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  More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)

More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)
English Civil War

The conflict between the king, *Charles I (whose supporters became known as the *Cavaliers) and parliament (the *Roundheads). The underlying reasons were partly political, resulting from the mutual antipathy between Charles and a powerful group of politicians, led by *Pym, who feared that the king was moving towards a form of absolute rule (a logical extension of his *divine right). And they were partly religious, in the clash between the Anglican and Puritan concepts of a Christian society. But the immediate cause was the refusal of the *Long Parliament to meet the demands put upon it by Charles.

The king's attempt to arrest the *Five Members brought matters to a head in 1642. Charles moved north and raised his standard at Nottingham, to rally support to the royal cause. With two now incompatible sources of authority, the country both drifted and bustled into war. Different counties, cities, manor houses, families and even individual members of families made their own decisions as to whom to support. London was strongly parliamentarian. If anything the south and east of the country inclined to parliament, with more support for the king in the west and north. But there were fragmented patterns of allegiance within every region.

The early months of the war involved many local skirmishes, while both sides concentrated on building up their forces. Each had some professional soldiers, but the main task was that of mobilizing, arming and training civilians (the notable success being parliament's *New Model Army). Prince *Rupert emerged as a gifted commander on the royalist side, as did Thomas *Fairfax and Oliver *Cromwell for parliament. These were the three who clashed in the first full-scale battle, two years after the start of the war, at *Marston Moor in 1644. Like *Naseby in the following year, this was a victory for parliament. The first stage of the conflict ended with the capture of the king in 1647.

Negotiations were begun. But unsuccessful uprisings on behalf of Charles strengthened the hostility of parliament, resulting in the execution of the king in 1649 and the establishment of the *Commonwealth. The final stage of the war was the attempt of the king's son, *Charles II, to recover the throne, culminating in his defeat at Worcester in 1651. The Commonwealth lasted until the *Restoration in 1660.

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