2.5b Main Events of Civil War - Phase I (1642-46)
At the foot of Edge Hill a heated battle was fought. In this battle, the Royalists gained a victory but they could not gain London. Again at Chalgrove Field, the parliamentary army was beaten and John Hampden, one of main rebels against the king was killed. The Royalist forces won on behalf of the Parliament at other places too. Oliver Cromwell, the leader of the parliamentary forces set up an association of eastern counties. They formed a new army "Ironsides."
At the battle of Marston Moor the royal army suffered heavily. A self-denying ordinance was passed. By this members of Parliament resigned their commands in the army and were replaced by experienced soldiers. Cromwell retained command over this army. This army was the "New Model."
2.5c Main Events of Civil War - Phase II (1646-49)
King Charles I took the advantage of the confusion between the Parliament and the army. He refused the demands of both. Attempting to take advantage of the political turmoil, the Scots invaded England. They were routed at the battle of Preston (August 1648). The second Civil War made Cromwell an undisputed leader of the masses. Nobody dared to oppose Cromwell. Now the nation was at the mercy of Cromwell and his army. Charles I was punished for his incurable duplicity.
After a formal trial in 1649 Charles I was accused of treason and was executed, on January 30, 1649. He was beheaded before the White Hall. Cromwell called the execution of Charles I as a ’Cruel necessity.’ However, the last words of Charles were:
"For the people truly I desire their liberty and freedom as much as anybody whatsoever, but I must tell you their liberty and freedom consists in having that government, those laws by which their lives and their goods may be most their own. It is nothing appertaining to them. A subject and a sovereign are clearly different things."
2.5d Impact of the Civil War
The people were stirred deeply due to the King’s execution. Sympathy was aroused for this monarch and the entire monarchy. Besides this some even viewed Charles I as ’martyr.’ There was a total breakdown of the constitution. The Commonwealth was established. Oliver Cromwell now established army rule. This Commonwealth was to be administered by a Council consisting of 41 members, who were Puritan supporters of Oliver Cromwell.
2.5e Historical Importance
This Civil War has great historical importance. In this war the people of England i.e. the Parliament won. This proved that the ultimate power rests with the people. This marked the end of the concept of the Divine Rights of the King. Absolute monarchy ended in England.