The Battle of Naseby
The Battle of Naseby on 14 June 1645 is the last and most important battle of the First Civil War (1642-45), a decisive victory of the Parliamentarians under Sir Thomas Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell over the Royalists under King Charles I and his nephew Prince Rupert of the Rhine.
|1629-40||Charles I’s Personal Rule without Parliament|
|1630s||William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, introduces High Church Anglicanism. Protests by Puritans|
|1636||Protests against imposition of Ship Money Tax. Oliver Cromwell elected to Parliament|
|1637-39||Two Bishops Wars – Charles I defeated by Scottish Presbyterians|
|1640||Charles I summons Long Parliament (1640-59)|
|1641||Impeachment of Earl of Strafford. Rebellion in Ireland|
|April 1642||Charles I’s attempt to arrest his 5 leading opponents in Parliament but fails. Charles I leaves London|
During the 1620s there are frequent clashes between James I (reigned 1603-25) and his son Charles I (1625-49), and Parliament.
Between 1629 and 1640 Charles I, determined to impose his doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings, rules without Parliament.
William Laud, his Archbishop of Canterbury, attempts to impose High Church Anglicanism despite the protests of the Puritans.
In Scotland, similar protests by the Presbyterians provoke open rebellion and the king is defeated by the Scots in Two Bishops’ Wars in 1637-39.
In 1640 the king recalls Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford, from Ireland and summons Parliament. Under the leadership of John Pym, the Parliamentarians immediately attack Strafford, who is impeached for plotting to bring an Irish army over to England. He is tried, found guilty and executed in November 1641.
In April 1642, after failing to arrest his five leading opponents in Parliament, the King leaves London (he will only return for his trial in the winter of 1648). He establishes his head-quarters at Oxford, while the Parliamentarians remain in control of London.
|October 1642||Battle of Edgehill – a draw|
|1643||Royalist successes particularly in the south-west
Battle of Roundaway Down – Royalist victory
First Battle of Newbury – Parliamentarian victory
|1643-44||winter Parliament makes an alliance with the Presbyterian Scots|
|1644|| Battles of Cropredy Bridge and Lostwithiel - Royalist Victories
Battle of Marston Moor - Parliamentarian victory
Second Battle of Newbury – a draw but Royalist army escapes
|1644-45||winter - Parliament creates New Model Army|
The first major engagement of the Civil War takes place at Edgehill in October 1642. The battle ends in a draw but the Royalists fail to advance on London.
In 1643 the Royalists attempt a three-pronged advance on London from the north, from Wales and the south-west. Despite winning a number of battles and capturing Bristol they fail to make a decisive breakthrough.
Following secret negotiations between Parliament and the Scots, a Scottish army invades Northern England in January 1644.
On 2 July, at Battle of Marston Moor outside York Prince Rupert is defeated by combined Anglo-Scottish army – Oliver Cromwell plays a vital role in winning the battle – Royalists lose control of the North of England.
During the winter Parliament creates the New Model Army, a body of full-time professional soldiers led by professional officers (MPs and peers were forbidden to serve) with Sir Thomas Fairfax as commander-in-chief.
Streeter Map of Battle of Naseby
|April||Fairfax sets off to relieve siege of Taunton
Islip Bridge - Cromwell defeats Earl of Northampton
|7 May||Charles I leaves Oxford – joins forces with Prince Rupert, Maurice, Langdale & Sir Jacob Astley
Goring sent to relieve Taunton
Fairfax abandons march on Taunton with majority of New Model Army
|22 May||Fairfax & Cromwell begin siege of Oxford|
|29 May||Prince Rupert begins siege of Leicester to draw Fairfax away from Oxford|
|30 May||Royalists storm Leicester|
|4 June||Charles I & Royalist army march towards Market Harborough
Fairfax raises siege of Oxford & marches north to join Cromwell, now appointed Lieutenant-General of Horse
|13 June||Royalist army at Market Harborough
Parliamentarian army at GuilsboroughApril
|Evening of 13 June||Parliamentarian patrol led by Ireton clashes with a small detachment of Charles's Life Guard at Naseby – Royalists captured playing quoits in the church.
Royalists divided - Prince Rupert and Astley advocate continuing north, but outvoted – decision to turn and fight.
|14 June 3 am||Parliamentarian army roused & begins to move towards Market Harborough – decision to assemble at Naseby windmill on high ground outside the village. (Obelisk Viewpoint)
Royalist army begins to assemble four miles away on a ridge south of East Farndon (Prince Rupert’s Viewpoint)
Neither side can see the other.
|14 June 8 am||Royalists fear their intelligence is wrong and send scoutmaster Francis Ruce to discover whereabouts of the New Model Army – he fails to spot them.
Fairfax and Cromwell decide to move from ridge across Mill Hill, to Closter and Sheddon Hills overlooking a flat bottomed valley called Broadmoor.
Rupert, decides to look for himself & sees New Model Army moving towards Mill Hill - calls for the king to move Royalist army.
Royalists march south before turning west across Moot Hill, east of Sibbertoft (Moot Hill Viewpoint) before turning south again and onto a ridge on the other side of Broadmoor called Dust Hill.
Artillery & baggage trains march through the village of Clipston before turning right along the narrow lane towards Sibbertoft.
The two sides form up on the ridges on either side of Broadmoor, flanked by Sulby parish boundary hedge to the west, and scrub, furze and bog of the Clipston parish boundary to the east. Both sides placed their infantry in the centre with the horse on each wing.
Commander: King Charles I
Right Wing: Prince Rupert and Prince Maurice - 1,700 horse and 200 musketeers
Centre: Sir Jacob Astley – 3,500 foot and 800 horse
Left Wing: Sir Marmaduke Langdale - 1,700 horse and 200 musketeers
Reserve: King Charles I – 1,300 horse and 800 foot
The Royal army was drawn up in three lines with musketeers interspersed with the horse on each of the wings.
New Model Army
Commander: General Sir Thomas Fairfax
Right Wing: Lt. General Oliver Cromwell – 3,900 cavalry
Centre: Major General Phillip Skippon – 6,400 foot and 11 cannon
Left Wing: Commissary-General Henry Ireton – 3,300 cavalry
Dragoons: - Colonel John Okey - 1,000
The Parliamentarian army was drawn up in two lines with a forlorn hope of 300 musketeers in front and to the left hand side of the infantry.
Cromwell sends Colonel John Okey and his dragoons to Sulby Hedge to harass the Royalist right flank (see map – Sulby Hedge Viewpoint). Their fire power may have forced Rupert to advance prematurely.
Rupert’s horse advance at a slow trot, pausing in the bottom of the valley. Ireton's cavalry advance to meet them. The two sides meet and three of Ireton's regiments break and are put to flight, with Rupert’s men in pursuit.
The Royalist infantry advance across the valley floor and up the slope towards the New Model Army, (see map – Cromwell Monument Viewpoint) standing just beyond the crest of the ridge. The weight of the Royalist assault falls on the left hand regiments of the New Model Army, their line pivots and starts to fall back.
Those of Ireton’s horse who have survived Rupert’s charge attack the Royalist flank. Ireton is wounded in the thigh by a pike and in the face by a halberd.
For a while, the Royalists seem to be winning, but the Parliamentarian second line fill the gaps and strengthen the weaker regiments. Those that have retreated rally and rejoin the battle. Soon their greater numbers begin to tell and the Royalist infantry begin to fall back.
On the eastern flank Sir Marmaduke Langdale's cavalry, hemmed in between the rabbit warren and furze-covered bog to the east and Fairfax’s infantry to the west, charge uphill but do not break Cromwell's men who take heavy casualties but thrust them back. Having defeated Langdale, the majority of Cromwell’s men turn left to assault the flank of the Royalist infantry. At around the same time, Okey’s dragoons leave the safety of the hedge and hit the Royalists in the opposite flank.
The Royalists are now being assaulted on three sides. Soon they began to retreat. Many give up and surrender but Rupert's own infantry regiment, the Bluecoats, stand firm. They are finally defeated by Fairfax and his regimental commander D'Oyley.
In the Royalist camp the victorious Parliamentarians find Charles I’s personal correspondence, showing his plans to reinforcements from the Catholic powers on the continent. Parliament publishes the correspondence as 'The Kings Cabinet Opened'.
Continuation of time line
|1645-14 June||Battle of Naseby is last major engagement of the First Civil War
Charles I flees to Wales
Fairfax retakes Leicester & defeats Goring at Langport
|September||Charles I dismisses Prince Rupert following loss of Bristol to Fairfax|
|April 1646||Last battle of First Civil War at Stow on the Wold|
|April||Charles escapes from Oxford – surrenders to the Scottish army at Newark|
|January 1647||The Scots sell the king to the English Parliament for £100,000|
|1648||Second Civil War – a secret treaty between Charles I and the Scots leads to Scottish invasion of England|
|17-19 August||Battle of Preston – Cromwell defeats the Scots|
|December 1648||Following Pride’s Purge of moderates in Parliament Charles I is put on trial for his misdeeds
– the trial is orchestrated by Cromwell 57 judges sign the king’s death warrant
|30 January 1649||
Execution of Charles I outside Whitehall Palace
|1648||Religious divisions between the Scots and the English lead to the Second Civil War
Cromwell and Fairfax defeat the Scots.
The New Model Army determine to hold the king to account
Pride’s Purge of moderates in Parliament leads to the decision to try the king for his misdeeds.
|December 1648||Trial of Charles I orchestrated by Cromwell – 57 judges sign the king’s death warrant|
|30 January 1649||Execution of Charles I outside Whitehall Palace|
|Abolition of the monarchy and House of Lords – England becomes a Commonwealth|
Third Civil War
|1650s||Cromwell rules Britain as Lord Protector|
|1660||Restoration of Charles II|