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rogant despoilation of every area of the country through which theyrode. Along with these came all those who believed the absolutemonarchies of Spain and France were the model of how society shouldbe run, including a significant minority of the Catholic apostles ofCounter-Reformation. The parliamentary section of the ruling classcould now only protect themselves and their property by raisingarmies of their own. But events had also drawn into the conflictmasses of people who were outside the ruling class. Merchants opposed to the royal monopoly holders had been ableto gain control of the City of London by encouraging a wave ofdemonstrations by ordinary tradesmen and apprentices. But theycould not simply switch the popular movement on and off, especiallywhen 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 andtrades two or three days a week’.109This happened as economic hard-ship was causing more or less spontaneous riots in many parts of thecountry over enclosures and fen drainage (which deprived the peas-ants of part of their livelihood in East Anglia). 208A PEOPLE’S HISTORY OF THE WORLD
The eruption of popular anger was a double-edged weapon for theparliamentary wing of the ruling class. It enabled them to preservetheir 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 damagetheir own class rule. Hardly had the urban agitation broken the holdof the king’s supporters on the City government than the parliamen-tarians were trying to bring it to an end. Many became convincedthat only a new form of religious discipline, applied by themselves,could stifle revolt among the lower classes and maintain control. Theywanted to force the king to accept their demands, but were keen to endhostilities as quickly as possible. This group soon formed a moderate parliamentary faction. Theywere called ‘Presbyterians’ because they were associated with thenotion that there had to be a uniform system of religious doctrine,which church elders (‘presbyters’) from their own class would imposeon everyone else. For the moment there was no avoiding war. Even the moderatePresbyterian gentry feared the consequences of unlimited royal powerand had to mount resistance. But for the first two years of the war thatresistance was held back, like that of the Bohemian estates to theHabsburgs 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, eachwith a lord as general and the local gentry as officers. The rank andfile were conscripts, often forced to fight against their will, not revo-lutionary enthusiasts. The unwillingness of the gentry to provide forthe upkeep of the armies led the parliamentary troops, like the roy-