American Campaigns of 1643–1644

Charles I’s queen, Henrietta Maria, had left England in early 1642, taking with her the royal jewels, which she pawned on the Continent to raise money for her husband’s cause. On her return voyage, the queen safely landed on the coast of Yorkshire in February 1643. The men and supplies she brought with her aided the northern royalists, led by William Cavendish, Marquess of Newcastle, in their struggle against the local parliamentary forces raised by Lord Ferdinando Fairfax and his son, Sir Thomas. At the end of June, the Fairfaxes were expelled from the heart of Yorkshire; the queen was able to journey south to be reunited with her husband at Oxford. In the West Country, royalists under the command of Sir Ralph Hopton held off Sir William Waller’s parliamentary forces at Lansdown, north of Bath, on July 5. On July 13, with cavalry reinforcements from Oxford, Hopton decisively defeated Waller at Roundway Down in Wiltshire. Those losses in the field left two parliamentary strongholds, Gloucester and Bristol, vulnerable to royalist attack. Rupert quickly set off to capture Bristol, which surrendered on July 26, thus giving the royalists a much-needed port and manufacturing center. Charles I besieged Gloucester in August, but a relief army under Essex forced the king to raise the siege on September 6. On their return east, the two armies had an indecisive encounter at Newbury in Berkshire on September 20 before marching off, the king to Oxford, Essex to London. The royalist victories in 1643 had led John Pym and his colleagues to seek additional military support for their cause, just as the king was bringing back some of the English troops from Ireland to bolster his forces. Pym achieved a major coup when he negotiated an alliance with the Scots. In return, on September 25, the House of Commons subscribed to the Solemn League and Covenant, whereby they promised to adopt a Presbyterian system of church government, although not everyone in England would favor such a religious settlement. John Pym, having accomplished this last service in Parliament’s cause, died on December 8. On January 19, 1644, the Scots army crossed the border into England. A new joint executive, the Committee of Both Kingdoms, was formed in London to direct military operations in the field. The royalist north was again endangered, and the Marquess of Newcastle had to withdraw to the walled city of York, where he was besieged by three allied armies in June. Joining the Scots were the Fairfaxes, who had rebuilt their army, and the Eastern Association, led by William Montagu, Earl of Manchester, and his cavalry commander, Oliver Cromwell. The king sent Prince Rupert to the relief of York and then took the field to defeat Waller at Cropredy Bridge, north of Banbury, on June 29. Rupert broke the siege of York by approaching from the north and surprising the besiegers, who expected a relief attempt from the west. But the prince believed his uncle wanted him to bring the enemy to battle despite his inferior numbers (18,000 versus 27,000 troops). The ensuing battle of Marston Moor, fought west of York on July 2, was one of the largest battles ever fought on English soil. After three hours of desperate struggle, the royalists were broken, with over 4,000 killed. York and the north were lost to the king, and Parliament had a new hero, Cromwell, whose cavalry had played a decisive role in the allies’ victory. The Battle of Marston Moor on July 2, 1644, one of the largest and bloodiest battles ever fought on the nation’s soil, was the decisive confrontation in the English Civil War. More than 4,000 men were killed on the plains of Yorkshire. (Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston, Lancashire, United Kingdom//Bridgeman Art Library) At this juncture, London was hopeful that an end of the war might soon be achieved. But Charles I still had his field army. In early September, after a dogged pursuit, he delivered a major blow to Parliament’s lord general, Essex, at Lostwithiel in Cornwall. Subsequently, the parliamentary armies of Essex, Manchester, and Waller failed to encircle the king on his return march east. At the second battle of Newbury, on October 27, the outnumbered royalists managed to hold off their opponents until nightfall, when they marched away to the safety of Oxford. A year that had begun with high hopes for Parliament’s cause ended on a triumphant note for the royalists. Circa 1640 Stock Photos & Circa 1640 Stock Images – Alamy The London trained bands fighting off the Royalist horse at … Prince Rupert of the Rhine – Wikiwand

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