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The Bishops’ Wars

1639-1640. The two confrontations between Charles I* and the Scottish Covenanters* caused by the king's determination to force a full-fledged episcopacy upon their country. The first phase, which produced little fighting, ended with the disbandment of the army the Scots had raised, on Charles's undertaking to call a general assembly (with the bishops excluded) in August 1639, followed by a parliament that would ratify acts passed by the assembly. Charles was, however, playing for time in the hope that the English Parliament would finance a second attempt to subdue the Scots, and he continually prorogued the Scottish parliament. The exasperated Scots met in defiance of him, abolished episcopacy (June 1640), defeated the king's army at Newburn, and occupied Newcastle and Durham. The English “Long Parliament,” called by Charles in desperation (November 1640), was friendly to the Scots and took advantage of the king's dilemma to limit powers he had claimed and exercised in England. This was the beginning of the king's downfall, climaxed by his execution in 1649.

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