The Third Civil War

Charles II attempts to regain the throne of the Three Kingdoms

After the execution of King Charles the First in January 1649, England was declared a republican Commonwealth governed by Parliament and the Council of State. However, the King's son Charles Stuart was proclaimed King in Scotland and plotted to regain the throne of England. The English Royalists had been crushed in the Second Civil War and several of their leaders executed. Charles received a certain amount of encouragement from European powers, but no practical help. His only hopes lay in mounting an invasion of England either from Ireland or from Scotland.

In the summer of 1649, the Commonwealth sent an army to Ireland under the command of Oliver Cromwell, who succeeded in defeating the Royalists and subjugating the Irish. With no hope of help from Ireland, Charles agreed to impose Presbyterianism in England in exchange for a Scottish army, signing the Treaty of Breda with Covenanter leaders in 1650. The Council of State decided to mount a pre-emptive invasion of Scotland. When General Fairfax refused to lead the army against Scotland, Cromwell was appointed commander-in-chief in his place.

Cromwell defeated the Covenanter army at the battle of Dunbar in 1650. When Cromwell marched north into Fife, Charles invaded England with a Scots-Royalist army. Cromwell pursued from the north and gathered an overwhelming force to defeat Charles at the battle of Worcester in September 1651. Cromwell's victory at Worcester ended the British Civil Wars on the mainland. By March 1652, the Commonwealth navy had subdued all outlying colonial outposts held by the Royalists. The Stuarts were excluded from power until the Restoration in 1660.

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