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The First English Civil War

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Introduction

First English Civil War The First English Civil War (1642-1646) was the first of three wars, known as the English Civil War (or "Wars"). "The English Civil War" refers to the series of armed conflicts and political machinations which took place between Parliamentarians and Royalists from 1642 until 1652, and includes the Second English Civil War (1648-1649) and the Third English Civil War (1649-1651). Overview "The English Civil War" (1642-51), is a generic name for the civil wars in England and the Scottish Civil War, which began with the raising of Charles I's standard at Nottingham on August 22, 1642, and ended at the Battle of Worcester fought on September 3, 1651. There was some continued organised Royalist resistance in Scotland which lasted until the surrender of Dunnottar Castle to Parliament's troops in May 1652, but this resistance is not usually included as part of the English Civil War. It is common to classify the English Civil War into three parts: The First English Civil War of 1642-1646 The Second English Civil War of 1648-1649 The Third English Civil War of 1649-1651. During most of this time, the Irish Confederate Wars, another civil war, was raging in Ireland; it started with the Irish Rebellion of 1641, and ended with the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland. Its incidents had little or no direct connection with those of the English Civil War, but as the wars were inextricably mixed with, and formed part of a linked series of conflicts and civil wars between 1639 and 1652 in the kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland (which at that time shared a monarch, but were distinct countries in political organisation), these linked conflicts are also known as the Wars of the Three Kingdoms by some recent historians, aiming to have a unified overview, rather than treating parts of the other conflicts, as a background to the English Civil War. ...read more.

Middle

This was because of Lancashire and the West Riding, and above all because the port of Hull, in the hands of the Fairfaxes, constituted a menace that the Royalists of the East Riding refused to ignore. Hopton's advance too, undertaken without the Cornish levies, was checked in the Battle of Sourton Down (Dartmoor) on 25 April. On the same day, Waller captured Hereford. Essex had already left Windsor to undertake the siege of Reading. Reading was the most important point in the circle of fortresses round Oxford, which after a vain attempt at relief, surrendered to him on 26 April. Thus the opening operations were unfavourable, not indeed so far as to require the scheme to be abandoned, but at least, delaying the development until the campaigning season was far advanced. Victories of Hopton But affairs improved in May. The Queen's long-expected convoy arrived at Woodstock on 13 May. Stamford's army, which had again entered Cornwall, was attacked in its selected position at Stratton, and practically annihilated by Hopton on 16 May. This brilliant victory was due, above all, to Sir Bevil Grenville and the lithe Cornishmen. Though they were but 2,400 against 5,400, and destitute of artillery, they stormed "Stamford Hill", killed 300 of the enemy and captured 1,700 more with all their guns, colours and baggage. Devon was at once overrun by the victors. Essex's army, for want of material resources, had had to be content with the capture of Reading. A Royalist force under Hertford and Prince Maurice von Simmern (Rupert's brother) moved out as far as Salisbury to hold out a hand to their friends in Devonshire. Waller, the only Parliamentary commander, left in the field in the west, had to abandon his conquests in the Severn valley to oppose the further progress of his intimate friend and present enemy, Hopton. Early in June, Hertford and Hopton united at Chard and rapidly moved, with some cavalry skirmishing, towards Bath, where Waller's army lay. ...read more.

Conclusion

that the King despatched Hopton to take charge of Bristol. Nor were things much better at Oxford. The barriers of time and space, and the supply area had been deliberately given up to the enemy. Charles was practically forced to undertake extensive field operations, with no hope of success, save in consequence of the enemy's mistakes. The enemy, as it happened, did not disappoint him. The King, probably advised by Brentford, conducted a skilful war of manoeuvre in the area defined by Stourbridge, Gloucester, Abingdon and Northampton. At the end, Essex marched off into the west with most of the general service troops to repeat at Lyme Regis, his Gloucester exploit of 1643, leaving Waller to the secondary work of keeping the King away from Oxford and reducing that fortress. At one moment, indeed, Charles (then in Bewdley) rose to the idea of marching north to join Rupert and Newcastle, but he soon made up his mind to return to Oxford. From Bewdley, therefore, he moved to Buckingham, the distant threat on London, producing another evanescent citizen army drawn from six counties under Major-General Browne. Waller followed him closely. When the King turned upon Browne's motley host, Waller appeared in time to avert disaster, and the two armies worked away to the upper Cherwell. Brentford and Waller were excellent strategists of the 17th-century type, and neither would fight a pitched battle without every chance in his favour. Eventually on 29 June, the Royalists were successful in a series of minor fights about Cropredy Bridge. The result was, in accordance with continental custom, admitted to be an important victory, though Waller's main army drew off unharmed. In the meantime, on 15 June, Essex had relieved Lyme and occupied Weymouth, and was preparing to go farther. The two rebel armies were now indeed separate. Waller had been left to do as best he could, and a worse fate was soon to overtake the cautious earl. By Jennifer Sanders ...read more.

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