Why Did Civil War Break Out in 1642

Topics: Charles I of England, English Civil War, Long Parliament Pages: 6 (1681 words) Published: March 29, 2013
Lack of Money

One of the reasons why the civil war broke out in England in 1642 was because of Charles' lack of money. To discover the source of this, we have to go back to the beginning of James' reign.
James was the first King to reign over both England and Scotland, and when he came down from Scotland it is said that he was astonished at how rich England was, while James had needed to borrow money for his travelling expenses. When James died in 1625, Charles came to the throne, and he, like his father, had very little money. Once Charles became King, the County Faction1 wanted him to go to war with the Catholics in Spain, so Charles asked them for taxes to use on the war. They refused to pay enough, so the war was hopeless, and Parliament blamed the King for this.

The reason Parliament granted so few taxes was that they wanted to make sure they were called again. Charles, a firm believer in the Divine Right of Kings, thought that he should not have to rule with Parliament, and the only thing that kept him calling it was money2. One good example of the way Parliament made sure they were called back in Charles' reign was tonnage and poundage. These were duties imposed on certain imports and exports. It was normal for these duties to be decided in the first Parliament of a monarch's reign, but in the case of Charles, they only decided on it for one year, so the King would be forced to call them again. Although Charles tried to ask for more money, Parliament refused, because they believed he spent it on his favourites. Because of this, Charles had to get himself more money. He began using the Church Courts, exploiting taxes such as 'ship money'3, and selling monopolies and titles. He also opened a Court of Star Chamber, which he used to fine people heavily to raise money. Since the judges in the Star Chamber were officials of the Crown, and there was no jury, Charles could be sure of getting a favourable result. Parliament was furious with this, and immediately drew up the Petition of Right, which asked the King to stop illegal taxation. The King signed it, but only because Parliament threatened to impeach Buckingham, one of the King's favourites.

The quarrels about money went on, and eventually Charles decided to dissolve Parliament. He reigned without them for 11 years. When the new prayer book was brought into Scotland, a group called the Covenanters attempted to invade England. Charles called a Parliament to try and get taxes to fight the Covenanters, but they refused4, so Charles dissolved them again. He was forced to pay the Scots £850 a day to stop them advancing, and eventually, in 1641, his money ran out, and he had to call Parliament - he was bankrupt and at their mercy, so money was definitely a key factor in the outbreak of the civil war.


Another major influence in the outbreak of the civil war was religion. The religious quarrels began right at the start of Charles' reign, when Charles married Henrietta Maria, a French Catholic. Although Charles didn't choose to marry her - his father, James, set up the marriage - the public, especially the Puritans, didn't like having a Catholic as Queen. A few extremists even saw this as a sign that Charles was secretly Catholic! After the King dissolved Parliament, he made William Laud the Archbishop of Canterbury, in 1633. While Laud was Archbishop, he made many changes to the Church. Most of these changes involved beatifying the Church and bringing back robes for priests, statues and stained-glass windows. All these things reminded the English of Catholicism.

In 1636, Archbishop Laud decided to introduce the English Prayer Book (which stated how services should be run) into Scotland. There was nationwide rioting, because no one wanted to follow the new Prayer Book. Scotland was a Presbyterian (Puritan) country, and they thought that the English Prayer Book was far too Catholic to use in Scotland. This eventually led to many Scots, called the...
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