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Why did people go to war in 1642?

Case study 2: 1640-42 - Source 2

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Report of disputes between Charles and Parliament in early 1640

(Catalogue ref: SP 16/452/33)

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SP16/452/33; disputes between King and Parliament, 1640

What is this source?

This is an extract from a letter written by the Earl of Northumberland to Viscount Conway in May 1640.


What's the background to this source?

Charles I managed to rule his kingdom without calling Parliament from 1629-40. However, by 1640 he was desperate for money. He was facing a rebellion in Scotland and needed to pay more soldiers to fight the rebels. He was forced to call Parliament to try and get MPs to agree to new taxes to raise the money.


It's worth knowing that...

There were two Parliaments in 1640. The Short Parliament only lasted a few weeks in early 1640. Then Charles ended it (as mentioned in this source). By November Charles was forced to call another Parliament, the Long Parliament. Both Parliaments had many complaints about different aspects of Charles’s Personal Rule.


Your turn: What can we learn from this source?

  1. What did Charles offer the MPs?
  2. How did they react?
  3. What were the main concerns of the MPs?
  4. Does this source suggest that relations between Charles and Parliament were good or bad?
  5. Does the writer criticise MPs in any way?
  6. Does this source give us any clues about why the kingdom went to war in 1642?