How did the English Civil War affect families?
The English Civil War raged on for approximately nine years (1642-1651) in England between Royalists and Parliamentarians. The two groups fought for control of the government with the Royalists supporting, first King Charles I and later Charles II. The Parliamentarians, on the other hand, supported the Long Parliament and later the Rump Parliament. The Parliamentarians emerged victorious in the conflict.
The royal family was affected by the execution of Charles I and the subsequent exile of his son, Charles II. In some instances, members of the general public attempted to protest for or against the war, but these attempts ended in injury, death, and arrests of the participants. As is true of all armed conflicts, the English Civil War claimed many lives. Women were left to manage meager resources as their husbands fought in the war with many not going back. Famines and plagues also affected both soldiers and their families, which increased the number of deaths and casualties. Some of the surviving Royalists and their supporters were also exiled.
Like any war, the English Civil War affected families by the deaths of thousands of young men who were husbands, fathers, and sons. In those areas particularly hard-hit by the conflict military forces destroyed property, requisitioned food, and pillaged homes, leading to considerable financial distress for common people. But the conflict had another dimension specific to civil wars, as it divided individual families. Many young gentry sided with the Parliamentarian faction against the wishes of their families, resulting in emotional and financial distress for a society still built on primogeniture. Several of Charles's closest advisors had children in the Parliamentary army, and even Oliver Cromwell's family was divided, as several members supported the king. This fact, along with the major religious ferment and economic strife of the period, made the Civil Wars even more divisive.