At that time he showed little interest in his other two kingdoms, Scotland and Ireland.
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James VI remained Protestant, taking care to maintain his hopes of succession to the English throne. He duly became James I of England in and moved to London. His diplomatic and political skills now concentrated fully in dealing with the English Court and Parliament —at the same time running Scotland by writing instructions to the Privy Council of Scotland and controlling the Parliament of Scotland through the Lords of the Articles. He contravened the sovereign authority of the Scottish General Assembly and stopped it from meeting, then increased the number of bishops in the Church of Scotland.
In he held a General Assembly and pushed through Five Articles of Episcopalian practices, which were widely boycotted. After his death in , James was succeeded by his son Charles I, who was crowned in St Giles' Cathedral , Edinburgh —the Scottish coronation—in , with full Anglican rites.
Charles was less skillful or restrained than his father; his attempts to enforce Anglican practices in the Church of Scotland created opposition that reached a flashpoint when he introduced the Book of Common Prayer. His confrontation with the Scots came to a head in , when he tried and failed to coerce Scotland by military means, the Bishops' wars.
Charles shared his father's belief in the Divine Right of Kings , and his persistent assertion of this standard seriously disrupted relations between the Crown and the English Parliament. The Church of England remained dominant, but a powerful Puritan minority, represented by about one third of Parliament, began to assert themselves; their religious precepts had much in common with the Presbyterian Scots. The English Parliament and the king had repeated disputes over taxation, military expenditures and the role of the Parliament in government.
While James I had held much the same opinions as his son regarding Royal Prerogatives , he had discretion and charisma enough to often persuade Parliamentarians to his thinking. Charles had no such skill in political or human management; faced with multiple crises during —, he failed to prevent his kingdoms from sliding into civil war. When Charles approached the Parliament to pay for a campaign against the Scots, they refused; they then declared themselves to be permanently in session— the Long Parliament —and soon presented Charles a long list of civil and religious grievances requiring his remedy before they approved any new legislation.
Meanwhile, in the Kingdom of Ireland proclaimed such in but only fully conquered for the Crown in , tensions had also begun to mount. Thomas Wentworth , Charles I's Lord Deputy of Ireland , angered Roman Catholics by enforcing new taxes while denying them full rights as subjects; he further antagonised the native Irish Catholics by repeated initiatives to confiscate and transfer their lands to English colonists.
Conditions became explosive in when Wentworth offered Irish Catholics some reforms in return for them raising and funding an Irish army led by Protestant officers to put down the Scottish rebellion. The idea of an Irish Catholic army enforcing what many saw as already tyrannical government horrified both the Scottish and the English Parliaments, who in response threatened to invade Ireland.
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Modern historians have emphasised the lack of inevitability of the civil wars, noting that the sides resorted to "violence first" in situations marked by mutual distrust and paranoia. Charles' initial failure to quickly end the Bishops' Wars informed the antagonists that force could serve them better than negotiation.
In Ireland, alienated by English Protestant domination and frightened by the rhetoric of the English and Scottish Parliaments, a small group of Irish conspirators launched the Irish Rebellion of , ostensibly in support of the "King's Rights". The rising featured widespread assaults on Protestant communities in Ireland.
In England and Scotland, rumours spread that the killings had the king's sanction, which, for many, foreshadowed their own fate if the king's Irish troops landed in Britain.
The British Wars, 1637-1651
Thus the English Parliament refused to pay for a royal army to put down the rebellion in Ireland; instead Parliament decided to raise its own armed forces. The king did likewise, rallying those Royalists some of them members of Parliament who believed their fortunes were best served by loyalty to the king. The English Civil War ignited in Scottish Covenanters as Presbyterians there called themselves joined forces with the English Parliament in late and played a major role in the Parliamentary victory. Over more than two years the king's forces were ground down by the efficiency of those of Parliament, including the New Model Army , backed as they were by the financial muscle of the City of London.
What remained of the English and Welsh Royalist armies and garrisons surrendered piecemeal over the next few months. Meanwhile, the rebellious Irish Catholics formed their own government— Confederate Ireland —intending to help the Royalists in return for religious toleration and political autonomy. There, the Royalists gained a series of victories in —, but were crushed after the main Covenanter armies returned to Scotland upon the end of the first English Civil War. The Scots handed Charles over to the English and returned to Scotland, the English Parliament having paid them a large sum for their expenses in the English campaign.
After his surrender, Charles was approached by the Scots, the Presbyterians in the English Parliament, and the Grandees of the New Model Army, all attempting to reach an accommodation with him and among themselves that would gain the peace while preserving the crown.
But now, a breach between the New Model Army and Parliament widened day by day, until the Presbyterians in Parliament, with allies among the Scots and the remaining Royalists, saw themselves strong enough to challenge the Army, which began the Second English Civil War. On account of his secret machinations with the Scottish Engagers, Charles was charged with treason against England. The Grandees acted; soldiers were used to purge the English Parliament of those who opposed the Army.
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The resultant Rump Parliament of the Long Parliament then passed enabling legislation for putting Charles I on trial for treason. He was found guilty of treason against the English commons and was executed on 30 January After the execution of King Charles I the Rump Parliament passed a series of acts declaring England a republic and that the House of Commons—without the House of Lords—would sit as the legislature and a Council of State would act as the executive power.
To deal with the threat to the English Commonwealth posed by the two kingdoms Ireland and Scotland , the Rump Parliament first charged Cromwell to invade and subdue Ireland. In August , he landed an English army at Rathmines shortly after the Siege of Dublin was abandoned by the Royalists following the Battle of Rathmines. Then, in late May , Cromwell left one army to continue the Irish conquest and returned to England and to take command of a second English army preparing to invade Scotland. Cromwell was advancing the bulk of his army over the Forth towards Stirling , when Charles II , commanding a Scottish Royalist army, stole the march on the English commander and invaded England from his base in Scotland.
Cromwell divided his forces, leaving part in Scotland to complete the conquest there, then led the rest south in pursuit of Charles. The Royalist army failed to gather much support from English Royalists as it moved south into England; so, instead of heading directly towards London and certain defeat, Charles aimed for Worcester in hopes that Wales and the West and Midlands of England would rise against the Commonwealth. It was the last and most decisive battle in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. Having defeated all organized opposition, the Grandees of the Parliamentary New Model Army and their civilian supporters dominated the politics of all three nations for the next nine years see Interregnum — As for England, the Rump Parliament had already decreed it was a republic and a Commonwealth ; but Ireland and Scotland were now ruled by military governors, even as constituent representatives from both nations were seated in the Rump Parliament of the Protectorate —all which were dominated by Oliver Cromwell , the Lord Protector.
When Cromwell died in , control of the Commonwealth became unstable, until in early , General George Monck , commanding English occupation forces in Scotland, ordered his troops from the Coldstream barracks, marched them south into England, and seized control of London by February The Wars of the Three Kingdoms pre-figured many of the changes that ultimately would shape modern Britain, but in the short term, the conflicts actually resolved little for the kingdoms and peoples of the times. The English Commonwealth did achieve a notable compromise between monarchy and a republic, even one that survived destabilizing issues for nearly the next two hundred years.
In practice, Oliver Cromwell exercised political power through his control over Parliament's military forces, but his legal position—and provisions for his succession—remained unclear, even after he became Lord Protector. None of the several constitutions proposed during this period were realized. Thus the Commonwealth and Protectorate of the Parliamentarians—the wars' victors—left no significant new forms of government in place after their time.
Still, in the long term, two abiding legacies of British democracy were established during this period:. English Protestants experienced religious freedom during the Interregnum , but there was none for English Roman Catholics. During the term of their control, the Presbyterian partisans abolished the Church of England and the House of Lords.
Cromwell denounced the Rump Parliament and dissolved it by force,  but he failed to establish an acceptable alternative. Nor did he and his supporters move in the direction of popular democracy, as the more radical Parliamentarians the Levellers wanted. In Ireland, the new government confiscated almost all lands belonging to Irish Catholics as punishment for the rebellion of ; harsh Penal Laws also restricted this community.
Thousands of Parliamentarian soldiers settled in Ireland on confiscated lands. The Commonwealth abolished the Parliaments of Ireland and Scotland. In theory, these countries had representation in the English Parliament, but as this body never held real powers, representation was ineffective. When Cromwell died in the Commonwealth fell apart—but without major violence. Historians record that adroit politicians of the time, especially George Monck ,  prevailed over the looming crisis; Monck in particular was deemed the victor sine sanguine, i.
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