Charles I arrests parliamentarians and starts civil war

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Charles I arrests parliamentarians and starts civil war

Westminster, London The 4th of January 1642 AD

In the years preceding the Civil War it was not King Charles's objective to deliberately alienate as many sectors of the populace as possible, but it might as well have been.
His absolutist view not unnaturally worried Parliament , and when he dismissed Parliament in 1629 determining to rule without it his position was entirely clear. The monopolies he sold to bridge the funding gap were unpopular with the public. Ship money was patently an unjust tax, mimicking what had been necessary in wartime in a period of peace. By marrying a Catholic he scared much of the Protestant hierarchy, an error compounded by further actions. By attempting to impose the English Prayer Book on the Scots he ensured support from that quarter was lost, and entered - and lost - a war nobody wanted, that again led to the raising of further unjust taxes.
In spite of all this the country did not wish to see conflict. In 1641 The Grand Remonstrance, the recalled Parliament's plea for Charles to act more reasonably - as they saw it - in matters of religion, to curb the power of the bishops, and seek more sensible political advice, only just got a majority. But Charles was affronted by it nonetheless, and he was also concerned his Queen might be impeached.
Thus on January 4 1642 he arrived at Parliament with a considerable force, perhaps 400 men, to arrest five MPs seen as the ringleaders of Parliamentary resistance to his royal dictatorship. Unfortunately for Charles the men - John Hampden, Arthur Haselrig, Denzil Holles , John Pym , and William Strode - had been tipped off, and were not to be found.
Charles's move was idiotic. Had it worked it would have united opposition in the rest of the Commons; as it was he looked foolish personally, and set the seal on a clash with a Parliament that might possibly have been swayed his way with more intelligent tactics. Within the week he had fled London, lost to him for the entirety of the Civil War. Although it was not until August 22 1642 in Nottingham that he raised his colours as a signal that war had commenced, both sides were preparing for the battles ahead from January 4.

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