Although England and Wales gradually polarised into two camps during1642, the First Civil War did not commence officially until August 22nd 1642 when Charles raised his standard at Nottingham and called on all loyal men to support him. This unambiguous demand for loyalty made it increasingly difficult to remain neutral, and England was on course for its first internecine conflict since the Wars of the Roses.
This map depicts the territorial balance of power in autumn 1642. Parliament controlled the more economically advanced south and east, while Royalism was strongest in the north and west.
Some historians interpret the Civil Wars as an expression of the determination of the bourgeoisie (manufacturers, traders, entrepreneurs) to seize the political power which they were excluded from by the traditions of ecclesiastical and monarchical power, and while not all historians endorse this theory, Parliament's greater strength in the more economically advanced areas certainly gives credence to this intepretation. Parliament controlled most of the major cities and ports and the navy was largely in its hands.
The first six months of the war proved inconclusive, but in 1643 the Royalists made significant advances.