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Taking Sides: Divided Loyalities

Updated Sunday, 7th January 2001

As the country became ever more mired in war, there was no way to avoid taking sides

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Civil war soldiers Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: Wark Clements

While Parliament was beginning to be defined by what it stood for, Royalism was largely defined by what it opposed. While many Royalists supported their King through a sense of duty and obligation, the Royalist Party in Parliament was heavily inspired by anti-Scottish sentiment: they objected to the Covenanters' religious demands and attempts to impose a form of Presbyterianism throughout the three kingdoms.

Throughout 1642, England polarised militarily as people were forced to take sides. Parliament passed the Militia Ordinances which sought to place the local county militia under its control while, at the same time, Charles issued Commissions of Array which required Lords Lieutenant in the counties to provide him with armed forces. As the country began to polarise, people found it increasingly difficult to stay neutral.

The process of polarisation placed great strains on relationships between families, friends and regions. In Buckinghamshire, Ralph Verney, M.P. supported Parliament while his brother and father supported the King. In the west country, the long-standing friendship between Sir William Waller and Sir Ralph Hopton, allies during the Thirty Years War, was placed under great pressure as they found themselves on opposite sides of the political divide.

England was gradually divided into two fairly clear spheres of influence. Parliament was strongest in the South and East while the Royalists controlled the North and West. Parliament controlled most of the Navy, and large cities such as London, Bristol and Newcastle.

After sending his family overseas, Charles began to organise his military campaign. On 22nd August 1642, on a small hill just outside of Nottingham, Charles raised his standard and denounced his Parliamentary opponents as traitors. There could be no turning back-England was at war with itself.

Civil War soldiers

This image depicts Scottish Covenanter and Parliamentary troops greeting each other warmly during the early 1640s. The Scottish Convenanter forces played an important, if somewhat inconstant, role during the Civil Wars - at times united in opposition with Parliament against an arbitary sovereign, at other times dealing directly with Charles to try to secure a better deal.

Civil War: Taking sides





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