What if the Royalists won the English Civil War?

gladiatrice

Ad Honorem
Oct 2013
3,463
Montreal, QC
The English Civil War lasted from 1642-1651. Most historians of the era, however, group it into 3 parts; the first lasting from 1642-1646, 1648-1649, and 1649-1651. However, if the Royalists managed to win, there would've only been two English Civil Wars; 1642-1649, as the Second Civil War was concluded with the execution of the reigning monarch, King Charles I.

Obviously, the execution of a monarch is a big thing. Even after 31 January 1649, the throne remained empty. The kingdom came under rule of Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell, essentially a military dictator. He reigned (yes, reigned) for 11 years, banning just about anything mildly amusing, as he enforced a strict Puritanical society over Britain during his dictatorship. When Oliver died in 1658, the ownership of the Commonwealth was given to his son Richard Cromwell, also known as Tumbledown Dick, who was about as much use as a jelly pickax. Richard abdicated, and the monarchy was restored by the late king's son, also named Charles, the second of his name.

However... what would happen if Charles I managed to successfully escape his execution and/or the Royalists crushed the Parliamentarian armies? Obviously, Charles would still have his head on his shoulders, but in the bigger scheme of things, what would happen? Charles I was not a malignant ruler -- a bit of an idiot, for sure, but he wasn't horrible. Would he eventually spend the country into an abyss of debt? What else would happen?

(I hope this doesn't turn into a Cavalier vs. Roundhead thread! I've gotten into my fair share of fights over that.)
 
Jan 2013
1,080
Toronto, Canada
If Charles I had escaped execution, the Long Parliament would have run the country until he died in comfortable captivity. Charles II would have eventually been restored to power, either peacefully once the Parliamentary leaders died or through force a la Henry III. English history would not have been substantially different.
 
Jan 2013
1,080
Toronto, Canada
If the Royalist forces had won, anti-Calvinist persecution would have driven thousands of refugees out of the country and Scotland would have declared itself a Calvinist republic like the Netherlands or Switzerland. Charles II would have relaxed the religious persecution and might have been restored to the throne in Scotland. However, an English version of the French Revolution would have taken place in London decades before 1789.
 

gladiatrice

Ad Honorem
Oct 2013
3,463
Montreal, QC
If the Royalist forces had won, anti-Calvinist persecution would have driven thousands of refugees out of the country and Scotland would have declared itself a Calvinist republic like the Netherlands or Switzerland. Charles II would have relaxed the religious persecution and might have been restored to the throne in Scotland. However, an English version of the French Revolution would have taken place in London decades before 1789.
Charles himself strongly opposed religious persecution. He thought it was awful and tried multiple times to pass legislation that would stop such things, but Parliament balked at such an idea. As Charles once said, "...My words are my own, and my actions are my ministers'."

And there was an English Revolution... Providing that Catharine and Charles did not produce an heir, the crown would still pass from Charles II to James II. During James' reign, we saw the Glorious Revolution, which, although it was bloodless, it was a revolution nonetheless.
 
Jan 2013
1,080
Toronto, Canada
Charles himself strongly opposed religious persecution. He thought it was awful and tried multiple times to pass legislation that would stop such things, but Parliament balked at such an idea. As Charles once said, "...My words are my own, and my actions are my ministers'."

And there was an English Revolution... Providing that Catharine and Charles did not produce an heir, the crown would still pass from Charles II to James II. During James' reign, we saw the Glorious Revolution, which, although it was bloodless, it was a revolution nonetheless.
I agree that Charles opposed religious persecution; that's why he would have relaxed his father's laws.

The Glorious Revolution was very different from the French Revolution. The English Revolution would have been a much bloodier revolution from below; not the organized coup d'état from above that actually happened.
 

gladiatrice

Ad Honorem
Oct 2013
3,463
Montreal, QC
I agree that Charles opposed religious persecution; that's why he would have relaxed his father's laws.

The Glorious Revolution was very different from the French Revolution. The English Revolution would have been a much bloodier revolution from below; not the organized coup d'état from above that actually happened.
They were different, I know. In that vein, during what reign do you think a comparable revolution would occur? Probably James II's, but possibly under William III and Mary II.
 

funakison

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
5,381
Between a rock and a hard place
A victorious Charles has to strip from Parliament every right it has claimed since Magna Carta, this will give him power over England, including the right to tax without reservation, the right to appoint and dismiss advisors the right to dismiss Parliament, which is now filled with his appointees. Rigged courts issue death the sentence on all parliamentarian leaders.

Charles first action as the new, all-powerful, king is to build up the army. Not only using the nucleus of the forces he led to London, but also adding the remains of the catholic army and mercenaries from Europe. The purpose is to have an army that's loyal to the King alone and not to any other faction. He places this army under Prince Rupert to prepare for an exhibition to Scotland, to settle affairs with the Covernters.
 

notgivenaway

Ad Honorem
Jun 2015
5,787
UK
Charles would naturally round up and execute all the leading Roundheads. There would be a Puritan exodus to the American colonies, and maybe Virginia or MA would become independent states. If there still were Anglo-Dutch wars, then they could ally with the Dutch against the English, which would mean no New York (New Amsterdam instead). Slavery may still exist in the colonies, but it could mean that there were no English crown colonies if the Puritans and Dutch allied against him.

Parliament would be a shell or just stuffed with ROyalists.
The Church of England would persist, but only in Charles's own interpretation of it.

If there still is a Charles II, then he may retain what his father installed, though he was never only Catholic since he wanted to maintain order in the Restoration (and that he wanted power and didn't want to relinquish it).

The American colonies were initially bolstered by Irish indentured servants, and English moves into America would not have existed without the Cromwellian Irish conquests. Cromwell, unless Charles I would be lenient, may have executed him and the other leading Parliamentarians, or Cromwell may have fled to America. More senior nobility like the Earls of Manchester and Essex may have been pardoned, but certainly, the rank of file of the New Model Army would have been executed or persecuted. Most of these soldiers were common people and tradesmen, whom Cromwell selected for their piety and hardwork.

This also would have meant no Williamite War in Ireland, though if James II still existed and became king, this could have caused conflict if he was still openly Catholic.
So some conflict may have been inevitable, given the Stuarts often flirted with Catholicism as heads of a Protestant country. Charles I was a devout Anglican, even if he imposed High Anglicanism on all denominations. But his children (Charles II and James II) were in various forms Catholic - Charles II supposedly converted to Catholicism on his deathbed. He also signed the secret Treaty of Dover, where he promised to become Catholic. Had there been no civil war, it may have been more open.
So civil war in some sense was inevitable, since Anglicans, Presbyterians and Independents would never have accepted this.
 

notgivenaway

Ad Honorem
Jun 2015
5,787
UK
the Royalists were right on moral grounds.
The Roundheads essentially were on the right side of history (literally).
The monarch today has limited powers, and Parliament is supreme.

If I were alive back then, I'd have been a Roundhead, but an Anglican, and not a Puritan like Cromwell was.