Extract from a letter written by a lady wanting peace, 17 October 1645
(Catalogue ref: SP 16/511/27)
This letter was found in the State Papers from the reign of Charles I. A lady wrote it, but we do not know any more about her.
It is possible that a Royalist supporter in an area controlled by Parliament wrote it, but we cannot be sure of this.
By October 1645 the vast majority of the population were completely sick of war. The death toll of the war was very high from fighting, disease and damage in events like sieges. Historians think that a higher percentage of the population died in the Civil War than died in the World War of 1914-18. Not surprisingly, many people longed for peace.
Another factor that worried many was the increasing power and influence of people with new and radical or extreme ideas. In Parliament, and especially the army, hard-line Protestants called Puritans had become increasingly important. Other groups with radical political ideas, like the Levellers, were also writing pamphlets and gaining some support. For people like this lady, peace and the return of the king were priorities.
By the time this letter was written Charles was facing military defeat. His last chance for victory disappeared at the Battle of Naseby in June 1645. He fought on until May 1646, but with no real hope of winning. Despite this, there was no question of getting rid of Charles. No leader on the Parliament side wanted to have a republic, a country not lead by a king. They simply wanted to make Charles listen to Parliament and follow the rule of law.
By late 1645 divisions were beginning to appear within the ranks of the Parliament forces. Some MPs wanted to end the war and stop paying for the New Model Army. Some were concerned about the rise of hard-line Puritan leaders in the army like Oliver Cromwell.