In 1646 after loosing the First Civil War Charles was captured by the parliamentarians and negotiations began as to the settlement of the Kingdom in regards to future ruling. However Charles decided that it would be in his interests to delay negotiations as long as possible this was mainly for two reasons: because the divide between parliament of the peace party (Presbyterians) and the War party (Independents) was widening as they fought about proposed terms and this would make his re-ascent to the throne easier and also for the fact that he could not agree to any of the terms they proposed as all involved loss of control of important factors such as the militia and or the death of fellow royalists which he vowed not to allow to happen after he signed Strafford’s execution warrant.
Source A agrees with my knowledge of the events, the King himself says “I must delay as long as possible” and that he “cannot accept without loss of my conscience, crown and honour”, Source B although it does not explicitly say it does also agrees with my knowledge. This can be inferred from his answer, for example the fact that this is his third reply to the Newcastle propositions shows that he is drawing the negotiations out and the way he describes his indecision. However it does also say that he was very clear about his opinions on certain items of the propositions such as the fact he would accept a trial period of Presbyterianism and that he refused to loose control of the militia for twenty years.
Source A is in the form of a letter by Charles himself to his wife, this can be seen as reliable as the writer believed that nobody but the intended reader would ever see it, for this same reason it is not very bias as he could be honest with his wife. Source B is less reliable as it was written by Charles for an audience of parliament, in this respect it can be seen as bias also it could be seen as misleading and therefore more unreliable as the King would have motive to deceive parliament of his true outlook and tactics as this may draw them together when he means to divide them. Both sources are useful as Source At gives exact tactics Charles employed such as asking to go to London to delay proceedings and Source B tells the exact parts of the propositions that Charles agreed and disagreed to and these could be used by a historian to assess his outlook and tactics. However on overview of all the facts I have come to the conclusion that Source A would provide the best evidence as to Charles I’s outlook and tactics in 1647-7.
Study all the sources, using all these sources and your own knowledge, assess the view that religious division was the main reason for the failure to achieve a political settlement in 1646-7
Source A gives the reader the impression that the failure to achieve a political settlement was Charles’ fault as he was unwilling to negotiate, this concurs with Source B which brands the king as wicked, however the writer of the source was from one of the religious sects and so the motivation for this accusation that it is Charles to blame could also be seen as religious. Source C however gives a completely different perspective on events; showing the King accepting to all religious demands from parliament. Finally source D blames another factor for the failure; it says that parliament is to blame calling them corrupt and saying it is their duty to remain in arms rather than disband.
Charles was a major factor in the failure to achieve a settlement, he did not understand his own situation, which was very precarious, and this had a large impact on the failure to reach a settlement. This can be seen by his intentions not to give up any important or prerogative powers for example in source C he tells how he cannot consent to losing the militia for twenty years. If he had known the full extent of his position and what would happen in the following years he may have been more willing to negotiate on this. He also played for time during negotiations hoping that this would weaken his enemies as they argued amongst themselves, however although this tactic worked at first and achieved more reasonable propositions such as the Newcastle/treaty of Newport ones after a while parliament and the army became fed up of his lack of negotiations as he denied even the four reasonable proposals. Another of Charles’ massive errors was to after denying these propositions ally himself with the Scots by signing the engagement, although he may not have been able to foresee this it was extremely important as it made the start of the second civil war eminent and this angered parliament and the army as they believed it was gods will for them to have one and the Kng was disobeying this.
Parliament can also be blamed, they were divided into the war party with Cromwell as leader and independence as their religion and the peace party with Denzil Holles as leader and Presbyterianism as their religion, this division meant they were weaker. If they had been united it is probable that the King would have been resorted on minimal as this I what the Presbyterian majority wanted. Furthermore if parliament had paid the army their arrears due most of them would have dispersed, this would have reduced the amount of other contributing factors as they would not have been politicised and would have placed more focus upon the King to make an agreement.
In … the army kidnapped the king in a bid to attract attention to their cause and to allow them to negotiate more efficiently with him, however this made it harder for parliament to force him to accept their offers. The army can also be seen as responsible for the failure as they were involved with the start of the second civil war and prides purge which ensured the king be bought to trial. Furthermore they failed to disband when they were ordered to as can be seen in Source D “our duty to remain in arms”.
The levellers were also an important factor, they were the most important political group outside parliament and heavily influenced the army, they demanded amongst other things that no authority was above parliament, this undermined the King and meant cracks began to show between the army and parliament as they disagreed and were driven to holding debates such as those at Putney, this encouraged the King to make the engagement which lead to the start of the second civil war. Examples of leveller views the caused this can be seen in Source B for example “you should transfer the revenues of the crown to the public treasuary”.
The Scots are also to blame as if they had not interfered Charles would have not been able to start a second Civil War and an agreement may have been reached.
Source A which allows the reader to see some of the reasons Charles can be blamed is in the form of a letter by Charles himself to his wife, this can be seen as reliable as the writer believed that nobody but the intended reader would ever see it, for this same reason it is not very bias as he could be honest with his wife. This source is also usefull as it gives his tactics aswell as intentions for example it says how he will ask to go to London to delay.