Between 1642 and 1651, Charles I and Parliamentary forces fought for control over England, Scotland, and Ireland. The Parliamentary forces won and established the Commonwealth of England. During this period—from the end of the war to the Restoration—what did they call the war that had just ended?

Today, we call it the "English Civil War" or, occasionally, the "War of the Three Kingdoms", but these both strike me as names that would be favored by the royalist side. A quick search on Ngram shows that "civil war", "rebellion", and to a lesser extent "revolution" appeared often in books during the conflict, but all of them dropped off as soon as it was won.

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    During the trial of King Charles I, the conflict was simply referred to as "these late wars" Commented Aug 20, 2017 at 0:31
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    By whom? New Model Army had their perspective, so did the others.
    – J Asia
    Commented Aug 20, 2017 at 6:32
  • @JAsia I suppose I'm most interested in the Roundheads, but if different people had different names, that would be interesting too! Commented Aug 20, 2017 at 9:15
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    I'm going to coin a new law - For any given war, Generals will fight the last war, and their opponents will name the last war in order to criticize the generals. As a general rule, there is no need to name the war you're currently in - it is the war you're fighting. Also, until the war is over, it isn't clear whether it is a civil war, a revolution or a rebellion. (Yes, you could argue that the war was over during the Protectorate, but I think that if a contemporary person referred to "the war" any contemporary would have understood without the need for modification.
    – MCW
    Commented Aug 20, 2017 at 17:36
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    Lol, quite so ... it's just war. Could have saved me the attempted answer if you had posted it a few minutes earlier.
    – J Asia
    Commented Aug 20, 2017 at 17:50

1 Answer 1


The Roundheads had various names but in general did recognise it as a civil war, more precisely, "civil warre" or "seven yeares’ warre".

On Civil War, in a letter from General George Monck to Major-General John Lambert:

I desire your Lordshippe to consider seriously the sad consequences of a civill warre, least you involve your self too farre in itt, that wee that have drawne our swordes together in defence of our countrie’s peace and safety may nott sheath them in one another’s bowells.

On Seven-Year War, by the English Puritan clergyman, Thomas Edwards, in Gangraena, 1946, p.352 - (I know you mentioned during period of Protectorate):

Both the power of the Kinge and Lords,” argued another, “was ever a branch of tyranny, and if ever a people shall free themselves from tyranny certainly itt is after seven yeares’ warre and fighting for their liberty.

Finally, as for your concern that these were "names that would be favored by the royalist side", the following has interpretations of the Civil War that you might find useful:


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