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Tuesday, 6 January 2015

English Civil War

After Parliament declared extra parliamentary taxation, King Charles I attempted to arrest the parliamentary leaders on January 4, 1642. When this failed he withdrew from London and declared war on Parliament from Nottingham on August 22, 1642. In this civil war Charles's army were called "Cavaliers" and the Parliament's soldiers, "Roundheads".


On St George’s Day in 1642 King Charles I was refused entry to the Yorkshire city of Hull. This led to the Siege of Hull, which has been described as the first major action of the English Civil War.

15,000 Royalists fought 15,000 Parliamentarians in the Battle of Edgehill on October 23, 1642. Each side lost 500 dead and suffered 1,500 wounded -and each claimed it had won.

19th century painting depicting Charles (in blue sash) before the battle of Edgehill,

Prior to the Battle of Edgehill, the Royalist General, Baron Jacob Astley prayed the following prayer:” O Lord! Thou knowest how busy I must be this day. If I forget thee, do not thou forget me.”

On July 2, 1644 Cromwell’s Parliamentarian troops defeated the King’s soldiers at Marston Moor (see below). The victory secured the North of England for Parliament. Oliver Cromwell commented "It had all the evidences of an absolute victory obtained by the Lord’s blessing upon the godly party. God made them as stubble to our swords."


When Charles I defeated a Parliamentarian detachment at the Battle of Cropredy Bridge on June 29, 1644, it was the last battle won by an English King on English soil.

Parliament won the first war, and Charles 1 was put in prison, but he escaped. Charles gained support from the Scots, in return for a promise to introduce Presbyterianism into England thus provoking part two of the Civil War in 1647.

On January 17, 1648 England's Long Parliament passed the "Vote of No Addresses", breaking off negotiations with King Charles I and thereby setting the scene for the second phase of the English Civil War. The vote was in response to the news that Charles I was entering into an engagement with the Scots.


Parliament won the second war also and King Charles was put on trial. He was found guilty of treason and was executed.

King Charles I's eldest son, the Prince of Wales,fled Britain and set up his own royal court in Holland, calling himself King Charles II of England. He returned to fight another battle against the army of Parliament. The Third Civil War (1649 - 1651) was fought between supporters of King Charles II and supporters of the Rump Parliament.

The English Civil War ended when Parliament won the Battle of Worcester on September 3, 1651. It saw 28,000 men from Cromwell’s New Model Army defeat 14,000 royalist soldiers.

Oliver Cromwell at the Battle of Worcester

Around one in ten of the adult male population was killed during the English Civil War- a higher proportion than during any other war Britain has taken part in. 

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