Hostility to Parliament, Calvinism and the wider Reformed faith, coupled with his belief in the divine right of kings, by Charles the 1st, were some of the main reasons that lay behind the English Civil War.
William Laud, who Charles 1st made Archbishop of Canterbury, advanced the High Church movement, with its strict conformity to the prayer book. It was under Laud that all Calvinists were labelled Puritans. Laud also enforced changes upon the church, placing the communion table at the east end of Anglican churches, effectively making them to be viewed as an altar. This was interpreted as supporting the Romanist belief in transubstantiation. Measures were also taken to silence 'reformed' preaching.
Civil conflict became inevitable, and among the people and groups that played a hugely significant part as the war developed were the Covenantors from Scotland, Presbyterians, Independents of various hue, but mainly Baptists and Congregationalists.
The brilliant military genius of Oliver Cromwell eventually led to him being made the leader of the so-called Model Army, and after victory Cromwell was given the title of Lord Protector in the new republic.
The euphoria was not to last however, and following Cromwell's death, supporters of the Royalist cause came once again to the fore, Charles II, son of the previously executed monarch was invited back into the country, with his promises of religious freedom and liberty of conscience, and was eventually crowned as king.
The second part of Dr. Needham's lecture will be entitled "The Fate of the Puritans".
The Rev Dr Nick Needham is a Baptist minister originally from London. He holds the degrees of BD and PhD from the University of Edinburgh. He has published several books, the first two of which were in the area of Scottish Church History. More recently he has published 2,000...