Charles I, king of England

Thomas Wentworth
Edward Hyde
George Digby
George Villiers

English Civil Wars (1642–51)
The first English Civil War (1642–46)
Siege of Reading (4 November 1642 to 25 April 1643)
Battle of Chalgrove (18 June 1643)
Storming of Bristol (26 July 1643)
Siege of Gloucester (3 August and 5 September 1643)
First Battle of Newbury (20 September 1643)
Battle of Nantwich (25 January 1644)
Second Battle of Newbury (27 October, 1644)
Siege of Newcastle

Second and third English Civil Wars (1648–51)
Bishops’ Wars
Alexander Henderson
Alexander Leslie
Battle of Edgehill (Oct. 23, 1642)
Rupert of the Rhine
Robert Devereux
Battle of Marston Moor (July 2, 1644)
Battle of Naseby (June 14, 1645)
Thomas Fairfax
Battle of Langport (10 July 1645)
Siege of Chester (February 1645 - January 1646)
Battle of Rowton Heath (24 September 1645)
Battle of Torrington (16 February 1646)
Battle of Stow-on-the-Wold (21 March 1646)
Sieges of Newark
Siege of Oxford
Battle of Maidstone (1 June 1648)

Siege of Colchester (12 June-28 August 1648)
Battle of Preston (1648)

Battle of Worcester (3 September 1651)

Oliver Cromwell

Charles I, king of England

Thomas Wentworth
Edward Hyde
George Digby
George Villiers

English Civil Wars (1642–51)

The first English Civil War (1642–46)

Siege of Reading (4 November 1642 to 25 April 1643)
Battle of Chalgrove (18 June 1643)
Storming of Bristol (26 July 1643)
Siege of Gloucester (3 August and 5 September 1643)
First Battle of Newbury (20 September 1643)
Battle of Nantwich (25 January 1644)
Second Battle of Newbury (27 October, 1644)
Siege of Newcastle

Second and third English Civil Wars (1648–51)


Bishops’ Wars
Alexander Henderson
Alexander Leslie
Battle of Edgehill (Oct. 23, 1642)
Rupert of the Rhine
Robert Devereux
Battle of Marston Moor (July 2, 1644)
Battle of Naseby (June 14, 1645)
Thomas Fairfax
Battle of Langport (10 July 1645)
Siege of Chester (February 1645 - January 1646)
Battle of Rowton Heath (24 September 1645)
Battle of Torrington (16 February 1646)
Battle of Stow-on-the-Wold (21 March 1646)
Sieges of Newark
Siege of Oxford
Battle of Maidstone (1 June 1648)

Siege of Colchester (12 June-28 August 1648)
Battle of Preston (1648)

Battle of Worcester (3 September 1651)

Thomas Wentworth

Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford, after Sir Anthony Van Dyck
Thomas Wentworth, 1st earl of Strafford, (born April 13, 1593, London—died May 12, 1641, London), leading adviser of England’s King Charles I. His attempt to consolidate the sovereign power of the king led to his impeachment and execution by Parliament.

Early life and career
Wentworth was the eldest surviving son of Sir William Wentworth, a Yorkshire landowner. Educated at St. John’s College, Cambridge, and at the Inner Temple, he was knighted by James I in 1611. His marriage to Lady Margaret Clifford, daughter of the impoverished earl of Cumberland, established a link with an ancient and noble family still influential in the north.

Wentworth represented Yorkshire in the parliaments of 1614 and 1621 and Pontefract in 1624. His wife died childless (1622), and he married Arabella Holles, daughter of John, earl of Clare, a peer out of favour at court who brought Wentworth into touch with the critics of the King’s expensive and inefficient policy of war against Spain and, from 1627, against France. Along with other critics of the court he was prevented from sitting in the Parliament of 1626, and later in the year he refused to subscribe to the forced loan imposed to pay for the war, and was for some time under arrest. Despite his record of opposition to the King’s policy, Wentworth was approached by the crown—anxious to strengthen its position in the north—with the offer of a barony (1628). He was appointed lord president of the north (virtually governor of England north of the Humber) and in 1629 was given a seat on the Privy Council.

Wentworth’s return to the service of the court, coming so soon after his vehement opposition to it in Parliament, startled even some of his closest friends. His conduct was no doubt partly inspired by personal ambition, though he had logical reasons for his change of front since in the summer of 1628 the King gradually abandoned his war policy.

On the Privy Council Wentworth seems to have advocated the paternalist government that distinguished the early years of the King’s personal rule: closer supervision of justices of the peace and more effective implementation of the Poor Laws, of laws against enclosure, and of measures for dealing with famine, though he was not above privately making profit out of the corn shortage of 1631. As lord president of the north he quelled all defiance of his authority and made many enemies by his insistence on the honour due to him as the King’s representative, but his administration was on the whole just and efficient; he supervised the local justices and curbed the often tyrannous excesses of local magnates. In 1631 he was deeply distressed by the death of his much-loved wife, though he provoked scandalous rumours not long afterward by secretly marrying (October 1632) Elizabeth Rodes, the young daughter of a neighbouring squire.

Lord deputy of Ireland.

The King meanwhile had appointed him lord deputy of Ireland. Taking up his office in the summer of 1633, he immediately set himself to consolidate the royal authority, break the power of the dominant clique of “new English” landowners, extend English settlement, improve methods of agriculture, increase the productivity of the land, and stimulate industry and trade. His ultimate goal was to assimilate Irish law and customs to the English system and to make a prosperous Protestant Ireland into a source of revenue to the English crown.

Wentworth continued his effective and firm-handed administration of Ireland until 1639, when he was recalled to England by King Charles. The King needed advice and support in handling a Scottish revolt precipitated by an ill-conceived attempt to enforce episcopacy on the Scots. Wentworth was created earl of Strafford (1640) and was expected to resolve the crisis. But his policy of making war on Scotland proved disastrous for both himself and the King. The English Parliament, called especially to vote money for the war, proved recalcitrant, and Strafford, in command of the English army, failed to prevent the Scots from overrunning the northern counties. The King, unable to pay his own troops or to buy off the Scots, was compelled by joint English and Scottish action to call a new Parliament in November 1640.

Strafford was the chief target of attack from both nations. He was advised to leave the country, but the King relied on his help and assured him that he should not suffer in life or fortune. Detained by illness, he reached Westminster on November 10 with the intention of impeaching the King’s opponents in Parliament for treasonable correspondence with the Scots. The leader of the Commons, John Pym, acted first by impeaching Strafford before he could take his seat in the House of Lords.

His trial began in March 1641. The basic accusation was that of subverting the laws and was supported by a charge that he had offered to bring over the Irish army to subdue the King’s opponents in England. More detailed charges rested on his administration in Ireland and the north. He conducted his defense with great skill, and it looked at one point as though he might be acquitted. Pym therefore introduced a bill of attainder (i.e., a summary condemnation to death by special act of Parliament). The Commons passed it by a large majority; the Lords, intimidated by popular rioting, passed it, too, but by a much smaller majority.


While an angry mob surged around Whitehall, Strafford wrote to the King releasing him from his promise of protection, and Charles, afraid for the safety of the Queen, gave his consent to the bill. Strafford went to the scaffold on May 12, 1641, in the presence of an immense and jubilant crowd. In his last speech he once more professed his faith in “the joint and individual prosperity of the king and his people,” for which, in his view, he had always worked.
He remains an enigmatic figure in English history: ambitious, greedy for power and wealth, ruthless, and sometimes dishonest, but with a vision of benevolent authoritarian government and efficient administration to which he often gave persuasive expression. He made innumerable enemies, but his few close friends were deeply attached to him. In the last weeks of his life his dignity, eloquence, and loyalty to the King made a deep impression even on some of his enemies.

Dame C.V. Wedgwood

Encyclopædia Britannica

Edward Hyde

Edward Hyde, 1st earl of Clarendon
Edward Hyde, 1st earl of Clarendon, also called (1643–60) Sir Edward Hyde, or (1660–61) Baron Hyde of Hindon (born Feb. 18, 1609, Dinton, Wiltshire, Eng.—died Dec. 9, 1674, Rouen, Fr.), English statesman and historian, minister to Charles I and Charles II and author of the History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England.

Early life and career.

Edward Hyde was the eldest surviving son of Henry Hyde of Dinton, Wiltshire. He was educated at Magdalen Hall, Oxford, and was trained in the law in London’s Middle Temple. His first wife, Anne Ayliffe, died in 1632, within six months of their marriage. Two years later he married Frances, daughter of Sir Thomas Aylesbury, who held a high legal office and through whom he was able to pursue a successful career at the bar and become keeper of the writs and rolls of common pleas. He also established himself in literary and philosophical circles and counted the dramatist Ben Jonson, the jurist and scholar John Selden, and the statesman Lord Falkland among his friends.

In 1640 he was drawn into politics as a member in the Short Parliament (April–May 1640), called to finance Charles I’s war against Scotland, and in the Long Parliament, which opposed Charles during the Civil War. Emerging as a critic of Ship Money (a tax levied for defense) and other new policies of the crown, he joined the attack on the misuse of the royal prerogative and helped to abolish oppressive courts and commissions. But he resisted measures that might permanently damage the balanced relations among king, House of Lords, and the Commons and opposed efforts to dictate the king’s choice of ministers. From the first, he championed the Anglican establishment, for which he was commended by Charles I. It was as a Parliamentarian, however, that he opposed the execution of the earl of Strafford, one of the king’s chief advisers, and resisted the Root and Branch Bill, which would have abolished the episcopacy.

With the Commons’ adoption of the Grand Remonstrance of November 1641, which demanded a voice for Parliament in the appointment of the king’s ministers and in the reform of the church, accommodation between Charles I and Parliament became more difficult. Henceforth, Hyde chose to work behind the scenes as an adviser of the crown. He recommended moderate measures, which if consistently pursued might have undermined support for John Pym’s radical leadership in the Commons. But Charles’s attempt to seize five members of Parliament in January 1642 brought Hyde nearly to despair. After that, although civil war was not yet inevitable, few men were able to trust the king. For a while, Hyde’s constructive moderation prevailed.

Joining the king at York about the end of May 1642, Hyde was proscribed by Parliament as an “evil counselor.” Though he became a member of the Royalist council of war, Hyde was never a combatant in the ensuing conflict. From 1643, as a privy councillor and as chancellor of the Exchequer, he tried to moderate the influence of the military leaders. He advised Charles to summon a parliament at Oxford in December 1643. Its success was limited, however, and a year later Hyde agreed to recognize Westminster’s claim to be the true Parliament. In January 1645 he vainly tried to temper parliamentary demands for control of the militia and for a presbyterian type of church government. By then there was little room left for Hyde’s scrupulous constitutionalism, and his appointment as guardian to the prince of Wales was a convenient means of disposing of him.

Hyde left Charles I in March 1645 and accompanied the prince to the island of Jersey in April 1646. Later, the queen ordered the prince to move to Paris, a step that he had advised against. Unable to influence events, Hyde began a draft of his History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England in the hope that his interpretation of recent errors might instruct the king for the future.

Although he rejoined the queen and prince in Paris in 1648, Hyde remained a powerless spectator of Charles I’s last efforts to save his throne and his life. He was no less helpless in seeking to guide the new king. Disapproving strongly of Charles II’s policies, he was glad to escape from the quarrelsome court by accompanying a mission to Madrid, one, however, that proved unsuccessful in securing assistance from Spain.

Lord chancellor.

After Charles II’s escape to France from his unsuccessful invasion of England in the fall of 1651, Hyde rejoined him in Paris and followed him to Cologne in 1654 and Bruges in 1656. His object was to keep Charles from renouncing his Anglican faith, a step that would prejudice reconciliation with his subjects. Although he encouraged internal opposition to Oliver Cromwell, who as lord protector had by then become de facto ruler of England, Hyde held out against schemes for reconquest that would simply reunite the republican factions. Meanwhile, he closely followed events in England. After Cromwell’s death in 1658, the overtures of the Presbyterians for a restoration of the monarchy were received. Hyde, who was appointed lord chancellor that same year, answered them. The Declaration of Breda (1660) embodied Hyde’s belief that only a free parliament, matching the king’s intentions with its own good will, could bring about a reconciliation. The final settlement, however, diverged from his own plans in several respects.
As lord chancellor, Hyde pressed for a generous Act of Oblivion, which spared most republicans from royalist vengeance, and for speedy provision of royal revenue. He hastened the disbanding of the army and strove to create a spirit of accommodation among religious leaders. He was not successful, however; the Parliament elected in 1661 at the height of the reaction initiated statutory persecution of Nonconformists far exceeding anything desired by the easygoing Charles II or even by the impeccably Anglican lord chancellor.

Although he denied being a “premier minister,” Hyde, who was created earl of Clarendon in 1661, dominated most aspects of the administration. By the marriage of his daughter Anne to James, duke of York, in 1660 he became related to the royal family and, ultimately, grandfather to two English sovereigns, Queen Mary II and Queen Anne. But he took little pleasure in his distinctions, knowing himself to be hated by those impoverished royalists for whom the Restoration had brought little reward. Clarendon also was held responsible for unpopular decisions, such as the sale of Dunkirk to France. The Anglo-Dutch War of 1665, which he had opposed, proved his final downfall.

Fall from power.

There were personal factors in his disgrace. Never a man to suffer fools gladly, his temper was shortened by attacks of gout that also incapacitated him for business. When he became openly critical of the king’s immorality, the old friendship between them disappeared, and Clarendon became the butt of a young and frivolous court. The death of allies left him exposed, and Parliament was determined to find in him the scapegoat for the disasters of the war. Thus, in August 1667 Clarendon was dismissed from the chancellorship, and in October the House of Commons began his impeachment. The charges lacked foundation, and the House of Lords refused to accept them; but by November, under threat of trial by a special court, Clarendon was forced to flee.

For the rest of his life, Clarendon remained an exile in France, cut off by an act of banishment that made correspondence with him treasonable. Determined to vindicate himself, he began writing an autobiography that narrated his political life from the 1630s to the 1660s. It lacked documentation, but in 1671 his son Lawrence, later earl of Rochester, was allowed to visit him, bringing manuscripts that included the unfinished History of the 1640s. This Clarendon then completed, inserting into it sections of the recently written autobiography. Consequently, the accuracy of the finished History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England varies considerably according to the date of its composition. The deficiencies of the History and the Life, which was later published from the remaining fragments of autobiography, do not always derive from inadequate documentation. For all his judicious moderation and the magisterial dignity of his prose, Clarendon was not a particularly objective historian. His accounts of opponents are often unfair, and his analysis of events in which he participated diverges from the judgments guiding him at the time. They are the inevitable blemishes of a work of vindication written in the bitterness of exile. He was buried in Westminster Abbey a month after his death.

Encyclopædia Britannica

George Digby

Portrait of George Digby, 2nd Earl of Bristol,
by Sir Anthony Van Dyck, c.1638–9
George Digby, 2nd earl of Bristol, (born before Feb. 22, 1611, Madrid—died May 20, 1676?, London), English Royalist, an impetuous and erratic statesman who had a checkered career as an adviser to kings Charles I (ruled 1625–49) and Charles II (ruled 1660–85).

The eldest son of John Digby, 1st earl of Bristol, he first became a royal adviser in 1641. In 1640 he was elected to the Long Parliament, and in January 1642 he urged the arrest of Charles I’s leading Parliamentary opponents; the House of Commons retaliated by impeaching him for alleged treasonable activities (February 1642).

Digby fled to the Continent but returned to England in time to fight in the opening battle of the Civil War (1642–51) between the Royalists and the Parliamentarians. He was made Charles I’s secretary of state in 1643, and in 1645 he became lieutenant general of the King’s army in the north. When he was defeated at Sherburn, Durham, in October 1645, the Parliamentarians captured his correspondence, which disclosed Charles I’s intrigues with foreign powers. Digby escaped to Ireland, then to France; while in France he inherited the earldom of Bristol (1653). Although in 1657 he became secretary of state in the government-in-exile maintained by King Charles II before his restoration, Bristol was forced to resign (1658) after he converted to Roman Catholicism.

Upon the restoration of King Charles II in 1660, Bristol returned to England. In 1663 he was expelled from court for bringing treason charges against the King’s chief minister, Edward Hyde, earl of Clarendon, but he was again admitted to royal favour upon Clarendon’s fall in 1667. Dorothea Townshend’s George Digby, Second Earl of Bristol was published in 1924.

Encyclopædia Britannica

George Villiers

The Duke of Buckingham, 1625, by Peter Paul Rubens
George Villiers, 1st duke of Buckingham, also called (1614–16) Sir George Villiers, or (1616–17) Baron Whaddon, Viscount Villiers, or (1617–18) earl of Buckingham, or (1618–23) marquess of Buckingham (born August 28, 1592, Brooksby, Leicestershire, England—died August 23, 1628, Portsmouth, Hampshire), royal favourite and statesman who virtually ruled England during the last years of King James I and the first years of the reign of Charles I. Buckingham was extremely unpopular, and the failure of his aggressive, erratic foreign policy increased the tensions that eventually exploded in the Civil War between the royalists and the parliamentarians.

George Villiers’s father was a knight and a sheriff in Leicestershire. Introduced to James I in August 1614, the charming, handsome Villiers soon replaced the Scottish favourite Robert Carr, earl of Somerset, in the king’s esteem. His relationship with James became sexual, and he retained the king’s passionate support to the end of the latter’s life. He became master of the horse in 1616, earl of Buckingham in 1617, and lord high admiral in 1619. By using his power both to elevate and to enrich his relatives, he alienated the upper classes from the crown.

Buckingham played his first major part in politics in 1623, when he and James’s son, Prince Charles (later King Charles I), visited Madrid to arrange a marriage between Charles and the daughter of the Spanish king. In attempting to conclude an alliance with Spain, Buckingham hoped to use Spanish influence to recover the Palatinate, an electorate of the Holy Roman Empire, for James’s son-in-law, Frederick V. But the arrogance of Buckingham—James had already created him a duke (May 18, 1623), the first known in England since the execution of the duke of Norfolk (1572)—contributed to the collapse of the marriage negotiations. He then returned to London and, with parliamentary backing, pressured James to go to war with Spain.

After Charles ascended the throne in March 1625, Buckingham’s leadership led to a series of disasters. The marriage he arranged between Charles and the French Roman Catholic princess Henrietta Maria failed to bring about an Anglo-French alliance, and it angered Parliament by raising the threat of a Catholic succession to the English throne. In addition, the vast naval and land expedition Buckingham sent against the Spanish port of Cádiz in October 1625 was so poorly organized and equipped that it disintegrated before it could storm the city. Hence, a bill to impeach the duke was introduced in Parliament in May 1626. In order to save him, Charles dissolved Parliament in June. Buckingham’s case was then tried before the royal Court of Star Chamber, where, to no one’s surprise, the charges were dismissed.

Meanwhile, England was drifting toward war with France. In June 1627 Buckingham personally took command of an 8,000-man force sent to relieve the port of La Rochelle, a Huguenot (French Protestant) stronghold under attack by French government troops. After a four-month campaign in which Buckingham showed bravery—and an ignorance of the arts of war—his shattered army was compelled to withdraw. The Parliament of 1628 tried to force Charles to dismiss the favourite, but the king was unflinchingly loyal to his friend. On August 17 Buckingham arrived at Portsmouth to organize another expedition to La Rochelle. Five days later he was stabbed to death by John Felton, a naval lieutenant who had served in his campaigns and who misguidedly believed that he was acting in defense of principles asserted in the House of Commons. The populace of London rejoiced at the news.

Encyclopædia Britannica


England during the Civil Wars.
English Civil Wars (1642–51)
English Civil Wars, also called Great Rebellion, (1642–51), fighting that took place in the British Isles between supporters of the monarchy of Charles I (and his son and successor, Charles II) and opposing groups in each of Charles’s kingdoms, including Parliamentarians in England, Covenanters in Scotland, and Confederates in Ireland. The civil wars are traditionally considered to have begun in England in August 1642, when Charles I raised an army against the wishes of Parliament, ostensibly to deal with a rebellion in Ireland. But the period of conflict actually began earlier in Scotland, with the Bishops’ Wars of 1639–40, and in Ireland, with the Ulster rebellion of 1641. Throughout the 1640s, war between king and Parliament ravaged England, but it also struck all of the kingdoms held by the House of Stuart—and, in addition to war between the various British and Irish dominions, there was civil war within each of the Stuart states. For this reason the English Civil Wars might more properly be called the British Civil Wars or the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. The wars finally ended in 1651 with the flight of Charles II to France and, with him, the hopes of the British monarchy.

Charles I with M. de St Antoine by Anthony van Dyck, 1633


Personal Rule and the seeds of rebellion (1629–40)
Compared to the chaos unleashed by the Thirty Years’ War (1618–48) on the European continent, the British Isles under Charles I enjoyed relative peace and economic prosperity during the 1630s. However, by the later 1630s, Charles’s regime had become unpopular across a broad front throughout his kingdoms. During the period of his so-called Personal Rule (1629–40), known by his enemies as the “Eleven Year Tyranny” because he had dissolved Parliament and ruled by decree, Charles had resorted to dubious fiscal expedients, most notably “ship money,” an annual levy for the reform of the navy that in 1635 was extended from English ports to inland towns. This inclusion of inland towns was construed as a new tax without parliamentary authorization. When combined with ecclesiastical reforms undertaken by Charles’s close adviser William Laud, the archbishop of Canterbury, and with the conspicuous role assumed in these reforms by Henrietta Maria, Charles’s Catholic queen, and her courtiers, many in England became alarmed. Nevertheless, despite grumblings, there is little doubt that had Charles managed to rule his other dominions as he controlled England, his peaceful reign might have been extended indefinitely. Scotland and Ireland proved his undoing.

In 1633 Thomas Wentworth became lord deputy of Ireland and set out to govern that country without regard for any interest but that of the crown. His thorough policies aimed to make Ireland financially self-sufficient; to enforce religious conformity with the Church of England as defined by Laud, Wentworth’s close friend and ally; to “civilize” the Irish; and to extend royal control throughout Ireland by establishing British plantations and challenging Irish titles to land. Wentworth’s actions alienated both the Protestant and the Catholic ruling elites in Ireland. In much the same way, Charles’s willingness to tamper with Scottish land titles unnerved landowners there. However, it was Charles’s attempt in 1637 to introduce a modified version of the English Book of Common Prayer that provoked a wave of riots in Scotland, beginning at the Church of St. Giles in Edinburgh. A National Covenant calling for immediate withdrawal of the prayer book was speedily drawn up on Feb. 28, 1638. Despite its moderate tone and conservative format, the National Covenant was a radical manifesto against the Personal Rule of Charles I that justified a revolt against the interfering sovereign.

The Bishops’ Wars and the return of Parliament (1640–42)

The turn of events in Scotland horrified Charles, who determined to bring the rebellious Scots to heel. However, the Covenanters, as the Scottish rebels became known, quickly overwhelmed the poorly trained English army, forcing the king to sign a peace treaty at Berwick (June 18, 1639). Though the Covenanters had won the first Bishops’ War, Charles refused to concede victory and called an English parliament, seeing it as the only way to raise money quickly. Parliament assembled in April 1640, but it lasted only three weeks (and hence became known as the Short Parliament). The House of Commons was willing to vote the huge sums that the king needed to finance his war against the Scots, but not until their grievances—some dating back more than a decade—had been redressed. Furious, Charles precipitately dissolved the Short Parliament. As a result, it was an untrained, ill-armed, and poorly paid force that trailed north to fight the Scots in the second Bishops’ War. On Aug. 20, 1640, the Covenanters invaded England for the second time, and in a spectacular military campaign they took Newcastle following the Battle of Newburn (August 28). Demoralized and humiliated, the king had no alternative but to negotiate and, at the insistence of the Scots, to recall parliament.

A new parliament (the Long Parliament), which no one dreamed would sit for the next 20 years, assembled at Westminster on Nov. 3, 1640, and immediately called for the impeachment of Wentworth, who by now was the Earl of Strafford. The lengthy trial at Westminster, ending with Strafford’s execution on May 12, 1641, was orchestrated by Protestants and Catholics from Ireland, by Scottish Covenanters, and by the king’s English opponents, especially the leader of Commons, John Pym—effectively highlighting the importance of the connections between all the Stuart kingdoms at this critical junction.

To some extent, the removal of Strafford’s draconian hand facilitated the outbreak in October 1641 of the Ulster uprising in Ireland. This rebellion derived, on the one hand, from long-term social, religious, and economic causes (namely tenurial insecurity, economic instability, indebtedness, and a desire to have the Roman Catholic Church restored to its pre-Reformation position) and, on the other hand, from short-term political factors that triggered the outbreak of violence. Inevitably, bloodshed and unnecessary cruelty accompanied the insurrection, which quickly engulfed the island and took the form of a popular rising, pitting Catholic natives against Protestant newcomers. The extent of the “massacre” of Protestants was exaggerated, especially in England where the wildest rumours were readily believed. Perhaps 4,000 settlers lost their lives—a tragedy to be sure, but a far cry from the figure of 154,000 the Irish government suggested had been butchered. Much more common was the plundering and pillaging of Protestant property and the theft of livestock. These human and material losses were replicated on the Catholic side as the Protestants retaliated.

The Irish insurrection immediately precipitated a political crisis in England, as Charles and his Westminster Parliament argued over which of them should control the army to be raised to quell the Irish insurgents. Had Charles accepted the list of grievances presented to him by Parliament in the Grand Remonstrance of December 1641 and somehow reconciled their differences, the revolt in Ireland almost certainly would have been quashed with relative ease. Instead, Charles mobilized for war on his own, raising his standard at Nottingham in August 1642. The Wars of the Three Kingdoms had begun in earnest. This also marked the onset of the first English Civil War fought between forces loyal to Charles I and those who served Parliament. After a period of phony war late in 1642, the basic shape of the English Civil War was of Royalist advance in 1643 and then steady Parliamentarian attrition and expansion.

Charles Landseer Cromwell Battle of Naseby


The first English Civil War (1642–46)


Battles and Campaigns

1642: Powick Bridge, Edgehill, Brentford
1642: Civil War in the South-East
1642: Civil War in the South-West
1642: Civil War in Yorkshire

1643: Civil War in the South-West
1643: Civil War in Yorkshire
1643: Civil War in Lincolnshire
1643: Civil War in the Midlands
1643: The Welsh Border: Highnam & Ripple Field
1643: Siege of Reading & Chalgrove Field
1643: Lansdown Hill & Roundway Down
1643: The Sieges of Bristol & Gloucester
1643: First battle of Newbury
1643: Civil War in North Wales and the Marches
1643: Civil War in the South
1643-4: The Nantwich Campaign
1643-4: Civil War in Pembrokeshire

1644: Civil War in the North
1644: The relief of Newark
1644: The battle of Cheriton (Alresford)
1644: Oxford & Cropredy Bridge
1644: The York March and Marston Moor
1644: Mid-Wales & the battle of Montgomery
1644: The siege of Lyme, Lostwithiel
1644: The second battle of Newbury
1644-5: Montrose in Scotland
1644-5: Civil War in South Wales

1645: Leicester & the battle of Naseby
1645: The battle of Langport & fall of Bristol
1645: Siege of Chester & Rowton Heath
1645: The fall of Basing House

1646: Torrington & Stow-on-the-Wold
1646: The third siege of Newark

The first major battle fought on English soil—the Battle of Edgehill (October 1642)—quickly demonstrated that a clear advantage was enjoyed by neither the Royalists (also known as the Cavaliers) nor the Parliamentarians (also known as the Roundheads for their short-cropped hair, in contrast to the long hair and wigs associated with the Cavaliers). Although recruiting, equipping, and supplying their armies initially proved problematic for both sides, by the end of 1642 each had armies of between 60,000 and 70,000 men in the field. However, sieges and skirmishes—rather than pitched battles—dominated the military landscape in England during the first Civil War, as local garrisons, determined to destroy the economic basis of their opponents while preserving their own resources, scrambled for territory. Charles, with his headquarters in Oxford, enjoyed support in the north and west of England, in Wales, and (after 1643) in Ireland. Parliament controlled the much wealthier areas in the south and east of England together with most of the key ports and, critically, London, the financial capital of the kingdom. In order to win the war, Charles needed to capture London, and this was something that he consistently failed to do.


Siege of Reading (4 November 1642 to 25 April 1643)

The Siege of Reading refers to the English Civil War military campaign waged to besiege a Royalist garrison quartered in the town of Reading, Berkshire from 4 November 1642 to 25 April 1643.

In late October 1642, King Charles returned to Oxford from the indecisive Battle of Edgehill (23 October). On 4 November, he entered Reading from Oxford and later that month retired leaving a Royalist garrison, of 2,000 foot soldiers and a cavalry regiment, under Sir Arthur Aston.
The town and townspeople suffered many privations due to the demands of the garrison for money and lodging.
On 13 April 1643, the Earl of Essex at the head of a Parliamentary army of 16,000 men left Windsor and laid siege to Reading using cannon. Despite attempts by the King and Prince Rupert to lift the siege, the Royalist garrison surrendered on 26 and 27 April 1643.
Reading stayed a Parliamentary possession for the remainder of the Civil War, except for a single Royalist incursion.
Battle of Chalgrove (18 June 1643)

The Battle of Chalgrove was a small battle during the English Civil War in the county of Oxfordshire. It took place around 09:00 hours on the morning of 18 June 1643 in Chalgrove Field, northeast of Chalgrove in Oxfordshire. It was a minor Royalist victory and is notable for the mortal wounding of Parliamentarian Colonel John Hampden, who died six days later of his wounds.

Acting on information from Colonel John Hurry, who had recently defected from the Parliamentarians, Prince Rupert took 1,800 men on the night of 17 June on a raid to harass the Earl of Essex's army and attempt to capture his payroll of £21,000. On the morning of 18 June, Prince Rupert's force surprised and destroyed Parliamentarian garrisons at Postcombe and Chinnor. The pay convoy evaded Rupert, and Parliamentarian troops led by Sir Philip Stapleton and Colonel John Hampden pursued Rupert back towards Oxford. At Chalgrove, about 10 miles (16 km) southeast of the city, Rupert ordered his infantry ahead while his cavalry set an ambush.

The battle
The Parliamentarian horse closed quickly before the ambush could be set, leaving the two sides separated only by a large hedge. Leading the charge, Rupert

... set spurs to his horse, and first of all, in the very face of the [enemy], lept the hedge that parted [him] from the Rebells.

The Royalist troopers quickly followed and routed the Parliamentarians in the short, sharp engagement which followed. During this fight, John Hampden was mortally wounded in the shoulder (some sources claim by two carbine balls, others by shrapnel from his own pistol exploding).

John Hampden retired to Thame where he died six days later.

Poor Hampden is dead ... I have scarce strength to pronounce that word.

—Anthony Nicholl, M.P., on hearing the news.

Following Chalgrove, Colonel Hurry led another raid a week later which swept around Essex's army and plundered Wycombe. This led to sharp criticism of Essex in London, and he offered his resignation, which was refused.
Storming of Bristol (26 July 1643)

The Storming of Bristol took place on 26 July 1643, during the First English Civil War. The Cavalier (Royalist) army under Prince Rupert of the Rhine, King Charles's nephew and Lieutenant General, captured the important city and port of Bristol from its weakened Roundhead (Parliamentarian) garrison. The city remained under Royalist control until near the end of the war.

During the mid-17th century, Bristol had been one of the most important cities in England, second only to London in wealth. The Royalists had failed to secure it when the Civil War began, leaving it under Parliamentarian control although there were many Royalist sympathisers within the city. In July 1643, the city's garrison was weakened when several of its units were detached to reinforce a Parliamentarian field army under Sir William Waller. On 13 July, Waller's army was destroyed at the Battle of Roundway Down.
The Royalists quickly realised that this presented them with a great opportunity to capture important Parliamentarian-held towns in the south-west of England. Only two days after the battle, Prince Rupert marched from Oxford, the Royalists' wartime capital, with a large army. He also sent orders to the Royalist Western Army which had been victorious at Roundway Down, now under the command of his younger brother Prince Maurice, to march against Bristol from the south while he himself advanced on the city from the north.

The Parliamentarian defenders of Bristol were commanded by Colonel Nathaniel Fiennes. His garrison consisted of 300 cavalry and 1,500 infantry, plus some badly-armed town militia. The fortifications consisted of an inner line immediately surrounding the city and resting on the River Avon and River Frome, and an outer line about 500 yards outside the inner line. To the south and east the outer line was a continuous curtain wall and ditch on low-lying ground; to the north and west, it consisted of a chain of forts and batteries resting on the high ground overlooking the city, linked by a low earth wall. A total of 100 guns were distributed along the defences.

Map of the fortifications in 1644

Royalist plan

Rupert personally led a reconnaissance of the defences to the north of the city on 23 July. There were some clashes between Royalist parties left on Clifton Hill and Parliamentarian sorties. The Parliamentarians were beaten off.
The Royalists invested Bristol on the morning of 24 July. Rupert formally summoned the city to surrender, but the summons was refused. He then crossed the Avon to confer with Maurice and his officers. There was some dissension. Maurice, with his Cornish infantry faced the stronger defences south of Bristol and preferred to undertake a formal siege and bombardment. Rupert however, believed that the defences to the north were vulnerable to a storming attempt, given the weak state of the garrison. Eventually, Rupert prevailed, and the attack was planned to begin early on 26 July. The signal for the attack would be a salvo from a Royalist battery facing the Prior's Hill Fort at the northern point of the defences.

In the event, the attack was disjointed. The eager Cornish infantry attacked prematurely at 3 a.m., forcing Rupert to fire the signal to attack earlier than he intended.


The Cornish infantry attacked in three columns. They rolled carts and wagons into the ditch in front of the wall to fill it and allow them to cross. The ditch was too deep for this to succeed, but the Cornish used faggots and scaling ladders to continue the attack. They nevertheless suffered heavy casualties, all three attacking column commanders being killed, and were eventually driven back.


Rupert's attackers consisted of three brigades of infantry, with some dragoons. Lord Grandison's brigade attacked the Prior's Hill fort and a nearby redoubt at Stokes Croft, but was repulsed. Grandison himself was killed. Sir John Belasyse's brigade also was unsuccessful at Colston's Mount. Rupert had a horse killed under him while rallying some of Belasyse's infantry.
The brigade under Colonel Henry Wentworth was more successful. Led by dragoons under Colonel Henry Washington, they penetrated up a re-entrant between the Brandon Hill and Windmill Hill forts and found that once against the defences between these two forts they were in "dead ground", safe from fire from the forts. They threw grenades over the wall to drive back the defenders, while they pulled down the wall using halberds and partisans. Once they were inside the defences, Fiennes's cavalry tried to counter-attack, but flinched when they faced Royalists wielding "fire-pikes"; pikes to which large fireworks were attached, an early form of flamethrower.
Wentworth's brigade pushed forward towards the inner defences, followed by Belasyse's brigade and Colonel Arthur Aston's regiment of cavalry. They captured another strongpoint, the "Essex Work", when the defenders panicked. There was severe fighting for two hours around the Frome Gate, part of the inner defences, as some of the townswomen tried to improvise a barricade of woolsacks behind the gate.

Surrender and Aftermath
Rupert had sent for the Cornish infantry to reinforce the attack, but at about 6:00 pm, Fiennes asked for terms. Rupert granted easy conditions; the defenders were allowed to march out with their personal property, while their officers (and the cavalry troopers) were allowed to keep their arms. Undisciplined Royalists nevertheless plundered the defenders when they marched out on 27 July.
The Royalists secured immmense amounts of booty, in particular munitions of war. Eight armed merchant ships were captured, which later formed the nucleus of a Royalist fleet. The workshops of Bristol eventually re-equipped the entire Royalist army with muskets.
Nathaniel Fiennes was tried by Parliament and sentenced to death, but reprieved.
Siege of Gloucester (3 August and 5 September 1643)

The Siege of Gloucester was an engagement in the First English Civil War. It took place between 3 August and 5 September 1643, between the defending Parliamentarian garrison of Gloucester and the besieging army of King Charles I. The siege ended with the arrival of a relieving Parliamentarian army under the Earl of Essex. The Royalist forces withdrew, having sustained heavy casualties and had several cannon disabled as a result of sallies made by the defenders.

The siege took place after a run of Royalist successes, known as the "Royalist summer". After the fall of Cirencester, Gloucester was one of the few remaining Parliamentarian strongholds in the west. During a council of war at Bristol, the King faced a decision to either attack a weakened London, or to consolidate the South Western Royalist stronghold by attacking the small garrison at Gloucester. Although the reasons for his decision are not known, Gloucester's position cutting the overland route between Royalist-held Wales and Cornwall made it a favourable target, and with the city having only a very small garrison the King may have believed that Gloucester would fall quickly.
Five days before the arrival of the Royalist army the defenders had discovered they were to be attacked and messengers were sent to London to ask Parliament for assistance.

The Siege
On 10 August, the Royalist Army arrived at Gloucester and promptly demanded that Colonel Edward Massey surrender. Massey refused and Royalist forces began digging in and setting up artillery batteries around the South and East gates of the city and also severed or diverted water pipes. The defenders burned houses and other obstacles outside the city walls. The bombardment of the city began.
However, over the next days, the defenders made several sallies from the gates, attacking and disabling Royalist artillery, taking prisoners and tools. Breaches in the wall were filled with cannon baskets and wool sacks. The Royalists made attempts to drain the city moat and fill it in at places.
As the siege was prolonged, the King himself requested his favourite Prince Rupert, who was currently holding the newly captured port of Bristol, to acquire a newly-built cannon from his friends and associates in the Low Countries. This was done post-haste and this huge cannon was shipped over to Bristol and escorted up the Severn Channel to Gloucester, to be positioned just outside the city walls (actually on the high wall of Llanthony Secunda priory in Hempsted), aimed at the Cathedral itself.
Unfortunately for the King, his gunners had no experience of firing the brand new gun, especially one larger than they had ever used before, and, on its initial firing, the cannon exploded. With this failure and the excessive time spent trying to take Gloucester, the King had given Parliament enough time to gather huge London forces to march to its relief.
On 26 August the Earl of Essex left London with an army of 15,000 men to relieve the City. Meanwhile, the Royalist Army began tunnelling to place a mine under the East Gate, but a sudden spell of bad weather flooded the tunnel, leaving enough time for the Earl of Essex to arrive and reinforce the city.
By the end of the siege, Colonel Massey had only three barrels of gunpowder left for the defence of the City.

With the Arrival of the Earl of Essex, the Royalists forces withdrew and began to march on towards London. They intercepted Essex's army at the First Battle of Newbury, but failed to destroy it. For the remainder of the war, Massey's force based in Gloucester continually threatened the lines of communication between Oxford, the King's wartime capital, and Wales and the West Country.
Following the return of Charles II to the throne, the king took his revenge upon the city by having its walls torn down. The foundations of the wall, however, are still visible in parts of the city today.
First Battle of Newbury (20 September 1643)

The First Battle of Newbury was a battle of the First English Civil War that was fought on 20 September 1643 between a Royalist army, under the personal command of King Charles, and a Parliamentarian force led by the Earl of Essex. Following a year of Royalist successes in which they took Banbury, Oxford and Reading without conflict before storming Bristol, the Parliamentarians were left without an effective army in the field. When Charles laid siege to Gloucester, Parliament was forced to muster a force under Essex with which to beat Charles's forces off. After a long march, Essex surprised the Royalists and forced them away from Gloucester before beginning a retreat to London. Charles rallied his forces and pursued Essex, overtaking the Parliamentarian army at Newbury and forcing them to march past the Royalist force in order to continue their retreat.

Essex reacted by making a surprise attack on the Royalist lines at dawn, capturing several pieces of high ground and leaving Charles on the back foot. A series of Royalist attacks led to large number of casualties and the slow retreat of Essex's force, which was driven from the central hill and almost encircled; Essex succeeded in rallying his infantry, however, and pushed forward in a counter-attack. The slowing of this counter-attack in the face of the Royalist cavalry forced Essex to send for reinforcements, who, while marching to him, were attacked and forced to retreat. This left a hole in the Parliamentarian line, dividing the army into two wings through which the Royalists hoped to pass, splitting the Parliamentarians and allowing Charles's troops to encircle and defeat the enemy. In line with this, the Royalists moved forward to press the attack, but were forced to halt by the London Trained Bands. With night falling, the battle ended, and both exhausted armies disengaged. The next morning, low on ammunition, the Royalists were forced to allow Essex to pass and continue his retreat to London.
Reasons for the Royalist defeat include shortage of ammunition, the relative lack of professionalism of their soldiers and the tactics of Essex, who compensated "for his much lamented paucity of cavalry by tactical ingenuity and firepower", countering Rupert's cavalry by driving them off with mass infantry formations. Although the numbers of casualties were relatively small (1,300 Royalists and 1,200 Parliamentarians), historians who have studied the battle consider it to be one of the most crucial of the First English Civil War, marking the high point of the Royalist advance and leading to the signing of the Solemn League and Covenant, which brought the Scottish Covenanters into the war on the side of Parliament and led to the eventual victory of the Parliamentarian cause.

After the failure of Parliamentarian forces to gain a conclusive victory at the Battle of Edgehill in 1642, the Royalist armies had advanced on London, capturing Banbury, Oxford and Reading without conflict. On 13 November they faced the Earl of Essex at the Battle of Turnham Green, with Charles's advisers persuading him to retreat to Oxford and Reading. After Essex besieged Reading and Charles's armies failed in their attempts to relieve the town, a stalemate occurred on the front; Essex's army could not directly engage with the Royalists at Oxford due to disease in the ranks, while Charles was prevented from advancing due to the exhaustion of supplies and ammunition after the failed expedition to Reading. Despite this setback, the war was turning increasingly in favour of the Royalists. The early months of 1643 saw a "crushing" defeat of the Parliamentarians at the Battle of Adwalton Moor, while the Battle of Roundway Down left Parliament without an effective army in the west of England, the lack of which allowed the Royalists under Prince Rupert to storm Bristol with the Western Army and Oxford Army. The result was that Parliamentarian forces were depleted and appeared to be losing; Essex's army was the only significant one left in the field, and it suffered from reduced morale due to the defeats inflicted on Parliament by Royalist forces elsewhere in the war.

Prince Rupert of the Rhine, whose capture of Bristol
represented the high-water mark for the Royalist cause.

Despite this, Royalist forces were significantly depleted by the battle at Bristol. Suffering over 1,000 men dead, and having exhausted their supplies, the armies were forced to regroup. Even considering this, the capture of Bristol is considered the high-water mark for the Royalist cause during the First English Civil War. With the city captured, however, an immediate dispute occurred over who was to govern it, and this led to Charles travelling there on 1 August to take personal command of the Royalist forces. Upon arriving he called his Council of War together to discuss their next move, the primary questions at hand being "first, whether the armies should be united, and march in one upon the next design? And then, what the design should be?". The Western Army, although still strong, refused to advance further to the East due to the presence of Parliamentarian forces within Dorset and Cornwall; the Army's commanders felt that, if they tried to push for such a move, their forces would either mutiny or simply desert.

Because of this unrest, it was quickly resolved that the Western Army would remain an independent fighting force and remain in Dorset and Cornwall to "mop up" the remaining Parliamentarians. Accordingly, the Western Army, commanded by Lord Carnarvon, remained in the region, capturing Dorchester in a bloodless victory on 2 August. Prince Maurice left 1,200 infantry and approximately 200 cavalry to garrison Bristol before marching to Dorchester and personally taking command. The greater issues were what to do with the Oxford Army and what the "next design" of the Royalist campaign would be. Rupert's strategy was to advance through the Severn Valley and capture Gloucester, which would allow Royalist forces in South Wales to reinforce Charles's army and thus allow for an assault on London. Another faction, however, argued that London could be captured with the army as it was, and that Gloucester would serve as a distraction from the main goal of the campaign.

By 6 August, it was clear that Rupert's strategy would be abandoned; instead, an alternate means of capturing the city was considered. During the early stages of the war, the loyalty of combatants on both sides, particularly that of professional soldiers, had been flexible. Gloucester was led by Edward Massie, a non-partisan mercenary who only took a job with the Parliamentarians after he was refused a significant Royalist command. At the same time, it was felt that there was "a strong if so far silent party of Royalist sympathisers in the city", while the governor of Sudeley Castle was reporting that Gloucester's soldiers had stated they would not resist a Royalist advance. Given this, the Council of War decided to march on Gloucester — not to besiege it or capture it by force, but to capture it by having the governor betray the city beforehand. William Legge, who had served with Massie in the Bishops' Wars, contacted him and asked him to "surrender Gloucester to his lawful sovereign". Although this message was rebuffed, Legge's messenger reported that he had met Massie a second time in secret, and had been asked to tell Legge that Massie was willing to surrender the town to the King. As a result of this, on 7 August Charles and the Oxford Army marched to Gloucester.


Charles's main force began marching on 7 August and reached the village of Painswick a day later; however, Rupert's cavalry screen had already advanced and taken the village. Charles himself did not accompany the force, but instead rode across the Cotswolds to Rendcomb, where he met reinforcements from Oxford on 9 August. On the morning of 10 August, the Royalist army marched to Gloucester itself and besieged the city with approximately 6,000 infantry and 2,500 cavalry. With the force assembled, Charles sent a group of heralds, escorted by 1,000 musketeers, forward at approximately 2pm, at which point they read out the King's demands to a meeting of 26 local Council and garrison officers, including Massie. The King's announcement was that if the officers submitted, he would pardon all the officers, prohibit his army from causing any damage to the city, and leave only a small garrison behind. If they did not, he would take the city by force, and the inhabitants would be responsible "for all the calamities and miseries that must befall them". Despite earlier claims that Massie would surrender, he did not; a short time later, a refusal of the offer was drawn up and unanimously signed by the officers. The reasons for Massie's failure to surrender the city, despite the feelers he put out to Royalist contacts, are unknown.
At this point, Charles called another Council of War to discuss the situation. It was resolved that Gloucester must still be taken; if it was left in Parliamentarian hands, it would act as a break in lines of communication should the Royalists advance further east towards London. In addition, Charles's personal reputation had been sullied — travelling so far and yet not taking Gloucester would impact on the respect and prestige accorded to him, about which he was "notoriously sensitive". Based on reconnaissance, Charles's officers were confident that the garrison's food and ammunition would not last long; they argued that the city could be taken in less than 10 days, with Parliament lacking an effective army to relieve the city. If Essex's forces did not attack, the Royalists would take the city. If they did attack, they would be exhausted and, according to Royalist intelligence, far weaker than the Oxford Army, allowing Charles to destroy Parliament's one remaining significant force.
Under the direct command of the Earl of Forth, the Royalists laid siege to the city; Rupert had suggested a direct assault, but this proposal was not adopted due to fears of high casualties. By 11 August, the Royalist trenches were dug and the artillery prepared, despite Massie's attempts to disrupt work with musket fire. With this work done, there was no way out for the Parliamentarians; the only hope was to delay the Royalists long enough for a relief army to arrive. To this end, Massie ordered raids under the cover of darkness, with James Harcus, his second-in-command, leading a raid on the artillery trenches. In revenge the Royalists attacked the east of the city, but were driven off by cannon fire. 12 August saw more raids, this time during the day, which cost the Royalists 10 men and a supply depot, with no Parliamentarian losses. Despite this, the assaults did not disrupt Royalist preparations and by the evening they were able to start bombarding the town.
By 24 August, the Royalists, suffering from shortfalls in their stocks of gunpowder and cannonballs, remained unable to breach the walls. Essex, in the meantime, had been urgently preparing his army, which thanks to disease, indiscipline and desertion numbered less than 6,000 infantry and 3,500 cavalry. This was not a force strong enough to defeat the Royalists, and so he demanded an extra 5,000 soldiers; Parliamentarians in London responded by enlisting the London Trained Bands, which provided an additional 6,000 men. Taking into account additional problems and desertions, the eventual force was 9,000 footsoldiers and 5,000 cavalry. After being mustered on Hounslow Heath, the army began marching towards Aylesbury, arriving on 28 August. This force was formally mustered on 30 August, and after being reinforced by Lord Grey on 1 September at Brackley, marched to Gloucester. On 5 September, with heavy rain falling, the Parliamentarian army reached the town and camped on Prestbury Hill, immediately outside it; their presence forced the Royalists to abandon the siege given that neither army, wet and exhausted, was in a state to seek battle.


Charles's cautious failure to directly assault the town, putting a higher priority on minimising losses than on victory, had cost the Royalists dear; while claims for their number of dead and wounded men ranged from 1,000 to 1,500, only around 50 people inside the city were killed. Essex's force, on the other hand, was in relatively good shape; its one issue was the lack of supplies. If he stayed in the Severn valley, Essex would be unable to get reinforcements or outside aid, the London elements of the army would demand to go home, and the one remaining significant Parliamentarian force would find itself pinned down, while Charles, with secure bases at Oxford and Bristol, would be able to starve them into surrender while other Royalist armies ran rampant through Britain. Because of this, Essex had no choice but to try to return to London. Travelling back across the Cotswolds, as he had done to reach Gloucester initially, would expose the Parliamentarians to Charles's cavalry on open ground.
The first alternative was to march southeast to the River Kennet and cross it, going through Newbury and returning to Reading's fortifications, thus evading the Royalists and allowing for a safe retreat to London. The disadvantage to this was the time it would take to cross the relatively open land between Essex's position and the Kennet. The second, and the option Essex initially took, was to go north, either to make battle in more advantageous circumstances or to evade the Royalists. If Essex was able to cross to the west bank of the River Avon, he could secure the bridges across it and prevent the Royalists from crossing it and confronting his army. His cavalry advanced to Upton in order to screen the main force from Royalist interference on 11 September, with the rest of the soldiers quickly following. The Royalists were left wrong-footed; Charles did not discover Essex's retreat for another 24 hours, during which the gap between the armies widened. The Royalists finally began to march on 16 September, with Rupert's cavalry streaming ahead to try to disrupt the Parliamentarian retreat.
By 18 September, Rupert's force had caught up to the Parliamentarians outside Aldbourne. Essex had lost his advantage; Parliamentarian intelligence reports had convinced him that Charles was heading towards Oxford and had given up the campaign. In fact Charles was barely 14 miles (23 km) away, but the complacency such reports induced meant that one contemporary source stated the Parliamentarians were marching barely 5 miles (8.0 km) a day, allowing the Royalists to quickly catch up. Suitably chastened by the discovery of his error, Essex increased the pace of his retreat, with the Royalists pursuing closely. Both sides were heading for Newbury, on roughly parallel routes; the Royalists' route took them through Faringdon and Wantage, increasing the distance they would have to travel to 30 miles (48 km) while the Parliamentarians had to travel only 20. Charles reacted by dispatching Rupert and 7,000 cavalry in a flying column to disrupt and harass the Parliamentary retreat. Encountering Essex's forces at Aldbourne Chase, Rupert made battle; however, lacking enough troops to engage the Parliamentarians directly, he instead attacked a section of their army, causing chaos and crucially delaying Essex's march just enough for Charles's forces to close the gap.
The effect of Rupert's actions, even after his forces disengaged, was to force another delay in the Parliamentarian retreat; Essex spent much of 19 September looking after wounded soldiers and, when he finally managed to begin moving again, he was confronted with swampland and bog which further delayed him while the Royalists marched across the relatively open chalk downs above the Kennet. These hardships meant that the Royalists arrived at Newbury before Essex, with both armies settling down for the night outside the town, too exhausted to immediately fight.


The landscape of the area around Newbury was a significant factor in the tactics of both sides during the resulting battle. Though the land was mostly open country, a crescent-shaped escarpment known as Biggs Hill sat between the Royalist and Parliamentarian forces. To either side of Essex's army lay open fields, while the battlefield was bracketed by the River Kennet on one side and the River Enbourne on the other, which neither side attempted to cross on foot. Essex's most obvious route of advance was to push past the Royalist forces, secure the bridge and return to London. Unfortunately, the open area approaching the bridge was a "killing ground"; soldiers would be entirely in the open and forced to march no more than six abreast, which would prevent Essex effectively deploying against a Royalist attack and leave the Parliamentarian's forces bunched up and subject to artillery fire. Even if Essex managed to cross the bridge, the other side of the river featured several hundred meters of waterlogged ground, which would slow his soldiers and leave them open to attack while necessitating the abandonment of the Parliamentarian artillery, a "major humiliation for a seventeenth-century army".
The only alternative to a bridge-based retreat would be to bypass Newbury completely by marching around the Royalists, but this would again involve moving through open fields and subjecting Essex's soldiers to the attacks of Royalist cavalry, who were described as greatly outnumbering the Parliamentarian cavalry. Confronting the Royalists directly would involve moving into ground described as containing "dense copses and unnumerable banked hedges with ditches flanking fields and lining sunken lanes"; while this would allow the troops to move in a concealed fashion, it would also make deployment difficult, and the numerous lanes would restrict movement in the heat of battle.

Order of Battle

There are no definitive orders of battle for Newbury, as official contemporary evidence is thin; it is possible to glean some information from both later official reports and contemporary accounts, which allow for a reconstruction of the likely disposition of each force. The Royalists were led by Charles I personally, with William Vavasour commanding the right wing, Prince Rupert the left, and Sir John Byron the centre. Artillery support consisted of 20 cannons in total: 6 heavy, 6 medium and 8 light. Initial Royalist and Parliamentarian estimates were of a force of around 17,000 men; modern estimates are of around 7,500 infantry, and 7,000 cavalry. Essex led the Parliamentarians, commanding both the entire force and, separately, the right wing; the left wing was commanded by Philip Stapleton. Artillery support was provided by two heavy cannons and around 20 light cannons; most of the heavy artillery was left at Gloucester to help defend the city. Estimates as to the total number of men vary between 7,000 and 15,000; John Barratt, noting the losses at Gloucester, estimates that Essex's force totalled around 14,000 men, with 6,000 cavalry and dragoons and 8,000 infantry.


Essex attacks
The battle began on 20 September; Essex's army was roused before dawn, and initial reports stated he had gone "from regiment to regiment...[putting] the question of a battle unto them". After consultation, the army advanced with "most cheerfull and courageous spirits" at around 7am. Divided into "three bodies of Foot, both lined and flanked with bodies of Horse", with a reserve behind them, the army was preceded by Stapleton's cavalry, which quickly cleared the Royalist pickets and allowed Essex's advance to Wash Common, a patch of open ground between the two forces. This march took approximately an hour due to the heavy clay soil being soaked from the previous night's rain; the open space before Biggs Hill, the objective of their march, allowed for a much welcome chance to regroup. Rupert had established a cavalry guard on Biggs Hill; while the size is unknown, it was large enough to attack the Parliamentarian horse head-on. Stapleton waited until the Royalists were close before firing, leading to the faltering of their charge and the advance of the Parliamentarian cavalry to drive them off with swords. The cavalry were unable to make further gains, having engaged only a small part of the Royalist horse and being unwilling to press their attack against the larger body.

By this point the Parliamentary right flank, under Philip Skippon, had begun assaulting the main Parliamentary objective — the nearby Round Hill. The official account suggests that the Parliamentarians "charged so fiercely that [they] beat [the Royalists] from the hill"; Royalist accounts, on the other hand, argue that the hill was actually completely undefended. The official account fails to mention casualties to either attackers or defenders, or what happened to the Royalist guns which were allegedly deployed on the hill. "Both sides' arguments have a ring of conviction but although Essex and his partisans seem to have been genuine in their belief that they had assaulted and captured a defended position, the facts suggest that the Royalist version was closer to the truth. In other words, the king and his generals had been caught napping". Regardless of what had happened, the capture of Round Hill gave Essex the advantage, allowing Skippon to position 1,000 musketeers on top of it to fire down into any Royalist advance.

Royalist counter-attack

As a result of this quick advance, Charles found his army in chaos, with Skippon's force organised and flanking them. The Royalist council of war reconvened to discuss the events, and accounts suggest the meeting was acrimonious, with the fall of Round Hill described as "a most gross and absurd error". Rupert decided to try to contain both Essex and Skippon. Leaving two regiments of horse with Byron, he led the remainder of the cavalry to Essex's position on the left flank. Byron, in the meantime, was commanded to support an attack by the Royalist musketeers on Skippon's force, drawing his regiments up behind the infantry "ready to second them in case the enemy's horse should advance towards them". Rupert's advance has been criticised by both Parliamentarian and Royalist sources; instead of a small engagement, the stubbornness of the Parliamentary resistance forced Rupert to commit more and more forces to the fray, eventually turning a series of small engagements into a full-scale battle, with reinforcements gradually being drawn in. The terrain limited the localised advantage Rupert's forces had in numbers, but after three attacks Stapleton's brigade crumbled, allowing Rupert to hook around Essex's left flank, stop his advance and capture five pieces of artillery. This came at a cost; the Royalists took heavy casualties, and failed to completely break Essex's infantry. The infantry instead stubbornly retreated, allowing the Parliamentary cavalry to reorganise behind them. Even though his advance had been stopped, Essex was not yet beaten.
Byron's attack on Skippon's musketeers in the centre also went poorly. Pushing three regiments of foot forward, the force suffered similarly high casualties in an attempt to take Round Hill; after the attack stalled, the cavalry had to be called in to force it forward. Despite heavy losses due to the only avenue of advance being a narrow lane lined with Parliamentarian musketeers, this move succeeded in allowing Byron to take Round Hill, forcing the Parliamentarian infantry back to a hedge on the far side. The attack eventually lost momentum, and although Round Hill was taken, Byron was unable to advance any further. On the right flank, William Vavasour attempted to overwhelm the Parliamentary flank with a substantial brigade of foot, which included a small amount of cavalry support. His initial attack was repulsed thanks to the Parliamentarian artillery opening fire, but a subsequent head-on attack forced Skippon's beleaguered force in the centre to send several regiments over to assist, with the fight turning into a bloody melee. Vavasour's force was eventually forced to retire, with the Parliamentarians failing to give ground.

Crisis and stalemate

After heavy fighting, the Royalists had succeeded only in pushing Essex's forces briefly back; they had given ground but not retreated from the battle, and his main force of infantry remained strong. In an attempt to proceed, Essex waved his infantry and light artillery forward. Rupert's cavalry was too weak to defend against this advance due to its large firepower, and he instead ordered two regiments of foot commanded by John Belasyse to halt Essex. The Parliamentarian records report they were "hotly charged by the enemies' horse and foot", who succeeded in forcing Essex slowly back, although the fight took four hours. In response, Essex called for Skippon to send him reinforcements; Skippon obliged by ordering a Mainwaring's Regiment of infantry to remove themselves from his line and march to replace some of Essex's exhausted soldiers. As soon as they arrived, they were charged by two bodies of cavalry and a regiment of infantry under John Byron, who forced the regiment to retreat; the Royalists hacked down the fleeing Parliamentarians and, according to Byron, his force "had not left a man of them unkilled, but that the hedges were so high the horse could not pursue them". Although the Royalists failed to press this attack due to the difficulty of manoeuvring cavalry in the field, and Essex briefly retook the ground, the loss of this infantry regiment opened a gap in the Parliamentarian line. If Rupert was able to drive through this gap, he would break Essex's army into two wings and be able to encircle them. Recognizing this possibility, he began redeploying the Royalist force: two regiments of cavalry and a regiment of infantry under his command would occupy Essex, while two regiments under Charles Gerard would push through the gap in the Parliamentarian line.
Luckily for the Parliamentarians, Skippon saw this opening and ordered two regiments of the London Trained Bands to close the gap. Although they succeeded in bridging the gap between the two wings of Essex's force, there was no cover, and a Royalist battery of eight heavy guns drawn up on high ground began firing on them. Unable to move because of the necessity of their position, they were left enduring close-range fire "when men's bowels and brains flew in [their] faces", resisting two attacks by Royalist cavalry and infantry led by Jacob Astley. Historian John Day notes that records show most Trained Band casualties were hit in the head, while a survivor boasted that the artillery "did us no harm, only the shot broke our pikes"; evidently, in the heat of battle, the Royalist artillery were firing too high. Despite this, the Royalist artillery fire had taken its toll, and the Trained Band regiments were forced to retreat. The Royalists pursued, and only close-quarters musket fire allowed the militia to regroup without substantial losses. After regrouping, the militia was again attacked by two regiments of foot and two of cavalry, who despite surrounding the Londoners and dragging away a cannon were unable to break them.
At this point, both armies began to draw apart; although sporadic fighting continued as night fell, by midnight both forces had disengaged completely. Both army councils met; Essex's plan to force his way past the Royalists seemed feasible, and many Parliamentarians, loathe to give up the ground they had taken, fully expected the battle to continue. The Royalists, on the other hand, were plagued by poor morale, heavy losses and a lack of supplies, having used 80 of their 90 barrels of gunpowder. Although Rupert argued for the battle to continue, he was out-voted, and the next morning Essex was allowed to bypass the Royalist force without issue and continue his retreat towards London.

The Parliamentarian force, now free of Charles's army, retreated towards Aldermaston as quickly as possible and eventually made it to Reading and then London, where Essex received a hero's welcome. The Royalists, on the other hand were forced to spend the next day recovering their casualties, finding more than a thousand injured soldiers who were sent back to Oxford. After they finished recovering their dead and wounded men, the Royalists left 200 infantry, 25 cavalry and 4 guns in Donnington Castle to defend their rear and then marched to Oxford, having buried their dead senior officers in Newbury Guildhall. Casualties at Newbury eventually came to approximately 1,300 losses for the Royalists, and 1,200 for the Parliamentarians. The loss at Newbury was due to a multitude of factors; Day gives credit to the greater ability of Essex to conserve his force through the campaign, which put the Royalists at a numerical disadvantage by Newbury, and notes the Royalist overreliance on Cavalry, with Essex "[compensating] for his much lamented paucity of cavalry by tactical ingenuity and firepower", countering Rupert's cavalry by driving them off with mass infantry formations. The Royalists infantry were also outperformed, Essex's force retaining a high level of cohesiveness while the Royalists were described as relatively unprofessional; both Day and Blair Worden also give the paucity of ammunition and gunpowder as an important (and endemic) deciding factor in the success or failure of Charles' campaign.
Although the attention of historians is normally on the larger battles such as Edgehill and Marston Moor, several historians who have studied the period consider the First Battle of Newbury to be the defining moment of the First English Civil War, both as the high point of the Royalist advance and as the "one bright period of [Essex's] generalship". John Day writes that "Militarily and politically, Parliament's position at the beginning of October 1643 was demonstrably far stronger than in late July. With hindsight, the capture of Bristol was the high tide of King Charles' war, his best and only chance of ending the conflict on his own terms". John Barratt noted that the Royalists had failed in "what might prove to have been their best chance to destroy the principle field army of their opponents, and hopes of a crushing victory which would bring down the Parliamentarian 'war party' lay in ruins". The high Parliamentarian feelings after Newbury led to the signing of the Solemn League and Covenant, bringing a powerful Scottish army down to assault the Royalists. "Thanks to the failure...to win a decisive victory there, the English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish subjects of all of King Charles' Three Kingdoms would henceforth play a bloody price in a steadily widening and deepening war".

Sources and historiography

Malcolm Wanklyn has described the First Battle of Newbury as being "both the longest battle of the English Civil War and the one that historians have found the greatest difficulty in describing"; this is because there is no contemporary plan of the battlefield or record of the plans of each side while, conversely, there are diverse and contradictory accounts from both sides of the battle. An official Royalist account was written by Lord Digby on 22 September, which suffered from defects due to Digby's position away from the main fighting, and because it was designed "as a reflection on the battle's outcome, not a blow-by-blow description of what happened". Conversely, those written by officers who actively fought in the main arenas of the battle are very narrow in focus, for example, the accounts of Joshua Moone and John Gwyn, commoners who fought on Wash Common, and an anonymous tract from the perspective of a soldier who assaulted Round Hill.
On the Parliamentarian side, an official source was published a month after the battle; due to the circumstances of its publication and the high Parliamentarian morale after Newbury, it made no attempt to gloss over errors and was designed to "explain to a lay readership what had happened on the battlefield". A more narrow view was taken by Sergeant Henry Foster, who fought with the London Trained Band in their attempt to prevent the Royalists splitting Essex's army. The diary of Walter Yonge of Colyton also contains two reports written for the House of Commons by Essex's generals, including Stapleton, although the originals have been lost.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Yet Charles prevented the Parliamentarians from smashing his main field army. The result was an effective military stalemate until the triumph of the Roundheads at the Battle of Marston Moor (July 2, 1644). This decisive victory deprived the king of two field armies and, equally important, paved the way for the reform of the parliamentary armies with the creation of the New Model Army, completed in April 1645. Thus, by 1645 Parliament had created a centralized standing army, with central funding and central direction. The New Model Army now moved against the Royalist forces. Their closely fought victory at the Battle of Naseby (June 14, 1645) proved the turning point in parliamentary fortunes and marked the beginning of a string of stunning successes—Langport (July 10), Rowton Heath (September 24), and Annan Moor (October 21)—that eventually forced the king to surrender to the Scots at Newark on May 5, 1646.

It is doubtful whether Parliament could have won the first English Civil War without Scottish intervention. Royalist successes in England in the spring and early summer of 1643, combined with the prospect of aid from Ireland for the king, prompted the Scottish Covenanters to sign a political, military, and religious alliance—the Solemn League and Covenant (Sept. 25, 1643)—with the English Parliamentarians. Desperate to protect their revolution at home, the Covenanters insisted upon the establishment of Presbyterianism in England and in return agreed to send an army of 21,000 men to serve there. These troops played a critical role at Marston Moor, with the covenanting general, David Leslie, briefly replacing a wounded Oliver Cromwell in the midst of the action. For his part, Charles looked to Ireland for support. However, the Irish troops that finally arrived in Wales after a cease-fire was concluded with the confederates in September 1643 never equaled the Scottish presence, while the king’s willingness to secure aid from Catholic Ireland sullied his reputation in England.

Conflicts in Scotland and Ireland
The presence of a large number of Scottish troops in England should not detract from the fact that Scots experienced their own domestic conflict after 1638. In Scotland loyalty to the Covenant, the king, and the House of Argyll resulted in a lengthy and, at times, bloody civil war that began in February 1639, when the Covenanters seized Inverness, and ended with the surrender of Dunnottar castle, near Aberdeen, in May 1652. Initially, the Scottish Royalists under the command of James Graham, earl of Montrose, won a string of victories at Tippermuir (Sept. 1, 1644), Aberdeen (September 13), Inverlochy (Feb. 2, 1645), Auldearn (May 9), Alford (July 2), and Kilsyth (August 15) before being decisively routed by the Covenanters at Philiphaugh (September 13).

Like Scotland, Ireland fought its own civil war (also known as the Confederate Wars). Between 1642 and 1649, the Irish Confederates, with their capital at Kilkenny, directed the Catholic war effort, while James Butler, earl of Ormonde, commanded the king’s Protestant armies. In September 1643, the two sides concluded a cease-fire, but they failed to negotiate a lasting political and religious settlement acceptable to all parties.

Battle of Nantwich (25 January 1644)

The Battle of Nantwich was fought during the First English Civil War, between the Parliamentarians and Royalists, northwest of the town of Nantwich in Cheshire on 25 January 1644. The Royalists under Lord John Byron were besieging Nantwich, and Sir Thomas Fairfax led an army to relieve the town. As Fairfax approached, a sudden thaw caused the River Weaver to rise in spate, dividing Byron's cavalry from his infantry and artillery, who were overrun and destroyed by Fairfax.
The Parliamentarian victory halted a run of Royalist successes in the area, and was a major setback to King Charles I's plan of campaign for the year.

In 1643, King Charles had signed a "cessation" with the Irish Confederates. This allowed him to recall several English regiments which had been sent to Ireland after the Irish Rebellion of 1641, to reinforce his armies. In November 1643, several of these regiments were sent to Cheshire where a new field army was being raised, commanded at first by Lord Capell. Capell was replaced in December by Lord John Byron, who had been a successful cavalry brigade commander in the King's main "Oxford Army".
Byron launched an offensive from the south with 5,000 men against the Parliamentarian garrisons in Cheshire, most of which were quickly captured. The troops recently returned from Ireland behaved with a degree of ruthlessness not previously displayed in the English Civil War. At Barthomley Church on 26 December, the Parliamentarian garrison surrendered after the Royalists lit a fire against the doors to smoke them out. At least twelve of the prisoners, mostly local militia, were executed in cold blood, with Byron's approval.
On 27 December, Sir William Brereton, the Parliamentarian commander in Cheshire and Lancashire, attempted to concentrate his forces to confront Byron, but was defeated by a sudden Royalist attack at the Second Battle of Middlewich. He retreated with the remnants of his force to Manchester in Lancashire.
Nantwich was the only town in Cheshire still held by the Parliamentarians. Its garrison numbered 2,000 men under Colonel George Booth, and were well supplied. Byron launched an attack against the town on 18 January 1644, but was defeated with 500 casualties. Together with the casualties from earlier fighting in Cheshire, and sickness and desertions, Byron's forces were reduced to a total of about 3,500 men. He nevertheless maintained a siege of Nantwich.

Parliamentarian moves

Sir Thomas Fairfax, together with his father Lord Fairfax, had been besieged in Hull in the second half of 1643. As Sir Thomas's cavalry were of little use in a siege, they were ferried across the Humber to reinforce Parliamentarian cavalry from the Eastern Association of counties, commanded by Oliver Cromwell. Together, they had won several victories, culminating in the Battle of Winceby, which secured most of Lincolnshire for Parliament.
In response to Brereton's urgent appeal for reinforcements, the Committee of Both Kingdoms (the Parliamentarian body responsible for the conduct of the war) ordered Sir Thomas Fairfax to proceed to Manchester. On 29 December 1643, Sir Thomas set out to cross the Pennines in harsh winter weather, with 1,800 cavalry. On arriving at Manchester, he found the infantry of the Parliamentarian garrison to be so ragged that he was supposed to have burst into tears. Nevertheless, he set out from Manchester on 21 January 1644 to relieve Nantwich. He was accompanied by Brereton, and their force eventually numbered 1,800 cavalry, 500 dragoons, 2,500 infantry and a few hundred poorly-equipped "cudgellers".

At the time, Nantwich was little more than a large village which lay astride the River Weaver, which normally was a stream 20 feet (6.1 m) wide. The Parliamentarians held the Chester Road bridge in the town, but the Royalists could use a bridge across the river at Beam Bridge, about 0.5 miles (0.80 km) to the north. Byron's headquarters were at Acton, about 1 mile (1.6 km) to the west of Nantwich. His regiments were quartered in a circle around the town sheltering where they could in countryside covered in snow.
On 24 January, Fairfax's force scattered a small Royalist force which attempted to bar the road to Nantwich at Delamere Forest. Byron decided to maintain the siege, but the next day there was a sudden thaw which caused the Weaver to rise in spate. Byron ordered his infantry and artillery to move to the west bank of the Weaver around Acton, where the ground was drier, but the bridge at Beam Bridge (and a ferry to its north) were then swept away by the floodwater while Byron himself and his 1,800 cavalry were still on the east bank. He was forced to make a march of 6 miles (9.7 km) via another bridge at Minshull Vernon to support his infantry at Acton.
As Fairfax approached Acton, Colonel Richard Gibson (deputising for Byron's Sergeant-Major General Sir Michael Erneley, who was ill), deployed four regiments of infantry (his own and those of Sir Michael Erneley, Colonel Henry Warren and Sir Robert Byron, younger brother of Lord John Byron) to face Fairfax. Erneley's, Warren's and Gibson's regiments had recently returned from Ireland. Most of the Royalist artillery was massed in Acton churchyard, on the left of Gibson's line. Sir Fulk Hunke's locally-raised infantry regiment protected the rear against Booth's garrison in Nantwich.
Despite the heavy rain and the numerous ditches and hedges which broke up the ground in front of Gibson's position, Fairfax's force attacked at about 2 pm. Fairfax was informed that Byron was approaching his left rear from the direction of Minshull Vernon, but he deployed only two regiments of infantry and his own troop of cavalry to face them, while his main body pushed forward against Gibson. Although Gibson's men repulsed the first Parliamentarian attack, the Parliamentarian cavalry commanded by Sir Thomas Fairfax's brother William outflanked the Royalist right wing and forced it to retreat. In the Royalist centre, Colonel Henry Warren's "Irish" regiment broke, and Erneley's own regiment retreated. Behind Gibson's position, Colonel George Booth led a sortie from Nantwich by 600 musketeers which overcame Hunke's regiment and reached Acton churchyard, overrunning the Royalist artillery and wagon park.
By 4:30 pm, only Gibson's and Sir Robert Byron's regiments were still fighting on the flanks of Gibson's position. As the Parliamentarians broke through the Royalist centre, these two regiments were overwhelmed. Many Royalist soldiers defected to the Parliamentarians, the remainder surrendered or fled. About 1,500 were taken prisoner. Many of the officers took refuge in Acton Church, and were also taken prisoner after surrendering on terms. Lord Byron retreated to Chester with the Royalist cavalry, which had been unable to break through Fairfax's flanking detachment.

The defeat at Nantwich thwarted King Charles's plan to create a field army in the Northwest based on regiments returned from Ireland. The Parliamentarians mistakenly thought that the "Irish" regiments were Catholics, who they loathed, and also feared their professionalism, but in fact the Royalist general Sir Ralph Hopton wrote of some "Irish" units which joined his army in the South of England at about the same time:

...bold, hardy men, and excellently well officer'd, but the common-men verie mutenous and shrewdly infected with the rebellious humour of England being brought over meerly by the vertue and loyalty of theire officers and large promesses, which there was then but smale meanes to performe.

One Royalist officer taken prisoner at Nantwich was Colonel George Monck (in command of Michael Warren's regiment), who later changed sides and was to play a prominent part in the Commonwealth of England and the Restoration.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Second Battle of Newbury (27 October, 1644)

The Second Battle of Newbury was a battle of the English Civil War fought on 27 October, 1644, in Speen, adjoining Newbury in Berkshire. The battle was fought close to the site of the First Battle of Newbury, which took place in late September the previous year.
The combined armies of Parliament inflicted a tactical defeat on the Royalists, but failed to gain any strategic advantage.

In the early months of 1644, the Parliamentarians had won victories at Cheriton in the south of England and Nantwich in the northwest. Also, they had secured the allegiance of the Scottish Covenanters, who sent an army into the north east. These developments both distracted the Royalists and weakened their forces around Oxford, King Charles's wartime capital.
Early in June, the Parliamentarian armies of the Earl of Essex and Sir William Waller threatened to surround Oxford. King Charles made a night march to escape to Worcester. He was still in danger but on 6 June, Essex and Waller (who disliked each other) conferred at Stow-on-the-Wold and fatally decided to divide their armies. While Waller continued to shadow the King, Essex marched into the West Country, to relieve Lyme Regis which was under siege, and then to subdue Devon and Cornwall.
This allowed the King to double back and return to Oxford to collect reinforcements. On 29 June, he then won a victory over Waller at Cropredy Bridge. Waller's army, most of which was unwilling to serve far from its home areas in London and the southeast, was subsequently crippled for several weeks by desertions and threatened mutinies. This allowed the King to march after Essex's army.
Essex was soon trapped against the coast at Lostwithiel. He relied on support from the Parliamentarian navy, but contrary winds prevented the Parliamentarian ships leaving Portsmouth. Although Essex himself escaped in a fishing boat and his cavalry broke out of encirclement, the rest of his army was forced to surrender on 2 September, losing their arms and equipment. The troops were paroled, but suffered severely from exposure and attacks by country people during their march to Portsmouth. Although they were re-equipped, only 4,000 infantry (out of 6,000 who started) were fit for service.
On 2 July however, the Covenanters and Parliamentarians in the north had defeated King Charles's nephew Prince Rupert at the Battle of Marston Moor. This victory gave them control of the north, and also released the Army of the Eastern Association under the Earl of Manchester to serve in the south of England, once the city of York surrendered on 16 July.

After the victory at Lostwithiel, King Charles first probed the Parliamentarian defences at Plymouth then marched back across the southern counties of England to relieve several garrisons (including Banbury, Basing House and Donnington Castle, near Newbury), which had been isolated while he had been campaigning in the west. He was joined briefly by Prince Rupert, who gave his account of his defeat at Marston Moor. Charles ordered Rupert to march into Gloucestershire, in an attempt to draw some of the Parliamentarian armies after him. The Earl of Essex kept his three armies (his own, Waller's and Manchester's) together, and the result of Rupert's manoeuvre was to divide the Royalist forces, rather than those of Parliament.
On 22 October, Charles relieved Donnington Castle. He knighted Lieutenant Colonel John Boys, the commander of its garrison, and promoted him to Colonel. He hoped to relieve Basing House next, but the combined Parliamentarian armies were too strong for him to risk an advance. He therefore waited around Newbury for Rupert, and another detachment under the Earl of Northampton which had been sent to relieve Banbury, to rejoin him.

Dispositions and plans
Charles's army held three strong points: Donnington Castle north of Newbury, Shaw House east of the town and the village of Speen to the west. The River Kennet prevented the Parliamentarians making any outflanking move to the south, but the small River Lambourn divided the Royalists at Speen and Newbury from those at Shaw and Donnington Castle.
Shaw House and its grounds, which included some Iron Age embankments which were incorporated into the defences, were defended by Lord Astley, with three "tertias" or brigades of infantry under his son, Sir Bernard Astley, Colonel Thomas Blagge and Colonel George Lisle. Speen was held by Rupert's brother Prince Maurice, with a mixed detachment from the Royalist forces from the west country. Charles's cavalry under George, Lord Goring were in reserve. They were divided into four brigades under Goring himself, Lord Wentworth, the Earl of Cleveland and Sir Humphrey Bennett. The Earl of Brentford was the Lord General, and Charles's deputy Lord Hopton commanded the artillery.
Early on 26 October, the combined Parliamentarian armies advanced to Clay Hill, a few miles east of Newbury, where they set up an artillery battery. Intermittent exchanges of cannon fire took place throughout the day. Essex had been taken ill, and Waller and Manchester decided that a frontal attack on Donnington Castle and Shaw House would be too costly. They opted instead to divide their forces. While Manchester demonstrated with 7,000 infantry against Shaw House, Waller took 12,000 men (including the infantry from the Earl of Essex's army, a brigade of the London Trained Bands and most of the cavalry) on a long march of 13 miles (21 km) around the Royalist position to fall on Speen from the west. It was intended that on hearing the opening cannonade from Waller's guns, Manchester would then put in a full-scale attack on Shaw House.

The battle

Waller set off late on 26 October and camped overnight far to the north. His force broke camp and resumed its outflanking move on 27 October while Manchester launched a diversionary attack on Shaw House. Although the Royalists at Donnington Castle observed Waller's movement, and even sent a small detachment of cavalry to harry his rearguard, the troops at Speen were not warned of the danger. Waller's force crossed to the south bank of the Lambourne at Boxford, and formed up and attacked at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, with cavalry under Oliver Cromwell on the left flank, infantry under Philip Skippon in the centre and cavalry under Sir William Balfour on the right.
Maurice's forces had been dispersed to forage, and were caught unprepared. Although they repelled the first attack on Speen, the Parliamentarian infantry rallied and stormed the village, capturing several cannon (including some which the Royalists had captured at Lostwithiel). Sir William Balfour routed Maurice's cavalry and also defeated the Earl of Cleveland's brigade, but was then checked by the fresh Queen's Regiment of horse and musketeers under Sir Thomas Blagge lining hedges east of Speen. Cromwell was uncharacteristically slow in coming into action and his wing was thrown back by a charge by Goring's remaining cavalry under Goring himself.
The Earl of Manchester was slow to throw in his own attack, pleading that the noise of Waller's guns had not been heard over the exchanges of artillery fire at Shaw House. Just before dark, he made a determined attack on Shaw House, but was beaten back.
Casualties in the day's fighting were heavy, but roughly even on both sides.

The Royalists had held off the Parliamentarian forces but Charles knew his army was not up to another day's fighting. He was outnumbered and with the loss of Speen, his forces were vulnerable to another attack the next morning. He hastily retreated north, leaving his wounded and most of his guns and baggage in Donnington Castle. Much of the Royalist army withdrew over a bridge over the Lambourne which was an obvious line of retreat, but no Parliamentarian troops blocked their path, and the Royalists were free to withdraw.
The following day, the Parliamentarian commanders held a council of war at Speen. Cromwell, Balfour and Sir Arthur Hesilrige eventually were allowed to take cavalry in pursuit of the King's army, but soon found that the Royalists had already crossed the River Thames at Wallingford and had reached the safety of the neighbourhood of Oxford. The Parliamentarians called off the pursuit and instead made a hasty attack on Donnington Castle, which was defeated with heavy casualties.
By 1 November, Charles had been reinforced by Rupert, Northampton and other forces to a strength of 15,000 men, and was able to relieve Donnington Castle again on 9 November. The Parliamentarians declined to contest the second relief of Donnington, and the Royalists found on 19 November that they had also raised the siege of Basing House. Charles thus ended the campaigning season with a notable success.
The Parliamentarian armies' unwieldy council of war was divided. When the King offered battle on 9 November, Manchester made his famous remark that "The King need not care how oft he fights... If we fight 100 times and beat him 99 he will be King still, but if he beats us but once, or the last time, we shall be hanged, we shall lose our estates, and our posterities be undone." Cromwell, his Lieutenant General, made the equally famous rejoinder, "If this be so, why did we take up arms at first? This is against fighting ever hereafter. If so, let us make peace, be it never so base".
The dissatisfaction expressed by Cromwell and other Parliamentarians over the failure to trap Charles after the battle and the subsequent half-hearted operations, eventually resulted in the passing of the Self-denying Ordinance, which deprived Essex, Waller and Manchester of their commands, and the formation of the New Model Army, with which Parliament gained victory the next year.
Newbury was one of the few battles of the English Civil War in which an army attempted a wide outflanking move. Waller and Manchester took a risk in dividing their army, but were aware that they enjoyed superiority of numbers.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Siege of Newcastle

The Siege of Newcastle occurred in 1644, during the English Civil War. A Scottish army under the command of Lord Leven otherwise known as General Leslie laid siege to the city of Newcastle-on-Tyne from 3 February (when the town was formally asked to surrender) until 19 October the same year when the Scots took the city by storm.

There had been an earlier occupation during the Civil War when the Scots had occupied the city following the Battle of Newburn in 1640.
The city was not continually invested in this time. In a complicated situation, the first Scottish army left for the south, the royalist governor having re-inforced his position then committed forces south to the Battle of Marston Moor.
However, it was the defeat of the Royalist field army at the pitched battle of Marston Moor on 2 July 1644 by the combined English Parliamentary and the Scottish armies that decided the fate of Newcastle and all the other Royalist strongholds in the North East of England, because without the means of relief from an army in the field the capitulation of all such strongholds was only a matter of time.
After Marston Moor a second Scottish army entered Northumberland and from the 15th August 1644 both Newcastle and Tynemouth were again invested.
  Bombardment and mines were necessary to breach the walls. The western half fell on 19 October 1644. Those remaining loyal to the Royalist cause retreated into the Castle Keep. Finding the situation hopeless surrender was negotiated with General Leslie on 21 October 1644.

The Scots were delighted at the result, more so it is thought than the English Parliament. Tynemouth had fallen on 27 October 1644 and the Scots were now able to control the Tyneside coal trade for a second time which they did until they were persuaded to leave on 30 January 1647.
A further consequence of the situation was a deepening of the rivalry between Sunderland and Newcastle. Sunderland had stood throughout with the Parliamentarian forces which served its economy well, protecting the shipping of coal.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Second and third English Civil Wars (1648–51)


The Second Civil War, 1648

Battles and Campaigns

Wales: St. Fagan's, the sieges of Chepstow, Tenby and Pembroke
Kent and Essex: the battle of Maidstone and siege of Colchester
Northern England: the Engager invasion and battle of Preston
The Naval Revolt: mutiny in the Downs


The Third Civil War, 1649-51

Battles and Campaigns

Cromwell in Ireland: Cromwell defeats the Royalist threat from Ireland.
Battle of Carbisdale: The final defeat of the Marquis of Montrose.
Battle of Dunbar: Cromwell defeats the Covenanters in Scotland.
Battle of Worcester: The final defeat of the Royalists on the British mainland.
The Scilly Isles, Jersey, Barbados: The Commonwealth navy captures outlying Royalist strongholds.
Prince Rupert's Voyages: Royalist privateering in Ireland, the Mediterranean, the western Atlantic and the Caribbean.


While the Scottish Covenanters had made a significant contribution to Parliament’s victory in the first English Civil War, during the second (1648) and third English Civil Wars (1650–51) they supported the king. On Dec. 26, 1647, Charles signed an agreement—known as the Engagement—with a number of leading Covenanters. In return for the establishment of Presbyterianism in England for a period of three years, the Scots promised to join forces with the English Royalists and restore the king to his throne. Early in July 1648, a Scottish force invaded England, but the parliamentary army routed it at the Battle of Preston (August 17).

The execution of Charles I in January 1649 merely served to galvanize Scottish (and Irish) support for the king’s son, Charles II, who was crowned king of the Scots at Scone, near Perth, on Jan. 1, 1651. Ultimately, the defeat of a combined force of Irish Royalists and Confederates at the hands of English Parliamentarians after August 1649 prevented the Irishmen from serving alongside their Scottish and English allies in the third English Civil War. As it was, this war was largely fought on Scottish soil, Oliver Cromwell and his New Model Army having invaded Scotland in July 1650. Despite being routed at the Battle of Dunbar (Sept. 3, 1650), which Cromwell regarded as “one of the most signal mercies God hath done for England and His people,” the Scots managed to raise another army that made a spectacular dash into England. This wild attempt to capture London came to nothing. Cromwell’s resounding victory at Worcester (Sept. 3, 1651) and Charles II’s subsequent flight to France not only gave Cromwell control over England but also effectively ended the wars of—and the wars in—the three kingdoms.

Cost and legacy

While it is notoriously difficult to determine the number of casualties in any war, it has been estimated that the conflict in England and Wales claimed about 85,000 lives in combat, with a further 127,000 noncombat deaths (including some 40,000 civilians). The fighting in Scotland and Ireland, where the populations were roughly a fifth of that of England, was more brutal still. As many as 15,000 civilians perished in Scotland, and a further 137,000 Irish civilians may well have died as a result of the wars there. In all nearly 200,000 people, or roughly 2.5 percent of the civilian population, lost their lives directly or indirectly as a result of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms during this decade, making the Civil Wars arguably the bloodiest conflict in the history of the British Isles.

These were the last civil wars ever fought on English—but not Scottish or Irish—soil, and they have bequeathed a lasting legacy. Ever since this period, the peoples of the three kingdoms have had a profound distrust of standing armies, while ideas first mooted during the 1640s, particularly about religious toleration and limitations on power, have survived to this day.

Jane H. Ohlmeyer

Encyclopædia Britannica


Cavalier was the name used by Parliamentarians for a supporter of King Charles I and his son Charles II during the English Civil War, the Interregnum, and the Restoration (1642 – c. 1679). Cavaliers were also known as Royalists. Prince Rupert, commander of much of Charles I's cavalry, is often considered an archetypical Cavalier. Their clothes were leather knee high boots, tunics and hats complete with plumes

Early usage
Cavalier derives from the same Latin root as the French word chevalier (as well as the Spanish word caballero), the Vulgar Latin word caballarius, meaning “horseman”. Shakespeare used the word cavaleros to describe an overbearing swashbuckler or swaggering gallant in Henry IV, Part 2, in which Shallow says "I'll drink to Master Bardolph, and to all the cavaleros about London."

The Wounded Cavalier by William Shakespeare Burton

English Civil War

"Cavalier" is chiefly associated with the Royalist supporters of King Charles I in his struggle with Parliament in the English Civil War. It first appears as a term of reproach and contempt, applied to the followers of King Charles I in June 1642:

1642 (June 10) Propositions of Parlt. in Clarendon v. (1702) I. 504 Several sorts of malignant Men, who were about the King; some whereof, under the name of Cavaliers, without having respect to the Laws of the Land, or any fear either of God or Man, were ready to commit all manner of Outrage and Violence. 1642 Petition Lords & Com. 17 June in Rushw. Coll. III. (1721) I. 631 That your Majesty..would please to dismiss your extraordinary Guards, and the Cavaliers and others of that Quality, who seem to have little Interest or Affection to the publick Good, their Language and Behaviour speaking nothing but Division and War.
—Oxford English Dictionary "Cavalier"

Charles, in the Answer to the Petition June 13, 1642 speaks of Cavaliers as a "word by what mistake soever it seemes much in disfavour". It was soon reappropriated (as a title of honour) by the king's party, who in return applied Roundhead to their opponents, and at the Restoration the court party preserved the name, which survived till the rise of the term Tory.
Cavalier was not understood at the time as primarily a term describing a style of dress, but a whole political and social attitude. However, in modern times the word has become more particularly associated with the court fashions of the period, which included long flowing hair in ringlets, brightly coloured with elaborate trimmings and lace collars and cuffs, and plumed hats. This contrasted with the dress of at least the most extreme Roundhead supporters of Parliament, with their preference for shorter hair and plainer dress, although neither side conformed to the stereotypical images entirely. Most Parliamentarian generals wore their hair at much the same length as their Royalist counterparts, though Cromwell was something of an exception. In fact the best patrons in the nobility of the archetypal recorder of the Cavalier image, Charles I's court painter Sir Anthony van Dyck, all took the Parliamentary side in the Civil War. Probably the most famous image identified as of a "cavalier", Frans Hals' Laughing Cavalier, in fact shows a gentleman from the strongly Calvinist Dutch town of Haarlem, and is dated 1624. These derogatory terms (for at the time they were so intended) also showed what the typical Parliamentarian thought of the Royalist side – capricious men who cared more for vanity than the nation at large.

Engraving depicting Charles I and his adherents

The chaplain to King Charles I, Edward Simmons described a Cavalier as "a Child of Honour, a Gentleman well borne and bred, that loves his king for conscience sake, of a clearer countenance, and bolder look than other men, because of a more loyal Heart." There were many men in the Royalist armies who fit this description since most of the Royalist field officers were typically in their early thirties, married with rural estates which had to be managed. Although they did not share the same outlook on how to worship God as the English Independents of the New Model Army, God was often central to their lives. This type of Cavalier was personified by Lord Jacob Astley whose prayer at the start of the Battle of Edgehill has become famous "O Lord, Thou knowest how busy I must be this day. If I forget Thee, do not forget me." At the end of the First Civil War Astley gave his word that he would not take up arms again against Parliament and having given his word he felt duty bound to refuse to help the Royalist cause in the Second Civil War.

However, the word was coined by the Roundheads as a pejorative propaganda image of a licentious, hard drinking and frivolous man, who rarely, if ever, thought of God. It is this image which has survived and many Royalists, for example Henry Wilmot, 1st Earl of Rochester, fitted this description to a tee. Of another Cavalier, Lord Goring a general in the Royalist army, the principal advisor to Charles II, Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon, said that he "would, without hesitation, have broken any trust, or done any act of treachery to have satisfied an ordinary passion or appetite; and in truth wanted nothing but industry (for he had wit, and courage, and understanding and ambition, uncontrolled by any fear of God or man) to have been as eminent and successful in the highest attempt of wickedness as any man in the age he lived in or before. Of all his qualifications dissimulation was his masterpiece; in which he so much excelled, that men were not ordinarily ashamed, or out of countenance, with being deceived.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


"Roundhead" was the name given to the supporters of the Parliament during the English Civil War. Also known as Parliamentarians, they fought against King Charles I and his supporters, the Cavaliers (Royalists), who claimed absolute power and the divine right of kings. The goal of the Roundhead party was to give the Parliament supreme control over executive administration.

Most Roundheads appear to have sought a constitutional monarchy, in place of the absolutist monarchy sought by Charles I. However, at the end of the Civil War in 1649, public antipathy towards the king was high enough to allow republican Roundhead leaders such as Oliver Cromwell to abolish the monarchy completely and establish the republican Commonwealth. The Roundhead commander-in-chief of the first Civil War, Lord Fairfax, remained a supporter of constitutional monarchy, as did many other Roundhead leaders such as Edward Montagu and the Earl of Essex, however this party was outmaneuvered by the more politically adept Cromwell and his radicals, who had the backing of the New Model Army and took advantage of Charles' perceived betrayal of England by allying with the Scots against Parliament.
England's many Puritans and Presbyterians were almost invariably Roundhead supporters, as were many smaller religious groups such as the Independents. However many Roundheads were Church of England, as were many Cavaliers.
Roundhead political factions included Diggers, Levellers and Fifth Monarchists.

A Roundhead by John Pettie
Origins and background
Some of the Puritans, but by no means all, wore their hair closely cropped round the head, or flat, and there was thus an obvious contrast between them and the men of courtly fashion with their long ringlets.
During the war and for a time afterwards Roundhead was a term of derision—in the New Model Army it was a punishable offence to call a fellow soldier a Roundhead. This contrasted with the term Cavalier to describe supporters of the Royalist cause. Cavalier also started out as a pejorative term—the first proponents used it to compare members of the Royalist party with Spanish Caballeros who had abused Dutch Protestants during the reign of Elizabeth I—but unlike Roundhead, Cavalier was embraced by those who were the target of the epithet and used by them to describe themselves.
Roundheads appears to have been first used as a term of derision toward the end of 1641, when the debates in Parliament in the Bishops Exclusion Bill were causing riots at Westminster. One authority said of the crowd which gathered there, "They had the hair of their heads very few of them longer than their ears, whereupon it came to pass that those who usually with their cries attended at Westminster were by a nickname called Roundheads". The demonstrators included London apprentices and Roundhead was a term of derision for them because the regulations to which they had agreed included a provision for closely cropped hair.

A Roundhead inquisitor asks a son of a Cavalier "and when did you last see your father?" — William Frederick Yeames (1878).

According to John Rushworth the word was first used on 27 December 1641 by a disbanded officer named David Hide, who during a riot is reported to have drawn his sword and said he would "cut the throat of those round-headed dogs that bawled against bishops".
However, Richard Baxter ascribes the origin of the term to a remark made by Queen Henrietta Maria at the trial of the Earl of Strafford earlier that year; referring to John Pym, she asked who the Roundheaded man was.
The principal advisor to Charles II, the Earl of Clarendon remarked on the matter, "and from those contestations the two terms of Roundhead and Cavalier grew to be received in discourse, ... they who were looked upon as servants to the king being then called Cavaliers, and the other of the rabble contemned and despised under the name of Roundheads."
Ironically, after Anglican Archbishop Laud made a statute in 1636 instructing all clergy to wear short hair, many Puritans rebelled to show their contempt for his authority and began to grow their hair even longer (as can be seen on their portraits) though they continued to be known as Roundheads. The longer hair was more common among the "Independent" and "high ranking" Puritans (which included Cromwell), especially toward the end of the Protectorate, while the "Presbyterian" (i.e. non-Independent) faction, and the military rank-and-file, continued to abhor long hair. By the end of this period some Independent Puritans were again derisively using the term Roundhead to refer to the Presbyterian Puritans.
Roundhead remained in use to describe those with republican tendencies up until the Exclusion Bill crisis of 1678–1681; the term was then superseded by Whig, initially another term with pejorative connotations. Likewise during Exclusion Bill crisis, the term Cavalier was replaced with Tory, a term introduced by the opponents of the Tories, and also initially a pejorative term.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bishops’ Wars
Bishops’ Wars, (1639, 1640), in British history, two brief campaigns that were fought between Charles I and the Scots.

The wars were the result of Charles’s endeavour to enforce Anglican observances in the Scottish Church and of the determination of the Scots to abolish episcopacy. A riot in Edinburgh in 1637 quickly led to national resistance in Scotland; and, when in November 1638 the General Assembly at Glasgow set Charles’s orders at defiance, he gathered an English force and marched toward the border in 1639. Lacking sufficient funds and lacking confidence in his troops, however, Charles agreed, by the Pacification of Berwick, to leave the Scots alone. The first Bishops’ War thus ended without battle.

Misunderstandings broke out as to the interpretation of the pacification treaty; and Charles, having discovered that the Scots were intriguing with France, determined again on the use of force. To raise money, he once more called a Parliament in England (April 1640). This Short Parliament, as it was called, insisted first on discussing grievances against the government and showed itself opposed to a renewal of the war against the Scots. Charles thereupon dissolved Parliament and raised a new expedition on his own. The subsequent military successes of the Scots in the second Bishops’ War and their seizure of the whole of Northumberland and Durham made it necessary for Charles to summon the Long Parliament (November 1640), thus precipitating the English Civil War.

Encyclopædia Britannica

Alexander Henderson

Alexander Henderson
Alexander Henderson, (born 1583?, Creich, Fife, Scot.—died Aug. 19, 1646, Edinburgh), Scottish Presbyterian clergyman primarily responsible for the preservation of the presbyterian form of church government in Scotland, who was influential in the defeat of the English king Charles I during the Civil War of 1642–51.

In 1612 Henderson was nearly prevented from assuming duties in Leuchars, Fife, by parishioners who were angered by his intransigence and unorthodoxy. Henderson soon adjusted to standard Presbyterian practice, however, and his pastorate remained uneventful for the next 25 years. Only through an ecclesiastical dispute in 1637 did he emerge from his role as a quiet, efficient country minister. Because he refused to procure copies for his parish of the newly issued book of canons (1636) and of a subsequent book of worship imposed by Charles I, he was summoned to Edinburgh. There he boldly defended his disobedience and gained recognition as a leader. Henderson was largely responsible for the resistance that found expression in the National Covenant of 1638, a Presbyterian statement that led to a general assembly of churchmen in Glasgow later that year.

Henderson furthered his reputation as a leader by his conduct as moderator of the assembly and was soon transferred to Edinburgh. He became the major figure in the negotiations following the two Bishops’ Wars, in which native Scottish bishops vied with English loyalists for control of the Church of Scotland. At the onset of the first war, he wrote the pamphlet Instructions for a Defensive Arms (1638), a justification of the people’s right to self-defense. Charles I lost his struggle to subordinate the Scottish Church to that of England, and in 1641 the presbyterian system was made secure in Scotland. For the next two years Henderson occupied himself with reorganization of the restored church.

With the outbreak of civil war in England in 1642, Henderson led the great majority of Scotsmen to side with the English Parliament against the King. Through the Solemn League and Covenant of 1643, the Scots committed military support on behalf of Parliament and won representation in the English assembly of Westminster, a religious body that advised Parliament. This assembly was commissioned to reconstitute church rule in the British Isles. With the Scottish clergymen Samuel Rutherford, Robert Baillie, and George Gillespie, Henderson engaged in preaching and propagandizing for the Church of Scotland in the Westminster Assembly.

Second only to John Knox (c. 1514–72) as a leader in the reformed Church of Scotland, Henderson was the author of numerous tracts, most effective among them being The Bishops’ Doom (1638) and The Government and Order of the Church of Scotland (1641), composed for the assembly at Westminster.

Encyclopædia Britannica

Alexander Leslie

Alexander Leslie
Alexander Leslie, 1st earl of Leven, (born c. 1580—died April 4, 1661, Balgonie, Fife, Scot.), commander of the Scottish army that from 1644 to 1646 fought on the side of Parliament in the English Civil Wars between Parliament and King Charles I.

Leslie joined the Swedish army in 1605 and served brilliantly in the Thirty Years’ War in central Europe. In 1628 he distinguished himself by successfully defending Stralsund against the imperial commander Wallenstein, and in 1636 he became a field marshal under the Swedish king Gustavus II Adolphus.

By the time he returned to Scotland in 1637, the country was in turmoil over King Charles I’s attempts to impose Anglican forms of worship on the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. Leslie readily pledged to defend the Presbyterian religion and indeed had encouraged Scottish troops on the European continent to do so. During the nearly bloodless First and Second Bishops’ Wars (1639–41) between England and Scotland, he commanded the Scottish army. He occupied northeastern England in August 1640, remaining there until the war’s end. In a fruitless attempt to win his allegiance, Charles then made him Earl of Leven and Lord Balgonie (October 1641).

Leven led Scottish troops against Roman Catholic rebels in Ireland in 1642–43, but he returned to Scotland (January 1644) to take charge of the Scottish army that entered England to fight for Parliament. He played a leading role in the campaigns of 1644–45, and in May 1646 Charles I surrendered to him at Newark, Nottinghamshire. After handing the king over to Parliament (January 1647), Leven returned with his army to Scotland and retired from active service. He was powerless to prevent the Scottish Royalists from sending troops into England in 1648, but the execution of Charles I by the Independents (radical Puritans) brought him into the Royalist camp of King Charles II. In 1650–51 the aged general commanded the forces that defended Scotland from the invading army of Oliver Cromwell. Captured by English dragoons at Alyth in August 1651, Leven was confined until 1654, when he once more retired.

Encyclopædia Britannica


A nineteenth-century painting depicting Charles before the battle of Edgehill, 1642
Battle of Edgehill (Oct. 23, 1642)
Battle of Edgehill, (Oct. 23, 1642), first battle of the English Civil Wars, in which forces loyal to the English Parliament, commanded by Robert Devereux, 3rd earl of Essex, fatally delayed Charles I’s march on London.

The Battle of Edgehill took place in open country between Banbury and Warwick. The royal army, under Charles I’s personal command, marched southeast toward London, which was garrisoned by parliamentary troops. The Earl of Essex hastened to its relief with the main parliamentary army. On the night of October 22–23, the two nearly even forces discovered that they lay only a few miles apart, and the following day they drew up in battle order. However, since most of the soldiers were raw recruits, this took several hours—action did not begin until about 2 pm. After an hour’s exchange of artillery fire, the royal cavalry, led by Charles’s nephew Prince Rupert, launched a powerful attack that drove the opposing horse from the field. In a pattern repeated in later battles, Rupert’s pursuit continued too long, allowing Essex’s superior infantry to drive back the Royalists. The return of Rupert and some of his men just before dark stabilized the situation, and the two sides disengaged. Of some 26,000 men involved in the battle, approximately 1,000 died and 2,000 more were injured.

Both armies slept in the open, despite a hard frost and no food, and the next day again drew up in battle order; but neither possessed the strength (or, perhaps, the stamina) to fight. On October 25, two days after the battle, the king resumed his march on London, but he decided to take Banbury—his initial objective—and Brentford first. This allowed Essex to reach London and organize a defensive shield against the Royalist advance. Reinforced by the London militia, Essex drew up his forces in battle order again at Turnham Green on November 13. Outnumbered two to one, and with winter approaching, Charles withdrew and established his capital at Oxford. He had just lost his best chance of nipping the Great Rebellion in the bud.

N. Geoffrey Parker

Encyclopædia Britannica

Rupert of the Rhine

Anthony van Dyck. Prince Rupert, Count Palatine
Prince Rupert, byname Rupert Of The Rhine, or Rupert Of The Palatinate, German Prinz Rupert, or Ruprecht (born Dec. 17, 1619, Prague, Bohemia [now in Czech Republic]—died Nov. 29, 1682, London, Eng.), the most talented Royalist commander of the English Civil War (1642–51). His tactical genius and daring as a cavalry officer brought him many victories early in the war, but his forces eventually were overcome by the more highly disciplined Parliamentary army.

Rupert’s father was Frederick V, elector Palatine and king of Bohemia (as Frederick I); and his mother, Elizabeth Stuart, was a daughter of King James I of England. In 1620, two years after the outbreak of the Thirty Years’ War, the family was driven from Bohemia to the Dutch Republic, where Rupert grew up. The high-spirited youth became a favourite of his uncle, King Charles I, when he visited the English court in 1636. Rupert fought against the imperial forces in the Thirty Years’ War in 1638, but he was captured at Vlotho on the Weser River and held captive in Austria for three years.

Soon after his release Rupert went to England. He joined Charles I shortly before the outbreak of the Civil War in August 1642. At the age of 23 he received command of the cavalry, and during the Royalist offensive of 1643 and early 1644 he led his swift-moving troops in a series of brilliant successes. He took Bristol in July 1643, relieved Newark, Nottinghamshire, in February 1644, and seized most of Lancashire in June. On July 2, however, he was severely defeated by Oliver Cromwell at Marston Moor, Yorkshire. Despite this setback, Rupert, who had been made Duke of Cumberland and Earl of Holderness in January 1644, was appointed commander in chief of the king’s armies in November 1644. The promotion only sharpened the hostility between Rupert and several of the king’s counsellors, particularly Lord Digby (afterward 2nd Earl of Bristol). These dissensions continually frustrated Rupert’s attempts to organize a coordinated campaign. He captured Leicester in May 1645 but was badly beaten at Naseby, Northamptonshire, on June 14. When he surrendered Bristol to the Parliamentarians in September, Charles abruptly dismissed him from his command. In July 1646, following the king’s surrender to the Scots, Rupert was banished by Parliament from England.

Rupert took charge of the small Royalist fleet in 1648 and began to prey on English shipping. He was chased by the Parliamentary admiral Robert Blake from Kinsale, County Cork, to Lisbon and on into the Mediterranean Sea. Driven from the Mediterranean, Rupert resumed his piratical activities in the Azores and the West Indies (1651–52). In 1653 he returned with only one ship and a few prizes to France, where Charles II, the son and successor of Charles I, had his court in exile. After quarreling with Charles, Rupert went into retirement in Germany. Nevertheless, after Charles gained the English throne in the Restoration of 1660, Rupert was made a privy councillor and given naval commands in the second and third Dutch Wars (1665–67 and 1672–74). He became the first governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1670. During the years before his death, Rupert dabbled in scientific experiments and introduced the art of mezzotint printmaking into England.

Encyclopædia Britannica

Robert Devereux
Robert Devereux, 3rd earl of Essex, (born January 1591, London—died Sept. 14, 1646, London), English nobleman who commanded, with notable lack of success, the Parliamentary army against Charles I’s forces in the first three years of the English Civil Wars.

Because his father, Robert Devereux, 2nd earl of Essex, had been executed for treason (1601), Devereux had to obtain special permission from Parliament to succeed (1604) to his family titles and estates. In 1606 King James I arranged Essex’ marriage to Frances Howard, countess of Suffolk. But the countess soon fell in love with the king’s Scottish favourite, Robert Carr, and in 1613 James had a divorce commission annul her marriage so that she could marry Carr, who was also created earl of Somerset. Not surprisingly, the episode embittered Essex against the king.

Essex’ military career began in 1620 with five successive campaigns in the Rhine valley in the Thirty Years’ War, and in 1625 he was vice admiral in the unsuccessful expedition sent by James’s son and successor, Charles I, against the Spanish port of Cádiz. Although Charles appointed him second in command of the bloodless Bishops’ War against Scotland in 1639, Essex refused to stand by the king when his chief ministers were deposed by the Long Parliament (beginning November 1640).

In July 1642 Essex was appointed to command the Parliamentary army. He fought courageously against the royalists at the bloody but indecisive Battle of Edgehill in October 1642, and he fell back on London in 1643. But his 6,000-man army was besieged at Lostwithiel, Cornwall, in August 1644, and all surrendered except Essex, who escaped by sea. He resigned his command in April 1645, just before Parliament passed the Self-Denying Ordinance excluding its members from military command. He continued, however, to sit in Parliament and concerned himself with veterans affairs. He died without a surviving son and heir; the earldom of Essex became extinct in his line, though the viscountcy of Hereford went to a cousin.

Encyclopædia Britannica


The Battle of Marston Moor, by J. Barker
Battle of Marston Moor (July 2, 1644)

Battle of Marston Moor, (July 2, 1644), the first major Royalist defeat in the English Civil Wars.


Oliver Cromwell at the Battle of Marston Moor
  In June 1644, King Charles I ordered a force under Prince Rupert of the Palatinate to relieve the Royalist garrison at York, then under siege by the Parliamentarians.

Rupert outmaneuvered the besiegers, relieved York, and pursued the Parliamentary forces seven miles west to Long Marston.

There the Parliamentary armies under Sir Thomas Fairfax (later 3rd Baron Fairfax of Cameron), and a Scottish army under Alexander Leslie, the 1st earl of Leven, surprised Rupert with an early-evening attack.

The left wing of the Parliamentary forces under Oliver Cromwell scattered the cavalry on the Royalist right wing; Cromwell’s men then reformed and went to Fairfax’s aid on the Parliamentary right, enveloping the Royalist centre.

The Royalists suffered heavy losses—3,000 to 4,000 killed, many prisoners taken, and most of their cannon captured.

With the fall of York, the King lost control of the north, and Oliver Cromwell emerged as the leading Parliamentary general.

Encyclopædia Britannica


Battle of Naseby, by an unknown artist. The victory of the Parliamentarian New Model Army, under Sir Thomas Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell, over the Royalist army, commanded by Prince Rupert, at the Battle of Naseby (June 14, 1645) marked the decisive turning point in the English Civil War.
Battle of Naseby (June 14, 1645)

Battle of Naseby, (June 14, 1645), battle fought about 20 miles (32 km) south of Leicester, Eng., between the Parliamentary New Model Army under Oliver Cromwell and Sir Thomas Fairfax and the royalists under Prince Rupert of the Palatinate; it largely decided the first phase of the English Civil Wars.

The New Model Army had been following in pursuit of the royalists, who had left Oxford and stormed Leicester on May 30. The two armies met about a mile north of Naseby and deployed along parallel ridges between which lay a valley known as Broad Moor. The royalists, though outnumbered 14,000 to nearly 10,000, attacked all along the line. Rupert was successful in driving back the left wing of Parliamentary cavalry under General Henry Ireton but made the mistake of engaging in wild pursuit, thus leaving the beleaguered royalist infantry in the centre unsupported. The more disciplined Parliamentary cavalry on the right under Cromwell was then able to regroup and deliver a decisive assault on the centre. As a result the royalist army was completely routed, with the Parliamentarians taking about 4,000 prisoners and the royalists’ artillery. With the loss of his best infantry regiments at Naseby, King Charles I could no longer meet the New Model Army in open battle and had effectively lost the war.

Encyclopædia Britannica

Strategic plan for the Battle of Naseby, June 14, 1645; from Anglia Rediviva (1647).
Battle of Naseby

14 June 1645

Forces Engaged

6,500 cavalry and 7,000 infantry.
Commander: Lord Fairfax.
Monarchic: 4,000 cavalry and 3,500 infantry.
Commander: Prince Rupert.

Rivalry between the power of the king and of
Parliament in England finally settled provisionally
in favor of Parliament, establishing democracy as
the basis of government in England, with effects
on English colonies, especially in America.

Historical Setting

Ever since the War of the Roses (1455-1485), the government of England had remained remarkably stable. The king ruled, if not absolutely, then certainly with little restriction on his power. This was possible because he was granted a comfortable income via tariffs and the produce of royally held property. With such an income, taxes were minimal, and the successive monarchs had no need to summon Parliament. As long as they ruled with a minimum of wisdom and did not exceed their incomes, the population was happy. For almost two centuries this was the case, but royal ambitions in the early seventeenth century began to stretch the royal bank accounts, and Parliament needed to be summoned to provide extra monies.
The English Parliament as an institution began at this time to feel the need for a more active role in government because the king and his advisors were becoming more internationally active and the bills for Continental forays began to climb. Those expenses, added to the fact that the wealth that Europe was reaping from the Americas had caused inflation, meant that it was increasingly difficult for kings to maintain themselves with the incomes granted them in earlier days. Unfortunately for English Kings James I and his son Charles I, they were badly advised by their most trusted subordinate, the duke of Buckingham. Between 1624 and 1628, Buckingham led failed attacks on Spain and Holland. To pay for these fiascoes, James and then Charles were forced to summon Parliament into session. Each time, Parliament became less cooperative and more ambitious for its own power.

Finally, in January 1629, Parliament assembled under the leadership of John Pym, who challenged King Charles on virtually every governmental matter. Placing the governing body in direct opposition to Charles's two primary subordinates, the earl of Strafford and Archbishop Laud, legal as well as economic struggles ensued. Strafford had assembled a standing army in Ireland that needed maintenance; Laud launched a zealous campaign, attempting to impose much stricter Anglican orthodoxy, which provoked the strongly Calvinist Scots. The need to pay for an army and fight the Scots that rose up against Charles gave Parliament leverage over the king. In 1640, Parliament impeached Laud. In 1641, it forced the king to execute Strafford. Parliament then proceeded to pass a series of laws expanding its authority. John Pym, a leader in the House of Commons, brought charges of treason against the queen, and Charles responded with similar charges against Pym. Failing to take Pym prisoner and widi Parliament gaining political and economic support in London, Charles fled northward, established himself in Nottingham, and appealed for public support against an increasingly revolutionary Parliament.
The result of this royal-legislative confrontation was the English civil war. King Charles was able to rally much of the aristocracy, much of the northland, and Wales to his cause, whereas southeastern England (especially London) supported Parliament. Charles was able to assemble a fairly well trained army via his aristocrats, who drew on mercenaries who had been fighting in the contemporary Thirty Years' War on the Continent. Since Strafford's death, there had been no standing army. Charles was hampered most of all by Parliament's control over the navy, which denied him communication and supplies from the Continent. Parliament, although better funded, was not at first able to gain much success because of its own internal squabbling.
Early in the conflict, die Royalist cause had the services of the talented and flamboyant
Prince Rupert from Holland, Charles's nephew. Although only 23 years old, he had been a soldier since age 14 and was able to command, if not totally control, the aristocratic Cavaliers, as the Royalists were called. They were adequate for raiding but undisciplined in battle. The commander that came to prominence in opposition was Oliver Cromwell, who organized and trained a cavalry force for the Roundheads (as die Parliamentarians were called) known as the Ironsides. These two men were die greatest talents to emerge from this war.

The Battle

In late summer 1643, Pym renewed a longstanding alliance with the Scots. For their support, die Scots demanded and received freedom for the Presbyterian Church; this abolished the power of the Church of England in Scotland. Learning of diis, one of Charles's Scottish supporters, die marquis of Montrose, rode to alert Charles and to offer to rally pro-royalist forces. Rather than provoke a civil war in Scotland as well, Charles refused, only to find himself between two enemies when Scottish troops marched south in January 1644. This led to the Roundhead victory at Marston Moor in early July, which placed the parliamentary faction in solid control of the north while Charles retreated southward. He established himself in Oxford, while his forces gained key victories in Cornwall through the summer. A short truce at the end of the year collapsed when Charles rejected Parliaments proposals for peace and a new government. Parliament was never able to capitalize on its victories because of the excessive dissension in its ranks. Finally, in April 1645, Parliament barred any of its members (except Cromwell) from commanding troops. This separation of power greatly benefited the Roundheads, who could focus on raising a standing army of their own. It came to be called the New Model Army, and the red coats they wore began a tradition in the British military that lasted until the late nineteenth century.

Although made up mainly of men forced into uniform, Cromwell and his superior, Lord Fairfax, worked wonders in instilling discipline. By spring 1645, they were ready to use this army against the Royalists in Oxford.
Charles had his own squabbling subordinates to worry about. He separated Prince Rupert from Lord George Goring by sending them in opposite directions: the former north to try to recover the county of York, the latter west. This division of his forces, already smaller than those of Parliament, was a mistake. Nevertheless, Rupert quickly captured Leicester, a major loss for the Roundhead cause. Soon afterward, however, Charles learned of the Roundhead siege of Oxford, so he overrode Rupert's objections and ordered his army back to the south. Hearing of its approach, Lord Fairfax lifted his siege of the city and marched north to meet the oncoming Cavaliers. The two armies stumbled into each other near the town
of Naseby, almost 50 miles north of Oxford and 20 miles south-southeast of Leicester. In the morningofl4 June, Rupert's force was lined up on a hill north of the town. When he rode south to scout the Roundheads, he found them withdrawing toward Naseby. Perceiving this as a retreat, Rupert called his army southward, off its hill, in pursuit. In reality, the Roundheads were not retreating but merely redeploying to a hillside of their own where they formed up on the reverse side of the hill.
Through the morning, both armies marched and positioned themselves. To the north, Charles deployed his men in three successive lines of infantry in the center and cavalry on the flanks. The infantry were mixed units of musketeers and pikemen. Rupert, officially in command of the Royalist force, abandoned that post just before the battle, apparently after an argument with Lord Digby, a sycophant who always played to Charles's vanity at Rupert's expense. Thus, Rupert took himself out of position to oversee the battle and placed himself in command of the Royalist right wing. This severely hampered the coordination late in the batde.

Fairfax's deployment mirrored the Royalists atop Mill Hill, but outnumbered the Cavaliers 13,500 to 7,500. Fairfax placed his least-disciplined men in the front of his three lines, with the veterans and officers in the second line. This would perhaps hearten the men in the front and provide a stable line if the front rank broke. Cromwell's Ironsides were stationed on the right flank, while a second force of cavalry under Henry Ireton was on the left. A long, dense hedgerow bordered the western edge of the battlefield, and Fairfax placed a force of 1,000 dragoons behind it.
The battle opened at 1000, with the Royalist cannon firing a fusillade. The Cavalier infantry began marching toward their opponents, but tall grass made it difficult to maintain their straight lines. Ireton's cavalry on the Roundhead left began their approach toward Ruperts unit, but the Roundhead infantry remained in place on the reverse of Mill Hill until the Cavalier infantry approached to within firing range. They then moved forward to confront their foe. Rupert ordered his cavalry to charge, leaving the escorting musketeers behind. They closed with Ireton's force, and after a melee the first line of Cavalier cavalry withdrew. Thinking them out of the fight, Ireton turned away from the cavalry and aimed to strike the infantry's flank. Rupert brought up his second line of cavalry and crashed into Ireton's now exposed flank, and the Roundhead cavalry fled the field.
As this was happening, the Royalist infantry was pushing back the front rank of the New Model Army. Unphased by Ireton's abortive attack on their flank, the infantry continued to push ahead while the leading units of Roundhead infantry retreated. Fairfax's decision to place his steadier troops in the second line here
paid off because, under his urging, they advanced and blunted the Royalist surge. Rupert at this point should have struck their flank, just as Ireton had attempted, but the nature of the Cavalier cavalry showed itself: they pushed past the batde in pursuit of Ireton's force and then attacked the baggage camp to acquire what loot they could. A spirited defense of the camp foiled their attempt, but Rupert's inability to maintain discipline cost his side the battle.
On the right flank of the parliamentary line, Cromwell's forces engaged the oncoming cavalry under the command of Sir Marmaduke Langdale. After an intense melee, Langdale's cavalry withdrew. Cromwell detailed his front rank to stand fast and keep the Royalists from interfering, while he led his second rank into the Royalist infantry's flank and rear. Quick action by King Charles could have saved the day had he committed his reserves; he was ordering them to do just that and lead them himself into battle, when an overcautious subordinate warned him off, asking, "Will you go upon your death?" That gave Charles pause, and deflated any momentum the reserves may have had. Instead of striking Cromwell's exposed flank, they stood around in disorganized fashion and watched the infantry being surrounded. Fairfax led a final charge with his third rank, which pinned the Royalist infantry in front and encircled them from the west while Cromwell's cavalry was pounding them from the east. Even the return of Rupert to his king's side could not rally the reserves, and Charles fled the field.


The battle was over by midday. Charles's army was shattered, widi at least 1,000 killed and 5,000 captured, along with all his artillery and baggage. When the New Model Army destroyed their opposing infantry and turned to face the king and his reserve cavalry, their discipline so shocked the Cavaliers that they fled, chased by die Ironsides for 14 miles, almost to the gates of Leicester. The Roundheads had lost less than 1,000 casualties.
Charles fled for Wales to try to raise another army, but to little avail. The New Model Army had all the initiative and proceeded over the next few months to reduce Royalist strongholds around the country. By the time the final one surrendered (Harlech Castle, in Wales, in March 1647), Charles had been 2 months in Parliament's hands. As the population believed in the necessity of a king as head of government, Parliament spared Charles and attempted to make him a virtual puppet. When he continued to plot against them and began a new civil war in 1649, Parliament had had enough. They executed him in January of that year. That, however, did not ensure Parliament's control of the country, for the New Model Army became so politicized that it became the real power in England. When Parliament proved ineffective in ruling the country alone, Cromwell used the army to disband Parliament in 1653 and place himself in power as lord protector. He exercised a virtual dictatorship until his death in 1658. A power struggle afterward was won by the army's new commander, George Monck. He oversaw the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II in 1660.
Cromwell's victory at Naseby and his subsequent rise to power at once proved and disproved the need for a king. An out-of-control Parliament needed curbing, and Cromwell curbed it when he disbanded it, showing the need for a strong executive. That parliamentary forces had removed an unpopular king, however, showed that a body more responsive to the needs of the population was vital. Cromwell refused to accept the title of king, a decision that to an extent proved that a monarch was not necessarily the only form of executive that could be employed. Naseby and Cromwell limited the future power of the king. Another battle, near Dunkirk in 1660, would establish the final superiority of Parliament in the English governmental system.
America benefited in another way from the struggle between Parliament and king in England. When Charles I's Archbishop Laud began persecuting the northern church in the late 1630s, a number of Scots fled for North America, swelling its population in the northern colonies. A similar exodus by the upper classes during Cromwell's reign expanded the central colonies, Virginia in particular. Thus, America's population, reflecting attitudes against both king and Parliament, provided some of the ideological basis for the American Revolution; both the English civil war and the American Revolution led the way to the ultimate collapse of the concept of absolute monarchy in the world.
Thomas Fairfax
Thomas Fairfax, 3rd Baron Fairfax, (born Jan. 17, 1612, Denton, Yorkshire, Eng.—died Nov. 12, 1671, Nun Appleton, Yorkshire), commander in chief of the Parliamentary army during the English Civil Wars between the Royalists and Parliamentarians. His tactical skill and personal courage helped bring about many of the Parliamentary victories in northern and southwestern England.

The son of Ferdinando, 2nd Baron Fairfax of Cameron, he attended the University of Cambridge and from 1629 to 1631 fought with the Dutch against the Spanish. Fairfax participated in the Bishops’ Wars (1639 and 1640) against the Scots and was knighted in January 1640. (He succeeded to his father’s title in 1648.)

When the Civil Wars broke out, he and his father joined the Parliamentarian cause, Sir Thomas commanding the cavalry in his native Yorkshire. He occupied Leeds in January 1643 and captured Wakefield in May, but after his defeat at Adwalton Moor (June 30) most of Yorkshire fell to the Royalists. With Oliver Cromwell’s assistance, Fairfax counterattacked and secured the north through victories at Winceby, Lincolnshire (October 1643), and Marston Moor, Yorkshire (July 1644). He was seriously wounded in the siege of Helmsley Castle, Yorkshire (September 1644).

In February 1645 he was appointed commander in chief of the New Model Army. It is Fairfax who deserves much of the credit for organizing and training this effective fighting force. In his decisive victory over Charles I at Naseby, Northamptonshire (June 14, 1645), Sir Thomas displayed his renowned reckless daring. He then marched into the southwest and defeated the only remaining Royalist army at Langport, Somerset (July 1645).

Fairfax had hoped a limited monarchy could be established, but, when the Royalists again took up arms in 1647, he crushed their forces at Maidstone, Kent, and starved Colchester, Essex, into submission. Fairfax disapproved of the purge of Parliament by his soldiers in December 1648, and he refused to serve on the commission that condemned Charles I to death, an event he sought to prevent. He agreed to become a member of the Council of State of the newly formed Republic.

In 1650 Fairfax resigned as commander in chief in protest over the proposed invasion of Scotland. He then retired from politics, but in 1657 he quarreled bitterly with his old friend Cromwell, now Lord Protector. After Cromwell’s death in September 1658, he helped General George Monck restore Parliamentary rule in the face of opposition from the army. Fairfax was a member of the Parliament that invited Charles I’s son to return to England as King Charles II in 1660, but the desecration of Cromwell’s remains by Charles II in 1661 incensed him. Thereafter, he took no further part in public affairs.

Encyclopædia Britannica

Battle of Langport (10 July 1645)

The Battle of Langport was a Parliamentarian victory late in the First English Civil War which destroyed the last Royalist field army and gave Parliament control of the West of England, which had hitherto been a major source of manpower, raw materials and imports for the Royalists. The battle took place on 10 July 1645 near the small town of Langport, which lies south of Bristol.

Taunton had been captured by the Parliamentarian army under the Earl of Essex in June 1644. After Essex's army was forced to surrender at Lostwithiel in Cornwall in September, the Royalists maintained a Siege of Taunton, although the town was briefly relieved by Sir William Waller in late November.
When determining strategy for 1645, King Charles I had despatched George, Lord Goring, the Lieutenant General of the Horse (cavalry), to the West Country along with orders to retake Taunton and other Parliamentarian outposts in the area. Although Goring briefly rejoined the King's main 'Oxford Army', tensions between him and Prince Rupert, the King's Captain General and chief adviser, resulted in Goring's force returning to the West.
Parliament had meanwhile sent a substantial detachment of one cavalry regiment and four infantry regiments from their New Model Army to relieve Taunton. They raised the siege on 11 May 1645, but were themselves besieged by Goring's returning army (although there was no longer any danger of the Royalists storming the town).
On 14 June 1645, the main body of the New Model Army under Sir Thomas Fairfax, with Oliver Cromwell as Lieutenant General of the Horse, won the decisive Battle of Naseby, destroying King Charles's main army. After the Royalist garrison of Leicester surrendered four days later, the New Model Army was free to march to the relief of Taunton.
  The Army marched first south and then west, keeping near the coast so as to keep touch with Parliament's navy. On 4 July it reached Beaminster, where Fairfax learned that Goring had raised the siege and was retreating towards the Royalist stronghold at Bridgwater.

To cover the retreat of the baggage, Goring's army was spread over a front of 12 miles (19 km) along the north of the River Yeo, from Langport to Yeovil. The Royalists were outnumbered by Fairfax's army, and their discipline was poor, mainly because a succession of lax Royalist commanders had allowed their men too much license to pillage (which also alienated many of the local people).

Fairfax was joined by the New Model detachment from Taunton, under Colonel Ralph Weldon, and started in pursuit. On 8 July, Fairfax captured Yeovil and crossed to the north side of the River Yeo. He sent another Parliamentarian force (part of the Army of the "Western Association" under Major General Edward Massie) to deal with an attempted diversion in the direction of Taunton by some of Goring's cavalry under George Porter, a notoriously unreliable officer. Porter's men failed to post proper sentries and outposts, and were taken by surprise by Massey and destroyed at Isle Abbots in the early hours of 9 July.

Fairfax had meanwhile advanced westward, and encountered Goring's main position at Langport late on 9 July.
The battle of Langport took place the next day. Goring had occupied a strong rearguard position to cover the withdrawal of his slow-moving artillery and baggage. His main force held a ridge running north to south, a mile east of Langport. In front of the ridge was a marshy valley occupied by a stream named the Wagg Rhyne. Only a single narrow lane lined with trees and hedges ran across the stream via a ford, and up to the top of the ridge. Goring placed two light guns in position to fire down the lane, and disposed two raw units of Welsh foot soldiers in the hedges. Three bodies of horse (Goring's Life Guard, and Goring's and Sir Arthur Slingsby's Regiments) waited at the top of the ridge. Goring hoped that Fairfax would be forced to make time-consuming outflanking moves.
Fairfax was prepared to rely on the superior morale of his cavalry to overcome Goring's position. While his artillery silenced Goring's two light guns, he sent 1500 detached musketeers through the marshes to clear the Welsh infantry from the hedges. He then ordered two 'divisions' (half regiments of horse) to charge up the lane.
  These two divisions were from regiments (Fairfax's and Whalley's) which had originally been part of Oliver Cromwell's double regiment of Ironsides before being merged into the New Model Army.

The first division under Major Christopher Bethel galloped up the lane four abreast, deployed into a line and charged and broke two of the Royalist cavalry regiments. A third Royalist regiment counter-attacked but the second division of Parliamentarian horse under Major John Desborough charged and routed them. As more Parliamentarian reinforcements streamed up the lane, Goring's men broke and fled the field.

Cromwell halted his well-disciplined cavalry at the top of the ridge until his forces had reformed. Then they moved rapidly in pursuit. Goring had set fire to Langport to delay the pursuers and tried to rally his army two miles further on, but his army dissolved as Cromwell's troopers approached, abandoning their baggage and most of their weapons. Many of the fugitives were attacked by local clubmen who had banded together to resist exactions by the armies of both sides in the Civil War.
Goring's army had been the last effective field army available to the Royalists, whatever its quality. Its loss was a major blow to Royalist morale.
Fairfax captured the town of Bridgwater on 23 July and stormed the city of Bristol on 10 September, depriving the Royalists of their major manufacturing centre. King Charles had appointed Prince Rupert as governor, but he considered that Rupert had surrendered prematurely, and the two became increasingly estranged.
These Parliamentarian successes isolated the remaining Royalists in the West Country from King Charles' forces in Oxford and the Midlands. The Royalists were no longer able to raise effective field forces and First Civil War ended less than a year later, after the Parliamentarians captured most of the isolated Royalist garrisons.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Siege of Chester (February 1645 - January 1646)

The Siege of Chester was a siege of the First English Civil War, between February 1645 and January 1646, with an intermission during the summer of 1645.

From the beginning of the war, the city of Chester was held by forces loyal to the King. It was first besieged in late 1644, but was relieved in March 1645 by Prince Maurice. With fighting continuing around Cheshire, the siege was not pursued again in earnest until September 1645, continuing ferociously until the following January. At the Battle of Rowton Heath in September, King Charles himself failed to lift the siege, suffering a disastrous defeat.
Throughout the siege, which varied considerably in intensity, the garrison was commanded by Lord Byron, who in the final months strongly defended the city against great odds. In January 1646 (1645, Old Style), faced by the starvation of the inhabitants, Byron was persuaded to surrender, and the city was occupied by forces of the New Model Army under Sir William Brereton.

The city of Chester, in Cheshire, was an important stronghold in the English border country, commanding an important crossing of the River Dee and thus the approach to North Wales. With strong city walls, dating originally from Roman times, Chester was a Royalist stronghold from the beginning of the Civil War. Early in the war, between 1642 and 1643, its walls were strengthened and a new ring of earthwork defences was added outside them.
After Lord Byron was defeated at the Battle of Nantwich in January 1644, he marched his remaining forces to Chester, making it his base for resistance to the Parliamentarian forces in Cheshire under Sir William Brereton. During the first half of 1645, Brereton was able to gain control of most of Cheshire, but the king's men in Chester commanded the river crossing into North Wales, still held by the king, protecting it from a Parliamentary invasion.

February to March 1645

In February 1645 (1644, old style) Brereton mounted a determined assault on Chester, in the course of which a force of his men tried unsuccessfully to scale the walls near the Northgate. Defeated, he began to besiege the city.
In March, Prince Maurice of the Palatinate arrived to relieve the city. However, having done so, when he moved on in April he took with him a large part of the garrison, including some 1,200 hardened Irish fighting men. Chester was left with only some six hundred regular soldiers, together with its own civilians who were able to bear arms.

Lord Byron, commander of the garrison

The summer of 1645

On 14 June 1645, King Charles's main army was decisively beaten at the Battle of Naseby by the New Model Army under Sir Thomas Fairfax. The king then withdrew to Hereford, hoping for more reinforcements from Wales and Ireland. Early in July 1645, he lodged at Raglan Castle in Wales. On 10 July his army in the west of England under Lord Goring was heavily defeated at the Battle of Langport, and news also reached Charles that an army of Covenanters was marching south. At the beginning of August 1645, Charles left Raglan with some 2,500 men, marching northwards along the Welsh border in the hope of rallying more royalists to his cause in the north of England. He reached Doncaster on 18 August, where he had news that both the Parliamentary Northern Association Army and a force of Covenanter cavalry were moving towards him. He quickly withdrew to Newark[disambiguation needed] and then to Oxford, by way of a punitive attack on Huntingdon, Oliver Cromwell's home town and parliamentary base.
On 30 August the king marched to the assistance of his forces at Hereford, by now under siege by Lord Leven's Covenanters, but as the royal army approached news reached Leven of Montrose's victory on 15 August at the Battle of Kilsyth. He abandoned the siege of Hereford, marching north, so that Charles was able to occupy the town on 4 September. The king returned to Raglan, where some two weeks later he received news that Prince Rupert had surrendered Bristol. After Lord Digby persuaded Charles that Rupert had surrendered prematurely, the King dismissed Rupert and the two were estranged.

September 1645 to January 1646

With his remaining forces, Charles marched north from Raglan, hoping to join Montrose, not knowing that on 13 September Montrose had suffered a catastrophic defeat at the Battle of Philiphaugh. The Committee of Both Kingdoms instructed Sydnam Poyntz to pursue and contain the king, and Poyntz advanced for that purpose with a mounted force of some three thousand cavalry and dragoons. The King moved northwards, without meeting Poyntz, and on 22 September he reached Chirk Castle where he received news of a new attack on Chester.
With the surrender of Bristol, Chester had become the only seaport in England under King Charles's control where it would be possible to land the reinforcements he was awaiting from Ireland, which he hoped could save him from ultimate defeat.
Early on 20 September 1645, just before daylight, a New Model Army force of more than seven hundred infantry and an equal number of cavalry, led by Colonel Michael Jones, began a fresh assault on Chester. The attack broke through the outer Royalist earthworks around the eastern suburbs. After Jones had ordered the burning down of the urban areas in front of the Eastgate, he moved artillery up to St John the Baptist's Church to bombard the city wall. By 22 September, the king arrived at Chirk, but Jones's guns had already created a breach in the walls.
The king made for Chester with all possible speed. Word that he was coming was passed on to the garrison commander, Lord Byron. The king reached Chester on 23 September with an advance party consisting of his Lifeguards, Lord Gerard's brigade of some six hundred horse, and a small number of foot soldiers. This force was able to enter the city from the western bank of the River Dee because it was still under Royalist control. Meanwhile, in the hope of trapping the besieging forces between the king's main army and an enlarged garrison within the city, Sir Marmaduke Langdale took more than three thousand of the king's cavalry northwards towards Chester, crossing the Dee over Farndon Bridge, Holt, at dawn on 24 September.
Moving north-east, Langdale received reports near the village of Rowton that Poyntz's Roundhead cavalry was approaching Chester from Whitchurch, Shropshire. Poyntz, who had ridden through the night to meet the royal army, met Langdale at Rowton Moor. All morning, both forces held their ground, but at about 2 pm, Colonel Jones sent part of his siege forces to join those of Poyntz. King Charles is said to have watched the ensuing defeat of his forces at the Battle of Rowton Heath from the Phoenix Tower on Chester's city walls, when Parliamentary forces routed the remaining Royalist cavalry. The dead included the king's cousin Lord Bernard Stewart.
On 25 September, leaving Byron in charge of the garrison, the king retreated from Chester to Denbigh in North Wales with only five hundred mounted men. As Byron refused to surrender, the Roundheads extended their siege works around the city and continued their bombardment.
For more than four months, the Royalist garrison resisted all Parliamentarian attempts to enter the city and even mounted counter-attacks. But as autumn became winter, many inhabitants died of starvation. In January 1646 (1645, old style), William Ince, as Mayor of Chester, persuaded Byron to surrender the city. On 3 February, the forces of Sir William Brereton occupied Chester.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Battle of Rowton Heath (24 September 1645)

The Battle of Rowton Heath occurred on 24 September 1645 during the English Civil War between the Parliamentarians, commanded by Sydnam Poyntz, and the Royalists under the personal command of King Charles I.

The result was a significant defeat for the Royalists, with heavy losses and Charles prevented from relieving the Siege of Chester.
Prior to the battle, Charles had been attempting to link up with the Marquess of Montrose in Scotland following the Royalist defeat in the Battle of Naseby. Although his attempts to do so were unsuccessful, they were disruptive enough that the Committee of Both Kingdoms ordered Sydnam Poyntz to pursue the King with approximately 3,000 horse. After Charles was informed that Chester, his only remaining port, was under siege, he marched there with the intent of relieving the defenders, ordering 3,000 horse under the command of Marmaduke Langdale to camp outside the city while he and 600 others travelled into Chester itself on 23 September 1645. The intent was to attack the besieging Parliamentarians from both sides, Charles mistakenly believing that Poyntz had failed to follow them. In fact he was barely 15 miles (24 km) behind, and moved to attack Langdale's force in the early hours of 24 September. Although Langdale drove Poyntz off, the Parliamentarians besieging Chester sent reinforcements, and Langdale was forced to retreat to Rowton Heath, closer to Chester, and wait for his own reinforcements. This force, under Charles Gerard and Lord Bernard Stewart, was prevented from joining them, and Langdale was instead attacked by both Poyntz's force and the reinforcement. After being driven off the field and failing in an attempt to regroup at Chester itself, the Royalists retreated as dusk fell.

Royalist casualties were high, with 600 killed, including Stewart, and 900 taken prisoner. This defeat prevented Charles from relieving the defenders in Chester, which fell to the Parliamentarians on 3 February 1646. Charles instead withdrew with approximately 2,400 remaining cavalry, most of whom were destroyed by Poyntz's ambush at Sherburn-in-Elmet on 15 October 1645.
Following the destruction of King Charles I's main army at the Battle of Naseby on 14 June 1645, the First English Civil War tilted decisively in favour of the Parliamentarians. Charles withdrew with his remaining forces to Raglan Castle in Wales, hoping to recruit new soldiers there and travel across the Bristol Channel to link up with George Goring, the only remaining Royalist commander of a significant force. The defeat of Goring at the Battle of Langport on 10 July, along with the subsequent "disintegration" of the new troops in South Wales, led to Charles abandoning this plan. Despite this and the loss of much of Northern England following the Battle of Marston Moor, Charles still had large numbers of soldiers in the West of England, and one of his supporters, the Marquess of Montrose, was winning a string of victories across Scotland.
The Royalist force attempted to join up with Montrose in Scotland. In early August, Charles took 2,500 soldiers and marched north, being forced to turn back at Doncaster due to the advance of David Leslie and 4,000 cavalry. Charles's troops then made a raid into the Eastern Association, getting as far as Huntington and forcing the Parliamentarians besieging Hereford to withdraw. In response, the Committee of Both Kingdoms ordered Sydnam Poyntz to pursue the King. Evading Poyntz's forces, Charles again marched north on 18 September, taking 3,500 cavalry under William Vaughan and Lord Charles Gerrard as far as the River Wye at Presteigne. At this point, a messenger arrived to inform Charles that "part of the outworks of Chester were betrayed to the enemy", forcing him to change his plans and march towards Chester.
Chester had come under siege during December 1644, with a loose blockade or "leager" formed around the town. With Bristol now fallen to the Parliamentarians, Chester was the last port under Royalist control, and crucial due to its links with recruiting efforts in Ireland and North Wales.
On 20 September 1645, a force of 500 horse, 200 dragoons and 700 foot under the command of Michael Jones attacked the Royalist barricades, and with the defenders completely taken by surprise, they fell back to the inner city. On 22 September, Parliamentarian artillery began bombarding the city, and after breaching the walls (and having a summons to surrender refused by the defenders), the Parliamentarians attacked in two places. Both were repulsed, in one case due to the defenders counter-attacking on foot, and in the other due to the inadequate length of the attacker's scaling ladders preventing them from climbing the wall. Despite this success, the attacking Parliamentarian forces grew in strength while the defenders were weary; as such, the arrival of Charles and his force on 23 September was met with delight.

Rowton Moor Plan
Charles's force consisted of 3,500 horse, organised into four brigades, the largest grouping being the 1,200 soldiers of the Northern Horse under Sir Marmaduke Langdale. In addition, there was Gerard's brigade, consisting of 800 men who had served under him in South Wales, William Vaughan's 1,000-strong brigade, and the 200 members of the Life Guards, Charles's personal bodyguard, under Lord Bernard Stewart. Although experienced, the troops were depleted in number, and had low morale due to the recent string of defeats. Charles and Gerard evaded the loose Parliamentarian siege around the city, taking 600 men into Chester, while the approximately 3,000 remaining cavalry under Langdale crossed the River Dee at Holt and bivouacked at Hatton Heath, five miles to the south of Chester itself. The plan was to trap the besiegers between the two forces, destroying them or forcing them to retreat; as they numbered only 500 cavalry and 1,500 foot, this was considered to be relatively simple.
  The Royalist plan failed to take into account Poyntz and his 3,000 cavalry; evidently, they assumed he had lost track of them. This assumption was mistaken, and as Charles entered Chester, Poyntz's soldiers arrived in Whitchurch, approximately 15 miles from Chester. After hearing about the situation, Poyntz promised to advance in the morning "with a considerable body of horse", which encouraged the Parliamentarians around Chester to continue resisting.

One of his messengers was intercepted by Sir Richard Lloyd, however, who immediately sent a message to Charles and Langdale. After a brief Council of War, they resolved that Gerard's force and the Lifeguards, along with 500 foot, would advance to either join with Langdale or prevent Colonel Jones's forces linking up with Poyntz.

Charles would remain in Chester, and watch the ensuing battle from a tower in Chester's defences, later known as King Charles' Tower.
Hatton Heath
Langdale advanced northwards with 3,000 cavalry, and at Miller's Heath on the morning of 24 September he became aware of Poyntz's force of 3,000 also moving north. Miller's Heath was mainly made up of unenclosed heath, traversed by the Whitchurch-Chester Road, which was surrounded by hedges. Langdale lined the hedgerows with dragoons and dismounted troopers with carbines, and due to the inaccuracy of Parliamentarian reconnaissance, Poyntz was unaware of Langdale's presence until the dragoons opened fire on his vanguard at approximately 7 am.
Due to Poyntz's lack of preparation his force was strung out in a column, and due to boggy ground, could not easily dismount; in addition, he underestimated the strength of the Royalists and tried attacking with those troops immediately available, assuming they would be sufficient to charge and destroy the enemy. In this Poyntz was mistaken. Due to the entanglement of the vanguard with Royalist troops, it was unable to make any significant progress, and it took approximately half an hour of close-quarters fighting in the mouth of the Whitchurch-Chester Road to force the Royalists back. As the Parliamentarians deployed onto the open ground to pursue the Royalists, they were set on by a fresh group of troops and forced to repeat, and with no reinforcements available, Poyntz retreated. On the Parliamentarian side, this skirmish led to the deaths of 20 soldiers, with a number of wounded and between 50 and 60 prisoners.
The Royalists, while losing fewer soldiers, were now in a precarious position, since reinforcements from Chester were needed to follow up on the success and defeat Poyntz's force. As such, Langdale sent Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Shakerley to report to Charles, requesting reinforcements.
Phoenix Tower on Chester city walls, where Charles
is said to have watched his army lose.
Shakerley arrived in Chester and delivered his message after 15 minutes, but no orders were issued for a further six hours after that. Barratt speculates that one reason could have been the fatigue of the Royalist troops, and another the rivalries amongst the Royalist commanders: Gerard and Digby opposed each other, with other commanders disliking Langdale; and Charles not being strong enough to stop the disputes. The Parliamentarians, however, did send support: at approximately 2 pm, the Chester forces dispatched 350 horse and 400 musketeers under Colonels Michael Jones and John Booth to reinforce Poyntz.
Rowton Heath
The Royalists in Chester saw the Parliamentarian reinforcements under Jones and Booth advance, and sent Shakerley to warn Langdale's force. After receiving the message, Langdale withdrew nearer to Chester, reforming at Rowton Heath, an entirely open space. At the same time the Royalists in Chester began to move, with Gerard advancing with 500 foot and 500 cavalry. Gerard hoped to attack Jones's force from the rear, but the Parliamentarians responded by dispatching 200 cavalry and 200 infantry to prevent this. With a shorter distance to travel, this force met Gerard on Hoole Heath, and after a confused engagement in which Lord Bernard Stewart was slain, Gerard's force was prevented from marching to Langdale's aid. Instead, Jones and Booth linked up with Poyntz, giving a combined Parliamentarian force of 3,000 horse and 500 musketeers against a tired Royalist army of approximately 2,500 horse. At approximately 4 pm Poyntz advanced, covered by the musketeers firing a full volley.
Despite Langdale's attempt to counter-charge, the Royalists were soon outflanked. With the Parliamentarian musketeers firing into the rear of Langdale's force, the Royalists broke, some escaping via Holt Bridge and others running towards Chester.
  On Hoole Heath these retreating soldiers met with part of Gerard's force and made an initially successful counter-attack before being forced back to the walls of Chester. There the retreating cavalry choked up the streets, allowing the Parliamentarian musketeers to fire into the confused mass of horsemen and leading to a rout.

Rowton Heath has been called "a major disaster" for King Charles, with casualties estimated at 600 dead and 900 injured, including 50 members of the Life Guard and Lord Stewart. Parliamentarian losses were also heavy, although unknown, and the battle did give Chester some respite. Despite this, Charles withdrew the next day with the remaining 2,400 horse, heading to Denbigh Castle before on to Newark-on-Trent.

With this retreat, Chester was left without additional support, and surrendered to the Parliamentarians on 3 February 1646. The remaining Royalist cavalry were eventually destroyed in their entirety when Poyntz ambushed them at Sherburn-in-Elmet on 15 October 1645.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Battle of Torrington (16 February 1646)

The Battle of Torrington (16 February 1646) was a decisive battle of the south-western campaign of the First English Civil War and marked the end of Royalist resistance in the West Country. It took place in Torrington, Devon.

After Lord Wentworth's defeat at Bovey Tracey, Sir Ralph Hopton was appointed Royalist commander in the west, with Wentworth commanding the horse and Sir Richard Grenville the foot. Grenville refused to recognise Hopton's command and was arrested for insubordination and imprisoned on St Michael's Mount.
Hopton's army, numbering only 2,000 foot and 3,000 horse, advanced into Devon and occupied Torrington, where defensive works were thrown up.

The battle
The parliamentarians approached from the east on the evening of 16 February 1646. In heavy rain and with night falling, they ran into Royalist dragoons and fighting broke out to the east of Torrington. The Roundhead commander, Sir Thomas Fairfax, decided to wait until morning to reconnoitre the Royalists' defences.
  However, when he sent his dragoons were forward to test the defences and they came under fire, Fairfax pushed more troops forward in support and a general fight developed.

The fighting at the barricades lasted two hours at push of pike. At last the Cornish infantry gave way and retreated into the town, where bitter fighting continued. A stray spark ignited the Royalist magazine in Torrington church, where eighty barrels of gunpowder were stored. The explosion destroyed the church, killed all the prisoners held there and narrowly missed killing General Fairfax.

The explosion effectively ended the battle, the remaining Royalist troops escaping.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Battle of Stow-on-the-Wold (21 March 1646)

The Battle of Stow-on-the-Wold (21 March 1646) took place during the English Civil War.

In the Spring of 1646, King Charles I of England was getting ever more desperate to hold the Royalist cause together whilst waiting for the long promised relief forces from Ireland, Scotland and France. Sir Jacob Astley took command of the Royalist forces in the west and began to gather up the remnants from the handful of Royalist garrisons still left in the west. At this point in the war, Royalist morale was low. However, Astley, a stalwart of the Royalist commanders and an experienced soldier, was able to cobble together a force of 3,000.
The battle
Astley was trying to reach Oxford with his force when Parliament got wind of it. What ensued was a period of thrusting and parrying along the river Avon as Astley tried to evade certain defeat. Finally, Astley had no choice, but to stop and fight the harrying Roundhead forces of Colonel Thomas Morgan and Sir William Brereton. Astley chose a hill to the northwest of Stow-on-the-Wold straddling the present day A424 highway.
The Roundhead forces (the Parliamentarians), who were slightly smaller in number, lined up to the northwest of Astley's position, also along the current route of the A424. The Roundheads, flush with the confidence of an army on the brink of total victory, charged up the hill at the Royalist positions, near the present day Greenfield Farm.
  Initially, the Royalists held and even pushed the Parliamentary infantry back. However, the Roundhead cavalry under Brereton rolled up the Royalist cavalry on the right flank. The Royalist cavalry fled the field and the infantry fought a running retreat southeasterly back to Stow Square.
Finally, Astley sat down on an ancient cross monument in the square and declared, "You have done your work, boys, and may go play, unless you will fall out among yourselves." This was a fitting end to the last major battle of the First Civil War from the man who was most quoted at the first major battle.
In St. Edward's Church there is a monument to Sir Hastings Keyte, who was a Royalist Captain killed in the battle, aged 23.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sieges of Newark

Newark suffered its first short-lived siege between February 27th and 28th 1643.
The second siege lasted longer from February 29th to March 21st 1644
while the third siege lasted from November 26th 1645 to May 8th 1646.

During the English Civil War, Newark was a mainstay of the royalist cause, Charles I having raised his standard in nearby Nottingham. It was attacked in February 1643 by two troops of horsemen, but beat them back. The town fielded at times as many as 600 soldiers, and raided Nottingham, Grantham, Northampton, Gainsborough, and others with mixed success, but enough to cause it to rise to national notice. At the end of 1644 it was besieged by forces from Nottingham, Lincoln and Derby, the siege was only relieved in March by Prince Rupert.
Parliament commenced a new siege towards the end of January 1645 following more raiding, but this was relieved by Sir Marmaduke Langdale after about a month. Newark cavalry fought with the king's forces which were decisively defeated in the Battle of Naseby, near Leicester in June 1645.
  The final siege began in November 1645, by which time the town's defences had been greatly strengthened. Two major forts had been constructed just outside the town, one, called the Queen's Sconce, to the south-west and another, the King's Sconce to the north-east, both close to the river, together with defensive walls and a water filled ditch 2¼ miles in length, around the town.

In May 1646 the town was ordered to surrender by Charles I, which was still only accepted under protest by the town's garrison. After the surrender most of the defences were destroyed, including the castle which was left in essentially the state it can be seen today.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Siege of Oxford
The Siege of Oxford was a Parliamentarian victory late in the First English Civil War. Whereas the title of the event may suggest a single siege, there were in fact three individual engagements that took place over a period of three years.
The first engagement was in May 1644, during which King Charles I escaped, thus preventing a formal siege. The second (May 1645) had barely started when Sir Thomas Fairfax, who was never much interested in siege warfare, was given permission to stop and pursue the King to Naseby, which was more to his liking. The last siege (May 1646) was actually a formal siege of some duration; but the war was obviously over and negotiation, rather than arms, commanded chief attention. Fairfax was careful not to do too much damage, sent in food to the King's second son, James, and was happy to end it soon with easy and honourable terms before a bombardment occurred.

The city during the civil war
Following the creation of the King's Oxford Parliament early in 1644, Oxford was the centre of the Cavalier cause and the headquarters of the King's forces.
This had both advantages and disadvantages as most of the citizens were undoubtedly favourable to the
  Roundhead cause, but were somewhat mollified by lucrative opportunity of supplying the court and garrison. The position of Oxford gave King Charles I the strategic advantage of controlling the Midland counties but the dangers and disadvantages of the city became increasingly manifest. Despite this, any suggestions of retreating to the south west were silenced, particularly by those enjoying the comfort of their college quarters. The King was at Christ Church and the Queen at Merton. Ordnance was cast at St Mary's College, the mills in Osney became a powder factory and New College the magazine. At New Inn Hall the requisitioned college plate was melted down into "Oxford Crowns" and at Carfax was a gibbet. College life continued, albeit on a restricted and disturbed scale. Master of Arts degrees were conferred on the future kings Charles II and James II and upon many more for similar non-academic reasons. During the sieges there was much poor strategy and miserable intelligence on both sides, and there was more friendliness between the belligerents than is usually found in such wars.
The first siege
Late in May 1644 Edmund Ludlow joined William Waller at Abingdon to "block up" Oxford. On 27 May Waller attempted to cross the Isis at Newbridge, but was beaten back by Royalist Dragoons. The following day, the Earl of Essex Robert Devereaux and his entire army forded the river at Sandford Ferry, halting on Bullingdon Green in full view of the city, while a small party of horse made a reconnaissance whilst the main body marched on to Islip, which they reached on 29 May and made quarters there. During the reconnaissance some of the Parliamentarian horse troops went up and down Headington Hill and had a few skirmishes near the Ports, although little damage was made on either side—the 'Work' at St Clement's Port made three or four great shot at them, driving them back to the main body of troops. Sir Edward Walker noted that "His Majesty at this instant was on top of Magdalen College Tower, where he did exactly view their orders and motion". On 30 May and 31 May the Parliamentarians made unsuccessful attempts to cross the River Cherwell at Gosford Bridge, and Earl of Cleveland Thomas Wentworth made a demonstration towards Abingdon, where Waller had a large force.
On 2 June Waller forced the passage at Newbridge and a large force crossed the Isis in boats. The King hurriedly held council at Woodstock, finding time to hunt and dine there, in the late evening the King heard news that Waller was within three miles of Woodstock. Islip and the passes over the Cherwell were abandoned, leaving matches burning at the bridges to deceive the Parliamentarians, the Royalists retreated to Oxford, which was reached in the early morning of 3 June. Walker, noting that there was not enough supplies to last fourteen days, wrote "to have stayed and been besieged in Oxford with the whole army had been certainly in a few days to put himself and all into their hands". It was decided the King should leave Oxford that night: the King ordered a large part of the army, with cannon, to march through Oxford towards Abingdon to provide a diversion. The King constituted a council to govern affairs in his absence and ordered all others who were to join him to be ready at the sound of trumpet.
  After a few hours the army returned from Abingdon, having successfully drawing off Waller.
On the night of 3 June 1644 at about 9 p.m. the King and Prince Charles, accompanied by various Lords and a party of 2,500 musketeers, joined the body of horse, taking the van which then marched to Wolvercote and on to Yarnton towards Long Hanborough, Northleigh and Burford, which they reached at about 4 p.m. on 4 June.

The army's Colours had been left standing and a further diversion was arranged by the 3,500 infantry left with the cannon in North Oxford. The Earl of Essex and his troops had crossed the River Cherwell and had some troops in Woodstock, while Waller and his forces were between Newbridge and Eynsham. Although without heavy baggage, the King's forces had some sixty to seventy carriages, a large troop to have got though undiscovered.
The parliamentarian scouting was seriously at fault, unaided by the lack of co-operation between Essex and Waller, it led to a deplorable failure on the part of two large armies to counter the escape of the King. The escape was discovered too late and Waller, rather than Essex, was quick to pursue and managed to cut off some stragglers in Burford, but the King and his forces had got safely away and continued to march on to Worcester. A letter from Lord Digby to Prince Rupert dated 17 June 1644, gives an indication of the immensity of the lost opportunities;

If Essex and Waller had either jointly pursued us, or attacked Oxford, all had been lost. In the one case Oxford had yielded up, not having a fortnight's provisions; in the other Worcester had been lost.

Following the unsuccessful attempt by Essex and Waller to capture the King and take Oxford, Sergeant-Major General Browne was appointed command of Parliamentarian forces, with orders for the reduction of Oxford, Wallingford, Banbury, and the Fort of Greenland House. On 8 June 1644 Browne held a council of war presiding over twelve chosen men and although he greatly troubled Oxford, there was no further attempt during the 1644 campaign season.
The second siege
In the New Year, one of the first objectives of the New Model Army was the "blocking up" and siege of Oxford, initially intending that Oliver Cromwell and Browne go to Oxford, while Fairfax marched to the west. Fairfax was in Reading on 30 April 1645 and by 4 May had reached Andover, where he received orders to prevent Prince Rupert getting to Oxford. On 6 May Fairfax was ordered to join Cromwell and Browne at Oxford and to send 3,000 foot soldiers and 1,500 horse soldiers to relieve Taunton, which he accomplished on 12 May. The Committee had ordered a voluntary contribution from Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire to raise forces to take Oxford and "not to be employed in any other service whatsoever" and on 17 May sent a letter to Fairfax about the blocking up and siege of Oxford. On 23 May the House of Commons gave the Committee of the Army orders to make provision for "such money and necessaries for the Siege of Oxford, as they shall receive from the Committee of Both Kingdoms, not exceeding £6,000" and on the same day, £10,000 was to await Fairfax at Windsor, along with the following provision for a siege:

2 demi cannons and 3 whole culverins (ready at Windsor and Northampton)
1,200 spades and shovels
500 pickaxes
300 steel spades
200 scaling ladders
500 barrels of gunpowder
40 tons of match
30 tons of bullet
300 great grenado shells
300 small grenado shells
1,000 hand grenades
20 carriages for provisions
200 horse harness
On 21 May Fairfax is reported to have arrived at Oxford and so "straitens the place that they can take in no further provisions", the following day raising a breastwork on the east side of the River Cherwell and erecting a bridge at Marston. On 23 May Fairfax was at Marston and his troops began crossing the river, the outhouses of Godstow House were fired, causing the occupants to evacuate to Oxford, and the house occupied by the Parliamentarians. On 26 May Fairfax put four regiments of foot soldiers with thirteen carriages by the newly erected bridge at Marston, the King's forces 'drowned' the meadow, fired houses in the suburbs and placed a garrison at Wolvercote. Whilst viewing the ongoing works, Fairfax had a narrow escape from being shot. On the following day two of Fairfax's regiments—the white and the red—with two pieces of ordnance marched to Godstow House and on to Hinksey. The Auxiliaries on duty in Oxford; the Lord Keeper, the Lord Treasurer, and the Mayor of Oxford marched before their Companies to the Guards. On 28 May Cromwell was sent to the Isle of Ely. In the evening of 29 May a "bullet of IX lb. weight" shot from the Parliamentarians warning-piece at Marston fell against the wall of the north side of the Hall in Christ Church. Meanwhile Gaunt House near Newbridge was under siege by Colonel Thomas Rainsborough with 600 foot soldiers and 200 horse. Next day the sound of firing at Gaunt House could be heard in Oxford and the following day Rainsborough took the house and 50 prisoners.   In the early hours of the morning on 2 June the troops in Oxford made a sally and a party of foot and horse attacked the Parliamentarian Guard at Headington Hill, killing 50 and taking 96 prisoners, many seriously wounded. In the afternoon Parliamentarian forces drove off 50 cattle grazing in fields outside the East Gate. On 3 June the prisoners taken the day before were exchanged and the following day the siege was raised and the bridge over the River Cherwell was demolished. The Parliamentarian forces withdrew the troops from Botley and Hinksey, and also withdrew from their headquarters at Marston and on 5 June they completed evacuating Marston and Wolvercote. The reason for such a sudden withdrawal was that the King, Prince Rupert, Prince Maurice, and the Earl of Lindsey, Montagu Bertie and others had left Oxford on 7 May. In the meantime, Fairfax, who disliked spending time in siege warfare, had prevailed upon the Committee to allow him to lift the siege and follow the King.
A letter by Fairfax to his father dated 4 June 1645 explains:

I am sorry we should spend out time unprofitably before a town while the King hath power to strengthen himself. The Parliament is sensible of this now and therefore hath sent me directions to raise the Siege and march to Buckingham. It is the earnest desire of the Army to follow the King, but the endeavours of others prevent it hath so much prevailed.
The third siege
The King returned to Oxford on 5 November 1645 to quarter for the winter. The Royalists planned to resume the campaign in the spring and sent Lord Astley to Worcester to collect a force from Wales; on the journey back his troops were routed at Stow-on-the-Wold by Parliamentarian forces under the command of Sir William Brereton, Astley and his officers were taken prisoner. A letter from the King to the Queen dated 6 April 1646 advised her that he was expecting to be received into the Scots army. Another letter of his is dated 22 April: "I resolved—to venture breaking through the rebels quarters (which upon my word was neither a safe nor an easy task)" and that Rupert "was not forward" in the task, and that the King intended to travel in disguise to Lynn and on to Montrose by sea.
The committee in London again ordered its forces to 'straiten' Oxford. On 18 March there was a skirmish between the Oxford Horse and troops commanded by Colonel Charles Fleetwood and 2,000 Parliamentarians under the command of Rainsborough came into Woodstock. On 30 March Rainsborough's foot soldiers and all four of Fairfax's Horse were ordered to "such places as will wholly block up Oxford" and make the inhabitants "presently to live at the expense of their Stores". On 3 April Browne, the Governor of Abingdon, was ordered to send fifty barrels of gunpowder to Rainsborough. On 4 April Colonel Henry Ireton was given orders by Fairfax to take three regiments of horse and one of dragoons to join those forces assembling for the 'straitening' of Oxford.
  On 10 April the House of Commons referred to the Committee on the issue of "Stricter blocking up of Oxford, and guarding the pass between Oxford and London", the Committee was directed to draw up a general summons to ask the King's garrisons to surrender under a penalty for refusal.

On 15 April the sound of cannon firing against Woodstock Manor House could be heard in Oxford, and at about 6 p.m. Rainsborough's troops attacked but were beaten back, losing 100 men, their scaling ladders were taken and many others wounded. On 26 April the Manor House was surrendered, its Governor and his soldiers, without their weapons, returned to Oxford in the evening. There are two letters from Colonel Payne, commander of the garrison in Abingdon, to Browne—one dated 27 April reporting intelligence that the King went in disguise to London, making use of Fairfax's seal "which they had gotten cut in Oxford"; the other is dated 29 April and provides a circumstantial account of the King's flight:

News is confirmed by all that come from Oxford that he went out disguised in a Montero with a hat upon it. Sir Thomas Glemham at his parting bade him "Farewell Harry" by which name, it seems he goes. He was accompanied by the Earl of Southampton Dr. King and Mr Ashburnham. After his going a great meeting in Oxford, at which Sir Thomas got some blows among the rout, and narrowly escaped with his life. Rupert and Maurice disbanded: Governor fain to keep a strong guard about him.

The River Cherwell (bottom left), Magdalen Bridge (left), and Christ Church Meadow (top left) are marked on John Speed's map of 1605. Headington Hill and Marston are off the left hand side of the map.
On 30 April the House of Commons, having heard of the King's flight the previous day, issued orders that no person was to be allowed out of Oxford, on pass or otherwise, "except upon parley or treaty regarding the surrender of some garrison of fort, or otherwise advantageous for the reduction of the garrison at Oxford".

On 1 May
Fairfax returned to Oxford and at once commenced preparations for the siege. On 2 May Parliamentarian foot soldiers entered the villages adjacent to Oxford and the head-quarters were fixed at Headington, with a rendezvous point at Bullingdon Green.

On 3 May the Parliamentarians held a council of war where it was decided that a "Quarter" on Headington Hill should be made to hold 3,000 men. It was also decided to build a bridge over the River Cherwell at Marston, where Rainsborough was put in charge of a quarter. A quarter was made in north Oxford, where most of the foot soldiers were assembled to begin the 'approaches' and another quarter was placed under Colonel Herbert at Cowley and the train of artillery was placed at Elsfield. Meanwhile the towns of Faringdon, Radcot, Wallingford and Boarstall House were completely 'blocked up' and isolated from Oxford. Under cannon shot from the city, Fairfax's men began to construct a line from the 'Great Fort' on Headington Hill round St Clement's, lying outside Magdalen Bridge.

On 6 May the magazine for provisions in Oxford was opened and from then on 4,700 were fed from it, "being more by 1,500 than upon a true muster the soldiers were". On 11 May Fairfax sent in his summons with a trumpet:

I do by these summon you to deliver up the City of Oxford into my hands, for the use of the Parliament. I very much desire the preservation of that place (so famous for learning), from ruin, which inevitably is like to fall upon it, except you concur. You may have honourable terms for yourself and all within that garrison if you reasonably accept thereof. I desire the answer this day, and remain
Your servant

  On 13 May the first shot was fired from the 'Great Fort' on Headington Hill, the shot falling in Christ Church Meadow. The Governor (Sir Thomas Glemham) and the officers of the garrison of Oxford gave the opinion to the Lords of the Privy Council that Oxford was 'defensible'. On 15 May the Governor of Oxford, under direction of the Privy Council sent a letter to Fairfax offering to treat on the Monday (18 May), asking for safe conduct for his commissioners, and for a place to be named. Fairfax, in council of war, sent a reply the same day, agreeing to the time and naming Mr Unton Croke's house at Marston as "convenient for the commissioners entrusted on both sides to treat", offering safe conduct as asked and to send him names of the commissioners. The Privy Council ordered that all their books and papers of parliamentary proceedings transacted in Oxford were to be burned.
On 16 May the Governor gave the Privy Council a sort of ultimatum; he delivered a 'paper' to the Lords to obtain from them a declaration that they "had power to raise and disband forces, fortify and give up garrisons, and conduct other warlike actions &c. during His Majesty's absence". The declaration was needed to justify his associating himself further with the treaty; on 17 May the Governor and all the principal officers of the garrison issued a manifesto "disliking the Treaty" and declaring it was forced upon them by the Lords of Council:

OXON. For the Lords of His Majesty's Privy Council May 17. 1646.
We, the Officers of the Garrison of Oxford do hereby declare upon our several reputations, that it is absolutely against our wills and opinions to treat, &c.
But upon the Governor intimating that he had received orders from the King to observe what the Privy Council should determine in his absence, have in obedience to H.M.'s order been forced by the Privy Council to this Treaty.
And do further declare to the World, that what inconvenience soever should arise to the King's Cause, or his friends upon this Treaty is not in our hands to prevent.

This disclaimer of responsibility did little to delay the progress of the Treaty, the civilians, with a better sense of the situation, thought that delay "might be of ill consequence". The same day the Governor sent his acceptance and names of his commissioners to Fairfax.
The Treaty
Some discussion followed about the numbers of the commissioners of each side, amicably settled at thirteen, and Fairfax allowed the Oxford commissioners to bring a Mr Davidson as their secretary. The first session took place on 18 May, as originally agreed, in the afternoon. A letter from N.T. (whose identity is unknown) in Marston on 20 May complains about the 'lumbering at Oxford' and the procrastination of the Oxford commissioners; the letter concludes:

God knowes when we shall have Oxford by Treaty if they come on no better than hitherto they have seemed; but however the Generall goes on to be in readinesse to take it another way: for we do not desire to drall here but do the work we are sent about.
A first draft of the Articles was referred by Fairfax to the House of Commons, presented by Colonel Rich on 22 May. The Journals of the House record that the House did "upon the very first view disdain those Articles and overtures" and left Fairfax to "proceed effectually according to the trust reposed in him for speedy gaining and reducing the garrison of Oxford to the obedience of Parliament".

On 23 May the commissioners returned to Marston and according to William Dugdale's diary "the adverse party pretended our Articles to be too high and said they would offer Articles" and the Treaty was broken off. On 25 May a Committee of nine Lords and nine of the Commons was constituted to consider honourable conditions for Oxford's surrender. A conference of both Houses met upon a letter from the King, written from Newcastle, dated 18 May, enclosing a letter for Glemham, the debate continued into the following day, the Lords were keen to send the letter to Fairfax, but the Commons refused. The King's letter regarding Oxford stated:

Trusty and well-beloved we greet you well. Being desirous to stop the further effusion of the blood of our subjects, and yet respecting the faithful services of all in that City of Oxford which have faithfully served us and hazarded their lives for us: we have thought it good to command you to quit that City, and disband the forces under your charge there, you receiving Honourable Conditions for you and them.

The letter was not sent on to Fairfax and on 15 June the heads of conference with the Commons viewed the King's letter of 18 May and another from the King, dated 10 June, which was similar in terms, but added a "Warrant to the Governors of all his Garrisons" to surrender, referring to Oxford, Lichfield, Worcester, and Wallingford. The heads of conference wanted the warrant sent to Fairfax and for him to forward it on. In the Commons it was ordered that the warrant of 10 June be sent to all Governors "for preventing of the further effusion of Christian blood".

Dugdale's diary for 30 May records: "This evening Sir Thos. Fairfax sent a Trumpet to Oxford with Articles concerning the delivery of it". Rushworth, who was Fairfax's secretary at the time stated that Fairfax drew up the Articles; however, the Committee of the two Houses appointed on 25 May may have had a hand in them. The Treaty was renewed, the Oxford commissioners taking the stance that "they submitted to the Fate of the Kingdom, rather than anyway distrusting their strength or the tenableness of the Garrison". The resumption of the Treaty coincided with a seemingly random exchange of cannon fire, Oxford loosing 200 shot in the day, managing to land a great shot in the Leaguer on Headington Hill, killing Colonel Cotsworth. A sutler was killed in Rainsborough's camp, while the Parliamentarian "cannon in recompense played fiercely upon the town and much annoyed them in their works and Colleges", but made little material damage and a cessation of 'great shot' was agreed upon on both sides.
  On 1 June Fairfax was prepared to take the city by storm if necessary, and one of the outworks, called "Charles Fort", was surrendered to Colonel Weldon. On 3 June Oxford forces made a sally from East Port, and 100 horse troops attempted drive in some cattle grazing by Cowley, but the Parliamentarian horse troops countered them in skirmishes. On 4 June the commissioners met again in Marston to consider the new articles offered by Fairfax. On 8 June various Oxford gentlemen delivered a paper of particulars to the Privy Council, which they wanted to add into the Treaty, asking to be informed of the proceedings and to be allowed attendance with the commissioners. On 9 June the commissioners were sworn to secrecy over the talks and forbidden to say anything about their proceedings. By 10 June the Treaty seemed to be going well and Fairfax sent a present of a "Brace of Bucks, two muttons, two veals, two lambs, and six capons" into Oxford for the Duke of York (James II). A letter from Fairfax to his father, dated 13 June, states:

Our Treaty doth still continue. All things are agreed upon concerning the Soldiers, and they are satisfied with it. The Article which took up the greatest debate was regarding compositions: we have accepted of 2 years' revenues: so that is concluded to. We think Monday will conclude the rest. I think they do really desire to conclude Articles.

On 17 June there was a general cessation of arms and extensive fraternizing between the two armies. The Privy Council did not dare meet in the Audit House as was usual "in regard of the mutinous soldiers, especially reformadoes". The following day the clergy with others reproached the Lords of the Privy Council for the terms of the Treaty; the next day, the Lords of the Privy Council walked with swords on, fearing for their own safety. On 20 June the Articles of Surrender, finally agreed at Water Eaton, were signed in the Audit House of Christ Church on behalf of both sides - by the Privy Council and the Governor of Oxford on the one side, and Fairfax on the other.
On 21 June the Lords of the Privy Council held a meeting with the gentlemen of the town in the Audit House, at which the Lord Keeper made a speech about the need to conclude the Treaty, and read them the authority of the two letters from the King. A copy of the Moderate Intelligencer was produced, along with an account of the Scots "pressing the King's conscience so far that his Majesty retired and wept", which affected the lord Keeper similarly. On 22 June Princes Rupert and Maurice, along with 300 gentlemen, were allowed to leave Oxford, the Princes setting out or Guildford, but contrary to the terms of the Articles, went as near to London as Oatlands. The matter was debated in the House of Commons on 26 June, the Princes were commanded "forthwith to repair to the Sea coast, and depart the Kingdom within 10 days". Prince Rupert sent a long letter arguing that he did not violate the terms of the Treaty, but offered to submit if his argument failed.
On 24 June, the day set for the Treaty to come into operation, the evacuation of Oxford by the Royalists began. It was not possible to withdraw the entire garrison in one day, but under Article 5 a large body of the regular garrison, some 2,000 to 3,000 men, marched out of the city with all the honours of war.
Those living in North Oxford went by the North Port, and some 900 marched out over Magdalen Bridge, on to Headington Hill between the lines of the Parliamentarian troops, and on to Thame where they were disarmed and dispersed with their passes. The form of pass issued by Fairfax was:

You are to suffer the Bearer — who was in the City and Garrison of Oxford at its Surrender, and is to have the full benefit of the Articles &c., quietly and without interruption to pass your Guards with his Servants, horses, arms, and goods and so repair to London or elsewhere upon his necessary occasions. And in all places where he shall reside or remove, he is to be protected from violence to his person goods or estate according to these Articles, and to have full liberty within 6 months to go to any convenient port, and transport himself with his servants, goods and necessaries beyond the Seas, and in all other things to enjoy the benefit of the said Articles.
Hereunto you are to give obedience, as you will answer the contrary.

Although 2,000 passes were issued over a few days, a number of people had to wait their turn. On 25 June the keys of the City were formally handed over to Fairfax; with the larger part of the regular Oxford garrison having left the day before, he sent in three regiments of foot soldiers to maintain order. The evacuation subsequently continued in an orderly fashion, and all was quiet in Oxford.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Battle of Maidstone (1 June 1648)

The Battle of Maidstone (1 June 1648) was fought in the Second English Civil War and was a victory for the attacking parliamentarian troops over the defending Royalist forces.

In May 1648, a significant part of the Royalist uprising gathered in Kent and Essex. The Kentish Royalists assembled outside Maidstone at Penenden Heath with over 10,000 men raised for the Earl of Norwich. The force then dispersed to hold various towns for the King including Gravesend, Rochester, Dover and Maidstone. Together with the rebellion in South Wales, this gathering constituted one of the main uprisings that marked the Second Civil War.

The New Model Army had already been split in two and the larger part sent under Cromwell to deal with the rebellion in South Wales, leaving Sir Thomas Fairfax with a force of only 6000 men. Fairfax marched on Maidstone with 4000 veteran parliamentary troops to recapture it from the defending 2000 strong Royalist force within the town.
Most of the Royalists were not soldiers, being described as 'cavaliers, citizens, seamen and watermen'.
  The Battle
The battle took place on 1 June. After outflanking Norwich's main Royalist forces on Burham Heath and a diversionary feint towards Aylesford, Fairfax crossed the River Medway at East Farleigh bridge virtually unopposed. Early skirmishes began on Penenden Heath, located strategically to launch an attack between the two defending Royalist forces led by Sir William Brockman and Sir John Mayney in Aylesford and Maidstone. The Earl of Norwich did not realise the significance of the attack until late afternoon when Fairfax decided to use his advantage to storm the town itself that same day from the south side. The battle moved into a phase of intense fighting in heavy rain, street by street and 'inch by inch' as each Royalist barricade was ferociously defended. The battle lasted for the rest of the day with the Royalists retreating towards Gabriel's Hill, then Week Street before their last position in St Faith's Churchyard. Fairfax finally overcame fierce resistance to take command of the town just after midnight during a raging thunderstorm.
Royalist prisoners were initially held captive in All Saints Church. Having acquitted themselves well in a bloody defence against a professional parliamentarian attack, 1300 Royalist men were allowed by Fairfax to return to their homes after the surrender. As a result of this parliamentary victory, the still sizeable Royalist force of around 6000 men remaining on Burham Heath  started to disperse with the bulk retreating northwards under the Earl of Norwich with a view to regrouping and taking London itself. When they found the city gates were closed, the remnant of the Royalist force moved on into Essex with Fairfax in hot pursuit. The retreating Royalists decided to make their defence from the Earl of Norwich's home town of Colchester on 13 June where the rebellion was besieged and finally surrendered in late August after months of deprivation and famine.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Siege of Colchester (12 June-28 August 1648)
The siege of Colchester occurred in the summer of 1648 when the English Civil War reignited in several areas of Britain. Colchester found itself in the thick of the unrest when a Royalist army on its way through East Anglia to raise support for the King, was attacked by Lord-General Thomas Fairfax at the head of a Parliamentary force. The initial Parliamentary attack forced the Royalist army to retreat behind the town's walls but was unable to bring about victory, so settled down to a siege.
Despite the horrors of the siege, the Royalists resisted for eleven weeks and only surrendered following the defeat of the Royalist army in the North of England at the Battle of Preston (1648).
On 21 May 1648 the county of Kent rose in revolt against Parliament. Lord-General Fairfax led Parliamentary forces to Maidstone and on 1 June recaptured the town. Remnants of the Royalist forces commanded by the Earl of Norwich fled the county to join the revolt in Essex.
On 4 June the Essex County Parliamentary committee in Chelmsford was taken prisoner by a riotous crowd. Colonel Henry Farre and some of the Essex Trained Bands declared themselves in support of the King. Sir Charles Lucas took command of the Essex regiment and on 9 June he was joined by the Earl of Norwich, Lord Capel, Lord Loughborough, Sir George Lisle and about 500 of the Royalist soldiers from Kent. The next day Lucas marched with what was now a total force of around 4,000 troops to Braintree where the county magazine was located. Meanwhile, however, Sir Thomas Honywood, a member of the Essex county committee, had secured the weapons with the northern Essex Trained Bands, who had remained loyal to Parliament. Lucas continued to Colchester, arriving on 12 June, where he intended to raise more troops before continuing to Suffolk and then Norfolk, hopefully to raise those counties in support of the King.
Fairfax and his Parliamentary forces from Kent and the Essex forces under Sir Thomas Honywood were joined outside Colchester by Colonel John Barkstead's Infantry Brigade from London on 13 June. In total, Fairfax now had more than 5,000 experienced troops and over one thousand cavalry. He decided to re-use the same tactics as he had recently employed against the Royalists in Maidstone by launching an immediate and full-scale assault.

The battle
The Royalists defended their position by placing troops on the outskirts of the town on Maldon Road, from where the Parliamentary army was approaching. The battle was fiercely fought as Barkstead's infantry attacked and were repulsed three times, the Royalists being well defended behind the hedges that lined the road. Finally the Parliamentary cavalry, significantly outnumbering the Royalist horse, overwhelmed the Royalist flanks and the infantry were forced to retreat to behind the town's walls. Barkstead's pursuing men followed in through the gates, until a well planned counter-attack by Royalist infantry and cavalry routed them. Fairfax continued to attack and it was not until midnight that he finally called a halt and had to resign himself to the failure to take the town by storm. In the battle he had lost between 500 and 1,000 men while recorded Royalist losses were 30 men and two officers. This is almost certainly a gross underestimate of Royalist losses.

The Siege
As the siege started, both forces were about equal in men and both had an expectation of receiving reinforcements. Norwich was negotiating with the Suffolk men and knew that the Scots and Langdale's Northern Royalist army were fighting for the Royalist cause, and that Earl of Holland, the commander of the Royalist forces in the South of England, was attempting to muster a relief force. Fairfax could expect detachments of the New Model Army to be sent to him as and when they became available.
The first priority for Fairfax was to secure the town from outside relief as well as excursions by the trapped men. He ordered the construction of forts to surround the town and sited his siege cannon to fire against the walls. His thinly spread men were soon reinforced when six companies of horse and dragoons arrived and when the Suffolk Trained Bands, who Norwich had expected to join the Royalists, instead joined the Parliamentary side. The Suffolk men were actually more concerned about preventing either side from spreading destruction into their county and in recognition of this Fairfax gave them the task of guarding the bridges across the River Colne to the north and east. Parliamentarian ships were ordered to blockade the harbour and the river mouth to prevent any re-supply via that route.
Inside the town, the local people found themselves trapped with an army with which most had very little sympathy. Colchester had been a staunch supporter of Parliament during the First English Civil War and any sympathy with the Royalist army soon vanished as the soldiers seized provisions from the town's people.
By 2 July the encirclement of the town was completed, severely limiting opportunities for the besieged soldiers to sally out for provisions. On 5 July, Lucas with 400 Cavalry and Lisle with 600 infantry attacked the Suffolk Trained Band guarding the East Gate. The Suffolk men were taken by surprise and were routed; in their enthusiasm, however, the Royalists found themselves too far from the town and were counter-attacked and suffered severe casualties, as well as losing the artillery and provisions they had taken with them.
On the night of 14 July, Fairfax ordered an attack on the Royalist fortification that lay outside the town walls. St John's Abbey and the house of Sir Charles Lucas were captured despite fierce defence. The Royalist fortifications at St Mary's church were completely destroyed by artillery fire and with them the Royalists' main artillery battery.
Following the success of the battle to clear the town's suburbs, on 16 July Fairfax sent a trumpeter with a message offering surrender terms to the Royalists inside the town. Lucas's response was to threaten Fairfax that, if the trumpeter were to appear again with such a message, he would be hanged.
By this time Lord Norwich had heard of the failure of Earl of Holland to come to his relief. A detachment of the New Model Army under Colonel Adrian Scroope at St Neots had defeated the Earl of Holland in a night attack. On 15 July the Royalist cavalry, 1,000 strong, attempted a break-out of Colchester but were intercepted near Boxted. A tangle of engagements which lasted for a couple of days, known as the Battle of Boxted Heath, ended with the Royalists retreating back into Colchester on the 18th. An attempt by two cavalry troops to break out on the night of 18 July also failed. However, on 22 July, Sir Bernard Gascoigne and his remaining cavalry escaped from Colchester via the Maldon road, fighting a fierce engagement with Parliamentary forces, and headed into Cambridgeshire, where they dispersed.
Even though the royalists still had 3,000 soldiers, Fairfax's position was too strong, and with almost daily reinforcements his forces totalled at least 6,000. But still Lord Norwich could hope that his position would eventually be relieved. He received a letter from Langdale, the Northern Royalist army commander, encouraging the Essex men and promising relief within two weeks. For Lord Norwich, it seemed there still was every reason for them to keep their resolve.
By August, provisions in Colchester had all but run out. Cats, dogs and horses became the staple food. Fairfax refused to allow the townspeople to leave or even to let supplies in to them, despite repeated petitions from outside the town, pleas from Colchester Town council, and even from Lord Norwich. Fairfax's decision was despite the loyalty of the town to Parliament during the First Civil War. Eventually matters became so desperate that the citizens of Colchester were forced to eat soap and candles. When the townswomen and children attempted to beg for food at the town gates, they were turned away with nothing by the besieging soldiers. In a last appeal to the humanity of the besiegers, the Royalist commanders sent 500 starving women to the Parliamentarian lines, hoping that they might acquire food by inspiring sympathy. Colonel Rainsborough undermined this plan by ordering the women stripped naked, to the great amusement of his army.
On 24 August news reached Fairfax of Cromwell’s victory at the Battle of Preston. In celebration, the Parliamentary artillery fired cannonades and Fairfax had kites flown into the town carrying news of the destruction of the Royalist army. That same day talks were started to end the siege. Fairfax would not listen to any terms from Lord Norwich, but offered his own which were not open for negotiation. They were that common soldiers and junior officers were granted quarter; however, senior officers must surrender to mercy, whereby no guarantee was given as to how they might be treated.
On the morning of 28 August, the Royalist army laid down their arms. The gates were opened and the victorious Parliamentary regiments entered the town with Lord-General Fairfax at their head. The terms of surrender were that:
The Lords and Gentlemen were all prisoners of mercy.
The common soldiers were disarmed and issued with passes to return to their homes after they had sworn an oath not to take up arms against Parliament again. The town was to be preserved from pillage upon paying £14,000 in cash.


The aristocratic Royalist leaders, Lord Norwich, Lord Capel and Lord Loughborough, were to have their fate decided by Parliament, but a military court found Sir Charles Lucas, Sir George Lisle, Colonel Farre and Sir Bernard Gascoigne guilty of High Treason and sentenced them to death by firing squad. This sentence was actually rare during the Civil Wars, but was justified by Fairfax and General Ireton on several grounds. The claims were that Lucas had executed Parliamentary prisoners in cold blood; that he had broken his parole given after the First Civil War; and that the Royalists had continued to fight in an indefensible position, thus causing unnecessary death and suffering. Certainly a reason for executing these and others responsible for the revolt was to show that Parliamentary control was now complete, and that any attempts to continue to fight would be swiftly dealt with.
Overnight Farre managed to escape, and it was discovered that Gascoigne was an Italian citizen and so was spared the firing squad; however, Lucas and Lisle were executed in the evening of 28 August. Within days, pamphlets were produced pronouncing Lucas and Lisle as martyrs to the Royal cause, and today in the grounds of Colchester Castle there stands a monument marking the site of the execution.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Battle of Preston (1648)

The Battle of Preston (17 August – 19 August 1648), fought largely at Walton-le-Dale near Preston in Lancashire, resulted in a victory for the New Model Army under the command of Oliver Cromwell over the Royalists and Scots commanded by the Duke of Hamilton. The Parliamentarian victory presaged the end of the Second English Civil War.

On 8 July 1648, when the Scottish Engager army crossed the Border in support of the English Royalist, the military situation was well defined. For the Parliamentarians, Cromwell besieged Pembroke in South Wales, Fairfax besieged Colchester in Essex, and Colonel Edward Rossiter besieged Pontefract and Scarborough in the north. On 11 July, Pembroke fell and Colchester followed on 28 August. Elsewhere, however, the rebellion, which had been put down by rapidity of action rather than sheer weight of numbers, still smouldered. Charles, the Prince of Wales, with the fleet cruised along the Essex coast. Cromwell and John Lambert, however, understood each other perfectly, while the Scottish commanders quarrelled with each other and with Sir Marmaduke Langdale (the English Royalist commander in the north west).

As the English Royalist uprisings were close to collapse, it was on the adventures of the Engager Scottish army that the interest of the war centred. It was by no means the veteran army of the Earl of Leven, which had long been disbanded. For the most part it consisted of raw levies and, as the Kirk party had refused to sanction The Engagement (an agreement between Charles I and the Scots Parliament for the Scots to intervene in England on behalf of Charles), David Leslie and thousands of experienced officers and men declined to serve. The leadership of the Duke of Hamilton proved to be a poor substitute for that of Leslie. Hamilton's army, too, was so ill provided that as soon as England was invaded it began to plunder the countryside for the bare means of sustenance.
On 8 July the Scots, with Langdale as advanced guard, were about Carlisle, and reinforcements from Ulster were expected daily.
  Lambert's horse were at Penrith, Hexham and Newcastle, too weak to fight and having only skilful leading and rapidity of movement to enable them to gain time.
Appleby Castle surrendered to the Scots on 31 July, whereat Lambert, who was still hanging on to the flank of the Scottish advance, fell back from Barnard Castle to Richmond so as to close Wensleydale against any attempt of the invaders to march on Pontefract. All the restless energy of Langdale's horse was unable to dislodge Lambert from the passes or to find out what was behind that impenetrable cavalry screen. The crisis was now at hand. Cromwell had received the surrender of Pembroke Castle on 11 July, and had marched off, with his men unpaid, ragged and shoeless, at full speed through the Midlands. Rains and storms delayed his march, but he knew that Hamilton in the broken ground of Westmorland was still worse off. Shoes from Northampton and stockings from Coventry met him, at Nottingham, and, gathering up the local levies as he went, he made for Doncaster, where he arrived on 8 August, having gained six days in advance of the time he had allowed himself for the march. He then called up artillery from Hull, exchanged his local levies for the regulars who were besieging Pontefract, and set off to meet Lambert.
On 12 August Cromwell was at Wetherby, Lambert with horse and foot at Otley, Langdale at Skipton and Gargrave. Hamilton was at Lancaster, and Sir George Monro with the Scots from Ulster and the Carlisle Royalists (organized as a separate command owing to friction between Monro and the generals of the main army) at Hornby.
On 13 August, while Cromwell was marching to join Lambert at Otley, the Scottish leaders were still disputing whether they should make for Pontefract or continue through Lancashire so as to join Lord Byron and the Cheshire Royalists.

Map showing the site of the Battle of Preston (1648)
On 14 August 1648 Cromwell and Lambert were at Skipton, on 15 August at Gisburn, and on 16 August they marched down the valley of the Ribble towards Preston with full knowledge of the enemy's dispositions and full determination to attack him.

They had with them horse and foot not only of the Army, but also of the militia of Yorkshire, Durham, Northumberland and Lancashire, and withal were heavily outnumbered, having only 8,600 men against perhaps 9,000 of Hamilton's command. But the latter were scattered for convenience of supply along the road from Lancaster, through Preston, towards Wigan, Langdale's corps having thus become the left flank guard instead of the advanced guard.

Langdale called in his advanced parties, perhaps with a view to resuming the duties of advanced guard, on the night of 13 August, and collected them near Longridge. It is not clear whether he reported Cromwell's advance, but, if he did, Hamilton ignored the report, for on 17 August Monro was half a day's march to the north, Langdale east of Preston, and the main army strung out on the road to Wigan, Major-General William Baillie with a body of foot, the rear of the column, being still in Preston.
  Hamilton, yielding to the importunity of his lieutenant-general, James Livingston, 1st Earl of Callendar, sent Baillie across the Ribble to follow the main body just as Langdale, with 3,000 foot and 500 horse only, met the first shock of Cromwell's attack on Preston Moor.
Hamilton, like Charles at Edgehill, passively shared in, without directing, the Battle of Preston, and, though Langdale's men fought magnificently, they were after four hours' struggle driven to the Ribble.
Baillie attempted to cover the Ribble and Darwen bridges on the Wigan road, but Cromwell had forced his way across both before nightfall. Pursuit was at once undertaken, and not relaxed until Hamilton had been driven through Wigan and Winwick to Uttoxeter and Ashbourne. There, pressed furiously in rear by Cromwell's horse and held up in front by the militia of the midlands, the remnant of the Scottish army laid down its arms on 25 August. Various attempts were made to raise the Royalist standard in Wales and elsewhere, but Preston was the death-blow to the Royalist hopes in the Second Civil War. Cromwell estimated the Royalist losses at 2,000 killed and 9,000 captured. When the English Parliament decreed a day of thanksgiving for the victory, it was announced that Cromwell's army had "one hundred at the most" killed.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Battle of Worcester (3 September 1651)

The Battle of Worcester took place on 3 September 1651 at Worcester, England, and was the final battle of the English Civil War. Oliver Cromwell and the Parliamentarians defeated the Royalist, predominantly Scottish, forces of King Charles II. The 16,000 Royalist forces were overwhelmed by the 28,000 strong "New Model Army" of Cromwell.


Oliver Cromwell at the Battle of Worcester
Date 3 September 1651
Location Worcester, England
Result Decisive victory for Parliament
Escape of Charles II
End of the English Civil War
Parliamentarians Royalists
Commanders and leaders
Oliver Cromwell Charles II
31,000 less than 16,000
Casualties and losses
200 3,000 killed, more than 10,000 prisoners


Invasion of England

The King was aided by Scottish allies and was attempting to regain the throne that had been lost when his father Charles I was executed. The commander of the Scots, David Leslie, supported the plan of fighting in Scotland, where royal support was strongest. Charles, however, insisted on making war in England. He calculated that Cromwell's campaign north of the River Forth would allow the main Scottish Royalist army which was south of the Forth to steal the march on the Roundhead New Model Army in a race to London. He hoped to rally not merely the old faithful Royalists, but also the overwhelming numerical strength of the English Presbyterians to his standard. He calculated that his alliance with the Scottish Presbyterian Covenanters and his signing of the Solemn League and Covenant would encourage English Presbyterians to support him against the English Independent faction which had grown in power over the last few years. The Royalist army was kept well in hand , no excesses were allowed, and in a week the Royalists covered 150 miles in marked contrast to the Duke of Hamilton's ill-fated expedition of 1648. On 8 August the troops were given a well-earned rest between Penrith and Kendal.
But the Royalists were mistaken in supposing that the enemy was taken aback by their new move. Everything had been foreseen both by Cromwell and by the Council of State in Westminster. The latter had called out the greater part of the militia on 7 August. Lieutenant-General Charles Fleetwood began to draw together the midland contingents at Banbury. The London trained-bands turned out for field service no fewer than 14,000 strong. Every suspected Royalist was closely watched, and the magazines of arms in the country-houses of the gentry were for the most part removed into the strong places. On his part Cromwell had quietly made his preparations. Perth passed into his hands on 22 August and he brought back his army to Leith by 5 August. Thence he dispatched Lieutenant-General John Lambert with a cavalry corps to harass the invaders. Major-General Thomas Harrison was already at Newcastle picking the best of the county mounted-troops to add to his own regulars. On 9 August, Charles was at Kendal, Lambert hovering in his rear, and Harrison marching swiftly to bar his way at the Mersey. Thomas Fairfax emerged for a moment from his retirement to organize the Yorkshire levies, and the best of these as well as of the Lancashire, Cheshire and Staffordshire militias were directed upon Warrington, which Harrison reached on 15 August, a few hours in front of Charles's advanced guard. Lambert too, slipping round the left flank of the enemy, joined Harrison, and the English fell back (16 August), slowly and without letting themselves be drawn into a fight, along the London road.

Worcester campaign

Cromwell meanwhile, leaving George Monck with the least efficient regiments to carry on the war in Scotland, had reached the river Tyne in seven days, and thence, marching 20 miles a day in extreme heat with the country people carrying their arms and equipment, the regulars entered Ferrybridge on 19 August, at which date Lambert, Harrison and the north-western militia were about Congleton. It seemed probable that a great battle would take place between Lichfield and Coventry on or just after 25 August and that Cromwell, Harrison, Lambert and Fleetwood would all take part in it. But the scene and the date of the denouement were changed by the enemy's movements. Shortly after leaving Warrington the young king had resolved to abandon the direct march on London and to make for the Severn valley, where his father had found the most constant and the most numerous adherents in the first war, and which had been the centre of gravity of the English Royalist movement of 1648. Sir Edward Massey, formerly the Parliamentary governor of Gloucester, was now with Charles, and it was hoped that he would induce his fellow Presbyterians to take arms. The military quality of the Welsh border Royalists was well proved, that of the Gloucestershire Presbyterians not less so, and, in basing himself on Gloucester and Worcester as his father had done on Oxford, Charles II hoped, naturally, to deal with the Independent faction minority of the English people more effectually than Charles I had earlier dealt with the majority of the people of England who had supported the Parliamentary cause. But even the pure Royalism which now ruled in the invading army could not alter the fact that it was a foreign, Scottish, army, and it was not merely an Independent faction but all England that united against it.
Charles arrived at Worcester on 22 August and spent five days in resting the troops, preparing for further operations, and gathering and arming the few recruits who came in. The delay was to prove fatal; it was a necessity of the case foreseen and accepted when the march to Worcester had been decided upon, and had the other course, that of marching on London via Lichfield, been taken the battle would have been fought three days earlier with the same result.
Cromwell, the lord general, had during his march south thrown out successively two flying columns under Colonel Robert Lilburne to deal with the Lancashire Royalists under the Earl of Derby. Lilburne entirely routed a Lancashire detachment of the enemy on their way to join the main Royalist army at the Battle of Wigan Lane on 25 August and as affairs turned out Cromwell merely shifted the area of his concentration two marches to the south-west, to Evesham. Early on 28 August, Lambert's brigade made a surprise crossing of the Severn at Upton, 6 miles below Worcester. In the action which followed Massey was severely wounded and he and his men were forced to retreat northwards along the west bank of the Severn towards the river Teme and Worcester. Fleetwood followed Lambert with reinforcements and orders to advance north towards the Teme. This western envelopment severed the Royalists lines of communications to Wales and the western counties of England. The Royalists were now only 16,000 strong with no hope of significant reinforcements and disheartened by the apathy with which they had been received in districts formerly all their own. Cromwell, for the only time in his military career, had a two-to-one numerical superiority.
On 30 August Cromwell delayed the start of the battle to give time for two pontoon bridges to be constructed, one over the Severn and the other over the Teme close to their confluence. The delay allowed Cromwell to launch his attack on 3 September one year to the day since his victory at the Battle of Dunbar.

Map of the Battle of Worcester

The battle

Cromwell took his measures deliberately. Lilburne from Lancashire and Major Mercer with the Worcestershire horse were to secure Bewdley Bridge, 20 miles (32 km) north of Worcester and on the enemy's line of retreat. Fleetwood was to force his way across the Teme and attack St John's, the western suburb of Worcester. While Lambert commanded the Eastern Flank of the Army which would advance and encircle the Eastern walls of Worcester, Cromwell would lead the attack on the southern ramparts of the city.
The assault started on the morning of 3 September and initially the initiative lay with the Parliamentarians. Fleetwood forced the passage of the Teme over the pontoon bridges against Royalists under the command of Major General Montgomery. Colonel Richard Deane's initial attempts to cross the Powick Bridge (where Prince Rupert of the Rhine had won the Battle of Powick Bridge, his first victory in 1642) failed against stubborn resistance by the Royalists (many of whom were battle-hardened Scottish Highlanders) commanded by Colonel Keith. By force of arms and numbers the Royalist army was pushed backward by the New Model Army with Cromwell on the eastern bank of the Severn and Fleetwood on the western sweeping in a semicircle four miles long up toward Worcester.
The Royalists contested every hedgerow around Powick meadows. This stubborn resistance on the west bank of the Severn north of the Teme was becoming a serious problem for the Parliamentarians, so Cromwell led Parliamentary reinforcements from the eastern side of the town over the Severn pontoon bridge to aid Fleetwood. Charles II from his vantage point on top of Worcester cathedral's tower realised that an opportunity existed to attack the now-exposed eastern flank of the Parliamentary army. As the defenders on the Western side of the city retreated in good order into the city (although during this manoeuvre Keith was captured and Montgomery was badly wounded), Charles ordered two sorties to attack the Parliamentary forces east of the city. The north-eastern sortie through St. Martin's Gate was commanded by the Duke of Hamilton and attacked the Parliamentary lines at Perry Wood. The south-eastern one through Sidbury Gate was led by Charles II and attacked Red Hill. The Royalist cavalry under the command of David Leslie that was gathered on Pitchcroft meadow on the northern side of the city did not receive orders to aid the sorties and Leslie chose not to do so under his own initiative. Cromwell seeing the difficulty that his east flank was under rushed back over the Severn pontoon bridge with three brigades of troops to reinforce the flank.
Although they were pushed back, the Parliamentarians under Lambert were too numerous and experienced to be defeated by such a move. After an hour in which the Parliamentarians initially retreated under the unexpected attack, when reinforced by Cromwell's three brigades, they in turn forced the Royalists to retreat back toward the city.
The Royalist retreat turned into a rout in which Parliamentarian and Royalist forces intermingled and skirmished up to and into the city. The Royalist position became untenable when the Essex militia stormed and captured Fort Royal, (a redoubt on a small hill to the south-east of Worcester overlooking the Sidbury gate), turning the Royalist guns to fire on Worcester.
Once in the city, Charles II removed his armour and found a fresh mount; he attempted to rally his troops but it was to no avail. A desperate Royalist cavalry charge down Sidbury Street and High Street, led by the Earl of Cleveland and Major Careless amongst others, allowed King Charles to escape the city by St. Martin's Gate. This cavalry force was composed of the few Midland English Royalists who had rallied to Charles II, and largely consisted of Lord Talbot's troop of horse.
The defences of the city were stormed from three different directions as darkness came on, regulars and militia fighting with equal gallantry. Most of the few thousands of the Royalists who escaped during the night were easily captured by Lilburne and Mercer, or by the militia which watched every road in Yorkshire and Lancashire. Even the country people brought in scores of prisoners, for officers and men alike, stunned by the suddenness of the disaster, offered no resistance.


About 3,000 men were killed during the battle and a further 10,000 were taken prisoner at Worcester or soon afterwards. The Earl of Derby was executed, while the other English prisoners were conscripted into the New Model Army and sent to Ireland. Around 8,000 Scottish prisoners were deported to New England, Bermuda, and the West Indies to work for landowners as indentured labourers. Parliamentary casualties numbered in the low hundreds.
Charles II escaped after many adventures, including one famous incident where he hid from a Parliamentarian patrol in an oak tree in the grounds of Boscobel House.
After the battle, Cromwell returned to Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, one of the parliamentarian strongholds and close to the seat of his late cousin the civil war hero John Hampden. He stayed at the aptly named King's Head Inn, Aylesbury and it was here that he received the thanks of Parliament for his final defeat of the Royalists.

The result of the battle was, in brief, one of those rare victories in which a pursuit is superfluous. Cromwell thought the victory was the greatest of all the favours, or mercies, given to him by God. He famously wrote to William Lenthall, the Speaker of the House of Commons "The dimensions of this mercy are above my thoughts. It is, for aught I know, a crowning mercy". The phrase "Crowning Mercy" is frequently linked to the battle, descriptive of the complete destruction of the last Royalist army and the end of the English Civil War.
The Parliamentary militia were sent home within a week. Cromwell, who had ridiculed "such stuff" six months ago, knew them better now. "Your new raised forces," he wrote to the Rump Parliament, "did perform singular good service, for which they deserve a very high estimation and acknowledgement". The New England preacher Hugh Peters gave the militia a rousing farewell sermon "when their wives and children should ask them where they had been and what news, they should say they had been at Worcester, where England's sorrows began, and where they were happily ended", referring to the first clash of the Royalist and Parliamentarian Armies at the Battle of Powick Bridge on 23 September 1642, almost exactly nine years before.
Before the battle King Charles II contracted the Worcester Clothiers to outfit his army with uniforms but was unable to pay the £453.3s bill. In June 2008 Charles, Prince of Wales paid off the 357 year old debt.


In early April 1786, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson visited Fort Royal Hill at the battlefield at Worcester. John Adams wrote that he was "deeply moved" but disappointed at the locals' lack of knowledge of the battle, and gave the townspeople an "impromptu lecture":

“ The people in the neighborhood appeared so ignorant and careless at Worcester that I was provoked and asked 'And do Englishmen so soon forget the ground where liberty was fought for? Tell your neighbors and your children that this is holy ground, much holier than that on which your churches stand. All England should come in pilgrimage to this hill, once a year. ”
—John Adams.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia