Culture & Literature
The Story of the Civil War

The Story of the Civil War

The Story of the Civil War

In the mid-17 th century, bloody conflicts between king and parliament ravaged the British Isles in an era of revolution and reprisals with a far-reaching and long-lasting legacy. In this special edition of BBC History Magazine, a range of expert historians provide insights into the background, causes, protagonists, actions and aftermath of the Civil War. Inside you will find: -Fresh perspectives on Charles I and Cromwell -How war affected the lives of ordinary people -The impact of printed propaganda -Clashes across England, Wales and Ireland -Why the Restoration transformed Britain

United Kingdom
Immediate Media Company London Limited
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R 188,66

in this issue

1 min.

“The bloody conflict that tore Britain apart in the mid-17th century pitted a vain, headstrong king, unshakeably convinced of his ‘divine right’ to rule, against a rebellious parliament determined to reform the monarchy. The fighting was constrained to England. It was a case of nobles versus commoners, extravagantly coiffed Cavaliers battling austerely clad Roundheads This is a view of the Civil War that many people still believe. In reality, the conflict was far from just an English affair, and its origins were much more complex than that trite precis suggests. To tackle popular misconceptions about the conflict, for this special edition of BBC History Magazine we’ve recruited a battalion of historians to discuss its context, causes, actions and aftermath. We examine the personalities of the key figures, delving into the psyches of…

11 min.
civil war: context, conflict and resolution

27 March 1625 King James VI and I dies, and his son Charles I becomes king, aged 24, having been heir to the throne since the death of Prince Henry in 1612. Charles inherits the Duke of Buckingham, his father’s favourite, as his closest advisor and confidante, and a war with Spain, to which he is more committed than his pacific father 1625 11 May 1625 Charles marries Henrietta Maria, sister of the French King Louis XIII. Despite initial tensions caused by her zealous Catholicism and the influence of her French entourage, the royal love affair becomes one of the “central motifs of his kingship”, as described by historian Richard Cust. October 1626-December 1627 After two parliaments disrupted by opposition to Buckingham’s influence, anxiety over Charles’s religious policies and disagreements over taxation and foreign policy, Charles…

14 min.
rising of the   rebel lords

In August 1640, for the first time in over two centuries, England was defeated in war by the Scots, at the battle of Newburn, just west of Newcastle upon Tyne. For the vanquished King Charles I, that moment was the turning point in his entire reign. Behind him were 11 years when he had ruled without parliament, and when he seemed poised to create a monarchy as authoritarian as any in France or Spain. The Scottish victory put an end to that. By the autumn of 1640, Charles faced the almost complete collapse of his ability to rule. The Scots occupied the northern counties of England as far south as Yorkshire. The exchequer was empty. Royal credit was exhausted. And Charles, with great reluctance, was forced to call a parliament…

2 min.
challenging the traditional line

Charles I’s defeat by the Scots at Newburn in August 1640 was the culmination of a decade of ambitious, and ultimately disastrous, royal policy towards his native country. The spark to the revolt was the king’s imposition, in July 1637, of a new (and seemingly ‘popish’) prayer book on the Scottish Church. Protests against this new prayer book rapidly escalated into a nationwide rebellion against Charles’s rule, and by 1639 led to the creation of a de facto aristocratic republic in Scotland. Rather than offer concessions to the rebels, Charles went to war, first in 1639 and then again in 1640 (which ended in the catastrophe at Newburn). The war brought financial collapse, creating circumstances in which England’s dissident noblemen could not only challenge but also coerce their king. Historians’ interpretations…

2 min.
charles i: a king under attack

1629 Charles I begins an extended period of ‘Personal Rule’, determined to make government in England financially independent of parliament July 1637 Imposition on Scotland of a new prayer book, based on the English model, proves the flashpoint for organised revolt against Charles I’s absentee rule February 1638 Resistance in Scotland becomes a nationwide rebellion with the signing of the National Covenant, and moves towards the establishment of a provisional rebel government in Edinburgh May–June 1639 A first English military campaign is launched to invade Scotland and overthrow the rebel government. Both sides send armies into the field, but Charles declines a pitched battle, preferring to return with a larger army the following year, resulting in stalemate February–May 1640 The Scottish rebels and English dissidents – including the Earl of Warwick, Viscount Mandeville, Lord Brooke, Sir John Clotworthy and…

11 min.
charles i neither martyr nor traitor

Charles is pinned to the pages of history, preserved in popular memory like an exotic but desiccated insect The sky was “serene and clear” as the coffin of Charles I was brought out of the hall at Windsor Castle. The coffin was borne by gentlemen in mourning, and four peers carried a black velvet pall. As they stepped forward, snow began to fall; by the time they reached St George’s Chapel, where the king was to be interred, “the black velvet pall was all white” – the “colour of innocence”, as one witness later described it, recalling that Charles had been crowned in white. “And so,” that writer concluded, “went the white king to his grave”. This was fake history. The witness, Thomas Herbert, was a professional liar employed by parliament to…