Today we take for granted the right to send our elected representatives to Parliament. But in the time of King Charles I, Parliament was called and dissolved according to the King's will. Between 1629 and 1640 Parliament was not called and in the period between 1649 and 1660 England had no King, thus leading to "eleven years without a Parliament, eleven years without a King".
When Charles required extra revenue, he looked for ways to raise it without the authority of Parliament. The methods he used were very unpopular: ship money, the creation of monopolies in coal, soap, alum etc. There was even a proposal to bring back the entire clothing industry under Royal control.
On the argument about Religion the Puritans differed from the Royalists because they wished to expel from the church all they considered corrupt and unscriptural. The fact that the King was married to a Roman Catholic was a further difficulty between the two sides.
Late in 1641 many of King Charles' closest advisers believed that "extremists" in the Commons were about to impeach the Queen. Early in 1642 Charles tried to arrest five of the leading members of the Commons, shortly after this the King and his family left Whitehall for Hampton Court - little did he know at the time that he would not return to London until his trial.
Parliament quickly took control of the armed forces. Charles responded by issuing a proclamation that the forces were not to obey their new 'masters'. Both sides started recruiting and Charles was soon aided by the arrival of his nephew, Prince Rupert.
In August 1642 King Charles set up his standard at Nottingham and two months later met the Parliamentary army at Edgehill. Throughout the hostilities attempts were made to reach a settlement. The attempts failed and Charles was tried for being the chief cause of the trouble. The result of the trial was a foregone conclusion. Cromwell said:
"I tell you we cut off his head with the crown on it."
Charles was beheaded on January 30th 1649, outside the Banqueting House, which still stands, in Whitehall. Cromwell died in his bed in 1658 and his son, Richard, ruled for a short time. In 1660 the son of Charles I returned to the kingdom and—according to some— his rightful place, ruling as Charles II.
PRINCIPAL DATES OF THE CIVIL WAR
August 22nd 1642 Charles sets up his standard at Nottingham
October 23rd 1642 Battle of Edgehill, Warwickshire
June 18th 1643 Battle of Chalgrove Field, Oxfordshire
June 30th 1643 Battle of Adwalton Moor, Yorkshire
July 13th 1643 Battle of Roundway Down, Wiltshire
September 5th 1643 Siege of Gloucester raised
September 20th 1643 First Battle of Newbury, Berkshire
September 25th 1643 Solemn league and Covenant agreed between Scots and Parliament
January 19th 1644 Scottish Army invades England
July 2nd 1644 Battle of Marston Moor, Yorkshire
September 2nd 1644 Parliamentary infantry surrenders at Lostwithiel, Cornwall
October 27th 1644 Second Battle of Newbury
April 3rd 1645 Self-denying Ordinance passed by the House of Lords
June 14th 1645 Battle of Naseby, Northamptonshire
September 11th 1645 Prince Rupert surrenders at Bristol
March 14th 1646 Royalist Army in the west surrenders
May 5th 1646 Charles gives himself up to the Scots
January 30th 1647 Scots hand Charles over to Parliament
June 3rd 1647 Charles kidnapped by Parliamentary Army
November 11th 1647 Charles escapes to the Isle of Wight
April 1648 Outbreak of Second Civil War
May 8th 1648 Battle of St. Fagans, Glamorgan
August 17th 1648 Battle of Preston, Lancashire
August 28th 1648 Surrender of Colchester, Essex
January 30th 1649 Charles executed
September 3rd 1651 Battle of Worcester
Reproduced and adapted with permission of the Sealed Knot Society