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Why did people want the king back in 1646?

Case study 2: Viewpoints, 1645-46 - Source 1

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Extract from a letter written by a lady wanting peace, 17 October 1645

(Catalogue ref: SP 16/511/27)

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SP16/511/27; a lady wanting peace, 1645

What is this source?

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.


What’s the background to this source?

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.


It's worth knowing that...

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.


Your turn: What can we learn from this source?

  1. What did this lady want?
  2. Do you get the impression she would accept Charles as king without any restrictions on him?
  3. Study the notes that support this source. Who do you think the lady was referring to when she mentioned people who did not want peace?
  4. How did the war affect this lady?
  5. How does this source help to explain why Charles gained support in 1646?