English Revolution

Charles I was determined to enforce his authority in matters of religion and state. His reforms to the church provoked horror and resentment from the people of England, and he exploited loopholes to raise cash through taxes, particularly the hated ship money. Terrible punishment was meted out against anyone who objected. But at the peak of his power, Charles was about to face a fall.

Tune in tomorrow for episode six of Alan Woods' video series on the English Revolution! With parliament suspended, Charles I was determined to enforce his authority in matters of religion and state. His reforms to the church provoked horror and resentment from the people of England, and he exploited loopholes to raise cash through taxes, particularly the hated ship money. Terrible punishment was meted out against anyone who objected. But at the peak of his power, Charles was about to face a fall.

In this episode, Alan describes the escalating conflicts between King Charles and parliament. Charles dissolved parliament several times, culminating in a dissolution that was to last for 11 years. The country was now firmly on the road to war and revolution.

Watch the fourth episode our podcast series, The English Revolution: the world turned upside down. Alan Woods discusses the escalating conflicts between parliament and the machiavellian King Charles, who wanted money to fund various military adventures. These splits at the top were concurrent with a seething discontent at the bottom of society, reflected in the murder of the King’s favourite, the Duke of Buckingham. The outlines of eventual civil war were taking shape. 

Revolutions always start with splits at the top. In episode three of his weekly podcast on the English Revolution, Alan describes the tensions developing between King Charles (and his Catholic wife), firm in his belief in the divine right of kings; and the increasingly powerful English parliament.

In this episode, Alan sets the scene of England on the brink of revolution. The country was facing a profound economic crisis, there was an army of downtrodden poor, and radical religious ideas were taking hold amongst the burgeoining middle classes. Under the surface, these ideas expressed class antagonisms, which were building to a fever pitch as feudalism entered its dying days.

I did not believe that it was possible for the low esteem in which I hold modern academics in general, and bourgeois historians in particular, to sink any lower than it already was. But that belief was misplaced. I have just had the misfortune to watch a three-part series put out by BBC Channel Four with the title: ‘Charles I, Downfall of a King’. I now hold the intellectual qualities of our modern historians at a slightly lower level than those of Mr Bean. At least Mr Bean can be mildly amusing at times, but our self-appointed intellectuals lack even that redeeming virtue.

To mark this year's Bonfire Night in Britain, Alan Woods discusses the historical background behind the infamous Gunpowder Plot of 1605, in which Guy Fawkes attempted to blow up the English Establishment and spark a Catholic insurrection against King James I and the protestant monarchy.

On 17 May 1649, three soldiers were executed on Oliver Cromwell’s orders in Burford churchyard, Oxfordshire, England. They were the leaders of 300 men who belonged to the movement known as the Levellers. They had decided to fight against Cromwell who they considered was betraying the ideals of what the “Civil War”, i.e. the English Revolution, had been about.

Today marks 350 years since the death of Oliver Cromwell, the outstanding leader of the English bourgeois revolution of the 1640s. Without him, with his steadfast courage and determination, the Revolution would have been betrayed by the big bourgeoisie who continually sought an accommodation with the Crown. It is no accident that Cromwell has been described as the Lenin of the English bourgeois revolution.

This year marks the 300th anniversary of The Act of Union between Scotland and England. This was accompanied by the merger of the parliaments into one Westminster Parliament. In January 1707, the Scottish parliament voted 110-67 to ratify The Treaty of Union, which became law four months later.