Why did the English Civil War have little long-term effect on English government? Why, in contrast, was the revolution of 1688 successful?
The English Civil War was a series of conflicts between the Royalists, who supported an absolute monarchy, and the Parliamentarians, who supported Parliament. The war, which lasted from 1642 to 1651, resulted in victory by the Parliamentarians and the execution of King Charles I. However, the Parliamentarian victory had little long-term impact on England because the resulting governmental structures were temporary. The Commonwealth, which ruled from the end of the war to 1660 and made minor reforms, was forcibly dissolved by the institution of the Protectorate. The Protectorate, led by Oliver Cromwell, gave more power to a leader than the Commonwealth had, causing concern that England was moving back to a monarchist system. These concerns were amplified upon Cromwell's death, when his position was immediately assumed by his son, Richard Cromwell. The Commonwealth assumed power again for a year in 1959, but with the 1660 Restoration the British government was quickly restored to a monarchy. Because the monarchy returned within a decade of its dissolution, the impact of the English Civil War was short-term and limited.
The 1688 Revolution had a much greater impact on the structure of England's government. This revolution overthrew King James II and resulted in the creation of a Bill of Rights, which legally promised the end of absolute monarchy. The Bill of Rights allowed for the existence of the monarchy, but greatly curtailed the powers of the monarch relative to Parliament. The impact of this revolution was lasting, as it permanently curtailed the power of monarchs and gave legislative power to Parliament. It resolved centuries of conflict between the relative powers of the Parliament and the crown, where the English Civil War only caused the two to rapidly alternate leadership before ultimately returning to a monarchic system.