rogant despoilation of every area of the country through which they rode Along

Rogant despoilation of every area of the country

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rogant despoilation of every area of the country through which they rode. Along with these came all those who believed the absolute monarchies of Spain and France were the model of how society should be run, including a significant minority of the Catholic apostles of Counter-Reformation. The parliamentary section of the ruling class could now only protect themselves and their property by raising armies of their own. But events had also drawn into the conflict masses of people who were outside the ruling class. Merchants opposed to the royal monopoly holders had been able to gain control of the City of London by encouraging a wave of demonstrations by ordinary tradesmen and apprentices. But they could not simply switch the popular movement on and off, especially when Cavalier officers attacked the participants. Apprentices demon- strated in their hundreds and even thousands. ‘Mechanic preachers’ were blamed for encouraging people ‘to neglect their callings and trades two or three days a week’. 109 This happened as economic hard- ship was causing more or less spontaneous riots in many parts of the country over enclosures and fen drainage (which deprived the peas- ants of part of their livelihood in East Anglia). 208 A PEOPLE’S HISTORY OF THE WORLD
The eruption of popular anger was a double-edged weapon for the parliamentary wing of the ruling class. It enabled them to preserve their lives in the face of the attempted royal coup. But it also threat- ened them with a movement which, if it got out of hand, could damage their own class rule. Hardly had the urban agitation broken the hold of the king’s supporters on the City government than the parliamen- tarians were trying to bring it to an end. Many became convinced that only a new form of religious discipline, applied by themselves, could stifle revolt among the lower classes and maintain control. They wanted to force the king to accept their demands, but were keen to end hostilities as quickly as possible. This group soon formed a moderate parliamentary faction. They were called ‘Presbyterians’ because they were associated with the notion that there had to be a uniform system of religious doctrine, which church elders (‘presbyters’) from their own class would impose on everyone else. For the moment there was no avoiding war. Even the moderate Presbyterian gentry feared the consequences of unlimited royal power and had to mount resistance. But for the first two years of the war that resistance was held back, like that of the Bohemian estates to the Habsburgs in 1619, by disdain for genuinely revolutionary measures. There was not one single parliamentary army, capable of follow- ing a coherent national strategy, but a collection of local armies, each with a lord as general and the local gentry as officers. The rank and file were conscripts, often forced to fight against their will, not revo- lutionary enthusiasts. The unwillingness of the gentry to provide for the upkeep of the armies led the parliamentary troops, like the roy-

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