Over the past fifty or sixty years, interpretations of the English Civil War, which have always been controversial, have become so in a new sense. Previously the disputes were about the rights and wrongs of the war. Now they are about the causes of its outbreak and course. Historians are expected to have, not a preference for one side, but an analytical line.
The lines, which have had their debts to intellectual fashion, have often changed. Half a century ago the war was perceived as a class war, in which an ailing feudal order succumbed to an emerging bourgeois one, or else in which prosperous landowners did battle with declining ones. Next came