History OCR AS - English Civil War + Interregnum Facts (Part 3)

Part 3 of the notes on the English Civil War - this part covering the events during the Civil War 1642-46.


The English Civil War 1642-43 Timeline (1)


  • August - King raises his royal standard at Nottingham.
  • September - King raises troops in the Welsh border country.
  • October - Battle of Edgehill: Inconclusive first major battle of the war.
  • November - Battle of Turnham Green: Royalist march on London halted by the London trained bands (King could've taken London but he didn't).
  • December - Parliament opens peace negotiations.
  • Parliament establishes the Eastern Association.
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The English Civil War 1642-43 Timeline (2)


  • February - 'Oxford Treaty' negotiations begin.
  • Parliament's weekly Assessment Ordinance.
  • April - 'Oxford Treaty' negotiations collapse.
  • Parliament's Sequestration Ordinance.
  • May - Parliament's Compulsory Loans Ordinance.
  • July - Parliament's Excise Ordinance.
  • Royalists capture Bristol.
  • Battle of Lansdown Hill.
  • Battle of Roundway Down.
  • Westminster Assembly begins work on a new church settlement.
  • August - Siege of Gloucester begins.
  • Parliament's Impressment Ordinance.
  • Solemn League and Covenant - Parliament allies with Scotland.
  • September - Parliament relieves siege of Gloucester.
  • King signs the Cessation Treaty with the Irish.
  • First Battle of Newbury.
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Lead up to the Battle of Edgehill, 23 October 1642

In the late summer of 1642 both sides wanted a quick + decisive battle to speedily end the war.

The King's actions:

  • The King wanted a quick victory before Parliament had the chance to mobilise its resources.
  • His best chance of this was to march on London with his army gathered from the shires of England.
  • The King gathered an army from the Welsh borders. He marched towards Shrewsbury, gathering 12 000 men before heading towards London.
  • He was on the way to Banbury when Prince Rupurt, Charles' nephew and a general in his army, informed him that the Royalist army had made contact with Parliament's army nearby.
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Lead up to the Battle of Edgehill, 23 October 1642

Parliament's actions:

  • Earl of Essex was in command of Parliament's army.
  • He decided upon an immediate confrontation with the Royalists.
  • He marched into the Midlands to assert Parliament's power in the area.
  • When he learned that the King was in the area he moved to bar the Royalists' path to London.
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Lead up to the Battle of Edgehill, 23 October 1642

  • For several days the two armies marched parallel to each other, about 20 miles apart, unaware of the others' presence. Contact was only made when quartermasters (those in charge of supplies for the army) ran into each other whilst collecting provisions.
  • The King ordered his army to deploy on Edgehill, a high ridge overlooking the village of Kineton. He hoped that Essex could be induced to attack uphill (hard to take equipment up, enemy can see you easily).
  • Instead Parliament settled on the plain 2 miles away, waiting for the King to make the first move.
  • Both sides were evenly matched. The King had just fewer than 13 000 men and Essex had 15 000. The King had more cavalry, Parliament had more foot-soldiers.
  • The King realised that unless he attacked, there would be no battle. His army moved down off the ridge and attacked.
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The Battle of Edgehill: 23 October 1642 (1)

  • At first, the battle went badly for Parliament. Before it started one troop (that of Sir Faithful Fortescue) crossed over to the Royalists (defected) in full view of both armies.
  • The Royalist cavalry on the right wing charged Sir James Ramsey's cavalry on the opposite side of the battlefield.
  • Ramsey's men turned and fled, but in their eagerness, inexperience + poor discipline Rupert's reserve force joined in the charge, pursuing the Parliamentarian horsemen all the way to Kineton. This happened in a similar way on the left wing.
  • In the centre of the battle formation Parliament's troops stood firm against the Royalist advance, supported by 2 remaining cavalry regiments.
  • Despite the success of the Royalist cavalry initially, now Parliament had the only effective cavalry force on the field. Their attack drove back the left wing of the Royalist infantry, causing heavy losses.
  • As Rupert's cavalry began to drift back to the battlefield they found their position altered, with the King's infantry in danger of destruction.
  • Charles rode amongst his foot-soldiers, giving them encouragement.
  • 3000 men had died in the battle, many other were wounded or had fled.
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The Battle of Edgehill: 23 October 1642 (2)

  • On the following day neither side was fit to continue the battle. A lot of people had died, it was a horrific battle.
  • The King continued his march towards London, establishing his base at Oxford.
  • Essex's army reached London before Prince Rupert but Parliament had already been spurred into action by the approach of the Royalists.
  • A new army, partly made up of the London trained bands, barre Rupert's path at Turnham Green on 12 November.
  • After this point, the Royalists retreated to Oxford.
  • Both sides ended the first year of the war by consolidating their headquarters + thinking about their next steps.
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The 'Oxford Treaty': February 1643 - April 1643 (1

  • Parliament had not performed particularly well at Edgehill. There was a general revulsion at the war + pressure from the House of Lords for Parliament to negotiate.
  • New terms of agreement were drawn up + negotiations began with the King's commissioners at Oxford.
  • Parliament's terms were a mild version of the Nineteen Propositions, with some more clauses against Catholics.
  • The fear of Catholicism was strengthened when some of the King's letters, corresponding with the Earl of Newcastle, were captured by Parliamentarian leader Sir Thomas Fairfax. They proved that Charles was encouraging the recruitment of Catholics in his northern army. The captured letters made Parliament more afraid of what would happen if Charles won.
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The 'Oxford Treaty': February 1643 - April 1643 (2

  • Charles did not respond positively to this initial approach, commenting that whoever had drawn them up just wanted to make things 'worse and worse'.
  • This made Pym's life much easier - the Lords and the Commons were re-united in anger against Charles' declaration.
  • Charles behaved this way because he thought he was winning the war.
  • He was urged by most of his advisers to pursue outright military victory, in order to revoke all the concessions made to the Long Parliament.
  • This possibly had led Pym to the Grand Remonstrance in the first place.
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1643: A Good Year for the Royalists

  • 1643 made the King's victory look likely.
  • Parliament had suffered a series of military defeats, high-profile desertions + the deaths in battle of Lord Brooke and John Hampden.
  • Parliament took time to make their resources effective, whereas it appeared that the King's supporters were ready much more quickly.
  • Some historians think that the Royalists had a strategy to attack London from 3 directions - the north, the Midlands + the south-west.
  • By summer 1643 Parliament was suffering a crisis of confidence that led to calls for the resignation of the Earl of Essex as Lord General of the army.
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The War in the North

  • By the end of June 1643 the whole of Yorkshire, with the exception of Hull, was in Royalist hands.
  • The Earl of Newcastle had fortified Newark, which commanded the Great North Road and an important bridge across the River Trent.
  • Parliament's Yorkshire commanders, Lord Fairfax and his son, Sir Thomas Fairfax, were unable to prevent Royalist victories at Tadcaster, Seacroft Moor and Adwalton Moor.
  • In March 1643 the governor of Scarborough had betrayed Parliament by handing the castle over to the Royalists (lots of people went to the Royalists because they thought they would win).
  • This was nearly followed by worse when at Hull John Hotham + his father, who had famously prevented the King's entry into the city in 1642, tried to give Hull + its arsenal to the Royalists.
  • By July the Parliamentarians were trying desperately to prevent Newcastle's army marching on London + the Puritan heartlands of east Anglia.
  • The continued resistance of Hull was the main factor that prevented this.
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The War in the South West (1)

  • Royalists made even more dramatic progress in the south-west, including Cornwall, Devon + Somerset.
  • Under the command of Sir Ralph Hopton the Royalists advanced from Cornwall through Devon. Here they joined forces with Prince Maurice (Rupert's brother and the King's nephew).
  • Soon there was only Plymouth preventing the south-west from being completely Royalist.
  • Hopton was halted on his advance on Bath, confronted by his old friend Sir William Waller and his Parliamentary force.
  • Hopton's army forced its way onto Lansdown Hill outside Bath (July 1643).
  • 8 days later Waller's cavalry was destroyed at Roundway Down in Wiltshire.
  • It looked like the King's forces in the south-west could now meet up with teh army at Oxford to attack London.
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The War in the South West (2)

  • Before that, Parliament was shaken further by the fall of Bristol (also in July 1643). Bristol was the most important port other than London.
  • When Parliament learnt of its surrender by Nathaniel Fiennes, he was court-martialled and sentenced to death.
  • His life was saved by Essex's intervention, although by this point Essex's own reputation needed defending.
  • Essex was given one last chance, to relieve the siege of Gloucester, where Parliament's garrison of 1500 men was besieged by a Royalist army of 30 000. This was the largest force ever assembled by the King.
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The Siege of Gloucester: August-September 1643 (1)

  • If Gloucester fell it would create a Royalist territory stretching from Shrewsbury to Bristol, from Wales to Oxford. It was, therefore, a clear Royalist priority.
  • If the King controlled the Severn bridge at Gloucester it would open a direct line from the King's recruiting lands in South Wales to his base at Oxford.
  • Gloucester had had a year to prepare its defences. The medieval city walls had been strengthened by earth ramparts capable of absorbing the impact of shot from cannon + mortars.
  • The Governor of Gloucester, Sir Edward Massey, ordered his men to pull down houses outside of the ramparts in order to make clear fields of fire for his own artillery.
  • The city had 40 barrels of gunpowder + a few cannon.
  • 23 August 1643 - Essex left London with 15 000 men on a high-risk mission through enemy territory. He chose a route that passed north of Oxford, avoiding the many Royalist garrisons.
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The Siege of Gloucester: August-September 1643 (2)

  • The King abandoned the siege as Essex approached Gloucester.
  • The King's army circled round Essex, trying to cut off his retreated to London.
  • Essex tried then to find a way back up the Cotswolds without having to take part in a disadvantageous battle.
  • The King eventually managed to block Essex's path at Newbury. In the following battle (September 1643 - First Battle of Newbury), Essex achieved a form of victory, and managed to force his way through to London.
  • Gloucester was not a major victory for Parliament but it has been seen as a turning point.
  • The Queen criticised Charles for not attacking London, but attacking Gloucester instead.
  • Prince Rupert thought the Royalist army should have stormed Gloucester rather than besieging it.
  • The King's priority was to take Gloucester with the minimum loss of life.
  • Gloucester's importance is demonstrated by the way that Parliament took a risk with its main field army to relieve the siege.
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1644: The Tide Turns?

Several key events took place in or just before 1644 that had been seen as turning points in the Civil war. Some of these benefited Parliament, others benefited the King:

  • The Scottish alliance brings an army to England - The Solemn League and Covenant (August 1643) [Alliance between Scottish Covenanters + Parliament] comes into action in January 1644.
  • The Battle of Marston Moor (July 1644) - Parliament's first real victory.
  • Essex's failure at Lostwithiel (August 1644)
  • Divisions in Parliament - the Battle of Cropredy Bridge, second Battle of Newbury + the path to the Self-Denying Ordinance.
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The Solemn League and Covenant: August 1643 (1)

  • An alliance between Parliament (organised by John Pym) and the Covenanting Scots (rebelled about the Prayer Book, Presbyterian Puritans).
  • It was Pym's final effort on parliament's behalf as he died shortly afterwards from cancer.
  • January 1644 - The Scottish Alliance comes into action. A Scottish army of 12 000 men commanded by Alexander Leslie, Earl of Leven, crossed into Northern England.
  • the coming of the Scottish army altered the nature of the conflict, politically & militarily.
  • The King's response to the Scottish alliance had been to sign the Cessation treaty with the Irish rebels in September 1643 (King + Irish rebels to stop fighting). This sparked Parliamentary propaganda of a Catholic takeover.
  • Irish troops began appearing in England and Wales in 1644 as a consequence of this treaty.
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The Solemn League and Covenant: August 1643 (2)

  • The Scots threatened to send an army to Ireland to protect their (Protestant) settlements there, and the Irish Confederation (an alliance between the Irish Catholics + English Royalists) threatened to send an army to Scotland to support the Earl of Montrose.
  • Montrose was the King's commander of the Royalist forces in Scotland.
  • Summer 1644 - Montrose began a campaign to threaten the Scottish lowlands (closest to England). This forced the Covenanters to divert resources to deal with their own civil war.
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The War in the North: 1644

  • The first objective of the invading Scottish army under Leslie was to occupy Newcastle (was in Royalist hands). They soon achieved this.
  • The main prize in the north was York. Sir Thomas Fairfax moved towards York after defeated a Royalist / Irish force at Nantwich.
  • He linked up with the Scots to besiege the city, which was held by the Earl of Newcastle.
  • Leslie (commander of the Scots) and Fairfax were soon joined by the Earl of Manchester's Eastern Association army, leaving York severely threatened (three Parliamentary forces all converged on York).
  • This forced Prince Rupert (who was in Wales) to march to the relief of York. He swept through the north-west, gathering forces before crossing the Pennines to challenge Parliament's forces outside York.
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The Battle of Marston Moor: July 1644

  • The siege of York + Rupert's actions to march to the relief of the city led to the Battle of Marston Moor in July 1644.
  • This was the first clear victory for Parliament - Rupert's army was poorly disciplined; once again the cavalry ran off.
  • It virtually destroyed Royalist power in the north.
  • The Scots made a strong contribution to the success at Marston Moor but after it were distracted by Montrose's actions in Scotland.
  • This is not to say that the alliance was not influential on Parliament's actions - indeed it was to force some of the most important developments in the military organisation of Parliament.
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Essex's Failure at Lostwithiel: August 1644

  • Summer 1644: Earl of Essex aimed to relieve several garrisons in Devon & Cornwall, marching his army into the territory.
  • This had been a successful approach the previous year at Gloucester, where Essex had marched deep into enemy territory to relieve the siege.
  • This time the result was a disaster, however, and Essex found his line of retreat from Cornwall blocked by the King's forces.
  • At Lostwithiel, at the end of August 1644, Essex's experienced army was forced to surrender while Essex escaped by sea.
  • This loss of an army would have defeated Parliament entirely a year earlier, but not at this point - were much stronger than in 1643.
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Divisions in Parliament - the Battle of Cropredy B

  • In the Midlands the war was indecisive in 1644 but it revealed divisions + weaknesses in Parliament's otherwise strengthening position.
  • The battle of Cheriton in Sussex (March 1644) prevented the Royalists invading the south-east.
  • But the Battle of Cropredy Bridge in Oxfordshire (June 1644) was a notable Parliamentarian defeat. Sir William Waller was lucky to escape.
  • These operations led to increasingly serious arguments between the main commanders of Parliament's forces - Essex and Waller. During summer & autumn 1644 there was a growing crisis of confidence in Parliament's commanders.
  • Essex's reputation had already been affected by Lostwithiel (August 1644), whereas Waller's had been blighted by Roundway Down (July 1643) and Cropredy Bridge (June 1644).
  • The performance of these two contrasted sharply with that of the Eastern Association at Marston Moor, commanded by the Earl of Manchester.
  • The Earl of Manchester also had his critics, however, due to his reluctance to follow up the victory at Marston Moor with more decisive action.
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Divisions in Parliament - Second Battle of Newbury

  • The Second Battle of Newbury (October 1644) brought events to a head.
  • The battle was an embarrassment for Parliament - it was indecisive despite Parliament outnumbering the King's army by more than 2 to 1 (Parliament really should have won).
  • Charles himself escaped due partially to cautious tactics by the Earl of Manchester and the Eastern Association. This resulted in a famous row between Manchester and Cromwell.
  • This was part of a wider argument between moderates and radicals within Parliament - formerly known as the peace and War parties.
  • This argument led to the Self-Denying Ordinance in 1645 and the formation of the New Model Army.
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Divisions Within Parliament: 1644

War Party:

  • Fight on for a total military victory.
  • Radical in religion & politics.
  • Independents (radical Puritans).
  • Cromwell.

Peace Party:

  • Negotiate a peaceful end to the war.
  • Moderates.
  • Presbyterians (moderate Puritans - same as Scots).
  • Earl of Manchester.
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Summary of 1644

  • At the end of 1644 the King's territory had shrunk significantly (because of Marston Moor). It is hard to see with hindsight how he could have won.
  • This was now how contemporaries felt, though. Parliament's unity was unstable, held together by fear of what the King would do if he won.
  • The success in the north had been achieved with the help of the Scots, there was stalemate in the Midlands + the King controlled the south-west.
  • The King was certainly not prepared to concede defeat, despite Parliament now holding 70% of England.
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Parliament's Ascendant: 1645-1646

After the Second Battle of Newbury a thirst for reform spread thorugh the Parliamentarian side. This followed another attempt to peacefully settle the war. The following significant developments happened:

  • The Uxbridge Propositions (November 1644)
  • The creation of the New Model Army (February 1645)
  • The Self-Denying Ordinance (April 1645)
  • The Battle of Naseby (June 1645)
  • The Battle of Langport (July 1645) and the loss of the west
  • Charles' defeat
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The Uxbridge Propositions: November 1644

  • These were drawn up in November 1644 by Parliament and presented to Charles.
  • They followed similar terms to the Nineteen Propositions, including Parliament supervising the education + marriage of the King's children, appointments being under Parliament's control and also the judiciary (legal system).
  • Additionally they suggested Charles himself take the Covenant + introduce Presbyterianism to England.
  • There was another new proposition that Parliament would have the right of declaring peace and war.
  • Charles wasted little time in rejecting them, believing his position to be strong, or at least strong enough to defeat Parliament. Each rejection made Parliament look in the right as the King was refusing to negotiate.
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The Creation of the New Model Army: February 1645

  • February 1645 - New Model Army was created by an ordinance of Parliament.
  • Created a single national army (although it didn't replace all of the others that still existed) of 21 000 men.
  • This was thought necessary to achieve the victory that the Uxbridge negotiations had shown was needed.
  • It was to be well paid and commanded by Sir Thomas Fairfax.
  • Fairfax was known as an inspirational figure of determination + energy. Oliver Cromwell, an emerging figure in the Eastern Association, had similar qualities.
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The Creation of the New Model Army: February 1645

The army was to be different in several ways:

  • Professional soldiers would be in command rather than political figures.
  • It would be free from the constraints of regional associations (the old militias) so they could search out + destroy the King's armies wherever they were.
  • With regular pay the army would be less likely to desert and would be better disciplined (avoid plundering).
  • The army would be better paid + equipped.
  • Preachers for motivation.

This was the theory. In actual fact the army's pay soon fell into arrears + the soldiers' training was mostly acquired through previous campaigns in the Civil War (not really "experienced" soldiers).

There were also worries that in getting rid of so many officers the army might have been fatally weakened in terms of its future performance.

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The Creation of the New Model Army: February 1645

How would the changes to the New Model Army improve Parliament's forces?

  • Unify them
  • Give the soldiers discipline
  • Free from regional constraints
  • Paying the army regularly would help prevent deserting, increase discipline + decrease plundering (which damaged Parliament's reputation), thus strengthening Parliament's forces.
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The Creation of the New Model Army: February 1645

Did Parliament need the New Model army to succeed against the King?

  • Parliament was in a strong position against the King, however the army provided unity for them and gave them a very strong force to use against the King.
  • Army tackled Parliaments weakness of being divided, so certainly aided their victory.
  • Parliament may have thought the army was necessary as the King's refusal of the Uxbridge Propositions suggest the King was confident about his position.
  • The army wasn't as as intended (pay in arrears, poor training, etc.) but its large scale + uniformity meant it would have had a significant impact in battle.
  • Perhaps not necessary for Parliament to succeed, but undoubtedly sped up Parliament's victory.
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The Self-Denying Ordinance: April 1645

  • This Ordinance was passed in April 1645.
  • It meant that all MPs and peers had to resign their military commands + civil offices.
  • Peers like Essex and Manchester, despite trying to get exemption from the Ordinance, were forced into retirement.
  • Cromwell did, after some wrangling, obtain an exception to the ordinance.
  • He became the leader of the cavalry in the New Model Army. His title was lieutenant-general, which meant that he was second in command.
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The Battle of Naseby: 14 June 1645 (1)

  • May 1645 - The New Model Army approached Oxford with the aim of besieging the King's headquarters.
  • The Royalists sacked Leicester with the aim of drawing the Parliamentarians away from Oxford.
  • Fairfax abandoned the siege of Oxford + pursued the King's army north to Naseby, where the King decided to stand and fight.
  • King was at a huge disadvantage here. The Royalists attacked an army twice their size, commanded by experienced generals who had a strong position on a ridge.
  • Despite this the Royalists had experienced a string of successes before Naseby in Wales and the border country - this had increased the number of Royalist troops available.
  • The King knew that Parliament had been suffering political problems + possibly gambled on the crisis that he knew a defeat would create for Parliament.
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The Battle of Naseby: 14 June 1645 (2)

  • This battle was to illustrate the importance of disciplined cavalry.
  • Like at Edgehill, Rupert's cavalry broke Parliament's cavalry on the left flank, but pursued the baggage train instead of returning to battle. This meant the Royalists lost the strongest part of their army (a big disaster).
  • It took the cavalry an hour to regroup and rejoin the battle, by which point it was too late.
  • Cromwell's cavalry on the right flank had defeated the Royalist horse, then charged into the Royalist infantry.
  • At the same time Parliament's dragoons (mounted infantry with a sword + musket - fought on foot in battle) commanded by Okey emerged from their position behind a hedgerow to attack the right flank of the Royalist infantry.
  • The Royalist army, without cavalry support, collapsed.
  • Parliament's victory was clear, with 1000 Royalists killed and 4500 captured for only the loss of 200 men of their own.
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The Battle of Langport: July 1645

  • 10 July 1645 - New Model Army marched into the West Country, a stronghold of the King, and defeated another Royalist army at the Battle of Langport in Somerset.
  • Two weeks later Fairfax's army took Bridgewater, cutting off the Royalists in the south-west from the King.
  • By late August, Parliament's army was laying siege to Bristol. Bristol was held by Prince Rupert and when under assault, Rupert surrendered the city.
  • Charles dismissed Rupert and sent him into exile. The Royalist cause was falling apart.
  • Before leaving England, Rupert urged Charles to make peace with Parliament in order to save his throne.
  • Charles was still not ready to admit defeat. He planned to join forces with Montrose and fight on from Scotland.
  • Montrose, however, was defeated on 13 September at the Battle of Philiphaugh, south of Edinburgh. The King's options were rapidly running out.
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Mopping Up...

  • Between October 1645 and April 1646 the New Model army completed mopping-up operations in Somerset, Devon + Cornwall.
  • Most of south Wales fell to Parliament in 1645, with Royalist garrisons being mostly isolated garrisons by this point.
  • These castles, including Kenilworth & Beeston, mostly ended up being destroyed by Parliament (so they couldn't be refortified).
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Charles' Defeat: August 1646

  • By 1646, Charles was more of a fugitive than a commander. He moved between the remaining loyal garrisons of Raglan, Bridgenorth, Chester, Newark and Oxford.
  • In March 1646 a Royalist force commanded by Sir Jacob Astley was surprised and defeated at Stow-on-the-Wold.
  • Also in March Charles opened negotiations with the Covenanters, preferring to surrender to the Scots (who he hoped to negotiate with against Parliament; hoped they'd be more moderate).
  • He left Oxford in disguise in April 1646, probably hoping to take a ship to France. When this failed, he surrendered to the Scottish army.
  • Newark, which had been besieged since November 1645, fell on 6 May.
  • On 24 June Oxford surrendered, followed by Raglan Castle on 19 August 1646. The First Civil War was over.
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