Atlas of the English Civil War

By P. R. Newman | Go to book overview

MAP 40

The King, the Scots and the Discontented Army

Evidently the King hoped, when he surrendered to the Scots on 5 May 1646, to place himself in a position to negotiate with them with a view to forming an alliance against Parliament. The Scots were disgruntled both at their treatment from their erstwhile allies, and by Parliament's failure to implement Presbyterianism in England. Nevertheless, the price of Scottish help for the King would involve his acceptance of the Solemn League and Covenant, a price Charles was unwilling to pay, and negotiations failed. The Parliament, itself torn by disagreement between Presbyterians and Independents, secured the King's person from the Scots by paying over to them substantial subsidies in return for their help during the war. The King passed into parliamentary hands on 30 January 1647 and was taken to Holdenby House in Northamptonshire. There, the King continued to try to play off one side against the other, believing that he could utilise the growing dissatisfaction of the New Model with the politicians at Westminster, for his own advantage.

The divisions within Parliament after the end of the civil war in 1646 had resolved themselves into a political and religious clash between 'presbyterians' and 'independents'. The unrest within the New Model Army over arrears of back pay grew during March 1647 into political discontent. This unrest within the New Model, whose extensive military operations had won the war for Parliament, is often presented as the political radicalisation of the rank and file. It eventually led to the purge of Parliament and to the King's execution. However, the spread of radical ideas was facilitated by material grievances, especially over arrears of pay and fear of disbanding. Desperately in need of money, Parliament clearly hoped to disband most of the New Model without settling back pay. Taking upon themselves the mantle of defenders of liberty and justice, the New

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