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The origins of the wars of the three kingdoms

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From Catholic rebellion to Civil War, what happened during the latter years of the reign of Charles I that caused people to take up arms against their fellow citizens? This free course, The origins of the wars of the three kingdoms, looks at the background of the wars between England, Scotland and Ireland and how the king's actions led to the rift between royalists and parliamentarians.

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • describe developments in the British Isles that led to the outbreak of war
  • assess the debates between historians about the cause of the wars
  • understand how to use evidence from church records to learn about changes in religion and society.

By: The Open University

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The origins of the wars of the three kingdoms


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This course focuses on the seventeenth-century crises in the British Isles that led, in the 1640s, to the Civil Wars between parliamentarians and royalists in England. In the so-called Whig interpretation of British history, the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688 is the fountainhead of orderly progress. But this is a very English view. Scotland experienced both wars against England and a protracted religious civil war. Ireland saw a Catholic rebellion in 1641 turn into a concerted campaign to render Catholics economically and politically impotent.

To complete this course fully you will need to buy Exploring History 1400–1900: An Anthology of Primary Sources edited by Rachel C. Gibbons, ISBN 978-0719075889. This book will be referred to as the ‘Anthology Document’ throughout this course.

This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University course A200 Exploring history: medieval to modern 1400-1900 [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

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