Ch 08 The English Revolution

Ch.08-The English Revolution

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CHAPTER VIII: THE ENGLISH REVOLUTION

SECTION 2: THE CIVIL WAR


IN 1642, THE KING (AT YORK) AND PARLIAMENT WERE ENGAGED IN ASSEMBLING ARMIES AND SECURING THEIR CASTLES, ARSENALS AND OTHER STRONG POINTS UNDER THEIR RESPECTIVE CONTROL.


CHARLES DECLARED WAR ON PARLIAMENT FORMALLY IN AUGUST AT NOTTINGHAM.

AN EARLY CONCLUSION WOULD HAVE BEEN POSSIBLE AS PARLIAMENTARY FORCES WERE STRONGER AND BETTER DISCIPLINED, BUT THE EARL OF ESSEX WAS A CAUTIOUS MAN, REFLECTED BY PRESBYTERIAN ATTITUDE OF THE TIME. THIS NEARLY COST THEM THE WAR.

CHARLES MARCHED ON LONDON FROM THE WEST, WHERE HE HAD GATHERED SOME WELSH FROM LANDOWNERS AND THEIR DEPENDENTS. AT EDGEHILL ON 23RD OCTOBER, A BATTLE WAS FOUGHT BUT WAS INDECISIVE, WITH CHARLES CAVALRY AND THE PARLIAMENTARY INFANTRY PREVAILING.


CHARLES RETIRED TO OXFORD TO REGROUP, MUCH WEAKENED. HE KNEW THE IMPORTANCE OF CAPTURING LONDON, AND, IN THE SPRING OF 1643, A NEW CAMPAIGN WITH THREE ROYALIST ARMIES ADVANCED ON THE CITY.


IN THE NORTH, THE EARL OF NEWCASTLE DROVE FAIRFAX OUT OF YORKSHIRE, LAID SIEGE TO HULL AND ADVANCED INTO LINCOLNSHIRE. IN THE WEST, HOPTON DEFEATED THE PARLIAMENTARY ARMY AT LANDSDOWN HILL AND ROUNDWAY DOWN, AND BRISTOL WAS CAPTURED IN JULY.


IN AUGUST, CHARLES LAID SIEGE TO GLOUCESTER.


THE ADVANCE ON LONDON WAS STRATEGICALLY SOUND, BUT IT FAILED BECAUSE THE ROYALIST ARMIES WERE NOT DISCIPLINED ENOUGH TO CARRY OUT SUCH A MOVEMENT.


ROYALIST ARMIES WERE DRAWN FROM LOCALS, WILLING TO FIGHT LOCALLY BUT NOT FOR A LONG CAMPAIGN AWAY FROM HOME.

THE FURTHER THE ROYALIST ARMY ADVANCED, THE GREATER WERE THE DESERTIONS.


FOR THE FIRST TIME, IN LINCOLNSHIRE THE ROYALIST ARMY FACED CAVALRY WHO COULD STAND UP TO THEM. THEY WERE CROMWELL’S MEN, THE GERM OF THE NEW MODEL ARMY.

NEVERTHELESS, LONDON WAS UNCERTAIN OF VICTORY AND, IN THE SUMMER OF 1643, BEGAN TO DEMAND PEACE ON ANY TERMS.

 
THE TURNING POINT IN THE STRUGGLE WAS THE RESISTANCE AT GLOUCESTER AND THE PEOPLE OF LONDON, WHO STOOD TO BE A GREAT FORCE OF MILITIA, THE LIKE OF WHICH HAD NEVER BEEN SEEN BEFORE. THEY FOUGHT OFF RUPERT’S CAVALRY IN A FIGHT AT NEWBURY, AFTER RETURNING FROM AN ADVANCE TO RELIEVE GLOUCESTER.


THEY RETURNED TO LONDON TRIUMPHANT AFTER FIVE WEEKS, AND THIS ALTERED THE WHOLE FACE OF THE WAR. THIS EVENT WAS EXCEPTIONAL. ALTHOUGH THE WAR WAS NOT WON, IT WAS BETTER UNDERSTOOD THAT A NEW ARMY WAS NEEDED - ABOVE ALL, A BODY OF FIRST RATE HORSES.


CAVALRY WERE A DECISIVE FACTOR IN 17th CENTURY WARS. TACTICS HAD CHANGED.

CAVALRY NO LONGER CHARGED IN COLUMNS, HALTING WHEN WITHIN PISTOL RANGE THEN WITHDRAWING. NOW THEY CLOSED AT TOP SPEED IN LINES OF THREE OR FOUR DEEP, HOLDING FIRE UNTIL THEY WERE AMONG THE OPPOSITION AND IN THE MELEE OF BATTLE.

SUCH WERE THE TACTICS OF THE ROYALIST RUPERT, AND, AT FIRST, THEY CARRIED ALL BEFORE THEM. ONCE THE CHARGE HAD BEEN MADE, THE INFANTRY SCATTERED AND WERE BROKEN UP. THE CAVALRY THEN CONTINUED ON TO THE ENEMIES CAMP TO ‘KILL THE BAGGAGE’.


THE WEAKNESS OF THIS TACTIC WAS THAT ONLY ONE CHARGE WAS POSSIBLE AND NO ORDERS COULD BE GIVEN.

CROMWELL MOUNTED HIS MEN ON SLOWER BUT HEAVIER HORSES AND TAUGHT HIS CAVALRY TO ADVANCE AT A FAIR PACE, IN LINE, KNEE TO KNEE. THEY WERE TRAINED TO HALT ON COMMAND, TO WHEEL, TO FIGHT EN MASSE OR IN SEPARATE GROUP, THUS FORMING  A SOLID AND FLEXIBLE FORCE.


CROMWELL’S TROOPS AND CAVALRY WERE WELL PAID, SO THERE WAS LITTLE DESERTION OR MUTINY. THIS ARMY WAS DRAWN FROM YEOMAN, FARMERS AND MORE PROSPEROUS ARTISANS, AND THIS SET THE TONE FOR THE NEW MODEL ARMY.


IT WAS MORE THAN AN ARMY. IT WAS A POLITICAL PARTY OF INDEPENDENTS: THE REVOLUTIONARY LOWER MIDDLE CLASSES, JUST AS THE PRESBYTERIANS WERE THE PARTY OF THE UPPER MIDDLE CLASSES.


THERE WERE ‘AGITATORS’, POLITICAL TYPES APPOINTED BY THE RANK AND FILE TO SORT OUT GRIEVANCES AND INTERESTS.

 
SOLDIERS COUNCILS WERE FORMED, AND, AT PRAYER MEETINGS, POLITICAL AND RELIGIOUS DISCUSSION WHERE LINKED.

IN FACT, POLITICS TOOK THE FORM OF RELIGION, AND, IN PRACTICE, GROUPS BECAME EXTREMELY DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS.

THE PRIVATE SOLDIER WAS AS FREE TO SPEAK AS THE COLONEL, SINCE BOTH WERE CONSIDERED EQUAL IN DIVINE INSPIRATION.

AT A HIGHER LEVEL, THE ARMY WORKED OUT ITS THEORIES OF CHURCH AND STATE IN THIS WAY.

RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE WAS VOICED, AND IT WAS NOT CONSIDERED OFFENSIVE TO THE PURITAN MIND THAT THOSE OUTSIDE, THE CATHOLICS, HIGH ANGLICANS AND FREETHINKERS, WOULD NOT BE TOLERATED.


THIS NEW ATTITUDE ONLY STRENGTHENED PARLIAMENTARY FORCES. CROMWELL AND THE EARL OF MANCHESTER DREW IN FORCES OF CONSIDERABLE STRENGTH. SUCCESS, DURING THE LATE SUMMER OF 1643, FOLLOWED.

LINCOLNSHIRE WAS CLEARED OF ROYALISTS, HULL RELIEVED AND THE ARMIES OF FAIRFAX AND CROMWELL WERE JOINED.

THE THREAT TO LONDON WAS REMOVED, AND THE SCOTS WERE CO-OPTED THROUGH A TREATY TO ALLOW THEM TO ESTABLISH THEIR PRESBYTERIANISM IN ENGLAND. EXPENSES WERE ALSO PAID TO THE 20,000 STRONG SCOTTISH ARMY.

IN EARLY 1644, THE ROYALISTS WERE CLEARED FROM THE NORTHERN SHIRES. THE EARL OF NEWCASTLE WAS TRAPPED BETWEEN TWO ARMIES.

RUPERT WAS SENT FROM OXFORD, VIA LANCASHIRE MOPPING UP AS HE WENT. HE CROSSED THE PENNINES AT THE AIRE GAP AND JOINED NEWCASTLE’S ARMY. THEY WERE BOTH ROUTED AT THE BATTLE OF MARSTON MOOR.

TWO ROYALIST ARMIES HAD BEEN DESTROYED, AND, FOR THE LEFT, CROMWELL AND HIS ‘IRONSIDES’ OF THE NEW MODEL ARMY, VICTORY MUST HAVE BEEN SWEET.

THERE WAS HOWEVER ONE DISASTER. THE EARL OF ESSEX HAD LED A PURITAN ARMY INTO DEVON AND CORNWALL. HE FOUND HIMSELF CUT OFF FROM SUPPLIES AND WAS CORNERED AT LOSTWITHIEL.

THE CAVALRY ESCAPED, BUT THE ARMY SURRENDERED WITH ALL ARMS AND STORES LOST.

ESSEX FLED BY BOAT, BUT THE DEFEAT WAS LESS SERIOUS FOR PARLIAMENT THAN CHARLES’S DEFEAT AT MARSTON MOOR.

PARLIAMENT HAD FUNDS, CHARLES DIDN’T. PARLIAMENT RAISED HUGE TAXES, WHICH FEW OPPOSED AND GAVE WITHOUT PROTEST.

CHARLES WAS LEFT WITH ONLY THE POOREST PART OF THE WEST AND WAS UNABLE TO RAISE ANY REGULAR TAXES AT ALL.  

THE SOUTHWEST CAMPAIGN DISCREDITED THE ‘RIGHT’ WING OF THE PARTY AND INCREASED THE POWER OF THE ‘LEFT’ NEW MODEL ARMY.

THE ‘SELF DENYING ORDINANCE’ IN PARLIAMENT LED TO ORDINARY MEMBERS GIVING UP THEIR ARMY COMMANDS, AND THE NEW MODEL ARMY WAS NOW UNDER THE COMMAND OF FAIRFAX. THIS WAS PROBABLY CROMWELL’S IDEA. HE SPOKE FOR THE ARMY AND IN THE COMMONS.

FAIRFAX, WHO WAS A CAPABLE OFFICER, WAS NO POLITICIAN AND BECAME A FIGUREHEAD FOR CROMWELL.

WITH A CHANGE OF LEADERSHIP CAME A CHANGE OF STRATEGY. CROMWELL WAS DETERMINED TO DESTROY THE KING’S PRINCIPAL ARMY. IN THE SPRING OF 1645, CHARLES LEFT OXFORD HOPING TO MOVE NORTH, BUT THE TWO ARMIES MET AT NASEBY, NEAR NORTHAMPTON, ON JUNE 14TH.

THE TACTICS USED AT MARSTON MOOR PREVAILED. RUPERT’S CAVALRY WERE CAUGHT BY CROMWELL’S AFTER A SUCCESSFUL CHARGE AND WERE SCATTERED WILDLY, TAKING NO FURTHER PART.


CHARLES ESCAPED, BUT HIS ARMY WAS DESTROYED, AND PAPERS BELONGING TO THE KING WERE DISCOVERED. THEY PROVED CONCLUSIVELY THAT CHARLES WAS TRYING TO GET HELP FROM FOREIGN ARMIES, BESIDES THE IRISH, TO DEFEAT PARLIAMENT.

FIGHTING WENT ON FOR ANOTHER YEAR. CASTLES AND FORTIFIED TOWNS WERE CAPTURED, AND THE NEW MODEL ARMY PROVED ADEPT AT SEIGE WARFARE.

IT WAS IN THE WEST AND SOUTH WEST THAT MOST TROUBLE CAME. A GROUP KNOWN AS ‘CLUBMEN’, A PEASANT FORCE, BANDED TOGETHER TO PROTECT THEIR PROPERTY FROM RAIDERS OF BOTH SIDES. THEY BECAME AN ORGANISED FORCE, THOUSANDS STRONG.

THE CLUBMEN ENTERED INTO NEGOTIATIONS WITH BOTH KING AND PARLIAMENT, BUT THEY WERE ESSENTIALLY NEUTRAL AND WERE CALLED INTO SERVICE AGAINST THE KING WHEN PARLIAMENT PAID THEM. THE CLUBMEN HELPED GET RID OF ROYALISTS BANDS. PEACE AND SECURITY WERE RE-ESTABLISHED.

IN MAY, CHARLES FLED AND SURRENDERED TO THE SCOTS AT NEWCASTLE.

SO ENDED THE FIRST PHASE OF THE REVOLUTION AND ARMED STRUGGLE.

IN THE NEXT PHASE, DIFFERENCES WITHIN THE RANKS OF THE PURITANS DEVELOPED INTO A NEW STRUGGLE BETWEEN CLASSES AND PARTIES, WITH THE PRESBYTERIANS, THE PARTY OF THE BIG BOURGEOISIE, PITTED AGAINST THE PETTY BOURGEOISIE INDEPENDENTS AND THEIR ORGANISATION, THE NEW MODEL ARMY.

THIS STUGGLE CENTERED AROUND AND GAVE SIGNIFICANCE TO THE STRUGGLE FOR THE POSSESSION OF THE KING.

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