In the English Civil Wars (in which the Scots and Irish also became embroiled), the two key figures each felt a divine imperative.
1629–1640: Charles I governs without Parliament
“God wants me to rule,” said Charles Stuart,
“It’s called the Divine Right of Kings.”
“God wants me to fight you,” thought Cromwell.
“You’ll see what such arrogance brings.”
1634: Ship money
“You’re here to raise taxes, not govern,”
Said Charles to MPs. “I decree
That all towns shall pay me ‘ship money’,
Even those that are far from the sea.”
1637: Revised Book of Common Prayer imposed in Scotland
“God wants me to alter the Prayer Book,”
Said Charles. “You have to accept its new style.”
“No we don’t,” said the Scots Presbyterians,
“It’s Catholic, it’s evil, it’s vile!”
1642: Charles fails to arrest 5 MPs in the House of Commons
Charles Stuart demanded of Parliament
“Are five guilty of treason here now?”
“I’m the servant of Parliament,” said the Speaker,
“And speak only as this House may allow.”
1642–1646: The First English Civil War
The Parliament signed up an army,
And so did King Charles: it was war.
But the King couldn’t get into London,
And totally lost Marston Moor.
The New Model Army won battles:
After Langport and Naseby both fell,
Charles hoped to find refuge in Newark,
But the Scots turned against him as well.
They handed him over to Parliament
Who locked up the King out of sight.
When the Army removed him to London
He escaped to unwelcoming Wight.
1648: The Second English Civil War – Charles executed in 1649
Imprisoned in Carisbrooke Castle,
The King sought a deal with the Scots;
But Lambert and Cromwell between them
Tied the Royalist forces in knots:
They fought battles widespread and bloody
As the country folk looked on with dread.
But Cromwell put down the uprisings –
And in Whitehall, King Charles lost his head.
1649–1651: Ireland and Scotland
Uprisings in Ireland, then Scotland
(Which had hailed Charles’s son ‘Charles the Second’),
Were savagely dealt with by Cromwell
And the Second Charles fled, for France beckoned.
1653–1658: The Protectorate
“You are no parliament”, said Cromwell
In the Commons, removing the Mace.
Thus Cromwell became ‘Lord Protector’:
“Your Highness,” folk said to his face.
1658: Cromwell died
When his urinary tract got infected,
He died and, some say, was interred
In a corner of Westminster Abbey,
Though the facts of the matter are blurred . . .
1660: Charles II proclaimed King in London
A Parliament, freshly elected,
Decided to offer the crown
To the Second Charles over the Channel,
So he came back to Old London Town.
1661: The Restoration of the monarchy
He was crowned in Westminster Abbey –
But not before Cromwell’s remains
Had been exhumed and hung up at Tyburn,
Shrouded, and weighed down with chains.
Charles I and Oliver Cromwell: a history lesson
“A King by Divine Right,” claimed Charles,
“Had to do what God told him he ought.”
“But He told me to fight you!” said Cromwell.
Now we see what such arrogance wrought . . .