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Ginric99
06-08-2005, 2:26 AM
Hi all

I have been having a disscusion with one of my housemates who has stated that cromwell had popular support during the english civil war, I have stated tasht in actual fact the majority of the population didnt care either way, and the reason cromwell won was more to do with tactics, and decisions rather then him having the bigger army, he is a socioligist who believs the civil war was the majority (the people) against the minority (tyhe king) I have tried to explain that it was parliment (the "nobility") against the king and the common man signed up, not because he was for or against but because there was more money to be made by being in the army. Peopl of that era just idnt think in terms of the bigger picture. Am I right?

Guy Etchells
06-08-2005, 7:55 AM
In actual fact one of the main reasons for the civil war is similar to wars today financial gain.
During the late 16th & early 17th centuries a number of international trading companies were set up (East India Trading Company, Virginia Company, Massachusetts Bay Company etc.), who partly because Charles had granted monopolies for English production & sales and partly because London was prevalently Roundhead plus the inevitable religious angle threw their weight and resources against the crown.

Even so if it had not been for poor discipline in the Royalist cavalry (in those days the cavalry would cause their opposite number to break and run, then pursue them rather than re-grouping and attack the then weakened infantry) and to a certain extent, luck, the Parliamentarian forces would have been wiped out early on.

It should nor be forgotten that in the latter stages the only way Cromwell and his rebels could force decisions through was to use the army to refuse entry to Parliament of those MPs who might oppose him.

It should also be noted that in the end, the tax situation was heavier during the commonwealth period than it had ever been under the King and the restoration brought tax relief to the realm.
Cheers
Guy

Peter Goodey
06-08-2005, 9:49 AM
People are not necessarily aware of the significance of what they do. People who make history did so for their own motives and rarely (in the past) because of its historical significance.

The English Civil War and the establishment of a republic, albeit short-lived, was ground breaking. Nobody had done it before and there was no model to refer to (there was the Dutch republic but that doesnít quite fit the bill because it arose through different circumstances).

History isnít a succession of simple causes and effects with long gaps in between when nothing much happens! When people make a bit of history, the effect of what theyíve done and the act of doing it changes the people and may stimulate them to make more history.

Itís not right to look on the English Civil War as simply A vs B. On the parliamentary side there were various currents, threads, tendencies (parties, if you like). One of the advances of the period was that so many people learned how to actually debate what were sometimes fairly abstract concepts.

Itís quite untrue to say that ordinary people werenít involved. You surely know where the derisory nickname "roundhead" came from? It meant "skinheads" from the shaven headed London apprentices whose enthusiastic demonstrations in favour of parliament before the start of the war did much to stiffen parliamentís resolve.

Although undoubtedly many people simply kept their heads down this is hardly uncommon in any war. I havenít yet found any evidence that my ancestors did other than keep their heads down - even to the extent of handing over taxes to both sides during the same period!

Ordinary people - at least enough of them to be historically significant - became radicalised by the experience of the war and this made parliamentís victory more certain. If they hadnít been radicalised there would have no Levellers and no Burford.

Your discussion sounds like a variety of the revolution vs coup debate. Youíll find no shortage of books about this period. Could be worth popping into the library. Christopher Hill in particular is worth reading especially for his treatment of the various political currents although his conclusions may not be to your taste.

Then later on we can discuss why parliament didn't grant copyholders the vote and didn't provide security of tenure for them.;)

Geoffers
06-08-2005, 10:12 AM
There was popular support for both sides (amongst some), there wasn't amongst others. Some were after financial gain, some fought for religious motives, some political reasons, some followed their 'master', some kept their heads down and avoided the conflict.......some followed the traitor Charles Stuart!!!

The best description of the conflicts that I've read was written in a letter by General Waller (Parliament) to Sir Ralph Hopton (Royalist), I like to think that it sums up the feelings of many.

"That great god which is the searcher of my heart knows with what sad sense I go upon this service, and with what perfect hatred I detest this war without an enemy."

Geoffers
Charlbury, near Burford, Oxfordshire

Peter Goodey
06-08-2005, 11:16 AM
"That great god which is the searcher of my heart knows with what sad sense I go upon this service, and with what perfect hatred I detest this war without an enemy."

Not a conventional enemy perhaps but...


"The Lord hath done such things amongst us as have not been known in the world these thousand years" - Cromwell, 1654.

IvorCarr
10-08-2005, 8:11 AM
If we could first rephrase the question in order to stop any outburts of twitching and mumbling on my part. If it was, would Parliament have been able to have won the civil war without popular support? Then I would have to largely agree with Ginric99. Although both sides managed at various times in various places to mobalize popular support to a significant level this rarely lasted for long.
The London mob/crowd that did so much to advance the Parliamentarian agenda prior to and in the early days of the war was within a year back on the streets demanding peace and being dispersed with far greater force than Charles had ever attempted. No army could keep up to strength. The bulk of the foot in the New Model Army had to be conscripted and deserted in droves while some of their most effective men were former Royalist soldiers who were drafted in after being captured.
In the end stratigic mistakes by the Royalists, and the fact that Parliaments greater resources allowed them to overcome local war-weariness better than the Royalists led to their victory. Cromwell of course went on to win the political infighting within the victorious party.

IvorCarr
10-08-2005, 8:14 AM
"That great god which is the searcher of my heart knows with what sad sense I go upon this service, and with what perfect hatred I detest this war without an enemy."

Not a conventional enemy perhaps but...


"The Lord hath done such things amongst us as have not been known in the world these thousand years" - Cromwell, 1654.



The difference between the two of course is that Waller was fighting other Englishmen in 1643 and Cromwell had just been fighting the Scots and Irish

flyer
08-12-2005, 12:57 PM
And did not Cromwell say to those noble bishops, who could not only talk direcly to God but interpritate his true meaning "And pray think you gentlemen that you may be wrong".(Don't be so stuffed up with your own importance).

NewburyChap
29-08-2006, 11:07 PM
Hi all
he is a socioligist who believs the civil war was the majority (the people) against the minority (tyhe king) I have tried to explain that it was parliment (the "nobility") against the king and the common man signed up, not because he was for or against but because there was more money to be made by being in the army. Peopl of that era just idnt think in terms of the bigger picture. Am I right?

What you have to remember is that Cromwell's rise to power really took place after the Royalist defeat. He gained eminence through his popularity within the army and he gained power against the wishes of Parliament. In effect Cromwell took power in a military coup d'etat overthrowing the elected government. Like Charles he found parliament irksome and ruled without it for years.

Back to your contention and substituting Parliament for Cromwell - did Parliament win because they had the people behind them while the King was hated by the people. No. The 1st Civil War was won, eventually, by the economically stronger party. Parliament had the backing of the mercantile classes and the manufacturing towns. The King had massive support but more from rural, agricultural communties with far fewer resources for making war. Your friend's concept of popular support would be better seen in the Clubmen down in the West Country who banded together to evict soldiers of either side.