At this stage, all parties expected Charles to continue as king, the only question being the terms. This allowed him to continue refusing significant concessions, while attempts to dissolve the New Model Army
led to mutiny
. With backing from English Presbyterians, in December 1647, the Scottish Engagers
agreed to restore Charles to the English throne.
The Scottish invasion was supported by Royalist risings in South Wales, Kent, Essex and Lancashire, along with sections of the Royal Navy
. However, lack of co-ordination enabled forces under Oliver Cromwell
and Sir Thomas Fairfax
to defeat each individually. Fighting ended in August; in January 1649, Charles was executed, and the Commonwealth of England
When the First English Civil War
began in 1642, all parties agreed a 'well-ordered' monarchy was divinely mandated. They disagreed on what 'well-ordered' meant, particularly the balance of power between king and Parliament, and who held ultimate authority in clerical affairs. There was considerable alignment among moderates, choice of sides often being down to personal loyalties and relationships. Royalists
generally supported a Church of England
governed by bishops
, appointed by, and answerable to, the king; Parliamentarians
believed he was answerable to the leaders of the church, appointed by their congregations.
Puritan was a general term for anyone who wanted to reform, or 'purify', the Church of England; Presbyterians
were the most prominent, but there were many others, often grouped together as Independents
. Presbyterians were over-represented in Parliament, generally believed in a constitutional monarchy
, and wanted to keep the church, but as a reformed, Presbyterian body. A good example was Denzil Holles
, one of the Five Members
in January 1642, who fought in the early stages of the war, but by 1644 supported a negotiated peace.
Independents opposed a state church in principle, and although relatively few in Parliament, formed a significant part of the New Model Army
, including senior commanders like Oliver Cromwell
, Thomas Rainsborough
, Thomas Harrison
, and Henry Ireton
. Many were also members of radical groups, the most famous being the Levellers
. These definitions simplify a complex reality; Sir Thomas Fairfax
, commander of the New Model, was a Presbyterian, who fought for Charles I
in 1639, and refused to participate in his execution.
Unlike England, where Presbyterians were a minority, the 1639 and 1640 Bishops Wars
resulted in a Covenanter, or Presbyterian
government, and Presbyterian kirk, or Church of Scotland
. This settlement had wide ranging support; Royalist general Montrose
fought for the Covenanters in 1639 and 1640. The Scots wanted to preserve these achievements; concerns over the implications for Scotland if Charles defeated Parliament led to the 1643 Solemn League and Covenant
. By 1646, they viewed Charles as a lesser threat than the Independents, who opposed their demand for a unified, Presbyterian church of England and Scotland; Cromwell claimed he would fight, rather than agree to it.
Many Parliamentarians assumed military defeat would force Charles to compromise, which proved a fundamental misunderstanding of his character. When Prince Rupert suggested in August 1645 the war was lost, Charles responded he was correct, if seen from a military viewpoint, but 'God will not suffer rebels and traitors to prosper'. This deeply-held conviction meant he refused any substantial concessions.
Aware of divisions among his opponents, he used his position as king of both Scotland and England to deepen them, assuming he was essential to any government; while true in 1646, by 1648 significant elements believed it was pointless to negotiate with someone who could not be trusted to keep any agreement.
Lead-up to war
With two companions, on 27 April 1646 Charles left Oxford in disguise
; on 6 May, Parliament received a letter from David Leslie
, commander of Scottish forces besieging Newark
, announcing he had the king in custody. The same day, Charles ordered the Royalist governor, Lord Belasyse
, to surrender Newark, and the Scots withdrew to Newcastle
, taking the king with them.
In July, the Scots and English commissioners presented Charles with the Newcastle Propositions, which he rejected; his refusal to negotiate created a dilemma for the Covenanters. Even if Charles agreed to a Presbyterian union, there was no guarantee it would be approved by Parliament. Keeping him was too dangerous; as subsequent events proved, whether Royalist or Covenanter, many Scots supported his retention. In February 1647, they agreed a financial settlement, handed Charles over to Parliament, and retreated into Scotland.
In England, Parliament was struggling with the economic cost of the war, a poor 1646 harvest, and a recurrence of the plague. The moderate Presbyterian faction led by Denzil Holles
dominated Parliament and was supported by the London Trained Bands
, the Army of the Western Association, leaders like Rowland Laugharne
in Wales, and elements of the Royal Navy
. By March 1647, the New Model was owed more than £3 million in unpaid wages; Parliament ordered it to Ireland, stating only those who agreed would be paid. When their representatives
demanded full payment for all in advance, it was disbanded.
The New Model refused to be disbanded; in early June, Charles was removed from his Parliamentary guards
, and taken to Thriplow
, where the Army Council
presented him with their terms, known as the Heads of Proposals
. Despite the fact they were more lenient than the Newcastle Propositions, Charles rejected them; on 26 July, pro-Presbyterian rioters burst into Parliament, demanding he be invited to London. Fearing Charles would be restored without concessions, the New Model took control of the city in early August, while the Army Council re-established their authority over the rank and file by suppressing the Corkbush Field mutiny
In late November, the king escaped from his guards, and made his way to Carisbrooke Castle
on the Isle of Wight
. In April 1648, his supporters gained a majority in the Parliament of Scotland
and agreed to restore Charles to the English throne. In return, he undertook to impose Presbyterianism in England for three years, and suppress the Independents, a pact known as 'The Engagement'. However, his refusal to take the Covenant himself split the Scots between those who backed the agreement, known as Engagers
, and the Kirk Party
, who denounced it as 'sinful'.
However, Charles finally had the pieces in place for a rising by Scots and English Royalists, supported by some English Presbyterians, and Scots Covenanters.
Western England & South Wales; 1645
Wales was a sensitive area; most of it had been Royalist during the war, while Harlech Castle
was the last of their strongpoints to surrender in March 1647. The interception of secret messages between Charles and the Irish Confederacy
made it important to secure ports like Cardiff
and Milford Haven
, since they controlled shipping routes with Ireland. The Army Council
viewed the local commanders, John Poyer
and Rowland Laugharne
, with suspicion, since they supported the Parliamentarian moderates. In July, Horton was sent to replace Laugharne, and secure these positions.
The revolt began in Pembrokeshire
, an area controlled by Parliament since early 1643. Like their New Model colleagues, the soldiers had not been paid for months, and feared being disbanded without their wages. In early March, Poyer, Governor of Pembroke Castle
, refused to relinquish command; he was soon joined by Rice Powell
, who commanded Tenby Castle
, then by Laugharne.
What began as a pay dispute became overtly political when the Welsh rebels made contact with Charles. Most Royalists had sworn not to bear arms against Parliament and did not participate, one exception being Sir Nicholas Kemeys
, who held Chepstow Castle
for the king. By the end of April, Laugharne had assembled around 8,000 troops, and was marching on Cardiff
; however, on 8 May, he was defeated at St Fagans
This ended the revolt as a serious threat, although Pembroke Castle did not surrender until 11 July, with a minor rising in North Wales
suppressed at Y Dalar Hir
in June and Anglesey
retaken from the rebels in early October. The Welsh rising is generally not considered part of a planned, Royalist plot, but largely accidental; however, its retention was vital for future operations in Ireland.
Revolt against Parliament in Kent
A precursor to Kent
's Second Civil War had come on Wednesday, 22 December 1647, when Canterbury
's town crier
had proclaimed the county committee's order for the suppression of Christmas Day and its treatment as any other working day.
However, a large crowd gathered on Christmas to demand a church service, decorate doorways with holly bushes, and keep the shops shut. This crowd – under the slogan "For God, King Charles, and Kent" – then descended into violence and riot, with a soldier being assaulted, the mayor's house attacked, and the city under the rioters' control for several weeks until forced to surrender in early January.
On 21 May 1648, Kent rose in revolt in the King's name, and a few days later a most serious blow to the Independents was struck by the defection of the Navy, from command of which they had removed Vice-Admiral William Batten
, as being a Presbyterian. Though a former Lord High Admiral, the Earl of Warwick
, also a Presbyterian, was brought back to the service, it was not long before the Navy made a purely Royalist declaration and placed itself under the command of the Prince of Wales
. But Fairfax had a clearer view and a clearer purpose than the distracted Parliament. He moved quickly into Kent, and on the evening of 1 June, stormed Maidstone
by open force, after which the local levies dispersed to their homes, and the more determined Royalists, after a futile attempt to induce the City of London
to declare for them, fled into Essex
Before leaving for Essex, Fairfax delegated command of the Parliamentarian forces to Colonel Nathaniel Rich
to deal with the remnants of the Kentish revolt in the east of the county, where the naval vessels in the Downs
had gone over to the Royalists and Royalist forces had taken control of the three previously Parliamentarian "castles of the Downs" (Walmer
, and Sandown
) and were trying to take control of Dover Castle
. Rich arrived at Dover on 5 June 1648 and prevented the attempt, before moving to the Downs. He took almost a month to retake Walmer (15 June to 12 July), before moving on to Deal and Sandown castles. Even then, due to the small size of Rich's force, he was unable to surround both Sandown and Deal at once and the two garrisons were able to send help to each other. At Deal he was also under bombardment from the Royalist warships, which had arrived on 15 July but been prevented from landing reinforcements. On the 16th, thirty Flemish
ships arrived with about 1500 mercenaries
and – though the ships soon left when the Royalists ran out of money to pay them – this incited sufficient Kentish fear of foreign invasion to allow Sir Michael Livesey
to raise a large enough force to come to Colonel Rich's aid.
On 28 July, the Royalist warships returned and, after three weeks of failed attempts to land a relief force at Deal, on the night of 13 August managed to land 800 soldiers and sailors under cover of darkness. This force might have been able to surprise the besieging Parliamentarian force from the rear had it not been for a Royalist deserter who alerted the besiegers in time to defeat the Royalists, with less than a hundred of them managing to get back to the ships (though 300 managed to flee to Sandown Castle). Another attempt at landing soon afterwards also failed and, when on 23 August news was fired into Deal Castle on an arrow of Cromwell's victory
, most Royalist hope was lost and two days later Deal's garrison surrendered, followed by Sandown on 5 September. This finally ended the Kentish rebellion. Rich was made Captain of Deal Castle, a position he held until 1653 and in which he spent around £500 on repairs.
, North Wales
, and Lincolnshire
the revolt collapsed as easily as that in Kent. Only in South Wales
, and the north of England was there serious fighting. In the first of these districts, South Wales, Cromwell rapidly reduced all the fortresses except Pembroke. Here Laugharne, Poyer, and Powel held out with the desperate courage of deserters.
Pontefract Castle in 1648, with civil war fortifications surrounding the old medieval ones.
In the north, Pontefract Castle
was surprised by the Royalists, and shortly afterwards Scarborough Castle
declared for the King as well. Fairfax, after his success at Maidstone and the pacification of Kent, turned northward to reduce Essex, where, under their ardent, experienced, and popular leader Sir Charles Lucas
, the Royalists were in arms in great numbers. Fairfax soon drove Lucas into Colchester
, but the first attack on the town was repulsed and he had to settle down to a long and wearisome siege
rising is remembered for the death of the young and gallant Lord Francis Villiers
, younger brother of George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham
, in a skirmish at Kingston
(7 July 1648). The rising collapsed almost as soon as it had gathered force, and its leaders, the Duke of Buckingham
and Henry Rich, the Earl of Holland
, escaped, after another attempt to induce London to declare for them, to St Albans
and St Neots
, where Holland was taken prisoner. Buckingham escaped overseas.
Lambert in the north
Major-General John Lambert
, a brilliant young Parliamentarian commander of twenty-nine, was more than equal to the situation. He left the sieges of Pontefract Castle
and Scarborough Castle
to Colonel Edward Rossiter
, and hurried into Cumberland
to deal with the English Royalists under Sir Marmaduke Langdale
. With his cavalry, Lambert got into touch with the enemy about Carlisle
and slowly fell back to Bowes
and Barnard Castle
. Lambert fought small rearguard actions to annoy the enemy and gain time. Langdale did not follow him into the mountains. Instead, he occupied himself in gathering recruits, supplies of material, and food for the advancing Scots.
Lambert, reinforced from the Midlands, reappeared early in June and drove Langdale back to Carlisle with his work half finished. About the same time, the local horse of Durham
were put into the field for the Parliamentarians by Sir Arthur Hesilrige
, governor of Newcastle
. On 30 June, under the direct command of Colonel Robert Lilburne
, these mounted forces won a considerable success at the River Coquet
This reverse, coupled with the existence of Langdale's Royalist force on the Cumberland side, practically compelled Hamilton
to choose the west coast route for his advance. His Scottish Engager
army began slowly to move down the long couloir
between the mountains and the sea. The Campaign of Preston which followed is one of the most brilliant in English history.
Campaign of Preston
On 8 July 1648, when the Scottish Engager
army crossed the border
in support of the English Royalists,
the military situation was well defined. For the Parliamentarians, Cromwell besieged Pembroke
in West Wales, Fairfax besieged Colchester
in Essex, and Colonel Rossiter besieged Pontefract
in the north. On 11 July, Pembroke fell and Colchester followed on 28 August.
Elsewhere the rebellion, which had been put down by rapidity of action rather than sheer weight of numbers, smouldered, and Charles, the Prince of Wales
, with the fleet cruised along the Essex coast. Cromwell and Lambert, however, understood each other perfectly, while the Scottish commanders quarrelled with each other and with Langdale.
As the English 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 James Hamilton, 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 1648, the Scots, with Langdale as advanced guard, were about Carlisle, and reinforcements from Ulster
were expected daily. Lambert's horse were at Penrith
and Newcastle, too weak to fight and having only skillful leading and rapidity of movement to enable them to gain time.
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
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 the Duke of 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 he was at Wetherby
, Lambert with horse and foot at Otley
, Langdale at Skipton
, Hamilton 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.
Battle of Preston
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
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 were heavily outnumbered, having only 8,600 men against perhaps 20,000 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 Wigan road, 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 fiercely, they were driven to the Ribble after four hours' struggle.
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
. 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. On 28 August, starving and hopeless of relief, the Colchester Royalists surrendered to Lord Fairfax.
Execution of Charles I
The victors in the Second Civil War were not merciful to those who had brought war into the land again. On the evening of the surrender of Colchester, Sir Charles Lucas
and Sir George Lisle
were shot. Laugharne, Poyer and Powel were sentenced to death, but Poyer alone was executed on 25 April 1649, being the victim selected by lot. Of five prominent Royalist peers who had fallen into the hands of Parliament, three, the Duke of Hamilton, the Earl of Holland, and Lord Capel
, one of the Colchester prisoners, were beheaded at Westminster on 9 March. Above all, after long hesitations, even after renewal of negotiations, the Army and the Independents conducted "Pride's Purge
" of the House removing their ill-wishers, and created a court for the trial and sentence of King Charles I.
At the end of the trial the 59 Commissioners
(judges) found Charles I guilty of high treason
, as a "tyrant, traitor, murderer and public enemy".
He was beheaded on a scaffold in front of the Banqueting House
of the Palace of Whitehall
on 30 January 1649. (After the Restoration
in 1660, the regicides who were still alive and not living in exile
were either executed or sentenced to life imprisonment.)
Capitulation of Pontefract Castle
Pontefract Castle was slighted
on the orders of Parliament.
was noted by Oliver Cromwell
as "[...] one of the strongest inland garrisons in the kingdom".
Even in ruins, the castle held out in the north for the Royalists. Upon the execution of Charles I, the garrison recognised Charles II
as King and refused to surrender. On 24 March 1649, almost two months after Charles was beheaded, the garrison of the last Royalist stronghold finally capitulated. Parliament had the remains of the castle demolished the same year.
- ^ Macloed 2009, pp. 5–19 passim.
- ^ See the pamphlet Canterbury Christmas; or, a true Relation of the Insurrection in Canterbury on Christmas Day last, published in 1648.
- ^ Brand 1905, pp. 117, 118.
- ^ Noake 2007.[better source needed]
- ^ Plant 2009, The Preston Campaign.[better source needed]
- ^ Kelsey 2003, pp. 583–616.
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Last edited on 7 May 2021, at 20:19
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