Young Folks' History of England HTML version

34. The Long Parliament, A.D. 1641—1649
When Charles I. was obliged to call his Parliament, the House of Commons
met, angered at the length of time that had passed since they had been
called, and determined to use their opportunity. They speedily put an end
both to the payment of ship money and to the Court of the Star Chamber;
and they threw into prison the two among the king's friends whom they most
disliked, namely, Archbishop Laud and the Earl of Strafford. The earl had
been governor of Ireland, and had kept great order there, but severely; and
he thought that the king was the only person who ought to have any power,
and was always advising the king to put down all resistance by the strong
hand. He was thought a hard man, and very much hated; and when he was
tried the Houses of Parliament gave sentence against him that he should be
beheaded. Still, this could not be done without the king's warrant; and
Charles at first stood out against giving up his faithful friend. But there was a
great tumult, and the queen and her mother grew frightened, and entreated
the king to save himself by giving up Lord Strafford, until at last he
consented, and signed the paper ordering the execution. It was a sad act of
weakness and cowardice, and he mourned over it all the days of his life.
The Parliament only asked more and more, and at last the king thought he
must put a check on them. So he resolved to go down to the House and
cause the five members who spoke against his power to be taken prisoners in
his own presence. But he told his wife what he intended, and Henrietta Maria
was so foolish as to tell Lady Carlisle, one of her ladies, and she sent warning
to the five gentlemen, so that they were not in the House when Charles
arrived; and the Londoners rose up in a great mob, and showed themselves
so angry with him, that he took the queen and his children away into the
country. The queen took her daughter Mary to Holland to marry the Prince of
Orange; and there she bought muskets and gunpowder for her husband's
army—for things had come to pass now that a civil war began. A civil war is
the worst of all wars, for it is one between the people of the same country.
England had had two civil wars before. There were the Barons' wars, between
Henry III. and Simon de Montfort, about the keeping of Magna Carta; and
there were the wars of the Roses, to settle whether York or Lancaster should
reign. This war between Charles I. and the Parliament was to decide whether
the king or the House of Commons should be most powerful. Those who held
with the king called themselves Cavaliers, but the friends of the Parliament
called them Malignants; and they in turn nicknamed the Parliamentary party
Roundheads, because they often chose not to wear their hair in the prevailing
fashion, long and flowing on their shoulders, but cut short round their heads.
Most of the Roundheads were Puritans, and hated the Prayer-book, and all
the strict rules for religious worship that Archbishop Laud had brought in; and
the Cavaliers, on the other hand, held by the bishops and the Prayer-book.
Some of the Cavaliers were very good men indeed, and led holy and Christian
lives, like their master the king, but there were others who were only bold,