The First English Civil War 1642-1646

Information relating to the First Civil War 1642-1646.

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History Revision ­ The First Civil War.
Esther Lang 13CLY
In the early stages of the war, the King had the advantage. More gentry joined the Royalist side and they bought with them
their tenants, their money and also the ability to ride and fight. The King was also joined by his 2 nephews, Rupert and Maurice
of Nassau who bought the experience of fighting in the Thirty Year War. Rupert's courage and skill made him a particularly
effective cavalry leader.
However, Parliament won the Civil War and various reasons have been put forward to explain why. The King' leadership of the
Royalist forces has been criticised, as has the indiscipline of his troops. However, recent studies suggest that the two sides
were remarkably similar in their methods and approach until late 1644 and both sides suffered from different ideas about
tactics and also frim rivalries among the commanders of their forces. Prince Rupert, for example, had an abrasive personality
which led to quarrels with other Royalist generals.
Nonetheless, Parliament's controlled the south-east which had a greater population and included London with its great
wealth. This was a particular advantage once Pym had built up an effective system of taxation and administration, introducing
an excise tax in May 1643. Clarendon talked about the `the incurable disease of want of money' of the Royalist side.
After failing to take London in 1642, some Historians have described the Royalists as planning a three-pronged attack on
Parliament held areas so as to open the way back to London. The northen army under the Duke of Newcastle was to advance
south and east from York, the South-Western army under Sir Ralph Hopton, was to march east and there was to be an
advance from the Midlands.
Newcastle did win a victory over Parliamentary forces at Adwalton Moor in June 1643 but decided to besiege Hull rather than
push further south and east as he feared an attack on his rear by the Hull garrison. Clarendon described him `as fit to be a
General as a Bishop'.
In the south-west Sir Ralph Hopton secured Cornwall and advanced through Devon where they joined forces with Prince
Maurice. Maurice then defeated the Parliamentary forces at Roundway Down in Wiltshire. The King's forces would soon be
able to link up with the army at Oxford for a combined attack on London. However, when Charles himself laid siege to
Gloucester the city was relieved by the Earl of Essex. Parliaments' garrison of 15,000 men faced a Royalist army of 30,000 men
the largest force ever assembled by the King but the King abandoned the siege rather than fight Essex with his back to a hostile
city. Parliament's control of the Navy helped here as it did in Hull. The forces of Charles and Essex then fought at Newbury
which neither side won but was a strategic victory for Essex as he could continue to London.
16443 ended in a stalemate and saw the death of Pym but not only had he established a sound financial base for Parliament
before he died he had also persuaded Parliament to sign a Solemn League and Covenant with the Scots. This meant that
Newcastle's army would be trapped between the Scottish Covenanter's Army and the Eastern Association under the command
of the Earl of Manchester and Oliver Cromwell.
The Scots crossed the border in January 1644 and the Eastern association moved north to support Fairfax. Rupert was able to
raise the Parliamentary siege of York but he then made the mistake of fighting at Marston Moor. Newcastle had advised
retreat with their two combined forces which were still less than the Parliamentary forces by about 9000 men. The
Parliamentary victory is also explained by the superior discipline and tactics of their cavalry led by Cromwell. York surrendered
within a fortnight, however, the opportunity was not followed up effectively. The failure of either side to win the war was partly
because neither side had a ordinated strategy. The Scots went off besiege Newcastle, Manchester turned east.
Meanwhile in the south the Earl of Essex tried to take Plymouth and then march into the Royalist stronghold in Cornwall.
However, Hopton simply parted his forces to allow the Partliamentary army through and then closed behind them to defeat
them at Lostwithiel. Six thousand men surrendered with their cannon while of the rest of the army only 600 men made it back
to London.
By the end of 1644,
Royalist advantages Parliamentarian advantages
Victory at Adwalton Moor Pym getting parliament to sign the Solemn League and
Victory at Roundway Moor Pym prepared taxes for the civil war meaning that they
able to be funded well and well administrated.

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History Revision ­ The First Civil War.
Esther Lang 13CLY
Victory at Lostwithiel London and south-east controlled ­ economically strong
Destruction of most of Essex's army Resource and discipline in the Army
Control over the Navy
Parliament has long-term reasons as to why they might win the Civil War.
Self-denying Ordinance allowed the creation of the new model army lead by Sir Thomas Fairfax (who didn't care for
politics) who was not a member of the House of Lords but a good military leader.…read more


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