But for other historians, this is a crucial, even the crucial, issue – no matter how and why the political or social elites may have fallen out amongst themselves, full-scale civil war could have occurred only because of much broader and deeper fractures present within society and the country as a whole.
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The hunt for the origins of the civil war which broke out in summer 1642 and which not only bitterly divided England and Wales but also involved Scotland and Ireland has generated an enormous amount of research, writing and controversy.
Charles’s handling of parliament, of domestic and foreign affairs, of fiscal and religious policies, proved to be disastrous, and his personal approach to government contributed greatly to a breakdown in trust and to the outbreak of civil war.
From the nineteenth century onwards, most historians have taken a top-down approach to analysing the causes of the war, looking at the role and motivation of the leading political and social players in the conflict and in many cases focusing on the world of Whitehall and Westminster, on developments in central government and administration.
The English Revolution (also called the Engish Civil War) was a period of armed conflict and political turmoil between 16 which pitted supporters of Parliament against the Crown, the trial and execution of Charles I, the replacement of the monarchy with the Commonwealth of England (1649-1653), the rise of Oliver Cromwell to a virtual military dictatorship, and the eventual restoration of the monarchy.
The ultimate outcome of the Revolution was the discrediting of the idea of the divine right of kings, the belief that parliament was supreme in political matters, and that the English monarch had to rule in a manner which was limited by a constitutional agreement (i.e. The period of the Revolution was important in the development of ideas about liberty as the temporary collapse of censorship in the early 1640s saw an outpouring of political pamphlets in which groups like the Levellers advocated a theory of liberty based upon indivual rights, especially the right of self-ownership and private property.
Many, though certainly not all, historians currently working on the causes of the civil war point to a number of short-, medium- and in some cases long-term issues and problems within the English and Welsh state which may have contributed to the outbreak of the civil war.
These include unease about and within the state church, the Church of England, concerning how far it should move along the Protestant road, whether further reformation was necessary or desirable and, if so, what it should entail; the strains and weaknesses caused by an increasingly outdated and inadequate fiscal system, with the crown struggling to run the country in peacetime, let alone during times of war (whose costs and complexity were escalating), out of the meagre resources provided by a financial system which had changed little since the late medieval period; and clear signs of growing conflict at the centre, between crown and parliament, with sometimes serious disagreements over foreign and domestic policies, including finance and religion, and perhaps too over matters of broader principle or ideology, with divergent ideas about the roles of, and the relationship between, the monarch and his parliaments.
One was mainly secular, namely a growing power-struggle between on the one hand parliament in general and the House of Commons in particular, anxious to gain a greater role in government and to win power to enable it to protect and promote the rights and liberties of the people, and on the other hand the crown, which sought to retain powers and prerogatives itself.
The second was mainly religious, namely a growing power struggle between on the one hand a vociferous band or party of Godly puritans, who wanted the process of Protestant Reformation to go much further and who were dissatisfied with the existing state church, and on the other hand the crown and upper echelons of the Church of England, who supported the status quo or who were reluctant to push ahead with further Reformation anywhere near as far or as fast as the puritans wanted.