Bishops Wars

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Bishops' wars, 1639–40. Charles I assumed, with good reason, that religious diversity was a source of weakness in a state. In 1637, therefore, he ordered the Scottish presbyterian church to use a new prayer book on the English model. This provoked a protest movement which culminated in the drawing up of a national covenant to defend ‘the true religion’. Charles raised an army to enforce his will but his troops were an undisciplined rabble and rather than risk fighting he accepted the pacification of Berwick in June 1639. This brought to an end the first of the so-called Bishops' wars, but in 1640 Charles again took up arms. The outcome was worse. The Scots promptly invaded England, brushed aside Charles's army at Newburn, outside Newcastle, on 28 August, and occupied the north-east of the country. They were now secretly collaborating with the king's opponents and refused to contemplate withdrawing unless and until he summoned Parliament. Charles's policy had collapsed.

Roger Lockyer

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Bishops' Wars, two brief campaigns (1639 and 1640) of the Scots against Charles I of England. When Charles attempted to strengthen episcopacy in Scotland by imposing (1637) the English Book of Common Prayer, the Scots countered by pledging themselves in the National Covenant (1638) to restore Presbyterianism. A general assembly of the Scottish church abolished episcopacy. The first war was ended without fighting by the Pacification of Berwick, in which Charles conceded the Scottish right to a free church assembly and a free parliament. However, the assembly that met promptly reaffirmed the covenant. In spite of the refusal of his Short Parliament to vote him money, Charles managed to raise another army, but it was unable to stop the Scots from invading England and occupying Northumberland and Durham. Charles made peace at Ripon (Oct., 1640), and his promise there to pay an indemnity to the Scots necessitated his calling the Long Parliament. See English civil war.

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