On August 22nd1642 King Charles I raised his standard at Nottingham Castle. Whilst times had been increasingly discordant this act effectively marked the start of the First English Civil War which lasted until 1646.
On August 12th 1642, Charles issued a proclamation to all his subjects living on the north side of the Trent and within twenty miles south of the river, to assemble at Nottingham on the 22nd of August, “where we intend to erect our Standard Royal, in our just and necessary defence, and whence we resolve to advance forward for the suppression of the said Rebellion, and the protection of our good subjects among them, from the burthen of the slavery and insolence under which they cannot hut groan until they be relieved by us.”
The banner that was raised bore the legend ” Religio Protestans Leges Angliae Libertas Parliamenti,” – Many of Charles’ subjects had doubts about his religious affiliations having taken exception to his attempts to impose conformity on Laudian principles with their emphasis on ritual and ceremony – that smacked strongly to Puritans of popery. English law and a free Parliament were also something that many observers might have questioned given Charles’ strategy of levying taxes by drawing upon ancient feudal dues and having ruled for the better part of twelve years without his parliament.
Charles’ call for all men to support him did not meet with the popular out pouring of loyalty that he hoped. Parliament took the opportunity to announce that until such time as he retracted his proclamation then he couldn’t be trusted.
Meanwhile in Colchester the house of ‘Mad Madge’ Cavendish’s parents’ was sacked by Puritans on the 22nd August 1642. Mad Madge had not yet acquired that name nor had she yet entered the service of Queen Henrietta Maria or married the royalist Duke of Newcastle. She was still the youngest of eight children sired by Sir John Lucas. Madge’s father was a prominent royalist in the area. The relationship between him and the citizens of Colchester had deteriorated over the years. It probably didn’t help that East Anglia had strong Puritan sympathies and Lucas was suspected of being a Papist. This event was not a one off though. The Stour valley had become increasingly restless during 1642. Unemployment was high. Rumours became wilder and anti-popery became more rife. The Countess of Rivers, for instance, found herself under siege by the people of Melford. Melford Hall was partially destroyed as a consequence. Parliament did not condone the harassment of the widowed countess – though how they may have felt when she spent her wealth on supporting the Crown is another matter entirely. She would eventually find herself in a debtor’s prison as a consequence of her loyalty.
The first battle of the English Civil War would not take place until September 25that Powick Bridge near Worcester.