Civil Wars-Commonwealth Ideology

The English civil wars, which spanned from 1642-1649, stemmed from a conflict between King Charles I and Parliament. Since neither Charles I nor Parliament could agree on how to handle their political and religious differences, war was seen as the only viable solution to settle the disagreement. Thus England was divided into two armed camps: the Royalists and the Parliamentarians.

Charles the I, however, was not very popular as a king due to his views on religious conformity, which poorly served the needs of  many.  Social change during this time period included a decline in the influence of the aristocracy alongside the rise of the wealth and influence of the middle class of gentry and merchants. The middle class desired to do away with financial and commercial restrictions and to have a say in religious matters. This meant that parliament found allies in the middle class.

After beheading King Charles, the Commonwealth was created. The Commonwealth was a government administration that claimed legitimacy from the consent of the people, and allowed much more religious diversity. Parliament was able to gain a tremendous amount of political influence during this time period with the expansion of trade, industry, shipping, etc. This republican government lasted until 1653 where it was taken over by Cromwell’s protectorate, another type of government rule that lasted until 1659. The eventual settlement of the dispute between the king and parliament would be further resolved during the Great Revolution in 1688.

Works Cited

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia®. S.v. “English Civil War.” Retrieved February 3 2016 from

Kreis, Steven. “The English Civil War.” History Guide. 2002. Accessed February 2, 2016.

Onnekink, David. Ideology and Foreign Policy in Early Modern Europe: (1650 – 1750). Farnham, Surrey, UK: Ashgate, 2011.