Causes – Why did war break out in 1642?

There is no simple, single answer but as Professor Peter Gaunt explains, deep religious differences and increasing religious extremism divided the  communities and countries and made the monarch’s goal of a united church a dangerous dream. Social and economic pressures, constitutional uncertainty and a King whose character rejected compromise were a recipe that left a country divided.

The catastrophic consequences were the bloody Civil Wars, which began when Charles I raised the Royal Standard in Nottingham on the 22nd August 1642 and declared war on his own people.

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The World Turned Upside Down
The World Turned Upside Down - The British Civil Wars 1638-1651
Causes - Why did war break out in 1642?
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Contributor

Peter Gaunt

Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Chester

Peter Gaunt is Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Chester and is the current president and past chairman of The Cromwell Association. He has…

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Further reading

The Causes of the English Civil War Oxford: Blackwell, 1998

Norah Carlin

The best, most up-to-date overviews of the fairly recent state of play – though both are now beginning to show their age – concerning the conflicting theories about the origins and causes of the civil war are.

The Debate on the English Revolution Revisited 3rd edition, Manchester: UP, 1998

R.C. Richardson

The best historiographically-based study of the successive historical trends, fashions and schools which have contributed to the debate.

Rebellion: Britain’s First Stuart Kings, 1567-1642 Oxford: Oxford UP, 2014

Tim Harris

For those seeking good, narrative-based histories of the early Stuart period charting the events which eventually led to civil war in the early 1640s, this offers elegant, reliable and up-to-date accounts.

The Stuart Age: England, 1603-1714 5th edition, London: Routledge, 2017

Barry Coward & Peter Gaunt

For those seeking good, narrative-based histories of the early Stuart period charting the events which eventually led to civil war in the early 1640s, the opening two parts offer elegant, reliable and up-to-date accounts.

Fall of the British Monarchies Oxford: Clarendon, 1991

Conrad Russell

Weighty high-political study of the immediate pre-war years.

The Causes of the English Revolution

Revised edition, London: Ark, 1986 Lawrence Stone

The Causes of the English Civil War

Oxford: Blackwell, 1998 Norah Carlin

The best, most up-to-date overviews of the fairly recent state of play – though both are now beginning to show their age – concerning the conflicting theories about the origins and causes of the civil war are.

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Links

The English Civil Wars: A People Divided

A documentary series featuring leading historians which who trace the causes of the Wars, the key battles during the conflict and finally the trial and regicide of the King.

Episode 1 A People Divided Episode 2 A Nation at War Episode 3 To Kill a King