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Many, though certainly not all, historians currently working on the causes of the civil war point to a number of short-, medium- and in some cases long-term issues and problems within the English and Welsh state which may have contributed to the outbreak of the civil war.These include unease about and within the state church, the Church of England, concerning how far it should move along the Protestant road, whether further reformation was necessary or desirable and, if so, what it should entail; the strains and weaknesses caused by an increasingly outdated and inadequate fiscal system, with the crown struggling to run the country in peacetime, let alone during times of war (whose costs and complexity were escalating), out of the meagre resources provided by a financial system which had changed little since the late medieval period; and clear signs of growing conflict at the centre, between crown and parliament, with sometimes serious disagreements over foreign and domestic policies, including finance and religion, and perhaps too over matters of broader principle or ideology, with divergent ideas about the roles of, and the relationship between, the monarch and his parliaments.For much of the Victorian and Edwardian period, the so-called Whig interpretation dominated the field.
While the royalist politician Edward Hyde, later the Earl of Clarendon, felt that war had resulted from political errors and blunders made by both sides in the years immediately preceding the outbreak of the civil war, the political philosopher James Harrington felt that it was caused by long term social and economic changes which had been underway since the sixteenth century or before.
Historians have always adopted and continue to adopt very different approaches to the causes and origins of the civil war.
Some, like Harrington, have continued to look to long-term problems, issues or developments, dating back to the early Tudor or even the late medieval period, while others, like Hyde, have argued that state and society were sound until the early seventeenth century or beyond and that the causes of the war were very short-term, emerging only in the 1620s or the 1630s.
Many of the so-called revisionists, who dominated the field for parts of the 1970s and 1980s, took this second line, attempting to discredit older explanations which rested on long-term causes and instead tending to stress shorter-term issues, problems which came to prominence only after 1625.
Charles’s handling of parliament, of domestic and foreign affairs, of fiscal and religious policies, proved to be disastrous, and his personal approach to government contributed greatly to a breakdown in trust and to the outbreak of civil war.
From the nineteenth century onwards, most historians have taken a top-down approach to analysing the causes of the war, looking at the role and motivation of the leading political and social players in the conflict and in many cases focusing on the world of Whitehall and Westminster, on developments in central government and administration.We are currently in a state of flux and at the start of the twenty-first century no single explanation or line of interpretation dominates the field or has won a broad consensus of support.Contemporaries were themselves unsure what had caused the war.Both problems, these historians argued, were apparent by the reign of Elizabeth I, if not before, and they worsened during the first half of the seventeenth century through continuous or intermittent sniping and through occasional political, religious and constitutional crises and confrontations.At length, these long-term and worsening problems led to an unbridgeable divide and to civil war.More recently, anti- or post-revisionists have criticised this approach, arguing that the revisionists went too far in focusing on short-term issues and in underplaying or ignoring evidence of medium- and long-term problems.Some historians, following in Harrington’s footsteps, have continued to see the war as caused by long-term social and economic developments and problems.Particularly after 1688, the monarchy which emerged in Britain was one limited by a constitution.It also created a body of ideas which were to be very influential in the development of Anglo-American political and constitutional thought in the 18th century.The English Revolution (also called the Engish Civil War) was a period of armed conflict and political turmoil between 16 which pitted supporters of Parliament against the Crown, the trial and execution of Charles I, the replacement of the monarchy with the Commonwealth of England (1649-1653), the rise of Oliver Cromwell to a virtual military dictatorship, and the eventual restoration of the monarchy.The ultimate outcome of the Revolution was the discrediting of the idea of the divine right of kings, the belief that parliament was supreme in political matters, and that the English monarch had to rule in a manner which was limited by a constitutional agreement (i.e. The period of the Revolution was important in the development of ideas about liberty as the temporary collapse of censorship in the early 1640s saw an outpouring of political pamphlets in which groups like the Levellers advocated a theory of liberty based upon indivual rights, especially the right of self-ownership and private property.