Political Situation in Ireland During the Period of 1640-1642? Essay

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How important was the political situation in Ireland in influencing English politics during the period of 1640-1642?

Events regarding Ireland were important, but qualifications have to be made to them so as to understand the atmosphere of English politics between 1640-1642. The Irish rebellion in 1641 was the pivotal factor that made Charles completely fall out with Parliament. The Irish Revolt was definitely an important reason why the Civil War happened. The graphic pictures of Catholics brutally torturing and killing people in Ireland had dramatically added to their hostile image in the eyes of the English puritans. The Catholics were already feared but the speculative events in Ireland made that fear event more prominent.

Conspiracy was an important political aspect by which Charles earned an unfavourable image when calling for Irish military assistance earlier to fight the Scots. Disputes between King and Parliament as to who should be in control of the army for putting down the revolt had soured the political mood even greater seeing as the King was defending his royal prerogatives of both the military and foreign policy. The Grand Remonstrance is a key factor in the development of the political situation because this document written by Pym in 1641 was, what effectively, divided Parliament into two sides. Nevertheless, the Scottish Crisis of 1640 was also significant because had it not happened the Grand Remonstrance would never have been proposed by Digby in the 1640 Long Parliament and would not have taken direct effect later in 1641.

The vast speculation that took place about the brutal torturing and the scale on which the massacres happened was all part o the multiple conspiracies that started the Irish Rebellion. As a result, it hugely affected the political situation in England when the Charles and Parliament had a dispute about who should control the army to put down the uprising. Charles was made even more unpopular in Ireland by Wentworths policies of introducing harsher taxes, stripping land titles and confiscating estates from the Irish gentry. It was not long until Wentworths policies would be contested and confronted by the Irish population unhappy with the English rule. The idea of Catholics murdering Protestants had caused mass hysteria in England and the people began to fear what would happen to them now that the Church has become more pro-catholic.

Charles High-Church reforms and Laudism that had spread during the Personal Rule is a long-term factor for the tension between the King and his people. Laudism really wasnt welcomed and nobody was thinking about politics because all in all it was so detached from the common folk. However, religion was there all the time and people therefore made presumptions through religion about what the Kings policies were like. A reflection of politics in religious matters makes religion in Ireland a key factor for the outbreak and also the discontent in England was triggered by Charles reforms. The presumption that Charles is cooperating with the Catholics in Ireland had made the political situation worse and led to Parliament wanting policy reforms. Ultimately, it was insulting for the monarch and some would say made him rightly react and defend his right to make decisions on behalf of his nation.

The Irish Rebellion is very important because it established a clear difference in policies between the politicians and the ruler. There was no longer any subtlety of action and this made the royalists towards the end of 1641 get aggressive because it was obvious Parliament have abused their position when it came to matters in Ireland. Nevertheless, it must be taken into consideration that this was the end of an 11-year period where Parliament has not been summoned and the MPs, understandably, wanted to voice their positions on the situation in England and, at the same time, show the King their discontent. As a result, quite radical actions took place like the speaker being held down during the first session in April 1640, as MPs feared another dissolution. Religion and politics played a significant part in the aggravation of the Commons but also, a large degree of human factor that made Parliament react for radically to problems in Ireland and failures in Bishops Wars.

The Grand Remonstrance of 1640 was an event of great importance and carried a very radical political message. The clauses in the document demanded the King should transfer control of the armed forces to Parliament and the likes of John Hampden did so by undermining confidence in the King and his ministers and by demonstrating the integrity of Parliament. It outlined everything that Parliament wanted rectifying with Charles; abolishment of illegal taxation, a legislation which meant Charles needed regular meetings with Parliament, abolishment of prerogative courts (Star Chamber), church reforms etc. The implications are such that Parliament want to control the army in order for them to have an upper hand in domestic and foreign affairs like the Irish Rebellion, for example.

Pym readdresses the situation in 1641 when the Irish events take place but it is not surprising that the King disagrees. Scotland becomes significant in this instance because the Grand Remonstrance would not have had effect had the Bishops War not happened. Another factor that should be considered is the mood of the people. The religious unrest meant Charles lost popular support but the noblemen and upper end of society did not agree with Parliament because it affected them as well. It was a battle of class and status in addition to principle with events like Ireland giving Parliament more reasons to instigate change of policy.

Eventually, Charles now has support in the Commons, where the votes for the Grand Remonstrance just won by 148 votes to 159. There was a massive conservative reaction from the radical thoughts of a proportion of the commons. The King had the upper hand until, this time, it was his personality (yet again) that let him down because he thought it would be a visible act of re-establishing his power amongst the Commons. He arrests 5 MPs (Pym, Hampden, Holles, Hesilrig and Strode) to assert his dominance as a king which resulted in an outrage and provoked the Parliamentarians to execute Charles to ensure no more such extreme actions happened.

In conclusion, the events between 1640-1642 that took place in Ireland was critical in shaping English politics and even if the damage was done previously in Scotland when Charles had dramatically lost the Bishops Wars, it was Ireland that instigated radicalism and made Parliament so demanding of the King and resulted in conflict over Wentworths policies. Parliaments anger post-11 years of silence gave sessions a total different dimension of discontent to the one of 1629 which led to radical actions taken with regard to the Kings prerogative. The speculation and conspiracy that took place in Ireland had created a false image of the Catholics and ultimately became linked to the King because of his previous long-term reforms. Pym would not have reissued the Grand Remonstrance if it wasnt for the Rebellion and Parliaments wish to control the army.

Their intentions may seem representative of the people but their requests are definitely in breach of the monarchs prerogative and were rightfully outvoted. Finally, no matter how the politics had shaped the mood and negative conduct towards Charles church was the true representation of politics rather than the documents and proposals made by Parliament. It was the widespread fear of Catholicism that started in Ireland that was so important rather than the long term issues linked to Charles. Arresting the 5 MPs was undoubtedly stupid of the King but none of this would have happened without the crucial link in the chain of events and that being Ireland.

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