He outraged commercial circles by seizing bullion deposited in the Tower and by proposing to debase the coinage. The State machine — which depended on the support of the middle-class J. The Scots refused to leave England without an indemnity. The Eng is army sent against them was mutinous and had to be paid. A Parliament could no longer be avoided.
The Day | Very British, but a revolution nonetheless
Even so Charles dissolved one Parliament after three weeks the Short Parliament ; but in November, , the Long Parliament met, to which the Government had to surrender. Pym, Hampden and other Opposition leaders had stumped the country in a successful election campaign. They were helped by riots against enclosures in the countryside and by mass demonstrations in the City.
This Parliament differed from its predecessors only in the length of its session. It represented the same classes — principally the gentry and wealthy merchants.
Consequently, it came to reflect the division among the English gentry corresponding roughly to the economic division between feudal north-west and capitalist south-east. But the House of Commons did not make the revolution: its members were subject to pressure from outside, from the people of London, the yeomen and artisans of the home counties. But in most classes were united against the Crown. The final issues were: a destruction of the bureaucratic machinery whereby the Government had been able to rule in contravention of the desires of the great majority of its politically influential subjects Strafford was executed, Laud imprisoned, other leading Ministers fled abroad; the Star Chamber, Court of High Commission, and other prerogative courts were abolished ; b prevention of a standing army controlled by the King; c abolition of the recent financial expedients, whose aim had also been to render the King independent of the control of the bourgeoisie through Parliament, and whose effect had been economic dislocation and the undermining of confidence; d Parliamentary i.
A crisis was forced by a revolt in Ireland in With the withdrawal of Strafford, the English Government there, which had long been oppressive, ceased to be strong, and the Irish seized the opportunity to attempt to throw off the English yoke. Parliament was united in its determination to keep the first British colony in subjection; but the bourgeoisie firmly refused to trust Charles with an army for its re-conquest Royalist plots in the armed forces had already been exposed. So Parliament was reluctantly forced to take control of the Army. The unanimity inside Parliament came to an end. To most of the aristocracy and conservative gentry, the policy of the leaders of the House of Commons, and especially their readiness to appeal to public opinion outside Parliament, seemed leading to a break-up of the social order in which their dominant position was secure, and they gradually fell back to support of the King.
In the country as a whole, the division went along broad class lines.
Reflections on the evolution of Britain
The landed class was divided, many being frightened by riots against enclosures and threats of a peasant revolt, such as had shaken the Midlands in ; the progressive section of the gentry and the bourgeoisie were confident that they could ride the storm. In London, whilst monopolists and the ruling oligarchy supported the court from which their profits came, the main body of merchants, artisans and apprentices gave active support to the forward party in Parliament, and pushed it steadily further along the revolutionary path. But the decision to print the Remonstrance had been the occasion of a savage clash in the House and was passed by only eleven votes, after which the division became irreconcilable.
The big bourgeoisie itself was frightened, and felt the need of some kind of monarchical settlement with a reformed monarchy responsive to its interests to check the flow of popular feeling. It tried desperately to stem the revolutionary torrent it had let loose. In time of war men must choose one side or the other. Many gentlemen to whom property meant more than principle chose the line of least resistance and saved their estates by co-operating with whichever party dominated in their area. But even among the men of conviction, the dividing issues were obscured as they have been for many historians by the fact that many of the hated State officials were also officials of the national Church.
And for the Church much traditional and sentimental popularity could be worked up.
Many of the Parliamentarians, moreover, tended to speak as though they thought the most important part of their struggle the ideological battle of Puritanism against an Anglicanism that was barely distinguishable from Catholicism. But their actions make it clear that they knew that more than this was at stake. The issue was one of political power. His Government tried to perpetuate a feudal social order when the conditions existed for free capitalist development, when the increase of national wealth could only come by means of free capitalist development. He tried to regulate trade and industry with the contradictory intention both of slowing down a too rapid capitalist development and of sharing in its profits.
In foreign policy he wished for the alliance of the most reactionary powers, Spain and Austria, and refused therefore the forward national policy demanded by the bourgeoisie. Because he lost all favour with the moneyed classes, he had to levy illegal taxes, to aim to dispense with Parliament, to rule by force.
His failure in Scotland showed up the rottenness of the whole structure which he had reared; and his appeals for national unity against the foreign enemy fell on deaf ears. The real enemy was at home. The invading Scottish army was hailed as an ally. The Parliamentarian attack showed that the opposition had realised that they were fighting more than a few evil counsellors as they had long believed or pretended to believe , more even than the King himself. They were fighting a system. Before the social order they needed could secure they had to smash the old bureaucratic machinery, defeat the cavaliers in battle.
The heads of a king and many peers had to roll in the dust before it could be certain that future kings and the peerage would recognise the dominance of the new class. For many years during and after he Civil War, in their eagerness to defeat the old order, the moneyed classes willingly accepted taxes three and four times as heavy as those they had refused to pay to Charles I.
For the objection was not to taxes s such; it was to the policy to implement which those taxes were collected. The bourgeoisie had no confidence in Charles, would not trust him with money, because they knew that the whole basis of his rule was hostility to their development. But to a government of their own kind the purse-strings were at once loosed.
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Nor was it a war of the rich only. Many of those who fought for Parliament were afterwards disappointed with the achievements of the revolution, felt they had been betrayed. But they were right to fight. A victory for Charles I and his gang could only have meant the economic stagnation of England, the stabilisation of a backward feudal society in a commercial age, and yet necessitated an even bloodier struggle for liberation later.
They were certainly fighting those of posterity, throwing off an intolerable incubus to further advance. ONCE the war against the King had begun, divisions arose inside and outside Parliament as to the mode of conducting it. The Cavaliers, as the troops of the Royalist gentry came to be called, had certain military advantages.
The Roundheads there is a social sneer in the name were strongest in the towns, and though the burghers brought wealth to the cause, they were not at first experienced fighting men. The Cavaliers, on the other hand, relied mainly on the north and west of England, economically backward and badly policed; they, with their tenants and dependents, were used to hard riding and fighting. Yet for a long time Parliament tried to fight the Cavaliers with their own weapons — by calling out the feudal militia in the counties loyal to Parliament, by using the old financial and administrative machinery of the counties to run the war.
But by this means the real resources of Parliament were not drawn upon — the vast wealth of London, the administrative abilities of the bourgeoisie, especially the initiative and resource of the masses of ordinary people who staunchly supported the cause, but were thwarted by the caste system of officering the militia and by its local loyalties.
A royalist advance on London was only checked by the obstinate resistance of three great ports — Hull, Plymouth and Gloucester — and by the bold front presented by the citizens of London at Turnham Green and their daring march to the relief of Gloucester. But these spontaneous efforts, were inadequately.
Oliver Cromwell first showed his genius in overcoming these weaknesses and showing that a revolutionary war must be organised in a revolutionary way. Cromwell had to fight those of his superior officers who would not adopt the democratic method of recruitment and organisation whose advantages he had shown. The Independent and Sectarian congregations were the way in which ordinary people organised themselves n those days to escape from the propaganda of the established Church and discuss the things they wanted to discuss in their own way.
They were invaluable for their enthusiasm, courage and morale in the army; but they came to produce what their paymasters regarded as dangerous social ideas. Such were the difficulties the bourgeoisie experienced even at the beginning of its career; it needed the people and yet feared them, and wanted to keep the monarchy as a check against democracy — if only Charles I would act as they wanted him to, as Charles II, by and large, later did.
A democratic reorganisation was necessary for victory over the more experienced fighters on the Royalist side. This hit principally the peers; the abandonment of their traditional right to command the armed forces of the country was in itself a minor social revolution. The New Model Army of the career open to the talents was formed — nationally organised and financed by a new national tax.
This in its turn led to corresponding changes in the State machinery. The destruction of the royal bureaucracy had left a void which was ultimately to be filled by a new middle-class civil service. But meanwhile, pressure, of revolutionary necessity had led to the creation of a series of revolutionary committees in the localities.