Type: Response Essays
Sample donated: Gina Williams
Last updated: March 31, 2019
When England spiralled into civil war in 1629, Charles believed that he would eventually be restored to power and his prerogative would remain unchallenged. However Charles found himself in a position where he was accused of being a tyrant and a murder by a minority in the country wich fatally held the power to subsequently try and execute the king. Charles I was at his most popular in 1629 howver it had been his intransigence and ninhability to judge the political climate. His inflexibility meant that he failed to find a tri-partite settlement between himself, the army and the parliament.The first civil war, even though a victory for parliamentarians failed to force Charles to compromise. There were three main reasons why a settlement wasn’t reached after 1646. Firstly the personality an behaviour of Charles I isolated people and forced previously conservative people into a radical position because of his innate inflexibility.
Charles failed to recognise that he had lost the civil war, so he thought that he was able to choose the settlement which most suited him and wouldn’t consider compromise because he believed with conviction that his royal prerogative and authority from god meant that he was right.Charles also couldn’t envisage a settlement that didn’t involve him, he belieevd that every settlment would involve a monach, and him as executive power. This combined his Charles inability to judge the political climate led him to believe if he played each faction off against each other it would ultimately result in his restoration of power and they would argue amongst themselves. Secondly the politicisation of the New Model Army meant that they increasingly played a key role in the tri-partite agreement.They had a common sense of suffering and felt as the negotiations went on with the king they progressivly wanted more of a settlment that would make the los of blood worthwhile, ‘it stiffened thheir determionation druing the course of 1648 not to abandon the cause for which they had fought by tying to reach a settlement with the king’ [ coward]. Lastly possibly the main reason was that of religious passion. The element that transgressed the different issues and touched every man, no matter what htye believed, religon was at the heart of each settlement requested.The new Model army felt after Charles had forged an agreement with the Scots in 1646 that they should have never ngoitated with him in the first place and they becaame even more convinced that ‘ the vicctory of the first civil war had been achieved with gods help and was a sign of gods blessing’ [coward] therefore those who fought on the side of the royalists were defying the judgement of god.
If charles had accepted a settlment immediately one could have been formed along the lines that Pym was suggesting in 1643, however Charles’s inability to judge the political crisis proved fatal.He believed that if he played for time then the different religios sects and fidfferent political groups within the parliamnetary side would ultimately fall out and allow charle to step in and resume his prerogative unchallenged. Charles had the option of reaching a settlment with the independants and the presbyterians, however he refused to compromie and felt there couldn’t possibly be a steelment wihtout him due again to his infelxibility and his own view of his self importance.The presiding thought acros England was that of peace, and many were prepared to sacrifice ther liberyts tohave the monarch restored to his throne. Charles identified with this feeling and felt that the animosity was of a limited number fo radicals. This is somewhat a true assemsnet, however Charles underestamates the power that the radicals have within the decision of a setlment.
Charles most fatal move happened in 1647, when the king escaped from army custody.Charles trecherously to the groupshae had been negoitiating with forged an agreement with the Scots promising to being in a prysbertarian church structure in to England if they were instumental in Charles being crowned king again, however this is aother example of Chareles doubled edged tactics because he never had any intention of introducing the new structure. [is is] but a temporary permission to continue that unlawful possession 9which for the present I cannot help0 so as to lay a ground for a perfect recovery of that, which to adandon, were directly against my conscience and I am confident destuctiveot monarchy’.This deal with the Scots infuriated and angred those like Cromwell who were exasperating the forms of negotiation to be shunned without a second thought. Oc and Ioreton became more resounded and determined to make Charles pay. We can see in the parliament the ‘vote of n adress’ diaplays parliaments feeligns. They truly believed that God was punishing them for negotiating with the king after the first civil war. This is an example of Charles extreme conservative action that forces otherwise conservative men into a radical positionin order to achieve what they want.
The attitude of the long-parliament to the new model army also contributed ot the animosity. In 1647 the parlament wanted the army to disband without only six weeks arrears of pay, to be reduced to 600 men and the officers to be presbytarian. . This caused hugh uuproar withint he army and this isolatd those independants within parliament and the army including Cromwell. The army memebers felt that they had a right to have a say in the final settlment because they were the ones who had actually fought in the battles.Coward sugests otherwise, that if they had received there money then they would hae goe home, however the extent to which they were wiling to go to find a settlment, I think shows that they were interstd in a settlment that they felt they had worked for and shoud have achieved. They realised that which ever sect managed to make a settlment with the kig would be able to change and reform the counrty, so it was a race to try ad be the first however it was the independants and the ‘godly’ who felt they had gods blessing to reach a settlment with the king that was within the lords vision.
Army officers like ireton and Cromwell wanted specific results formthe settlmet witht e king, they aimed for liberty for peple, a constitution and a ‘godly reformaiton’ which would see a broad based church which incorporated all elements of the Anglo-Christian faith. This infuriated them and memebrs of the Army because they would not be pushed out of the agreement after establishing their motives before the first civil war, they were detrermined to get what they felt they deserved and more importantly what god wanted.SO parliament had done the very thing that they had feared formed a politically radical army that would challenge parliament for the right to negotiate with the king. The different secs in both the houses of paliament and the army wanted differesnt results for the settlment. The levellers had become more prominent in the Nw model army due to unortharised preaching and the increasing feeling withint he army that a radical step had to be taken to ahcieved a settlment that they felt was worthy of the bloodshed of the first and second civil wars.
The putney debates showed how strongly men felt, ‘there are many thousands of soldiers that have ventured our lives ot recover our bithrights and privileges as senglishmen’ [Rainsborough]. These radicl leveller views worried cromwell who feared that the y may lad the country in to an anarchic state. The situation that forged theputney bates ‘mishandledthe situation, playing into the hands of the radicals and uniting the army in their suspicion and dislike of their former masters'[ Sharp].The newcastle propositions in Jan 1646 were a reasonable settlment for the king, they stated that the parliament would have control over the army for 20 years the royal councillors would be punsihed and presbytarianism would replcace the church structure. The important aspect in the settlment that is even though the distrust of rhte king menat he couldn’t conrtol the army, that was the only attackon his rerogative power, he was still the executive in the state and still a monarchical power. However charles refused to agree to this and playing for time kept them waiting.The army elected members to form their own council which would discuss their terms of a settlement with the king after the attempt to force the army to disband. The army felt possibly betrayed by the paliament and that in order to achieve a settlment that would satisfy the group of men who had been insstumental in fighting for the ountry, they would draft it themselves.
Ireton and other more radical members of the council were discussing the possibility of removing those members of parliament who wantred a settlement with the king.At this stage here was no enough grounded support to accept that thiswas nccessary. OCrommwell stated categorically that he didn’t believe forciably evicting the memebrs would bring the couinrty any closer to a settlent. This was also a step too far for Cromwell who has been descrbied as conservatyive in his attitude to politics. Cornet Joyce seized the king from Newmarket where he was being imprisoned by the parliamentary guards.
Joyce claims to have ben working alone and it is not clear as to how much of a part Cromwell played in the capture of the king.The effect was to prevent the king accepting the Newcastle propositions. This undobtlby caused a huge deal of resentment with many more coservative memebers of parliament, and the presbytarians and this was an unacceptable move b y the army to use their force to get their will. In july 1647 the army finalised th ;headsof porposals’, which was possibly the most lieeniant proposition charles was offered and it gave significantly more concessions than the Newcastle propositions. It stated that parliamnet should meet every two years.Parliament woul dbe in control of appoining ministers and they would have control of the army for 10 years, charles would have the power of veto over legislation.
Those extreme royalists would be exempt form parliament for five years. The heads reprezented more of a Levellr idea and proposed toleration of all aspects of chirstian religion and they were free to worship how they liked, this was in place of the proposed presbytarian church structure that the Newcastle propositions had offered.Charles innaporpriate mishhandling of important ppolitical situaiton shcan be viewd here. Even though he rejected the Newcastle propositions, he would cot committ to the aggreement. This again was Charles attempt to confuse and agitate the sects so they would argue amongst themselves. This did agitate the different groups but the animosity was increasingly beocming directed sxoley at charles and each group was desperate for a settlment.
However the Agreement of the people was drawn up io 1647 which expressed radical leveller ideas which they felt was being ignored.Charles saw this as a sign that the arguing was starting to break the army from within and so they inability to agre on terms meant that they would eventually turn to huim for a settlment. Also charles could nt have wanted to accept a settlment until he coul dbe sure of no furthur uprisings agaist the new settlment, especially from a radical group such as the Levellers. The army removed 60 presb ytarian mps who they suspected might be sympathetic towards a a setlment witht charles I rather than risk anarchy.Charles clearly thoguht that an agreement with parliament was better than an agree ment with the reckless army. Charles managed to escpae tot he Isle of Wight and hoped that there would be a royalisit rising in response to the horrenduos behaviour of the army. Many lelvellers were suspicious that Cromwll and Ireton had allowed the king to escape to prevent him accepting the agreement of the people, becauset hey feared it was too radical a ssettlment.
Members of the army were outraged at the kings escape and oc had to supress a Keveller upriding at Corkbush, and ride around a troop taking out the copies of the agreemntt from mens hats. Charles alliance with the Scots in 1649, the Engagememnt’, was a nagreement to restore charles to power. Charles agreed to enforcing a presbytarian church structure for three years which was better than the first editio of the Newcastle propositions demanded presbytariaism for twenty years.Parliamnt and the army agreed in the ‘vote of no addresses’ in Feburary which preventing any group from negotiatgn with the king. The windsor prayer meeting showed how treacherous an action charles breakingof negotiations with the english army and allying with the Scottish.
Colonel Goffe ordered for ‘charles stuart that man of blood to an account for the blood he had shed, and the mishcief he had done , against the lords cause and the people in these poor nations’. Charles actions are realy folish at this point.He is so eagre to be returned to the throne that he compromises his chirch structure for the Scotts help. Carles should have accepted an agreeemtn, especially the heads of proposals which offered charles a fair compromise. Charels uncompprmosing personality made it imossible, and the army arrived at the conclusion that there mistake had been negotiating with Charles in the first place. The army reaction was swift. They were livid that charles by his uncompromising actions had plunged england into another civil war that was unnecasasry because they had won the first.They felt betrayed and unable to stand back after evenrything they had fought for was lost.
Cromwll defeated the scottish forces at Preston, ‘god hath witnessed against the king from this point on cromwell seems to hace realised that a settlmentr witth charles was not a viable proposition. The vistoreies made the army believe that they had the baacking of God, they also felt hat god had given them the power to remove charles form the throne because he had ignored gods word and judgement for a second time.Before the second civil war there had always been agreemnts with the king init but after his alliance with the scots they al became unted behind the common enemy, religious passion had force the army into a radical position to brinng charles to trial for the blood that he had shed.
The conservative withint he parliament had attmpted to reopen negotiations with e king in 1648 ignoring the vote of no address. The king again wouldn’t compromise and didn’t consider his second defeat would mean that he ahd to comproise.But the discussions came to late, cromwel and Ireton felt the need to stop al communications because of Leveller aggression and because they felt that gods will was that of no more negotiations. November 1648 the remonstrance of the army demanded chrles be put on trial and removed from any position of power. Prides Purge resulted I removing the last mps keen to see a restored king leaving a ‘rump’ of those mp’s who came to London to sit in the long parliament of 1640. The mp’s who wanted a settlement with a king had been removed therefore the only mps left were those who wanted Charles Stuart to be brought to trial.
Cromwell had always been reluctant to support those members of parliament of the army with radical political ideas, and he would often retreat from action and through a time of introspection support the cause such as the first civil war at the last minute. This is similar in the trial of the king. In winter of 1648 he was unsure about the trial of the king, but eventually became resounded to the idea that Charles shoul dpay for those atrocities that he had brought upon the english nation. Chares was brought to trial by the minority of army officers who held the crucial power in this settlement.Charles was popular at the time so regicide was a dramatic act by a significant minority in army and parliament. Charles refused tor ecognise the validity of the court in which he was tried and stated that ‘I am yout king, your lawful kng’. His decision to maintain his position and prerogative powers and to compromise with no one unless it ultimatelt made his restoration impossible and yett the poitcal experiments of the 1650’s would ultimately demonstrate theat the role of the monarch within ta balanced constitution would provide the only viable model for the government and the rule of England.Charles was not a victim of circumstance, it was his attitude towards groups and situations which forced himself into a position where he had to compromise, which he was unable to do.
Equally the execution of the king was never inevitable, on the mornign of the execution he was given the option of a settlement and ultimately it was his intrangigence which resulted in his execution. Charles stuart was not restored to power after the civil war due to an array of factos, most importantly they were driven on by charles incapability to compromise.Charles should have accepted that he lost the first civil war and shouold have been able to see that there oudl be a settlment, and he would have to scompromise. The politicisation of the newmodel army was an improtant factor, but driven on by the difficulty in finding a setlment that justified the civil war.
Holles treatment of the army in the long parlimanet undoubtadly cause many groups in the army, especiall y the Levellers to be more agitated and more resouned on making a radical settlment.Unargualbly it was ahcarles actions that forc e people who were conse rvative innature that ‘there could be no peace while charles lived’ [coward]. Charles ignorance tot he importance of the minority of the army was also important and if he had relaised a settlment may have been agreed upon. ‘charels I was excuted , not because he was king , but because he was charls I: stubborn, devious and uncompromising. Many of those who accepted regicide after the evvent were by no means convinced republicans but charles had left them no choice’ [coward].