"Where England's Sorrow Ended : An Alternate History of the English Civil Wars"

Chapter I : The sour fruits of victory
1660, as London sung the ballad “When the King enjoys his own again” for Charles II, came the long-awaited Restoration of the House of Stuart. After 11 years, England, Scotland,and Ireland once again have a monarch.

While the reign of the House of Stuart wouldn't last long beyond the sons of Charles I, as they would eventually be replaced by William of Orange and the House of Hannover, and then the "House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha," who still ruled the United Kingdom until today as the House of Windsor,.

Today, the image of Britain is one inseparable from the Royal Family and their significant contributions to constitutional monarchy as form a government.

But this not always the case in the history of the islands. Before 1660, there was a time that was rarely discussed or so simplified and even demonized by the Stuarts after the Restoration.

The English Civil Wars, also known as The War of the Three Kingdoms, from 1642–1651, a period at first characterized by a quarrel between Parliament and King over parliamentary privileges and monarchy rights, began to descend into many radical thoughts both on the religious and political scenes. Culminating in the climax at Whitehall, where the regicide happened and the birth of a short-lived Commonwealth, the first and only “republic” on England’s soil. But the state that was born of regicide is sadly not ideal; it was a state defined by “the power of the sword.”.

When the Rump dissolves and the Commonwealth reforms into Cromwell’s Protectorate, things continue to fall down, and as Cromwell took his last breath in 1658, so did his Protectorate. But does it always have to end this way?

Does it need to end with Monck marching down south from Scotland and scattering what remains of the forces mustered by John Lambert and the Restoration?

I want to write a different story, and I hope you will enjoy my take on this fascinating period, as I shall dial the clocks back to 1647, when the English Civil War turned into the English Revolution.


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Chapter I: The sour fruits of victory
“And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.

And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.

And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.

And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.

And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.

And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.”

Revelation 8:1-13


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(Taken from “1647: Civil War to Revolution” by John Rainsborowe, British’s Republican Press, 2005)

"As the King is handed over to Parliament and the Scottish army is marching back across the River Tweed, The civil war is over. For four years, from 1642 to 1646, England saw violence beyond any of its subjects' expectations. While compared to the war that engulfed continental Europe for much of the late 16th and 17th centuries, it was nothing more than mere child play, for a kingdom that hasn’t seen any real war on its soil for decades, it was a cruel realization. As fathers pitched against sons, brothers pitched against brothers, and families divided over whether it was the King or Parliament that they should pledge their loyalty to. And when the smoke die down, England's sons and daughters looked around and saw what the war had caused them, and they rejoiced that it was over. It was estimated that about 85,000 have perished in combat, with a further 127,000 non combat deaths (including some 40,000 civilians).


After so many losses and the horror of war forever scaring the land and its people for generations to come, people try to brighten up by looking at the future. Surely with the Royalists all but defeated, the King and Parliament will come to an agreement, and peace shall reign over England again. They were to be disappointed.

While his army was defeated in the field, Charles’s zeal in his belief was not defeated. Every negotiation with him always ends fruitlessly, and he never stops hoping to either play off the factions of Parliament, the Independents and the Presbyterians, or hoping for an intervention from Ireland, the Scottish Highlands, and across the channel. As Charles continues to open negotiations with Parliament to buy time, events beyond his cells are moving at a drastic pace.

Ever since the defeat of the Royalists, the popularity of the New Model Army has been declining as the population starts to grow ever more impatient with the burden of tax to feed and pay a standing army that has finished its purpose when the war is over. While the army’s supporters in Parliament and London have managed to protect the New Model by insisting that the provincial armies should be disbanded first and that the Scots must leave English soils before the army is disbanded, It helps to buy time, but it doesn’t stop the now Presbyterian-dominated parliament from attacking it vigorously for spreading sectarianism and anarchy. And with the prospect of dealing with the King sooner or later, the Presbyterians now aim to disband the New Model to form a new contingent under their chosen Presbyterian generals to lead an expedition against the Irish rebels.

On February 18, after a grueling, all-day debate, the Presbyterians presented before both the Common and the Lord a motion that, apart from the 10.000 infantry spread through the 45 garrison towns, only 5,400 horses and 1,000 Dragoons would be kept up in England. The rest of the army would have the choice of going to Ireland or being disbanded, but only by going to Ireland would they get to pay their arrears. Resurrecting the principles of the Self-Denying Ordinance, there will be no more exemptions for MPs to hold office in the Army, and no more exemptions for any army officer that hasn’t sworn the Solemn League and Covenant. This not only immediately threatens to take away the posts of Oliver Cromwell, Henry Ireton, Thomas Harrison, and Charles Fleetwood but also a majority of the officers in the army, for many of them come from many sectarian religions like Anabaptist, Baptist, and more. The attack of Presbyterians on all sectarians and treating them like enemies of the states, with their end goal being the destruction of separated congregations, also help to fan up the paranoia that is brewing day by day in the ranks and files of the Army.

The officer, in a desperate attempt to both resist parliament and calm the ranks and files, tries to petition Parliament on some practical issues if they want to disband the army via "the petition and vindication of the officers of the armie…the House of Commons.”



1. Full payment of pay arrears, in addition to regular pay, until disbandment

2. No conscription of enlisted soldiers for service outside the kingdom

3. An Act of Parliament (sealed by the King) guaranteeing indemnity against prosecution for all acts of war



The Presbyterians, convinced that they have the entire nation backing over the Army, were confident that they could ride roughshod over the army’s grievances with impunity. They first ordered the petition to be suppressed, but when they learned that their order was ignored, they exploded with rage. On March 29, 1647, Denzill Holles, a leading Presbyterian leader, scribbled a motion accusing the promoters of the petition of “tending to put the army into a distemper and mutiny” and threatening to proceed against them “as enemies to the state and disturbers of public peace." The hated motion would come to be known as the Declaration of Dislike.

Then they go even further with the arrest of Colonel Robert Lilburne, some of his officers, and Ensign Nichol on the charge that they obstructed the Irish Expedition. This is the crossing of the Rubicon for the New Model. The condemnation of the two houses and the detention of their comrades is too much to bear, as a newsletter sent out from the headquarters asked the question: Have the soldiers who were “instruments to recover the lost liberties of the nation fought themselves into slavery”? If Parliament ventured to call them “enemies of the state” when they stood together under arms, what sort of treatment had they expected if they allowed themselves to be dispersed and disarmed?. The message is clear: the army won’t stand idly by and await their destruction,”


(Taken from “The British Revolution: A People History” by Edward Pride, The Levellers Publisher, 1993)

While the officers like Fairfax and Cromwell were contemplating about following what Parliament wanted, Cromwell even went as far as to assure the two houses that if a pay is secure, the ranks and files would disband without a hitch. The ranks and files did not.

Towards the end of April, eight cavalry regiments stationed in East Anglia met together and elected two representatives, or two agents or "agitators," to act for it. Before long, the foots followed the example of the cavalry, and soon there was a council that could speak for all the soldiers of sixteen regiments. They denounced the design “to ruin and break this armies to pieces," demanded the redress of the army’s grievances, and told Fairfax that their chief reason for taking up arms and risking their lives for parliamentarian causes had been so that “the meanest subject should fully enjoy his rights, liberty, and properties in all things." The first public appearance of the Agitators is when three troopers, Edward Sexby, William Allen, and Thomas Shepherd, who were identified as lending a hand to write an identical open letter to Fairfax, Cromwell, and Skippon. Skippon would read this “dangerous” document to the House.

The letter is an emotional appeal for protection of the soldiery to the generals “Can we be proclaimed traitors and your honour remain secure”, their distrust of the coming Irish campaign “Can this Irish expedition be anything else but a design to ruin and break this Army in pieces” and a bold attack on the Presbyterians of Parliament.

“But we are confident that your honour cannot but perceive that this plot is but a mere cloak for some who have lately tasted of sovereignty and being lifted beyond the ordinary sphere of servants, seek to become masters and degenerated into tyrants”

The three troopers would later be free to go back to their regiments after making a favorable impression on the house. Although many hardline Presbyterians did speak of sending them to the Tower, some, like Holles, even desired to at least shoot one of them for treason. To show that they were willing to reconcile with the soldier, they sent a delegation down to the army, but this time with officers the army was more likely to trust: Skippon, Cromwell, Ireton, and Fleetwood. But once again, Presbyterian distrust against the ranks and files and mismanagement have led them to make hastily drafted ordinances that result in a delay in pay and an increase in arrears. Which further inflame the disillusion and anger of the troopers against Parliament, who step up their demands not only over material grievances but also over their liberty of consciences and their rights as citizens of the kingdom, as well as call for the release of not only their army comrades but also many of them civilian allied, like the many members of the London Independent, especially those that will later be known as the Levellers.


Despite all of this, the Presbyterians went ahead and committed their worst mistake, fixing a date for the disbandment of the New Model Army. To soften the heavy blow, Parliament finally adhered to the demand of releasing Colonel Robert Lilburne, his officers, the Ensign Nicholls, and reluctantly, John “Free-born John” Lilburn and Richard Overton[1], one of the three leaders of the Levellers Movement. However, the soldiers, seeing how much of their demand to redress their grievance is still left unfulfilled or only enforced half-heartedly by the hostile Parliament, decided to flat out refuse to disband. And soon they called on the high officers of the Army like Fairfax, Cromwell, and Ireton, during the Army General Council to call on a rendezvous of the army to once and for all face again the Presbyterians and to impeach “The Eleven Members," the hated Denzil Holles and his colleagues.

As black clouds were gathering over England's sky again, the words of Sir Jacob Astley, one of the last field commanders of the Royalist army during the final months of the war in 1646, who, when surrendering his army to the Parliamentarian forces, offered his captor a piece of advice that would foreshadow what would unfold in 1647 and 1648:


“You have done good work, boys, and may go and play until you all fall out amongst each other."





*******
The Whalebone
London, May 1647


“For Freeborn John and Dicky, Cheer! “

“Cheer!”

Many of the London Independents gather as the Whalebone to celebrate a special event, most of them are usual here, although there are two special guests today that are not one of them for today. John Lilburne and Richard Overton are finally free from the Tower. Once again the two are free citizens of England much to the dismay of the radical Presbyterians in Parliament.

“i can’t stated how grateful i am for all o' thee support“ John Lilburne finally speak up “but while me and Richard are now free, our poor friend like Thomas Prince and many more is not, we still have much to do.”


“You don’t have to worry much Mr. Lilburne”
one of the special guest reassures Lilburne “we shall make them all freemans anon.”


“Thank you Lit.Colonel Stoughton[2] and you as well Colonel Rainsborowe, I pray you also send mine own regard to those gallant man in the army.”

“I will Mr. Lilburne“
Thomas Rainsborowe hesitant before he continue “but it also our duty to free you, for your works is instrumental in awaken many o' the man minds to their freedom and liberty”


“I just doing mine own part as a freeborn Englishman sir, and for your offers”
Lilburne low down his voice, he know for sure that there might be some Presbyterian rats in here “we have all make up our mind to support your noble cause”


“Thank you Mr. Lilburne” the colonel whisper “we shall inform you o' where the rendezvous be”

“We all looking forward to that”


***

[1] Our first major PoD. In OTL Richard Overton and John Lilburne will stay in the Tower till November.
[2] Lieutenant Colonel Israel Stoughton, A New England Returnee who serve in Thomas Rainsborowe's regiment during the first English civil war, he die OTL in 1644. I have some plan for him in this TL https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israel_Stoughton
 
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This is a fascinating and fractious part of English history, looking forward to more of this from you.
It truly are and it such criminally underrated. So far I only see like 3 abandoned timeline. Though there is The Bloody Man by EdT that is super good but it never finished either.
 
Chapter II : And thing fall out
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Chapter II : And thing fall out


“he shew of their countenance doth witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not. Woe unto their soul! for they have rewarded evil unto themselves.”

Isaiah 3:9


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(Taken from “The British Revolution: A People History” by Edward Pride, The Levellers Publisher, 1993)

“Men of Colonel Thomas Rainborowe’s is one of the first to take action in the series of soldier’s mutiny. On May 28, instead of continuing their order of marching to Portsmouth to join in the operation to recapture the last royalist stronghold in Jersey, they drove off their officers and took command of the regiment for themselves and the Agitators. They turned back and marched to secure the artillery train at Oxford for the army. And who would know better the importance of artillery than the regiment of renowned siege master Thomas Rainsborowe and his experienced soldiers? Rainsborowe received orders from Parliament to bring his troops back under control after he was found to be absent from his regiment. He reached his regiment at Abingdon on May 30 and managed to get them to halt their progress on the promise that the army would take care to preserve their control of the artillery. Later on, he would send a highly colored account of the mutiny and his success in quelling it. Like his contemporaries, many today have started to question if he is the one who orchestrated this from the beginning; he was, after all, still in touch with the agitators in the regiment up to May 28, according to the letters of the agitators. This may be indeed just a plan to secure the train of artillery for the army for the coming fight against the Presbyterians.

Between the day of Rainborowe’s mutiny and before he caught up with them, Fairfax and his council of war, succumbing to the pressure of the Agitator and the ranks and files, ordered a general rendezvous at Newmarket. As for Fairfax's foot regiment, nothing would induce them to march into Chelmsford, where the Parliamentary Commissioners planned to disband them; they would, however, march with its colors, drums, and baggage trains toward Newmarket, where quarters have been assigned to it while the army assembled for the general rendezvous. On the second day of their march, the commissioner tried to halt them by sending down Presbyterian Lieutenant Colonel Jackson and Major Goody. However, when the Presbyterian officers caught up to the man, they were met with the cries, “There comes our Enemies”. The officer demanded to know where they were marching; they told them they had “received orders from the Agitators”. And when they tried to read out the details of Parliament’s concessions, one of the men called out, “What do you, bringing your two-penny pamphlets to us?” With Captain Francis White, whom the men always look to as a friend, as the officer in command, the regiment marched on to Newmarket.

Events had now reached a crisis point. The Presbyterians, realizing that the New Model will not go down without a fight, have now targeted the important artillery train at Oxford for their use—or, should we say, “parliamentary interest”? On May 31, they ordered a party of dragoons, which escorted the money destined to pay off Colonel Ingoldsby’s foot quarters in Oxford, to bring back the siege train by road and river back to the Tower. On June 2, the dragoons were ambushed in front of All Souls College. They were driven back with some casualties and the loss of the gold. It was the men of Rainsborowe who did the fighting under the command of Cornet Joyce on behalf of the Agitator. However, Ingoldsby’s foot, as radical as their counterpart in Rainsborowe’s regiment, would not disband and would, together with Rainsborowe’s men, guard the artillery train for the army.



And then the Army did the unthinkable.

On the morning of Thursday, June 3, 1647, Joyce and 500 troopers arrived at Holdenby House, where the King was held. They occupied it, and the king’s guard and the Scottish commissioner fled soon after. Afraid that larger forces would be sent from Parliament to recapture the king, Joyce raised the King at night and got him to agree that he would go with the army under the promise that he would not be harmed, that he was not forced to do anything against his conscience, and that his servants were allowed to come with him. It was at six in the following morning that the King, his servants, Cornet Joyce, and his 500 troopers headed toward Newmarket.




(Taken from “Thomas Rainborowe: The Leveller General” by Edward Overton, The Overton’s Press, 1982.)



On June 4, the general rendezvous of the army began at Kentford Heath, near Newmarket. Throughout the two days there, Fairfax was presented with two remarkable documents. The first is “A Humble Representation of the Dissatisfactions of the Army." It lists at length the soldier’s grievances, and prominent among these was the right to petition. The second and shorter document, "A Solemn Engagement of the Army," also reiterated army grievances but also initiated the setting up of the Council of the Army, a body composed of senior officers plus two commissioned officers and two private soldiers delegated from each regiment. With this setup, the Agitator has created a body in which they jointly debate the actions of the army with its senior commanders. At another general rendezvous at Triploe Heath near Cambridge, the Council of the Army rejected Parliament’s latest offer. On June 16, the army demanded the impeachment of the “Eleven Members," the eleven MPs, that the army considers the leaders of the Presbyterian operation. The Council followed this on June 23. The army issued its famous statement on June 4 to voice its voice in the settlement of the kingdom:

“that we are not a mere mercenary Army hired to serve any Arbitrary power of a State, but called forth and conjured by the several Declarations of Parliament to the defense of our own and the people’s just Rights and Liberties, and so we took up Arms in judgment and conscience to those ends, and have so continued in them, and are resolved according to your first just desires in your Declarations, and such principles as we have received from your frequent information, and our common sense concerning those our fundamental rights and liberties, to assert and vindicate the just power and rights of this Kingdom in Parliament for those common ends premised against all arbitrary power, violence, and oppression, and all particular parties or interests whatsoever.”

Meanwhile, the army was advancing ever closer to London. Moving to Royston and St. Albans and reaching Uxbridge on June 25, twenty miles from London.

The people of London responded to “A Solemn Engagement of the Army” with their own “A Solemn Engagement of the Citizens of London,” and Parliament tried to mobilize an armed force as the Trained Band, but only the Westminster force turned out in any number, they force to call up volunteer from the apprentices of London and the reformadoes (officers deprived of command by the reorganization or disbandment of his troops but retaining rank after the formation of the New Model in 1645). London was still divided due to significant army supporters mainly the London Independents and the Levellers, who clashed with Presbyterians on the streets and printed anti-Parliament tract. In the meantime, Thomas Rainsborowe and his regiment occupied the strategic and important Windsor Castle. Fairfax also called on reinforcements from Lincolnshire. The army is now waiting for the imminent advance on the city itself. The Presbyterians start to waver in their defiance of the army, and the Eleven Members are persuaded to withdraw from the Commons by talking about paying the army’s arrears. To show the army's willingness to talk, Fairfax retreated to Reading to convey another Council of the Army, bringing the King with them. The Agitators argue for an immediate march on London; however, senior commanders like Cromwell shot down the idea. Thomas, unhappy with the fact they are talking instead of acting, expressed bluntly his frustration with the whole proceedings: “For my part, I shall be weary of the meeting”.


A week later, Thomas was still talking, but this time with the King himself. He and three other army officers spent several hours trying to persuade Charles to accept a series of outline propositions offered as a basis for peace by the army, independent of Parliament. While the points are regarded as less severe compared to the future “Heads of Proposals," they mainly focus on religious tolerance, curbing the power of bishops, a reorganization of parliament, parliamentary control over government and army appointments for the next 10 years, and the exclusion of royalists from office for the same period (later reduced to 5 years). Charles rejected them all and left a remark that appalled Thomas: “You cannot be without me; you will fall to ruin if I do not sustain you” and turned in secret to the Scots for support.

On July 24, under pressure from the army, the two Houses of Parliament denounced the "Solemn engagement of the citizens of London." Two days later, a crowd burst into Westminster and harassed both the Lords and Commons into retracting their denunciations. After the incidents, Speaker of the Commons William Lenthall, Speaker of the Lords, the Earl of Manchester, and fifty-six peers and MP fearing another violence mob will gather the following day, escape London and join the Army in Reading . The remaining MPs and Lord reinvited the Eleven Member, ordered Fairfax to keep the army from London at least thirty miles, and called on the Trained Band and Londoners to prepare a defense of the city. Fairfax responded by ordering the Army to start marching on London.

August 3, Citizens south of the Thames in Southwark worry about the undisciplined reformadores who are on the verge of plundering the city instead of defending it and whose sympathy always lies with the Army. Call on Fairfax for help. At two o’clock on Wednesday morning, Thomas Rainborowe occupied Southwark with a brigade of infantry small artillery trains and support from two cavalry regiments, taking the fortifications of London Bridge without firing a shot. “Their civil department”, reported one contemporary “has gained the general appliance affection of the people, even to admirations.” That’s no surprise; he was raised in Wapping, a mere stone's throw from Southwark. The people sleeping in their beds, the sentry of the bridges, are his neighbors. People whom he grew up with.

Later that day, the city surrendered, and the army marched into London. While many senior commanders of the army are content with this victory and now take a cautionary approach to agreement with the King, Thomas has different ideas. His recent experience with the king has further pushed him into the path of radicalization. With the Agitators in the Army, he wished to assert the newfound power of the Army to conduct a peace that would be in favor of the freeborn people of England. During a meeting about the new deal that the Army was giving the King, The Heads of Proposals when concern was raised if Parliament would accept the deal, Thomas spoke out: "If they will not agree, we will make them."

On August 16 and 20, Denzil Holles and five other of the Eleven Members fled abroad to escape the Army's wrath. The ever anti-army Presbyterian vice-admiral and commander at sea, William Batten,
assisted them. When the incident was discovered, The Independents decided he had to go.


Thomas Rainborowe is the obvious man to replace him. He was the only senior army commander with naval experience. However, many members of the Independents and a faction of army seniors, including Cromwell and Sir Henry Vane, the treasurer of the navy, were wary of his popularity in the Army, his increasing radicalism, and the connection with the Agitators and the Levellers. A man like that is too dangerous to put into a position so influential in the Navy. On Thomas' side, he has a desire to take the post for himself, a combination of continuing the proud legacy of his family, but also furthering the cause of the radicals in the navy. However, after many talks with his associates, Israel Stoughton firmly believed that his enemies would never allow him to retain control of his regiment while also holding such a high post in the Navy and information that the sailor utterly detested the idea of him being their Vice-Admiral, he finally withdraws his request for the post. Richard Deane, another former sailor like Thomas, was given the post as a more moderate option for the Navy. [1]


Now Thomas and his allies' eyes are focused on the General Council of the Army on 28 October convening at Putney Church, where Fairfax has summoned the army to debate about an agreement with the king through the “Heads of Proposals”. The history of the English Revolution will be decided at this meeting.

***

[1] In OTL, Thomas Rainnborowe went to great lengths to get the job. Even get into a heated shouting match with Cromwell. He would get his vice-admiral post, but it comes at a significant cost that he loses his command of his regiment to Richard Deane and he only got to command a ship at the start of the Second English Civil War.
 
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Roundheads? Giving Sermons? Well now I’ve seen everything.
Not really
There an online version of both the Putney Debate and the Whitehall debate
If you want to give it a read yourself
 
Not really
There an online version of both the Putney Debate and the Whitehall debate
If you want to give it a read yourself
No I know, but long speeches can also be called sermons even if they aren't strictly.
 
No I know, but long speeches can also be called sermons even if they aren't strictly.
True
I hope I can make these speech interesting in the next chapter
It good that the transcript of the whitehall debate exist since it have Lilburne and other Levellers. The contents of both debates usually center on the same issues so it good
 
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Fascinating timeline!

Charles I is not going to agree to anything here - the NMA are going to have to get rid of him. Are the Royal children secure?

I am not sure even given OTL that a Republic/Commonwealth is going to last given what Cromwell had to do to rule. Guess we will see where you take us.
 
Fascinating timeline!

Charles I is not going to agree to anything here - the NMA are going to have to get rid of him. Are the Royal children secure?

I am not sure even given OTL that a Republic/Commonwealth is going to last given what Cromwell had to do to rule. Guess we will see where you take us.
Charles I gonna get out of the picture in one way or other. But a bit of hints.
he won't go out a martyr and more like an unlucky soul
 
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