Today in one of my classes, we had a spirited debate on if the English Civil War was or was not revolutionary. While some saw it as Parliament asserting its right as an institution, I was a little more skeptical in the debate.
The motivation was not to create a new government, it was simply to depose a king. As one of my classmates said — and I paraphrase — the English Civil War was really a “coup.” However, there are multiple reasons why I didn’t see the Civil War as a revolution. Socially, while the lower sorts of people did gain ground, the vast majority of the English people were unaffected by the
Civil War. Politically, though the monarchy was for a time overthrown, Cromwell (who was the head of the Commonwealth) still ruled like a monarch — plus the same old ruling aristocracy was still in command with a few exceptions (though England had exceptions in the past, such as Cardinal Wolsey). Plus eventually the Parliament returned to monarchy, realizing that its legitimacy rested in the hands of a monarch. Economically, except for some new trade routes, the economy still continued under its mercantile ways, using the colonies for wealth that were already there. Religiously, radical groups were put down and the Via Media middle ground was still secure.
Obviously these are very abstract points, but I just wanted to reveal a bit of my thoughts. Certainly I am in the minority on this issue, but hey sometimes you have to walk the reckless road alone.