How far was Charles I responsible for causing the Civil War?

While many potential causes of the British Civil Wars have been identified, from social and economic pressures to religious division, in this talk Professor Edward Vallance focuses on the degree to which the king himself was responsible for the conflict.

Few historians think that Charles I was a highly competent monarch. However, the main difference lies between historians who see the king as the fundamental instigator of the crisis and those who see the civil wars as essentially the product of structural weaknesses, longer-term trends and broader, international contexts. While a case can be made that Charles faced significant challenges in governing his kingdoms, Professor Vallance argues that it was the king’s own behaviour and poor political choices which played a significant part in triggering the civil war. Charles I certainly faced a number of problems that would have tested any monarch while the European continent was engulfed by a war, however it was Charles’ particular responses to these challenges which escalated a difficult situation into a full-blown crisis.

Listen here

Also available on

The World Turned Upside Down
The World Turned Upside Down - The British Civil Wars 1638-1651
How far was Charles I responsible for causing the Civil War?
bio copy 3


Ted Vallance

Director of the Graduate School, University of Roehampton

Ted Vallance is Professor of History at the University of Roehampton. He is the author of four books, most recently Loyalty, Memory and Public Opinion in England,…

Read Biography

Learn more

glossary copy 7

Interactive Glossary