I was wandering through the library the other day, and as inevitably happens when I do that, I wound up in the History section. I started looking at some books on the English Civil war. I began by looking for a book on Oliver Cromwell, but ended reading some about his opponent, King Charles I.
I really know very little about the period, so almost all of it was new to me. (I didn’t check any of the books out, so I can’t remember who wrote them, sorry) What I gathered from my cursory reading was that the main causes of the war were (1) Parliament’s belief that King Charles had too much power and (2) religious differences between Parliament and the King. Parliament was Puritan–or at, least Cromwell was–and the King was Anglican, and seen as having ties to the Catholics, or ‘Popists’, as they were apparently called.
In one of the books, I came across the assertion that after King Charles was removed and Cromwell created the Commonwealth of England, it ushered in a new era of Religious Toleration.
Now, for all I know, this is true. But it sounded weird to me. The Puritans were many things, but as far as I was aware, they weren’t really famous for being the most tolerant bunch. Now, I can believe that Puritanism was tolerated more under Cromwell et al. than it was under King Charles, but was religion in general more free? That I’m not so sure of.
Anyway, I’m about to embark on an internet odyssey to find out more about the English Civil War, because until this week most of my knowledge of the period came from Monty Python’s song about Oliver Cromwell. So stay tuned; I’ll probably be doing more posts about stuff I should have learned in school.