The Failure to Reach a Constitutional Settlement (1646-49)

4 April 2015
An assessment of the relative responsibility of the King, the Army officers and the Army rank and file for the complete failure of negotiations during the period following the First English Civil War.

The paper proposes that following the First English Civil War in the years 1646-1649, King Charles was ultimately to blame for the failure to reach a settlement. It examines his aims and actions, his duplicity and attempts to play his opponents against each other. It assesses the role of the New Model Army, and discusses the increasing radicalization of the Army, and its impact on a weakening Parliament.
“The period following the end of the First Civil War was one of increasing radicalization in politics. It saw the rise of the Army as a new force in the political life of the country, primarily at the expense of Parliamentary authority. It saw the decrease in power of the Parliament which was eventually reduced through outside pressures to the Rump of late 1648. It also saw the final steps to the trial and execution of a reigning monarch on charges of treason against his own subjects. Time and again Parliament attempted to reach a settlement with Charles; their attempts were consistently thwarted both by the intransigence of the King and by the desire of the Army for a resolution of the crisis which would satisfy their own political demands.”
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