Ch 08 The English Revolution

Ch.08-The English Revolution

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CHAPTER VIII: THE ENGLISH REVOLUTION

SECTION 1: THE LONG PARLIAMENT: CLASSES AND PARTIES


 IN THE PARLIAMENT OF 1640, MEMBERS WERE ELECTED AS A PARTY RATHER THAN INDIVIDUALS.
THE COMMONS BECAME CONSCIOUS OF A NEW PURPOSE.


A GROUP OF PURITAN SQUIRES WERE AT THE HELM, UNDER PYM AND HAMPDEN, THE EARL OF BEFORD, GRANDFATHER OF THE WHIGS, AND THE EARL OF ESSEX. IN THE ELECTION OF THAT YEAR, PYM AND OTHERS TOURED THE COUNTRY RALLYING THE PURITANS, AND THE RESULT WAS AN OVERWHELMING VICTORY FOR THE BOURGEOISIE, THE LANDOWNERS AND MERCHANTS. THEY WERE NOT YET REPUBLICAN BUT WERE DETERMINED TO MAKE THE CROWN SUBORDINATE TO PARLIAMENT, WHICH THEY AT THAT TIME CONTROLLED.


IN THE FIRST SESSION OF THE LONG PARLIAMENT, THE NEW PARTY MET WITH LITTLE OPPOSITION.


CHARLES HAD ALIENATED MOST PEOPLE, AND THERE WAS NO ROYALIST PARTY AS SUCH.
HIS SUPPORTERS EVEN ATTACKED ROYAL ABSOLUTISM, AND IT APPEARED A BATTLE WAS WON WITHOUT A FIGHT.


STRAFFORD AND LAUD WERE ARRESTED, ALONG WITH OTHER UNPOPULAR MINISTERS. OTHERS FLED ABROAD.


THE COMMONS HAD THE SUPPORT OF THE SCOTS, ENCAMPED AT NEWCASTLE, AND THE LONDON MASSES.


AFTER LAUD’S ARREST, PREACHERS BEGAN TO DEBATE OPENLY FUNDAMENTAL ISSUES OF THE CHURCH AND STATE GOVERNMENT.


THERE WERE POPULAR DEMONSTRATIONS URGING MORE LIBERAL REFORMS AND AGGRESSIVE ACTION.

THE PURITANS WERE OFTEN TERRIFIED BY THE FORCES THEY HAD SET IN MOTION, SUCH WAS THE FEELING AGAINST THE MONARCH AND CHURCH DOGMA.


IN MARCH 1640, STRAFFORD WAS IMPEACHED. WHEN THE LORDS IN PARLIAMENT SEEMED UNLIKELY TO FIND STRAFFORD GUILTY, A BILL OF ATTAINDER WAS INTRODUCED, AND STRAFFORD’S FATE WAS SEALED. THE KING WAS FORCED TO SIGN, AND STRAFFORD WAS EXECUED IN MAY.

HOWEVER, A PLOT TO MARCH ON LONDON BY A ROYALIST ARMY GROUP IN YORK WAS DISCOVERED. THIS HELPED SPEED UP THE PROCESS OF STRAFFORD’S GUILT AND ACTUALLY SERVED HELPED THE BILL GAIN SUPPORT.

THERE WAS ALSO A MORE IMPORTANT BILL PASSED AND GIVEN ROYAL ASSENT THAT PREVENTED THE DISSOLUTION OF PARLIAMENT WITHOUT ITS OWN CONSENT.


THE DIE WAS CAST FOR THE FIGHT FOR ABSOLUTE SUPREMACY BY BOTH SIDES, AND PARLIAMENT RECOGNISED IT MUST TRIUMPH OR PERISH BECAUSE CHARLES WOULD NEVER BE SATISFIED WITH LESS.


THE TWO SIDES DIVIDED INTO ROYALISTS AND PARLIAMENTARIANS, AND, IN THE NEXT SESSION OF PARLIAMENT IN AUGUST, DIVISION OF THE COMMONS TOOK PLACE AFTER THE ROOT AND BRANCH BILL ABOLISHED BISHOPS AND THE CHURCH WAS ORGANISED UNDER A COMMISSION OF LAYMEN APPOINTED BY PARLIAMENT.

IT WAS A POLITICAL ISSUE BECAUSE BISHOPS SITTING IN THE HOUSE OF LORDS FORMED A BLOCK APPOINTED BY AND ATTCHED TO THE INTERESTS OF THE CROWN.

THE ROOT AND BRANCH BILL WAS DESIGNED TO CHECK THE FORMATION OF A ROYALIST PARTY INSIDE PARLIAMENT.

WHEN THE HOUSE REASSEMBLED IN THE AUTUMN, A NEW CRISIS AROSE: CONTROL OF THE ARMED FORCES.

THIS DIVIDED THE HOUSE INTO TO EQUAL CAMPS.
THE CRISIS CENTRED ON THE REBELLION IN IRELAND WHERE THE IRISH HAD BEEN DRIVEN FROM THEIR LANDS.


THE IRISH CATHOLICS WERE NOT PORTRAYED IN A FAIR LIGHT, BUT TO CRUSH THE IRISH WOULD REQUIRE A CONSIDERABLE ARMY.


THE PURITANS KNEW THAT CHARLES WOULD AS SOON TURN THE ARMY ON THEM AS THE IRISH, AND THE ROYALISTS WERE AFRAID TO TRUST AN ARMY TO THE PURITAN LEADERS. IN ANY CASE, CONTROL OF THE ARMY HAD ALWAYS BEEN THE CROWN RESPONSIBILITY.


CHARLES LET HIS RIGHTS SLIP WHEN HOARDS OF THUGS WANDERED THE LONDON STREETS RECRUITING FOR HIS ARMY, AND HE THREW AWAY ANY ADVANTAGE AGAIN BY ATTEMPTING TO ARREST PYM.

ON JAN 4TH 1641, HE ENTERED PARLIAMENT WITH AN ARMED GUARD, BUT THE MEMBERS HAD BEEN WARNED AND HAD LEFT.


THE ALARM TO PROTECT PARLIAMENT WENT OUT, AND CHARLES FLED TO YORK TO PREPARE FOR ARMED STRUGGLE.


IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT THE TERMS OF THE STRUGGLE HAD BEEN DICTATED BY THE LONG PARLIAMENT.


CHARLES WAS NO LONGER ABLE TO STAND ON HIS DIVINE RIGHT TO RULE. INSTEAD, HE WAS FORCED TO TALK TO PARLIAMENT IN THE LANGUAGE OF HIS OPPONENTS.


HYDE, A ROYALIST, DRAFTED A PROCLAMATION FOR THE KING:

“I DESIRE TO GOVERN BY KNOWN LAWS OF THE LAND AND THAT THE LIBERTY AND THE PROPERTY OF THE SUBJECT MAY BE PRESERVED WITH THE SAME CARE AS HIS JUST RIGHTS AND… PARTICULARLY TO OBSERVE INVIOLABLY THE LAWS CONSENTED TO ME BY THIS PARLIAMENT.”


THIS MODERATION OF LANGUAGE, COMPARED WITH EARLIER PROCLAMATIONS, ATTRACTED MANY TO THE KING…  “TO PRESERVE AND DEFEND THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE AGAINST MY CONSCIENCE AND DEFEND.”

THERE WERE ALSO PLENTY OF HYPOCRITES, CORRUPT SELF SEEKERS, OPPRESSIVE SQUIRES AND LAND ENCLOSING NOBLEMEN IN HIGH PLACES READY TO JUMP SHIP WHEN IT SUITED THEM.


SO MUCH IS SELF-EVIDENT: IT IS SOMETIMES FORGOTTEN THAT IN REVOLUTIONARY STRUGGLE WHAT COUNTS IS NOT THE NOBLE OR IGNOBLE MOTIVES OF INDIVIDUALS, BUT THE ALIGNMENTS OF CLASSES AND THE OBJECTIVES FOR WHICH THESE CLASSES ARE STRUGGLING.

DIVIDED LOYALTY WAS PAINFUL. BUT PARLIAMENTARIANS NEW WHAT THEY WERE FIGHTING FOR.


PROGRESSIVE FORCES WERE DETERMINED TO BRING THE WAR TO A VICTORIOUS CONCLUSION.

ALL OF LONDON WAS ON THE SIDE OF PARLIAMENT, SOME 300,000 - TEN TIMES MORE THAN BRISTOL AND NORWICH. THE MASSES IN LONDON WERE UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF THE MERCHANTS.


THEN THERE WERE THE INDEPENDENTS, THE LEFT WING: YEOMAN FARMERS, TRADESMEN AND ARTISANS OF THE COUNTRY TOWNS; THE MOST DEMOCRATIC AND REVOLUTIONARY SECTION FROM WHICH THE MODEL ARMY WAS FORMED.


THEY WERE UNABLE TO THROW UP A LEADER, HOWEVER, AND WERE ULTIMATELY UNDONE BY RELYING ON MORE ACTIVE AND INTELLIGENT GENTLEMEN.


PARLIAMENT WAS STRONG IN THE SOUTH AND EAST AND THE KING IN THE NORTH AND WEST, THE POOREST BUT MOST WARLIKE PARTS OF THE KINGDOM.


THE CATHOLICS REMAINED STRONGLY SUPPORTED IN THE BORDERS AND LANCASHIRE, THROUGH THE EARLS OF WORCESTER AND DERBY.


THE GENTRY WERE DIVIDED. THE KING’S SUPPORT CAME FROM FORMER MILITARY FAMILIES UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF THE KING’S NEPHEW, RUPERT.


WHICHEVER WAY WE LOOK AT THE DIVISIONS, THE STRUGGLE WAS BETWEEN THE MOST ADVANCED CLASSES AND THE MOST CONSERVATIVE.

FINALLY, THIS WAS A WAR WAGED BETWEEN TWO MINORITIES. WHOLE SECTIONS OF TENANT FARMERS AND WAGE EARNERS STOOD OUTSIDE, UNLESS CONSCRIPTED. THERE WERE NO MORE THAN 150,000 UNDER ARMS ON BOTH SIDES AND DESERTION WAS COMMON.

THE NEUTRAL CLASSES HAD GRIEVANCES OF THEIR OWN: HIGH RENTS AND PRICES AND LOW WAGES, BUT THIS WAR DID NOT SEEM TO BE ABOUT THESE GRIEVANCES.


IT WAS A WAR BETWEEN TWO WOULD-BE RULING CLASSES, AND THE LOWEST STRATA OF SOCIETY TOOK LITTLE OR NO PART IN IT.

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