The Civil War
"Kings are justly called gods for that they exercise a manner or resemblance of divine power on earth. God hath power to create or destroy; make or unmake at his pleasure; to give life or to send death; to judge all and to be judged nor accountable to none; to raise low things and to make high things low at his pleasure. And the like power have kings."
James I in a speech to Parliament, 21 March 1610.
Of the three, interlocking conflicts that took place in the British Isles between 1638 and 1660, the First English Civil War was the most significant in terms of its impact on the constitution. Whereas James I had managed the conflicting tensions of the three Kingdoms - England " Wales, Scotland and Ireland - his son Charles presided over wars in all of them. Religious difference led to the Bishops Wars with Scotland between 1638 and 1640, and a Catholic Irish rebellion followed. Finally the political dispute growing from the concept of the divine right of kings, as expressed by James I, developed into war when the king raised his standard at Nottingham on 22 August 1642.
In October the two sides finally met in battle at Edgehill in Warwickshire. The outcome was not decisive, but the opportunity existed for the king to reach London before his enemies; it was squandered and the Royalist army overwintered in Oxford. Next spring they secured the West Country, seized control of the north and captured Bristol, but after being forced to abandon the siege of Gloucester Charles was defeated at Newbury on 20 September 1643 and a balance was restored. In 1644 events in Scotland and Ireland came into play, with the Scots choosing to support Parliament and a peace of sorts in Ireland releasing forces for reinforcement of the Royalists.
At the end of June 1644 Charles I had the better of Sir William Waller's army at Cropredy Bridge, near Banbury, and the Royalists then evaded the attempted pursuit. In the north the Scots reinforced the Parliamentarian army which defeated the king's forces at Marston Moor on 2 July, ending the Royalist control of the north, but the failure to defeat and capture the King at the Second Battle of Newbury in October discredited the Parliamentary command, as did their defeat at Lostwithiel. The outcome was the creation by Parliament of the New Model Army, and the events of 1645 would depend massively on the speed with which it could become operationally effective.