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Skip to 0 minutes and 6 secondsIn 1640, Oliver Cromwell was a member of Parliament. When King Charles wanted to raise taxes to pay for an expensive war on Scotland, Oliver Cromwell saw red. He didn't understand why the people of England should have to pay for King Charles' war. It didn't seem fair. Cromwell wanted King Charles to give up some of his powers to Parliament. King Charles disagreed, as he believed that his right to came for God above. That's how a civil war started, a civil war which lasted for six years.

Skip to 0 minutes and 50 secondsKing Charles was finally executed in 1649, and Parliament had full control of the country. With the fighting over, Cromwell thought that reform was needed. He decided that Parliament was rotten to the core and that some fresh blood was needed. He chose good and godly men to be in what he called his Assembly of Saints. Cromwell was a pretty strict ruler. Work and play on Sunday were forbidden. Going for a walk on a Sunday was illegal unless you were going to church. Boys were not allowed to play football on Sunday, and women were not allowed to wear makeup. Traditional holidays were scrapped. Mayday, Easter, bonfire night celebrations, and Christmas feasting were illegal. Drinking alcohol was banned.

Skip to 1 minute and 48 secondsSo was gambling and going to the theatre. A lot of people really missed King Charles. Some people even felt that Cromwell society was really not all that equal. The Levellers was a group of people who were inspired by Magna Carta. They wanted equality, and they thought that more men should have the right to vote. Cromwell was not impressed, and he did not agree to the Levellers' demands. When Cromwell died, his son inherited the role of Lord Protector, but he could not control the English army, and it wasn't long before Charles' son was put back onto the throne. The British celebrated the end of Cromwell's rule with what was possibly the biggest party in England's history.

The Civil War

Listen to Genevieve talk about Oliver Cromwell and King Charles.

As you watch, try to answer these questions.

  • Why was Oliver Cromwell unhappy with King Charles?
  • What did Cromwell want King Charles to do?
  • After the civil war, how did Cromwell want to change parliament?
  • What did Cromwell want to ban?

Share your answers in the comments below.

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This video is from the free online course:

Exploring English: Magna Carta

British Council