What were the most important immediate and long-term causes of the English Civil War?

Essay by MinderbinderUniversity, Master'sB, July 2014

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What were the most important immediate and long-term causes of the English Civil War?

English Civil War was, at its core, a struggle for power and influence. When Charles I ascended the throne in 1626 the power of the English monarchy was dwindling. Tudor neglect had left him without an army or regular income and reliant on the permission of parliament to fight foreign wars. Economic empowerment had lead to social mobility for the gentry, who were quickly eclipsing the fading aristocracy as a political force. Charles' attempt to reverse this growing power and influence of the gentry during his ten years of Personal Rule created the preconditions for the struggle between Crown and Parliament which would descend into violence in 1642. Civil war was; however; far from inevitable. It took a series of ill-times and unfortunate short-term events, to push the crisis into violence. The Bishop's war in Scotland, the Irish Rebellion and the emergence of radical forces within both camps.

These three key immediate causes, or triggers; forced the power struggle between the King and the Gentry to the edge of violence, and then pushed them over.

While the outbreak of the English civil war occurred suddenly and somewhat unexpectedly, its seeds were planted during the reign of Henry VIII. Although may have had designs on English absolutism, by 1533, the need for legitimacy and popular support for the Reformation forced Henry to actively consult with Parliament, effectively transferring to it a portion of the Crown's executive power. Tudor absolutism was further weakened when the Crown diverted its political energies and dissipating its financial resources in a major foreign war with France forcing the sale of the bulk of monastic property it had seized during the Reformation. This poor financial situation was exacerbated by a lack of...