A sumptuous banquet was prepared in honour of King James I's visit to the city in 1617, but relations between the monarch and Coventry deteriorated later when protests were made against his request for a considerable contribution of "ship-money" in 1635. Consequently, when the English Civil War broke out between King Charles I and Parliament, Coventry became a stronghold of the Parliamentarian forces. On several occasions Coventry was attacked by Royalists, but each time they were unable to breach the city walls.
The King made an unsuccessful attempt to take the town in late-August 1642, appearing at the city gates with 6,000 horse troops, but was strongly beaten back by the Coventry garrison and townspeople. In 1645, the parliamentary garrison was under the command of Colonel Willoughbie, Colonel Boseville and Colonel Bridges with 156 officers and 1,120 soldiers. The garrison was supported by levies from surrounding villages; troops ranging across "several counties", imposing forced levies and taking horses and free quartering from villages in south-west Leicestershire.
The Church of St John the Baptist (photo 2007)Coventry was used to confine Royalist prisoners. It is believed that the phrase "sent to Coventry" (being treated coldly or ignored) grew out of the hostile attitude of residents of the city to either the troops billeted there, or towards the Scottish Royalist prisoners held in the Church of St. John the Baptist following the Battle of Preston.
In 1662, after the restoration of the monarchy, in revenge for the support Coventry gave to the Parliamentarians during the Civil War, the city walls were demolished on the orders of King Charles II and now only a few short sections and two city gatehouses remain. When his son, King James II visited the city in 1687, he received a magnificent reception in an outward show of loyalty to the Crown, but within two years most of the same people were celebrating the coming of William of Orange.