English Revolution (1642): Background, Causes, Consequences and Featured Personages

The English Revolution of 1642 It was a historical period that spanned the two civil wars unleashed in the United Kingdom between monarchists and parliamentarians. The parliamentarians' side also had forces from other kingdoms of the British Isles, such as the Irish Confederates and the Scottish covenanters.

The civil war was unleashed in August 1642 in England, after King Charles I unilaterally decided to raise an army to fight against rebels in Ireland. Parliament had not approved this move of the king, which triggered a civil war between both sides.

English Revolution The war had a decisive end with three results: the execution of Charles I, the exile of his son Charles II (successor of the throne) and the establishment of the Commonwealth of England. This period was the first step to establish the superiority of the Parliament over the Crown, which became official 30 years later, after the Glorious Revolution of 1688.


  • 1 Background
    • 1.1 Differences between the king and Parliament
  • 2 Causes
    • 2.1 Rebellion in Scotland
    • 2.2 Restoration of Parliament
  • 3 Consequences
    • 3.1 The British bloodshed
    • 3.2 Execution of the king
    • 3.3 The Exile of Charles II
    • 3.4 The establishment of the Commonwealth of England
  • 4 Prominent figures
    • 4.1 Charles I
    • 4.2 Oliver Cromwell
    • 4.3 Richard Cromwell
    • 4.4 Charles II
  • 5 References


Differences between the king and Parliament

Charles I was the son of James VI, who was king of Scotland but inherited the English tronó after the death of the then king. James was a pacifist king but a bit extravagant.

His extravagance meant that the English Parliament did not give him much money to carry out the reforms he wanted. However, when it was Charles I's turn to inherit the throne, the problems began.

The Parliament always had its reservations about Charles I. The policies of the king were not always the right ones and the Parliament refused to confer rights that had been given to other previous kings. These first differences began in 1625.

While there were frictions between Charles and Parliament at that time, when the members of the same Parliament changed in 1626, the measures against the king were tougher, which greatly increased the problems between both parties.

From then on everything got worse, until in 1629 Charles I dissolved the Parliament and ruled for 11 years himself. This was the main antecedent of conflict between the British Crown and the English Parliament.


Rebellion in Scotland

Charles I wanted to unify religious beliefs throughout the United Kingdom, and applied a measure to change the way in which the Church was structured in Scotland. This generated a great discontent in the country, which led to a rebellion in Edinburgh in 1637. In 1639 a conflict called the War of Bishops was unleashed.

The Scots who rose up were called covenanters, because they supported the National Covenant, which was a national pact in which they supported established religious traditions.

By 1640 the kingdom of Charles I was going through an economic crisis. The king decided to reinstate Parliament as a measure he thought would serve him to obtain more funds. However, the restored Parliament took a hostile stance against the king, and he disbanded it shortly afterwards.

The king decided to attack the rebels in Scotland on his own. His troops lost the battle, which led the Scottish covenanters to invade England. During this time the rebel troops occupied two English provinces.

Restoration of Parliament

Charles I was in a fairly desperate economic position for when the Scots took the north of England. The king was pressured to re-establish Parliament, because his economic measures were not strong enough to generate money on their own.

The new Parliament was quite hostile to the king, even more so than the previous one. He took advantage of the precarious situation he was going through to pass several laws that hurt the then king.

After a series of countless differences between the king and the new Parliament, Charles I went with 400 soldiers to where the Parliament was meeting. The king's mission was to arrest five leading figures for instigating a revolution, but the head of Parliament refused to give him his location.

This last event and the general negative opinion that a large part of the town had about the king, led to the civil wars that lasted until 1651.


The British bloodshed

The death toll brought by the English Revolution was one of the most shocking consequences of the civil war. In fact, it was the bloodiest internal conflict (within the British Isles) in the history of this European nation.

While it is difficult to estimate the death toll in such an old war, an estimated 85,000 deaths are being fought in battle, while the number of people killed in other clashes is much higher, around 130,000. these, approximately 40,000 were civilians.

Although casualties were lower in Ireland and Scotland, the percentage of population decreased much more significantly in these countries, because they had fewer inhabitants than England. In Scotland about 15,000 civilians fell, while in Ireland (which had less than 1/5 of the population of England) about 140,000 died.

The total number of casualties is around 200,000 (including civilians and soldiers). It was the last internal war that was fought on English soil and left a permanent legacy in the history of Britain. From this conflict, Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland have not had confidence in the military movements of neighboring nations.

Execution of the king

After the end of the war, Charles I was accused of high treason and crimes against England. At first, the king refused to recognize the sentence that was imposed because the law dictated that a monarch can not be accused by a court. He refused to respond to the crimes he was accused of in court.

On January 27, 1649 death sentence was pronounced against the king. He was asked to be executed as a tyrant, traitor, murderer and public enemy. The execution was carried out on January 30. After the death of the king, a republic was established to govern England.

The Exile of Charles II

After the execution of Charles I, Parliament named his son the new king of England. However, shortly after the Commonwealth of England was established and the country became a republic. Charles II tried to fight against Oliver Cromwell, who was soon in charge of the Commonwealth.

After the defeat of his troops, Charles II fled to other European countries. He lived in exile in France, Holland and Spain the nine-year period in which the United Kingdom was a republic.

The establishment of the Commonwealth of England

After the execution of Charles I, the Commonwealth of England was established. This lasted until 1660 and was a stage in which the United Kingdom stopped being taken as a monarchy and went on to operate as a republic. In the beginning, it was only made up of England and Wales; later, Scotland and Ireland joined this one.

From 1653 to 1659 this regime had a hiatus, because Oliver Cromwell was appointed Lord Protector of the United Kingdom. This allowed a military dictatorship for six years, until democracy was re-established in 1660.

After Oliver Cromwell died, his son took over the Commonwealth. However, he was not given the necessary trust and, after a series of internal conflicts, it was decided to reinstate the monarchy. The one in charge to take control of the throne was Charles II, son of the previous monarch, who returned from exile.

Prominent figures

Charles I

Charles I had been the king of the Scots and was the king of England when the revolution was unleashed. His unilateral actions were one of the main causes of the uprising that led to a nine-year hiatus in the British monarchy.

His execution in 1649 gave way to the reign of his son and was the beginning of the end for the free monarchy of parliamentary power in the United Kingdom.

Oliver Cromwell

Cromwell was a political and military leader of the United Kingdom. He acted as head of state and army during an important part of the period in which the Commonwealth of England was in force.

He was in charge of commanding the English troops to Ireland to end the civil conflict that remained after the end of the English Revolution. In addition, he was one of those in charge of issuing the execution order against Charles I.

He is generally considered a dictator and regicide, but there are also historians who see him as a hero of freedom.

Richard Cromwell

Richard was the son of Oliver Cromwell and was in charge of managing the Commonwealth after the death of his father in 1658. However, he had little authority and was not respected, as it was with his father.

In the absence of a figure that emanated the authority that Oliver Cromwell did, the government lost a great deal of legitimacy and power. This led to the eventual restoration of Charles II to the throne of England.

Charles II

The monarchy was revived in 1660, with Charles II on the throne. He was the son of Charles I and, unlike his father, was one of the most beloved kings in the history of the United Kingdom. He was in charge of returning the country to normal after a decade of constant internal conflicts. After his death, his brother inherited the throne.


  1. English Civil War, Jane Ohlmeyer, March 22, 2018. Taken from Britannica.com
  2. Charles I, Maurice Ashley, (n.d.). Taken from Britannica.com
  3. English Civil War, History Channel Online, (n.d.). Taken from history.com
  4. The English Civil War (1642-1651), English History, (n.d.). Taken from englishhistory.net
  5. English Civil War, Wikipedia in English, March 21, 2018. Taken from wikipedia.org
  6. Commonwealth of England, Wikipedia en Español, February 15, 2018. Taken from wikipedia.org
  7. Oliver Cromwell, Wikipedia en Español, March 24, 2018. Taken from wikipedia.org
  8. Richard Cromwell, Wikipedia en Español, March 19, 2018. Taken from wikipedia.org

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