Course:History 344 Nasty Families/Instructions

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Over two days we will simulate some of the debates within the Long Parliament and culminate (possibly) with a trial of Charles I. We all know how that turned out in real life, but we can experiment with alternate histories and see if it might turn out differently. The goal is to explore what was at stake for the original actors in the drama, rather than try to recreate exactly what happened in real life. Our Parliament will be a counter-factual one, in which all the factions are able to debate at the same time. It will be set in the period after the king has been captured and when what to do with him was debated. In reality each of these issues were debated separately, and those in the losing faction alienated from power or forced to convert until at the trial of Charles I only a small faction of independents of similar views was left. The Levellers, for example, mostly were politically important in 1647, and then went along with the winning faction until they were eliminated in 1649. We will assume that all the major parliamentary factions are still in play. There will be various factions but each person will have their own set of goals. You may be part of two factions if they are not mutually exclusive.

There are two broad factions.


Religiously these men want to see a Presbyterian Church set up in England like it was in Scotland. They are solidly Calvinist and for a state-run and enforced religious settlement, although they will disagree about details. Politically they wish to see a deal struck with the king in some form or another. Most of them also want to see a return to peacetime with the disbanding of the army.


Religiously these men are more firmly Protestant and range from Congregational to radical Puritan. Some may effectively be political independents even if they are religiously Presbyterian, sceptics or even Arminian. Most want complete separation of Church and State and freedom of worship for Protestants. Politically these men are against negotiation with the king, although they differ on exactly what should become of him. Some are in this faction simply because they oppose the Scots.

Specific Factions

Old Peace Party – For making a deal with the king as long as he submits to the original complaints of Parliament that led to a war in the first place. In particular, they wish to see the king restrained and his power greatly curtailed by Parliament. As such they are part of the Presbyterian faction. They may or may not be religious Presbyterians, and if so they also want to see the king abandon episcopacy for a national Presbyterian Church.

Covenanters – These men look to uphold the Solemn League and Covenant. This led to the victory in the Civil War, and they wish to keep their oaths. Many also see the union of Scotland and England as a positive good. They are religious Presbyterians.

Cavaliers – These men want to see the king back. Although Parliamentarian originally, they have come to see the loss of the monarchy as dangerous and have secretly converted to the cavalier cause. While they do not have to be open about it, they will support the return of the king, if perhaps not with the same power as he had before. They are generally opposed to religious Presbyterianism, but usually feel it necessary to belong to the broad Presbyterian faction.

Army Men – The army has become a political as well as a military force. Army men are not necessarily any more soldierly than others (almost everyone fought in the Civil War), but they do feel the army should retain its political influence and believe in its positive potential. They range from army radicals, who are republican or Leveller, to Presbyterians.

Levellers – The Levellers have been called the first political party in England, although that is probably more properly the later Whigs. They wish to see a social revolution and a broadened electorate. Removing the king is just part of that. They are thus usually Independents.

Commonwealthsmen – These wish to see Parliament in control, with few political changes other than that. What happens to the king exactly is open for debate as long as he does not have much power. Most of these are Independents.

Republicans – These wish to see the king gone, one way or another, and England turned into a republic with a non-monarchical head of state, and thus are Independents. They wish to see fairly widespread political changes.

Fifth Monarchists – These wish to prepare the way for the return of King Jesus through religious and political reformation of a radical kind. They are Independent both politically and religiously.


We will debate the following things in rough order:

1. The Scots: The Scots fought alongside the English Parliament and were instrumental in the victory. The price of their involvement was the Solemn League and Covenant, which almost everyone has sworn. However, Charles is king of Scotland separately from being king of England, and it is not at all certain that the Scots should have a say in events.

2. The Levellers: The Levellers want to change English society for good. Ideally they would like to see the House of Lords, and indeed lordship in general, removed. Barring that, they want real elections with universal male suffrage.

3. Army: The Army has been directly involved in politics for several years now. It sees itself as the electorate in arms. Others see their involvement as entirely novel and destabilizing.

4. A Church Settlement: The Presbyterians obviously want to establish the promised Presbyterian Church. Many others want to separate Church and State in order to allow Protestants (but not Catholics) freedom of conscience.

5. Government: What sort of state will England now have? If the king is removed from power, then who will rule?

6. The King: What to do about Charles. This may effectively be decided as a result of #5. However, Charles has committed many acts that may deserve punishment regardless of what system is decided upon.

It is possible to go back to previous decisions, or change the order, or put off decisions until later. This agenda is just a rough guide. Earlier decisions may have concrete outcomes for later events, however.

Written Assignment

This should be over 1000 words and should concisely present some of your arguments. You will have been emailed your three main goals and broad faction. You may decide to write up a detailed argument for just one of those three goals, or more if you think you can fit them into the space. This should present in a detailed form what you will hope to argue in class. It must include at least six sources, preferably primary sources. One of these must be Langomarsino. It is expected that more sources are likely to be needed, so you are encouraged to see the six as a bare minimum. The paper may be in first person, but focus on the arguments for your position, not on making your paper sound like a seventeenth-century work (I won’t be grading that). It is due at 9pm on Monday, 5 March.