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Why did people go to war in 1642?

Case study 2: 1640-42 - Source 6

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Report of tensions in the country, 6 January 1642

(Catalogue ref: SP 16/488/27)

SP16/488/27; report of tensions in the country, 1642
SP16/488/27; report of tensions in the country, 1642
SP16/488/27; report of tensions in the country, 1642
SP16/488/27; report of tensions in the country, 1642
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SP16/488/27; report of tensions in the country, 1642
 

What is this source?

These are extracts from a report written by a gentleman called Thomas Wiseman to Sir John Penington. Penington was not in London at the time and wanted to be kept informed of what was happening.

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What's the background to this source?

By 1642 relations between Charles and Parliament were a disaster. In January 1642 Charles lost patience with Parliament and tried to arrest five leading MPs and one Lord (John Pym, John Hampden, Arthur Haselrigg, Denzel Hollis, William Strode and Lord Mandeville). This destroyed any trust that was left between the two sides after years of arguing.

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It's worth knowing that...

One of the most important privileges of Parliament was that the king could not enter unless he was invited. This rule was to prevent the king sitting in Parliament and making MPs too nervous to say what they really thought. The attempt to arrest the MPs was a big step by Charles and convinced many MPs that he could not be trusted.

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Your turn: What can we learn from this source?

What was James trying to say? Try to identify parts of the speech showing that:

  1. What did Parliament do to the 12 bishops?
  2. How did the king respond?
  3. How did the crowd in London treat the king?
  4. Was Thomas Wiseman impressed with the way the king handled the situation?
  5. Was Wiseman’s sympathy with the king or with Parliament?
  6. Do you get the impression that Wiseman was a reliable reporter of what happened?
  7. What was the reaction to Charles’s attempt to arrest the MPs?
  8. Does this source give us any clues about why the kingdom went to war in 1642?