. The remaining Catholic landowners were transplanted to Connacht. The Act of Settlement 1652 formalised the change in land ownership. Catholics were barred from the Irish Parliament altogether, forbidden to live in towns and from marrying Protestants.

Anglo-Scottish War | ©Angus McBride

Anglo-Scottish War

1650 Jul 22 - 1652
, Scotland

The Anglo-Scottish war (1650–1652), also known as the Third Civil War, was the final conflict in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists.

The 1650 English invasion was a pre-emptive military incursion by the English Commonwealth's New Model Army, intended to allay the risk of Charles II invading England with a Scottish army. The First and Second English Civil Wars, in which English Royalists, loyal to Charles I, fought Parliamentarians for control of the country, took place between 1642 and 1648. When the Royalists were defeated for the second time the English government, exasperated by Charles's duplicity during negotiations, had him executed on 30 January 1649. Charles I was also, separately, the king of Scotland, which was then an independent nation. The Scots fought in support of the Parliamentarians in the First Civil War, but sent an army in support of the king into England during the Second. The Parliament of Scotland, which had not been consulted before the execution, declared his son, Charles II, King of Britain.

In 1650 Scotland was rapidly raising an army. The leaders of the English Commonwealth government felt threatened and on 22 July the New Model Army under Oliver Cromwell invaded Scotland. The Scots, commanded by David Leslie, retreated to Edinburgh and refused battle. After a month of manoeuvring, Cromwell unexpectedly led the English army out of Dunbar in a night attack on 3 September and heavily defeated the Scots. The survivors abandoned Edinburgh and withdrew to the strategic bottleneck of Stirling. The English secured their hold over southern Scotland, but were unable to advance past Stirling. On 17 July 1651 the English crossed the Firth of Forth in specially constructed boats and defeated the Scots at the Battle of Inverkeithing on 20 July. This cut off the Scottish army at Stirling from its sources of supply and reinforcements.

Charles II, believing that the only alternative was surrender, invaded England in August. Cromwell pursued, few Englishmen rallied to the Royalist cause and the English raised a large army. Cromwell brought the badly outnumbered Scots to battle at Worcester on 3 September and completely defeated them, marking the end of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. Charles was one of the few to escape. This demonstration that the English were willing to fight to defend the republic and capable of doing so effectively strengthened the position of the new English government. The defeated Scottish government was dissolved and the kingdom of Scotland was absorbed into the Commonwealth. Following much in-fighting Cromwell ruled as Lord Protector. After his death, further in-fighting resulted in Charles being crowned King of England on 23 April 1661, twelve years after being crowned by the Scots. This completed the Stuart Restoration.

Cromwell at Dunbar | ©Andrew Carrick Gow

Battle of Dunbar

1650 Sep 3
, Dunbar

The Battle of Dunbar was fought between the English New Model Army, under Oliver Cromwell and a Scottish army commanded by David Leslie, on 3 September 1650 near Dunbar, Scotland. The battle resulted in a decisive victory for the English. It was the first major battle of the 1650 invasion of Scotland, which was triggered by Scotland's acceptance of Charles II as king of Britain after the beheading of his father, Charles I on 30 January 1649.

After the battle, the Scottish government took refuge in Stirling, where Leslie rallied what remained of his army. The English captured Edinburgh and the strategically important port of Leith. In the summer of 1651 the English crossed the Firth of Forth to land a force in Fife; they defeated the Scots at Inverkeithing and so threatened the northern Scottish strongholds. Leslie and Charles II marched south in an unsuccessful attempt to rally Royalist supporters in England. The Scottish government, left in an untenable situation, surrendered to Cromwell, who then followed the Scottish army south. At the Battle of Worcester, precisely one year after the Battle of Dunbar, Cromwell crushed the Scottish army, ending the war.

Battle of Inverkeithing | ©Angus McBride

Battle of Inverkeithing

1651 Jul 20
, Inverkeithing

An English Parliamentary regime had tried and executed Charles I, who was king of both Scotland and England in a personal union, in January 1649. The Scots recognised his son, also Charles, as king of Britain and set about recruiting an army. An English army, under Oliver Cromwell, invaded Scotland in July 1650. The Scottish army, commanded by David Leslie, refused battle until 3 September when it was heavily defeated at the Battle of Dunbar. The English occupied Edinburgh and the Scots withdrew to the choke point of Stirling. For nearly a year all attempts to storm or bypass Stirling, or to draw the Scots out into another battle, failed. On 17 July 1651 1,600 English soldiers crossed the Firth of Forth at its narrowest point in specially constructed flat-bottomed boats and landed at North Queensferry on the Ferry Peninsula. The Scots sent forces to pen the English in and the English reinforced their landing. On 20 July the Scots moved against the English and in a short engagement were routed.

Lambert seized the deep-water port of Burntisland and Cromwell shipped over most of the English army. He then marched on and captured Perth, the temporary seat of the Scottish government. Charles and Leslie took the Scottish army south and invaded England. Cromwell pursued them, leaving 6,000 men to mop up the remaining resistance in Scotland. Charles and the Scots were decisively defeated on 3 September at the Battle of Worcester. On the same day the last major Scottish town holding out, Dundee, surrendered.

Oliver Cromwell at the Battle of Worcester, 17th century painting, artist unknown

Battle of Worcester

1651 Sep 3
, Worcester

The Battle of Worcester took place on 3 September 1651 in and around the city of Worcester, England and was the last major battle of the 1639 to 1653 Wars of the Three Kingdoms. A Parliamentarian army of around 28,000 under Oliver Cromwell defeated a largely Scottish Royalist force of 16,000 led by Charles II of England.

The Royalists took up defensive positions in and around the city of Worcester. The area of the battle was bisected by the River Severn, with the River Teme forming an additional obstacle to the south-west of Worcester. Cromwell divided his army into two main sections, divided by the Severn, in order to attack from both the east and south-west. There was fierce fighting at river crossing points and two dangerous sorties by the Royalists against the eastern Parliamentary force were beaten back. Following the storming of a major redoubt to the east of the city, the Parliamentarians entered Worcester and organised Royalist resistance collapsed. Charles II was able to escape capture.

Oliver Cromwell


1653 Dec 16 - 1659
, England

After the dissolution of Barebone's Parliament, John Lambert put forward a new constitution known as the Instrument of Government, closely modelled on the Heads of Proposals. It made Cromwell Lord Protector for life to undertake "the chief magistracy and the administration of government". He had the power to call and dissolve parliaments but was obliged under the instrument to seek the majority vote of the Council of State. However, Cromwell's power was also buttressed by his continuing popularity among the army, which he had built up during the civil wars, and which he subsequently prudently guarded. Cromwell was sworn in as Lord Protector on 16 December 1653.


1660 Jan 1
, England

The wars left England, Scotland, and Ireland among the few countries in Europe without a monarch. In the wake of victory, many of the ideals became sidelined. The republican government of the Commonwealth of England ruled England (and later all of Scotland and Ireland) from 1649 to 1653 and from 1659 to 1660. Between the two periods, and due to in-fighting among various factions in Parliament, Oliver Cromwell ruled over the Protectorate as Lord Protector (effectively a military dictator) until his death in 1658.

On Oliver Cromwell's death, his son Richard became Lord Protector, but the Army had little confidence in him. After seven months the Army removed Richard. In May 1659 it re-installed the Rump. Military force shortly afterward dissolved this as well. After the second dissolution of the Rump, in October 1659, the prospect of a total descent into anarchy loomed, as the Army's pretense of unity dissolved into factions.

Into this atmosphere General George Monck, Governor of Scotland under the Cromwells, marched south with his army from Scotland. On 4 April 1660, in the Declaration of Breda, Charles II made known the conditions of his acceptance of the Crown of England. Monck organised the Convention Parliament, which met for the first time on 25 April 1660.

On 8 May 1660, it declared that Charles II had reigned as the lawful monarch since the execution of Charles I in January 1649. Charles returned from exile on 23 May 1660. On 29 May 1660, the populace in London acclaimed him as king. His coronation took place at Westminster Abbey on 23 April 1661. These events became known as the Restoration.

Although the monarchy was restored, it was still with the consent of Parliament. So the civil wars effectively set England and Scotland on course towards a parliamentary monarchy form of government. The outcome of this system was that the future Kingdom of Great Britain, formed in 1707 under the Acts of Union, managed to forestall the kind of revolution typical of European republican movements which generally resulted in total abolition of their monarchies. Thus the United Kingdom was spared the wave of revolutions that occurred in Europe in the 1840s. Specifically, future monarchs became wary of pushing Parliament too hard, and Parliament effectively chose the line of royal succession in 1688 with the Glorious Revolution.


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