Build-up to Civil War

Civil war helmet - York Castle Museum

Charles I came to the throne in 1625.  He soon proved to be a hugely divisive and unpopular monarch.  Charles dismissed Parliament, raised 'forced loans', enforced the Anglican religion and brutally punished dissenters.

York, however, remained mainly supportive of the king.  In 1639 when he attempted to enforce the use of an Anglican Prayer Book on the Scots the city assumed its traditional role as the campaign headquarters in battles against Scotland.

The vice-president of the Council in the North supervised military preparations from York, and troops gathered in and around the city.  In March 1639 the king arrived and stayed for a month, making plans, watching cavalry exercises and taking comfort from the loyal atmosphere of the city.

More military plans and preparations took place a year later, with the king arriving in August 1640 and persuading the local gentry to bear a heavier burden of the cost of the troops.

Charles left York four days later, but was soon forced back by the Scottish advance.

The king stayed in York for some weeks before convening the Great Council of Peers at the deanery.  It arranged a truce with the Scots and advised Charles, against his normal instincts and practice, to summon Parliament in London.  This was to become known as the Long Parliament, which wrested power from the king and precipitated the civil war.

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