Windows into men’s souls – The problems of Catholicism in the 1570s and 80s.

queen_elizabeth_armada_portraitDuring the first ten years of Elizabeth I’s reign she took very little notice of the English Catholics who led their home shores to find sanctuary in Europe.  Very sensibly she had no desire to create martyrs.  There was also the lesson of her half-sister to consider.  She had begun her reign on a wave of popularity which swiftly dissipated when she started burning people.

In 1568 Dr William Allen founded an English College at Douai with the aid of donations from the Pope and from Philip II.  Men such as Edmund Campion, somewhat unexpectedly a deacon in the Church of England prior to his arrival in Douai, made their way there for training.  After the papal bull of 1570, however, Elizabeth began to take a different view of these well educated men.  In addition to which there were a growing number of English lords dependent upon Spain for their pensions – men like Dacre who had fled during the rising of 1569.

Inevitably as the political pressure on England increased along with the likelihood of war despite Elizabeth’s attempts to maintain some form of peace or at least to delay the inevitable through marriage negotiations attitudes hardened.  By 1585 it was a treasonable offence to give shelter to catholic priests in England.  The fact that  William Allen was corresponding with Philip II and the Pope hardly helped matters.  Nor did it help as the number of plots against Elizabeth increased.

In Rome, Anthony Monday noted that members of the English college there competed to make the worst insults about Elizabeth – “frying bacon” apparently took on a whole new meaning amongst the seminarians.  Essentially Once the Catholics gained power Sir Francis Bacon would be toast – to mix a rather old metaphor.

As the English Catholics entered the priesthood and finished their training in record time they returned to English shores.  Eighteen English Catholic priests returned home in 1576. Elizabeth might not want to meddle with men’s souls but she certainly didn’t want Catholic sponsored invaders arriving either and this was a problem.

Whilst London had a reputation for being Protestant the counties were a little behind with the times and many of the older aristocratic families were proud of their Catholic affiliations.  In 1566 the Lord Mayor of Oxford told the Privy Council that he couldn’t find three houses in the city that weren’t packed with papists.  Elizabeth dealt with this by going to visit Oxford and talking to all the students.  Amongst the men there that day was Edmund Campion who gained Robert Dudley’s patronage on the strength of his intellectual abilities.

1569 saw the Northern Earls Rebellion and the following year saw Elizabeth excommunicated.  Pope Pius V had done nothing for the safety or happiness of Catholics in England, Ireland and Wales.  In 1572 more than 2000 French Protestants were massacred.  Paranoia grew along with Walsingham’s spy network.  Men like John Gerard and Nicholas Owen grew up Catholics in suspicious times.

By 1573 letters were being intercepted on their way to both Oxford and Cambridge inviting students to join with the exiles in Douai and later in Rome (1575 onwards).  In 1574 Cuthbert Maine answered the call to go to college in Douai.  He journeyed with four companions.  Men like them and Gerard believed that their families had and were still suffering at the hands of a protestant government.  Others thought that the occasional famines that England experienced during the mid-Tudor period were manifestations of God’s displeasure. Still others thought that Protestants were wrong – their Jesuit training hardened their beliefs.

In 1578  the college at Douai was forced to shut when Elizabeth reached a compromise with the Spanish and booted the Sea Beggars out of England.  They went to Rheims under the protection of the Guise family who were fiercely Catholic and rather enjoyed creating havoc in England.

The students and their tutors had become much more hard core in their views.  Now they didn’t just want to convert their neighbours back to Catholicism or to care for the needs of the Catholic flock – now they were adamant that there should be a Spanish backed invasion.  As early as 1576 Allen’s men had preferred to die rather than take an oath of obedience to Elizabeth if they were captured.  Cuthbert Mayne went to his death declaring that  should any Catholic happen to invade the nation it was every English Catholic’s duty to support them in that goal.

Martyrdom beckoned along with a healthy dose of fundamentalism.  Inevitably Mary Queen of Scots was nominated as an alternative monarch.  William Allen corresponded with her as well as the Pope and Philip II.  No wonder Walsingham and Elizabeth’s Privy Council became increasingly keen that the undoubted royal catholic alternative to Elizabeth should be disposed of once and for all.  It was just a question of getting Elizabeth to agree.

 

Hogge, Alice. God’s Secret Agents

Hutchinson, Robert. Elizabeth’s Spymaster

Ronald, Susan. Heretic Queen

 

Cardinal Wolsey and the monasteries

wolseyWe tend to think of Thomas Cromwell as the man who did for England’s monasteries but before he became Henry VIII’s Vicar General, Cardinal Wolsey had already demonstrated various ways and means of milking the cloisters.

Most famously between 1524 and 1527 he arranged the suppression of 29 monastic foundations in order to finance his school in Ipswich and Cardinal’s College Oxford.  One of Wolsey’s men of business  at the time was Thomas Cromwell.  In 1530 after the fall and death of the Cardinal, Cromwell spent five days in Canwell and Sandwell (Staffs) seeing to the winding up of the two priories there which had been closed to finance Wolsey’s educational enterprises.

It should be added that Wolsey was not doing something new when he suppressed the 29 monasteries.  He was copying  William Waynflete of Winchester who had suppressed foundations in Hampshire in order to fund Magdalen College in 1458.  Wolsey studied there so it is not hard to see where he might have got his inspiration from.

Nor for that matter was he simply suppressing English monasteries because he could do so – when he became papal legate in 1518 he also received a mandate from Pope Clement VII to reform the monastic establishment as he saw fit.  The papal bull for these suppressions also identified Cardinal Campeggio.  It is evident from the State papers that Wolsey was careful to keep his royal master informed of events.  Here is an extract of a letter dating from 1528 sent to Campeggio.

Sir [Gregory] Casale….where he received letters from the King and the cardinal of York, with orders to obtain certain favors from the Pope. Not being in a fit state to ride, he has caused his brother, the elect of Bellun, to repair hither. You will have learned what the King and Cardinal desire, namely, the union of certain monasteries to the value of 8,000 [ducats?], for the two colleges established by the grandfathers of his Majesty. As the Pope was able to grant this sine consilio fratrum, the bull will be expedited. … We have letters from the King and Cardinal to the Pope, to which an answer shall be sent when the “expeditions” shall have been made. 

This was all well and good whilst Wolsey had Henry VIII’s favour but as every English churchman was aware – if they fell from favour the charge they would face was one of praemunire i.e. maintaining papal authority above that of the monarch. The pope did not simply give Wolsey carte blanche to close what he wanted.  Each of the foundations was required to close with the consent of its patron or founder.  Consequently the charge of closing the monasteries was a bit of a mean one as Wolsey  had in many cases required the intervention or consent of the king (Butler and Given-Wilson).

Wolsey started his suppressions with St Frideswide in Oxford with its fifteen canons and an income of approximately £20 p.a..  The canons were transferred to other foundations. The properties and their estates and churches were either sold or leased.  Most of the other monasteries he suppressed also only had a handful of clerics and a limited income.  In Ipswich where he founded his school he suppressed the local priory and used its land as the site for the school.  Ten more monasteries in Suffolk closed to finance the Ipswich venture.

 

There were various ways of interfering in the monasteries aside from closing them down.  As readers might expect Henry VII and his tax advisors Empson and Dudley had a few wheezes of their own.  The Crown often interfered in the election of abbots and priors.  St Mary’s Abbey in York paid the Crown £100 so that it might have free elections as did Great Malvern Abbey.  The Cistercians coughed up £5000 to cover all their foundations. The practice continued in the reign of Henry VIII.  In 1514 Evesham paid £160 for a free election and further £100 was added to the bill for a certain cleric called Wolsey.  Later in his career he took to charging for appointment to office.  The abbot of Gloucester was supposed to have paid Wolsey £100 for the job as did the abbots of Chester and Peterborough.

Of course, 1514 was the year the Wolsey became Bishop of York.  The office was followed by the title of cardinal the following year.  As a bishop Wolsey had the right to carry out visitations within his diocese.  Effectively bishops could demand to see an abbey or priory’s accounts and make enquiries into the moral solvency of a foundation.  Wolsey could not only to pry into the corners of Yorkshire’s monastic soul but also the dioceses of Winchester, Durham and Bath and Wells.  In 1518 he became a Papal Legate and his rights to stick his nose into abbey habits became nationwide. The following year Wolsey sent three Augustinians off to visit all Augustinian foundations and it would certainly appear that he had it in for the Augustinians if the list of suppressed monasteries in this post is anything to go by.  Supporters of Wolsey identify his reforming vigour.  Opponents are more likely to comment on the visitation as a strategy for extortion.

In 1523 he was voted a monastic subsidy – think of it as a clerical tax headed for the chubby paws of the cardinal.  It should also be noted that monasteries made an incredibly generous number of financial gifts to England’s spiritual leader.  Whalley Abbey sent him £22  for example.

Later when Wolsey fell from favour and the charges against him were drawn up the suppression of the twenty-nine monasteries featured on the list as did his habit of sending his employees to influence monastic elections not only of abbots and priors but also of high stewards.  The charges of praemunire include one of “crafty persuasions.”

But back to Wolsey’s suppressions.  There is a note in Henry VIII’s letters and state papers sent to Master Doctor Higden the first dean and former fellow of Magdalen College on the 21 June 1527:  Of the late monasteries of St. Frideswide, Liesnes, Poghley, Sandwell, Begham, Tykforde, Thobye, Stanesgat, Dodneshe, Snape, Tiptre, Canwell, Bradwell, Daventrie, Ravenston; of lands in cos. of Essex and Suffolk; Calceto, Wykes, Snape; of monasteries suppressed in cos. Stafford, Northampton, Bucks, Oxford and Berks; Tonbridge, in Kent; and in Sussex.

List of monastic foundations suppressed by Cardinal Wolsey

  1. St Frideswide, Oxford.  (Augustinian)
  2. St Peter and St Paul Priory, Ipswich. (Augustinian)
  3.  Bayham Abbey (Premonstratsensian)
  4. Begham Priory
  5. Blythburgh Priory (Augustinian)
  6. Bradwell Priory (Benedictine)
  7. Bromehill Priory (Augustinian) – Suppressed in 1528 by Dr Legh.
  8. Canwell Priory (Benedictine)
  9. Daventry Priory (Cluniac)
  10. Dodnash Priory (Augustinian)
  11. Farewell Priory (Benedictine nuns)
  12. Felixstowe Priory (Benedictine)
  13. Horkesley Priory (Cluniac)
  14. Lesnes  Abbey (Augustinian)
  15. Medmenham Priory  (Augustinian)  Medmenham  would later be the site of the notorious eighteenth century Hellfire Club.
  16. Mountjoy Priory (Augustinian)
  17. Poughley Priory (Augustinian) – Thomas Cromwell valued it at £10
  18. Pynham Priory (known as Calceto)  (Augustinian)
  19. Ravenstone Priory (Augustinian)
  20. Rumburgh Priory (Benedictine)
  21. Sandwell Priory (Benedictine)
  22. Snape Priory (Benedictine)
  23. Stanesgate Priory (Cluniac) – Visited by Dr Layton.
  24. Thoby Priory (Augustinian)
  25. Tiptree Priory (Augustinian)
  26. Tickford Priory (Augustinian)
  27. Tonbridge Priory (Augustinian)
  28. Wallingford Priory (Benedictine)
  29. Wix Priory (Benedictine nuns)

The value of the monasteries that Wolsey closed came to £1800 – or one decent sized manor.  He used his administrative team to evaluate and suppress the monasteries.  Thomas Cromwell would use the same men on a far grander scale from 1535 onwards.

Butler, Lionel and Given-Wilson, Chris. (1979) Medieval Monasteries of Great Britain. London: Michael Joseph

 

Heale, Martin. (2016) The Abbots and Priors of Late Medieval and Reformation England. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Hutchinson, Robert (2007) Thomas Cromwell: The Rise And Fall Of Henry VIII’s Most Notorious Minister  London: Orion

‘Henry VIII: November 1528, 11-20’, in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 4, 1524-1530, ed. J S Brewer (London, 1875), pp. 2134-2150. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/letters-papers-hen8/vol4/pp2134-2150 [accessed 24 April 2018].

‘Houses of Cluniac monks: Priory of Stanesgate’, in A History of the County of Essex: Volume 2, ed. William Page and J Horace Round (London, 1907), pp. 141-142. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/essex/vol2/pp141-142 [accessed 24 April 2018].

 

English Civil War 1645

prince rupertAs with all civil wars some people change their minds.  Having described the Hothams (father and son) shutting the city gates of Hull in Charles I’s face in 1642 it comes as something of a surprise to discover that John Hotham (junior) was executed for treason on 1st January 1645 for conspiring to let the royalists in!  John Hotham senior was executed the next day.  Unfortunately  for them their coat turning tendencies had been proved by the capture of the Earl of Newcastle’s correspondence after the Battle of Marston Moor.

1645 followed the increasingly depressing routine of burning houses to deny the enemy cover and of being besieged not to mention taxation, parliamentary committees sending stiffly worded notes to their commanders and men on both sides having something of a wobble as the war became less and less chivalrous.  At the beginning of the year royalist Newark was in hot water and Prince Rupert was still charging around the countryside.  Poor old Abingdon seemed to change hands more often than anywhere else in the area around Oxford and in January, Rupert was busy attacking it.

Things were changing though.  The Parliamentarian army was becoming much more professional. On the 21st January, Parliament appointed Sir Thomas Fairfax to overall command.  And I would have to say Tom Fairfax is one of my heroes – who can’t like a man who retired to grow roses?  It should also be added that Rosemary Sutcliffe’s Rider on the White Horse may have something to do with my affiliation. In Scotland the Earl of Montrose was flitting around and Prince Maurice relieved Chester which had been besieged (who would have thought all those Roman walls would have come in so useful) not that it did much good because as soon as he left the area the siege was re-imposed.

Elsewhere things were getting really very nasty and unnecessary,  the earl of Essex hanged thirteen men simply because they were Irish – a modern warcrime if ever there was one.  Prince Rupert (pictured at the start of this post) retaliated by hanging thirteen parliamentarian soldiers based on the fact that they weren’t royalists.  The two gentlemen in question then exchanged letters on the subject – to modern eyes neither of them comes out of the exchange particularly well.

Meanwhile the Scots had managed to irritate the people of Westmorland and the Royalist Oxford Army set off on its summer campaign having been reorganised by the king who managed to irritate many of his commanding officers in the process.

I could say etc etc because much of the manoeuvring seems very similar to the previous eighteen months but then on 14th June 1645 the king’s army met with Fairfax’s army at the Battle of Naseby.  The royalists, quite frankly, were toast.  As usual Rupert’s cavalry were rifling through the baggage train whilst disaster struck. The women in the royalist baggage train were overrun by the victorious parliamentarians.  Unfortunately they didn’t know the difference between the sound of Welsh and Irish – the Irish being catholic and therefore much hated.  The brave parliamentarian soldiers proceeded to slaughter many of the women and those who weren’t slaughtered had their faces and noses slashed to mark them as whores – a more delightful group of puritans you couldn’t wish to meet!  The king fled int he direction of Ashby-de-la Zouche and from there to Lichfield with the parliamentarians in hot pursuit.   The king turned left (if he was facing north) into Wales and Fairfax who had other orders from Parliament took a detour into the West Country where he set about bringing various royalist garrisons to book.  Whilst all that was going on Archbishop Laud was finally executed on 10th July 1645.

For those of you of a Derbyshire turn of thought, Charles travelled down through the Welsh borders to Ludlow receiving assorted correspondence from Prince Rupert as he went.  Rupert was doing his usual Jack-in-the-box routine and would seem to have been collecting “horse miles” as averse to air miles. Fairfax, it would have to be said, was doing something similar.  On the 13th August the king arrived in Ashbourne and on the 14th he paid a visit to Chatsworth and from there went across to Welbeck Abbey, another Cavendish residence. By the 18th August Charles I was back in Yorkshire – in Doncaster raising men to continue his campaign.

This was unfortunate as the Scots arrived at Rotherham the next day.  Accounts suggest that the royalists had something of a panic before hurrying the king to Newark. Ten days later he was back in Oxford.

The sense I have of 1645 is a nation on the move.  David Leslie was in charge of the Scots at Rotherham for example but by the 13th September he is in Scotland decimating the Earl of Montrose who was coming south to join with the king who by that stage of the game had made a personal visit to Worcester and Hereford.  Meanwhile Bristol had finally fallen into Parliamentary hands and the king held his nephew Rupert personally responsible.  Chester was still holding out against Sir William Brereton so the king decided to show Rupert how to relieve a siege and set off from Hereford.  The result was the Battle of Rowton Heath – the king  having watched the loss of  his army from the city walls headed back to Wales where they had plenty of large castles to hide in – he selected Denbigh.

On October 14th the symbol of royalist loyalty in Hampshire was finally taken and destroyed.  Basing House was stormed by Cromwell and his fellow commanding officers. The defenders made a call for a parley and were ignored after two hours of vicious hand to hand fighting. Between one hundred and two hundred people including civilians were killed inside Basing House and then the Parliamentarians looted £200,000 of goods.  Catholic items were destroyed in a public fire in London.  Meanwhile Basing House burned and what remained standing was torn to the ground – by which point of reading I must admit to having gone right off Cromwell but can see that in order to bring the civil war to an end Parliament was stamping out royalist nests whenever and wherever it could and Basing had been a particular thorn in Parliamentary sides for the last two years.

It probably didn’t help that the fall of Bristol on the 10th September when Rupert handed it over to Thomas Fairfax after a ten day siege caused bad blood between uncle and nephew.  Rupert turned up at Newark despite orders to the contrary demanding that he should be court marshalled so that the slur upon his honour could be erased.  The resulting factions lead to division within the royalist chain of command.  By November things were so bad that Charles wrote to Rupert telling him to leave the country.  Unsurprisingly Parliament was more than happy to issue Rupert with a fourteen day pass to leave the kingdom without interference.

By the 7th of December King Charles was writing to his son urging him to make his escape from the kingdom without delay as castles across the country found themselves making terms with their parliamentarian besiegers and the king himself sent a series of letters to parliament trying to agree terms.  On the 26th of December following an exchange of correspondence between the king and parliament, Charles proposed a personal treaty.  On the 5th May the following year Charles surrendered to the Scottish army at Southwell.  He had been totally defeated and his kingdom was in tatters.  Of course, things did not go well from thence but for the time being I shall leave the unfortunate and self-deluded Stuart stewing.

Charles_I_in_Three_Positions_1635-36

English Civil War 1644

Oliver_Cromwell_by_Samuel_Cooper.jpg1644 was a year where no one gained the upper hand and the casualties of war grew.  The arrival of the Scots in the Civil War ultimately tipped the balance of power in Parliament’s favour but as a result of amateur approaches to warfare the Second Battle of Newbury failed to end matters once and for all.  This had the knock on effect of ensuring the rise of the New Model Army and Cromwell’s Ironsides.

January 1644 started with the usual petitions and recruitment.  Pay remained an issue.  For example Hopton who led the rather successful Western Army for the king in 1643 found himself dealing with mutineering.  Five hundred of his men simply marched off with their weapons to join the Parliamentarians in Poole.  In the midlands as armies ebbed and flowed Nottingham fell once more into Parliamentarian hands and Newstead Abbey, the home of Lord Byron, was looted whilst he was besieging Nantwich on behalf of the king.  This resulted in the necessity of Fairfax crossing the Pennines to Manchester with a view to relieving the siege.  The result is the Battle of Nantwich on 26th January 1644 which Parliament won despite the bad weather and prevailing soggy conditions.  He went on to besiege Latham House near Ormskirk on 28th February where the Countess of Derby held out for the king.  Her husband was on the Isle of Man.  Rather than a direction confrontation she played for time which worked to a degree although Fairfax ordered his men to build earthworks around the house.

At the beginning of February, Newcastle was back in Newcastle to stop the Scots from occupying it on Parliament’s behalf and the royalist garrison at Newark started to feel a bit uncomfortable as well they should because by the end of February, which was a leap year, Sir John Meldrum had besieged the town.  He had 5,000 men and rather a lot of ordinance but the royalists held out. Prince Rupert marched his men from Wolverhampton to Newark to relieve the siege on the 21st of March.

earl of manchester.pngMeanwhile two of the Parliamentarian generals were at loggerheads with one another.  Robert Devereux, 3rd Earl of Essex felt that Edward Montagu, Earl of Manchester  (pictured above) was getting the better part of the deal from Parliament.  Montagu, married to a cousin of George Villiers in the first instance married for a second time to Ann Rich, the daughter of the Earl of Warwick – the Parliamentarian Lord Admiral.  He turned from Court towards a more Puritan way of thinking and did not support the king in the Bishop’s War.  He was also the peer who supported John Pym at the opening of the Long Parliament  and was the one member of the House of Lords who Charles I wanted to arrest at the same time as the five members of the House of Commons.  In 1642 he was on his third wife (another member of the Rich family) and had become the Earl of Manchester upon his father’s death.  Manchester had been at the Battle of Edgehill but his was one of the regiments that had fled the battlefield.  After that he was eventually appointed to the command of the Eastern Association Army – regiments covering Hertfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex and Cambridge.  By the end of 1643 East Anglia was very firmly in Parliamentarian hands and Manchester’s men had broken out into Lincolnshire and Yorkshire.  This should be contrasted with Essex and the Western Association Army performance.  It is perhaps not surprising that Parliament effectively allowed Manchester to by pass Essex and to liaise with the Scots and with the Fairfaxs.

 

By April Selby was back in Parliamentarian hands as Lord Fairfax retrieved the ground that had been lost the previous year.  Newcastle also returned to Yorkshire and occupied York. The Earl of Manchester was ordered to York at the same time as Parliament realised that Prince Rupert and his men were also heading in that direction.  Inevitably York now found itself besieged with the royalists inside and Lord Fairfax outside.  It would have to be said that before that point had been reached Newcastle had got most of his cavalry out of the city.

Meanwhile on the other side of the Pennines Sir Thomas Fairfax was throwing everything, including the kitchen sink, at Latham House.  On the 23rd April he asked the Countess of Derby to surrender.  She declined. At the other end of the country parliamentarian Lyme Regis also declined to surrender.  The townsfolk were hoping that the Earl of Warwick and his navy were going to come to their rescue.  Oxford prepares to be besieged by the Earl of Essex who took nearby Abingdon which the Royalists had abandoned.  Charles I had to leave the city for fear of capture.

Meanwhile the Royalists in York could look over the city walls and watch as the Earl of Manchester and his men arrived. Its best to think at this point of Prince Rupert haring around the countryside relieving Parliamentarian sieges and helping Royalist besiegers to storm their targets.  He did not cover himself in glory at Bolton where the defenders were slaughtered.  The war was beginning to take a decidedly less gallant turn.  Essentially large houses across the country swapped hands – some with the modicum of upset, others after much ammunition had been used.  Meanwhile the king arrived in Worcester and the Parliamentarian armies of Waller and Essex chased after him although somehow Waller managed to lose the king and end up in Gloucester.

The movements of the armies and key figures seem to be very much like a game of strategy where nobody is quite sure of the rules.  The king, for instance, next surfaces in Buckingham, whilst Prince Rupert rocks up  in Knaresborough.  His job is to relieve the siege of York.

With so many men and armies in the vicinity it is perhaps no surprise that July 2nd saw the Battle of Marston Moor.  The Parliamentarians on hearing the news that Rupert was int he area had withdrawn from around York and taken up a position to bar Rupert’s approach to the city. Rupert did not take the bait, he crossed around behind the Parliamentarians at Poppleton and wrote a note to Newcastle telling him to get himself and his lambs into position.  Newcastle wasn’t terribly happy with these orders.  All he wanted was for the Parliamentarians to march off and leave York in peace.

Fairfax and Manchester,along with the Scots under the command of Leven were at Tadcaster when Rupert assumed the correct position for battle on the morning of the 2nd.  A messenger carried the news to the Parliamentarians to the effect that Rupert was “up for it.” Consequently the parliaments had to turn around and go back.  The Royalists had the moor and the Parliamentarians had farmland.  There was a ditch between the two sides. By four in the afternoon there had been no move to battle and by seven the royalists had settled down by their campfires.  At which point the Parliamentarians made their move – which though not particularly gallant was militarily rather sensible.

Lord John Byron.jpgFairfax opposed Goring on the right wing: Goring 1 – Fairfax O.  Goring and his men got side tracked by the baggage wagons.  Crowell was on the left wing facing Lord John Byron (pictured right): Ironsides 1 – Royalists 0.  Prince Rupert turned the fleeing royalists round and sent them back into battle.  Rupert and his men were evenly matched with the Ironsides.  Essentially they hacked one another to a standstill at which point the Scottish cavalry charged in on the Royalist flank and scattered them.

Fairfax needing to communicate with Cromwell took off his sash and his field sign and rode across the battlefield, paling through Royalist lines as he did so, to provide Cromwell with accurate information about what was happening.  Cromwell, and his men circled the field and came up behind Goring and his men who were busily looting Fairfax’s baggage train.

Meanwhile Newcastle’s lambs at the centre had fought doggedly through the whole encounter.  Now they were forced back and rather than leave the field they died to a man. William Cavendish, Earl of Newcastle was the last royalist commander left on the battlefield. As his men were slaughtered he ultimately made his way back to York and from there to Scarborough.  At Scarborough he sailed for Hamburg.  The North was lost to the Royalists.  More than 4,000 of their number died at Marston Moor.

In the Midlands, Welbeck Abbey, one of William Cavendish’s homes, fell to the Parliamentarians – who helped themselves to tapestries and silver plate.  Royalist Newark began to feel the pinch once more and Rupert made his way back to the SouthWest where Essex wasn’t having such a victorious feeling as his counterparts in the North.  Ultimately he had to make an undignified escape from Lostwithiel.  Basing House in Hampshire was still being pummelled.

The king seems to have spent much of the second half of the year popping up all over the country being pursued by various parliamentarians. He had planned to relieve Basing House but that went awry so he decided, instead, to relieve Donnington Castle – bearing in mind there was no such thing as a motorway network the various armies marched huge distances a the drop of a hat.  This meant that they were required to live off the land – which was not good news for anyone who happened to be in the path of any army and its destination.  On the 22nd October Charles was in Berkshire, near Newbury.  Cromwell, Manchester and Waller took to the field but the king escaped under cover of darkness and scarpered in the direction of Bath. From there he returned to Oxford – as clearly the Parliamentarians had cleared off by that time.

As the year drew to the close Parliamentarian generals were still writing to London politely suggesting that their men should be paid, Rupert was still popping up like a jack in the box and Basing House was still under siege.  Lord Fairfax was quietly sitting outside the castles of Pontefract and Knaresborough but had been given orders to sort out the royalists in Newark as well.  Knaresborough did surrender by the end of the year, not that it was much consolation to Lord Fairfax who felt that he was being over-stretched with insufficient men or money to do Parliament’s bidding.

In London, Parliament was pointing fingers about who was responsible for the failure to administer a crushing defeat on the king at the Second Battle of Newbury  and the Self-Denying Ordinance is proposed which would prevent members of Parliament (Lords or Commons) from holding military command.  Whilst the Commons agreed to the idea the Lords were less keen but would pass a revised version of the ordinance in 1645.

All in all – a very depressing year and that’s without considering Scotland, the Covenanters and the Earl of Montrose.

Emberton, Wilfred. The Civil War Day by Day.

 

 

1643- English Civil War

anthony-van-dyck-portrait-of-sir-ralph-hopton-and-of-his-wife-elizabeth.jpgIt’s interesting that in January 1643 the king was still receiving petitions asking him to return to London and his parliament.  A Parliamentary committee even visited Oxford where the king was based in order to promise him his safety if he returned to London.

Elsewhere the business of running a kingdom continued.  Towns loyal to the king gathered their silver and sent it to Oxford where another mint had been set up.  Shrewsbury sent twelve wagons.  Ambassadors came and went.  Justice was served.  The Irish question continues to haunt English politics.  It would have to be said that being so concerned with their own conflicts that the English in Ireland found themselves without provisions or ammunition by May 1643.

As a starting point, the war is best seen as being fought regionally in 1643 as it gives an indicator of key figures as well as the respective strength of the various forces – think of each region as a game of chess between the two sides which is complicated by the fact that the is a national oversight that sees regional conflicts interlocking although it would have to be said that the majority of local leaders weren’t paying much attention to the national picture they were far too busy skirmishing with their former neighbours. I shall start from the south coast and the Southwest of England

The South East/ south coast – Nicely straight forward (for the most part) – Dover Castle was captured by Parliament before the starting whistle was blown in 1642.  In Hampshire the Royalists notably held Basing House and Portsmouth but everywhere else in the county was Parliamentarian.  Parliament set about forming committees and raising taxes in these areas as well as raising troops.  Parliament also stated that if people couldn’t pay their taxes in coin they could pay in kind and produced a table for guidance – so wheat was the equivalent of 5 shillings.  By the end of the year Hampshire, Dorset and Somerset would be embroiled in the conflict and Basing House which was one of the largest Tudor houses in the country would be on the receiving end of not one but three direct assaults as the Parliamentarians under the command of Sir William Waller (pictured below.)

220px-WilliamWaller.jpgThe royalist command in Cornwall was held by Ralph Hopton featured at the start of this post with his wife Elizabeth.  In 1642 he and his men had driven the Parliamentarians from Launceston.  Whilst Hopton  was unable to secure Devon at this time, Cornwall was firmly royalist.  This position was confirmed on the 19th January 1643 when Hopton won the Battle of Braddock Down and from there went on to besiege Plymouth which was in Parliamentarian hands. In early 1643 there were a number of skirmishes between both sides but places like Parliamentarian Exeter continued to petition and negotiate for peace between the warring factions.  In London, Parliament urged the Devon Committee to raise more money and troops.

It is perhaps not surprising that by this time churches and cathedrals across the country were hiding their  plate and anything valuable as it was seen as fair game by both sides.  In Chichester, the plate was discovered and taken away by Parliamentarian forces.

Ultimately Hopton and his royalist Western  Army would advance in the direction of Bath where he comes into conflict with Sir William Waller and the Parliamentarian Western Association forces (The Western Association comprises Waller’s military command of Gloucester, Wiltshire, Worcester, Shropshire and Somerset.  By March he will have secured Salisbury, Winchester and Bristol for Parliament).  To counter this Hopton and Waller come to blows on 16th May 1643 when Hopton takes on a Parliamentary force at Stamford Hill.  The Royalists are victorious and they advance towards Bath.

The Battle of Landsdown Hill is fought on the 5th July 1643.  Waller has the high ground and the royalists suffer heavy casualties although it is the Parliamentarian force that eventually retreats.  The morning after the battle, Hopton is temporarily blinded and paralysed when a munitions wagon explodes.  Despite the fact that they have won the battle, the Royalists retreat to Chippenham being harried by Waller’s men as they do so.  It would have to be said that victory doesn’t look particularly victorious given that strategically Waller gains the upper hand in the aftermath of the battle.

Parliamentarians from Bristol (it had been secured for Parliament in March by Waller without much fuss) move to outflank Hopton’s Royalists and the whole lot end up in Devizes on the 9th July.  Waller thinking that he has won offers Hopton surrender terms which Hopton pretends to consider knowing that he needs to give the Royalists time to come to his assistance having sent a message to Oxford with Prince Maurice prior to being besieged. His hopes are fulfilled when 2,000 fresh cavalry put in an appearance from Oxford.  The Battle of Roundway Down is fought on the 13th July 1643.  Waller is resoundingly beaten and has to go to London to raise more money and men.

prince rupert.png

A8c0810724dd73ce9dcdf6dd691337811--doublet-bristol.jpgt that point the Royalists realise that they could control the whole of the southwest.  On the 24th July Prince Rupert  (pictured above) and his men rock up outside Bristol (England’s second city at this time) and suggest very nicely that its Parliamentarian Governor Colonel Nathaniel Fiennes might like to surrender.  Fiennes declines the invitation and on the 26th Rupert and his forces storm Bristol.  By nightfall Fiennes asks for terms and at the beginning of August King Charles visits.  Fiennes will ask for a parliamentary investigation into the fall of Bristol as he is widely castigated on account of the fact that Waller has far more success with Gloucester than he has with Bristol – Gloucester requires its own post and besides which is just outside the region I am covering today.

Elsewhere Dorchester, which was Parliamentarian and where its citizens had been busy digging ditches and earth banks night and day surrender to the Royalists without a blow and in September, Exeter is taken by Prince Maurice.  It was Parliamentarian in sympathy and had hoped to withstand siege but it could not be supplied so therefore had no choice. Maurice moves on to besiege Plymouth  and Dartmouth. Falmouth is already Royalist. At Poole the Parliamentarians foil a Royalist attack but the Parliamentarian navy under the command of the Earl of Warwick takes up residence in the harbour to discourage further attacks.

I should add that Dorchester will change hands again before the end of the year.  Parliament will offer the Royalist prisoners taken in Dorchester the opportunity to pay a large fine in return for their freedom.  The money is used to continue to finance their armies.

By this point towns with any strategic value in the area are suddenly re-assessed in terms of their security.  For instance twenty barrels of powder and shot were dispatched to Lyme Regis by Parliament so that it could be defended and the Earl of Essex is ordered to advance through the Midlands to come up behind the royalist armies.  Towns and strategic locations throughout the area have their own story to tell at this time, including Dunster Castle which is unexpectedly Parliamentarian in sympathy at the start of 1642 – but the post is already long enough, so I shall save that for another day as well.

By December 1643, Hopton, elevated to the peerage is still doing battle with his Parliamentarian adversary William Waller.  Both have had victories and both have suffered defeats.  Waller is holed up in Farnham Castle but Hopton is unable to capture him so heads off for Arundel Castle instead which he captures for the Royalist cause.

On the 27th Waller takes nearby Chichester.

In 1643 some places surrender without a blow being struck, other locations are the scenarios of grim and bloody battles fought hedgerow by hedgerow.  Some places are besieged, the siege is raised and they are left like beacons in a landscape shaded by the opposing army.  All in all there is a feel of sands shifting but that at this point in the South West that the Royalists should be victorious.

I intend to post on Dunster Castle and the Luttrell family as well as Gloucester this week. From there I shall progress to Yorkshire where the Royalist Commander at the start of 1643 is the Earl of Cumberland and a man out of his depth.  He will have to summon the Earl of Newcastle for help.  This will be an opportunity to revisit the civil war in the West Riding not to mention the increasing significance of Thomas Fairfax.  Meanwhile in the Midlands the war is described by Brian Stone not in terms of chess but rather more like a football match and I haven’t even got so far as the Battle of Newbury.

 

Emberton, Wilfred. (1995) The Civil War Day by Day. Stroud: Sutton Publishing