386 The Fighting Spreads

Violence had spread by the end of 1642; despite the King’s failure at Turnham Green, multiple armies now swept England, in Ireland the Confederate Association was formed at Kilkenny and the Exiles. And yet still England hoped for peace.

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Well gentle listeners, I hope you are happy; Over the last 2 episodes we at last got all fighty; although last time the battle for London wasn’t much in terms of glorious warfare and heroism. Though of course I gave into my baser instincts and in addition to the threat of violence gave you a full frontal of the sight of the people of London pulling together to face down the threat to their  liberty. But – the point is that Charles had missed an apparent chance to end the war quickly. To be fair to the lad, how significant that chance was – is moot. There’s the small issue that he was outnumbered twice fold, and although his army was more professional, he was fighting in a landscape which did not favour his strongpoint, his cavalry. Quite apart from that, it’s worth noting that throughout England and Wales local armies were already springing up like mushrooms, so even if he’d captured London he’d have had his work cut out. But anyway, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. He didn’t. He went to his new home in Oxford instead.

This time then we should do a spot of cleaning around the house of 1642, bit of a spring clean, so that the house of history is nice and tidy and ready for the new year, which I can reveal will be 1643. So maybe we’ll talk about military strategy & stuff, a bit about the court life in Oxford, but before any of that happens, I need to go back and cover what I passed over for the purposes of narrative.

This concerns Scotland and Ireland. Because as you know, anyone foolish enough to talk about the English Civil War will immediately be thrown into the darkest dungeon of historical shame, which is reserved for those guilty of being Anglo Centric, capital A capital C. So we can’t have that. War of three Kingdoms, including a principality and numerous idiosyncratic island territories directly governed by the crown, to be more precise. North Atlantic Archipelago.

Let us go back to early 1642, to February when the King was still in the Big Smoke and the news was all about the massacre of protestants in Ireland. More and more English settlers came back to their parishes telling their tales of destruction, death and atrocities, and there was a pretty much national desire, across supporters of king or parliament, to protect the lives of those that remained. But no one wanted to give the king the shiny sword of an army to deal with the rebellion in Ireland, and anyway there was no money. So what to do about Ireland, where a small Government army was doing little more than cling on in the Pale and the eastern seaboard? Everyone wanted to do something, but it was, you know, complicated. No clean solutions, like when the sceptic tank breaks down.

This is when King and Parliament were still sort of talking to each other, and Charles had supposedly patched things up with Archibald Campbell, the Marquess of Argyle & the Covenanters in Scotland. By the way, you need to look at a portrait of the Marquess of Argyl, the Covenanter Magnate who was beginning to dominate Scottish government. Here is a man for whom your table manners would need to be spot on or there’d be trouble, and clearly also had a love of sucking lemons. Anyway, a request was sent to Argyll from King and Parliament wondering if, maybe possibly perhaps, the Scots might want to send an army to Ireland to deal with the rebellion. Now it turned out they did. Because the Scots remember had a lot of skin in this game; many of the colonists being killed or thrown off their land and coming back penniless to their parishes were Scots; the Covenanters were deeply concerned with the welfare of their people there. And so it was quickly agreed with Argyll that until the English got their act together, the Scots would be not only defending their people, but working to restore order across the Island, working under the overall control of the English government in Dublin, the head of which would be their line manager as it were.

The begs the question of who is the English Government in Ireland, and I need to introduce a new name to you here, or re-introduce one if I have done so before – I forget, there have been so…many…words. James Butler, was a young sprightly 32 year old in 1642, and the 12th Earl of Ormond. As you can guess from the number 12, the Ormondes were a family old in the Anglo Irish peerage; the first Earl of Ormonde, also a Jimmy, had been born in 1304, and I think his dad had been a justiciar and Chief Butler of Ireland. Justiciar brings back happy memories of simpler days and shorter podcasts.  Anyway, our Ormonde had been brought up in the household of George Abbot, the ABC in England, and as such he was a protestant.

He returned to Ireland, and married well, as my Granny would have said, marrying Elizabeth Preston, and this, and the death of the previous earl, allowed him to reconsolidate the previously extensive Ormonde estates which had been split up through the pains of Tudor surrender and regrant stuff. It was a problem for the traditional Ormonde affinity though; they didn’t like this Protestantism stuff one little bit, and indeed the Catholic Bishop of Ossory stirred up as much trouble for him as possible. Which allows me to remind you that there is a catholic ecclesiastical hierarchy in Ireland at this very time, which is relevant. The Protestant thing, to which the notably pious Ormonde and descendants would stick firmly, made him on the other hand very acceptable to the King.




Thus, although not formally made Lieutenant General of Ireland until 1643, Ormonde became the de facto head of the Council in Dublin. Things were not easy for him during the revolt of 1641; he of course had to deal with the rebellion, the vast numbers of bedraggled surviving protestants flooding into Dublin, and also he had to deal politically with a faction of the New English on the Dublin Council, desperate to take vigorous and blood curdling reprisal against the rebels. He managed however to assert his dominance over the Council – though the new English would always be a factor and thorn in his side. In this, though he was helped by the fact that there remained a number of other Anglo Irish lords, Catholic in the main, who remained loyal to Charles I; the Earl of Clanricarde, for example, while the Earls of Thomond at least stayed neutral.

By July 1642,then, the situation in Ireland had been transformed. A substantial Scottish army of 10,000 men under Robert Munro, another Scottish veteran of the Thirty Years War, was installed in Ulster. In theory, as I say, they were supposed to be doing what Ormonde told them to but, nah, the two masters thing doesn’t work, and Munro really  took his orders from Argyl. They would resolutely stay and fight in Ulster, where the Scottish settlers were, and were not at home for anywhere else in Ireland.

Now this army was supposed to be paid for by the English, and it was in theory, and theory only, their sword. But there was no money so what we get is the Adventurers Act of March 1642, passed by parliament, willingly, but at the request of Charles. It asked for investment from interested in parties to pay for soldiers to go to Ireland to fight the rebellion. In return they would be paid for with land confiscated from the rebels. The Adventurers Act would be basis for the Act of Settlement of Ireland in 1652, which would transform land ownership in Ireland This is often called the Cromwellian Settlement, and given Cromwell was reaching political ascendancy by 1652, it’s not unfairly named, but its roots preceded him.

OK, but that’s looking ahead. For now Ireland therefore has Old Irish, New Scots, New English and Old English, and it’s about to get more complicated. Because in July 1642 we see the arrival of a new ingredient into this remarkably complicated concoction of identity politics. Attracted by the rebellion, the exiles start to return, and one in particular, Owen Roe O’Neill arrives in Ulster. O’Neil had been fighting in Europe for the Catholic cause, and represents an expat community derived from the flight of the Earls of 1607. Roe O’Neill, becomes commander of the rebel forces in Ulster. The war proceeds. Much of the wild uncontrolled violence of the initial rebellion is brought under control now that there are two military commanders in place; but though violence changes and becomes more controlled, do not imagine it is much prettier. Both sides throughout the Irish civil wars seek to deprive their enemies of supplies, a war of attrition, and caught in the middle are the ordinary Irish. After a year of conflict, O’Neil was to write that Ulster was

not only like a desert, but like hell, if hell could exist on earth

It is another reminder that, like so much in the civil wars, the dreadful extent of death in Ireland is not simply a matter of the Cromwellian campaign, brutal though that was. They were the result of a war that raged for 10 years, and inflicted by both government and rebel forces.

How are we doing? It has to be said that many histories of the British Civil wars kind of skate over Ireland, except 1641 and 1649, and I suspect both you and I may regret my decision not to do that because it is fiercely complicated. But look it’s important and deeply colours much that happens in both England and Scotland.

So I am not done, with Ireland, oh no, though we are getting close. Just one more thing– the arrival of Confederate Ireland. In May and June 1642 there were a series of meetings in Kilkenny amongst the catholic clergy and later the rebel gentry and lords of Ireland joined them. As a result they formed a new government in Ireland, of the Confederate Association. It’s motto was

Irish united for God, King and Country

The Confederation looked at what the Scots were doing, and although they were the polar opposite in religious terms, the Confederates though their tactics were good. So they all swore to an oath basing the new regime on defence of the king and the true religion – their true religion of course being Catholicism. This oath offered loyalty to the king  – just so long as he defended the true religion. Secondly, they liked the Scots ‘negotiate from a position of strength’ approach which had forced Charles to make such an impressive list of secular and religious concessions to the Covenanters. So they’d set up 3 armies, dominate Ireland and take Dublin, then negotiate with Charles. Given that Charles’s true religions were the primacy of royal power and the Church of England, it is a fatally rocky basis for a strategy, and it’s weakness would plague the Confederacy throughout its existence.

The Confederacy shifted control of the Irish Revolt which had been briefly taken over by ordinary Irish folk, back to the Irish Elite. There are many elements in the Confederacy; the Gaelic Irish lords, Old English, the Catholic clergy and this now new element, the Exiles. It becomes easier now to drop the old ethnic separations we have been using, you know, Native Irish, Old English because there were now two main lines of thought in the confederacy, that crossed ethnic lines. The historian Michael o Siochru  (Mi-hall O Shuck-roo, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYGnoWsEalg ) called these the peace party, and the clerical party. The Peace party aimed to negotiate a peace with the King based on the existing order, with confirmed land rights, and freedom to worship, along the lines of an enhancement to the accommodation reached before the revolt under the Graces. It was essentially an alliance of landowners, Gaelic and Old English, to preserve the existing order in the face of the New English and Parliament. But the other faction in the Confederacy, Clerical party, led by the likes of Roe O’Neill, were much less oriented towards such compromise. They were inspired by the Counter Reformation, by the ambitions of Spain and Papacy, and sought to recover lost church lands, implement the counter reformation in Ireland, and re-establish the primacy of the Pope. [1]

Both approaches had problems; mainly with Charles’ complete conviction that the King must be supreme governor of the church. The peace party at least had some hope of accommodation with the king, though none with parliament. The Clerical party would require a miracle. Both however were based on a clear understanding that if parliament won, all bets were off. Both strategies might be a long shot with the king; both would be impossible to negotiate with parliament. So, for the Confederacy to succeed, unless it was to shoot for complete independence, it not only needed to conquer all Ireland, but the king must not be defeated by parliament in England. Critical, Critical, with klaxons, sirens and fire alarms sounding. Parliament must not defeat the king or their goose would be cooked in the cauldron of a parliamentary army.

So, I am going to summarise Ireland now. This is what we have. In Dublin the government and its armed forces are represented by the Earl of Ormonde. That basically comes to mean the king, but for the moment is still king and parliament. In Ulster we have in addition the New Scots with an army under Munro that is supposed to report to Ormonde but doesn’t. In the rest of Ireland, we have the Catholic Rebels under the Confederacy, trying to force the king into compromise. On a scale of 1 to 10 with one being crystal and 10 being gobbledegook, how clear is that?

Back to England, then, and Charles sets up his court in the fair city of Oxford in November 1642, and suddenly Oxford is set up as a capital city, complete with royal court. Although personal regional loyalties might push me to suggest that Loughborough might have been a better choice, after all we were proposing to build the glorious Carillion in 2 hundred years’ time, I am forced to admit Oxford was a pretty good choice. Well connected, reasonably central, and with all the university buildings for public offices. I mean – it wasn’t the powerhouse of London, but it had the look. The King took over the Dean’s lodgings at Christchurch College, and had it all decked out with the normal separation of rooms between public and private, just as at the palace of Whitehall. I did first think ‘poor old Dean’, since he was thrown out of house and home, evicted, but hey on reflection, lucky old Dean when there was no king around, he must have had a pretty impressive gaff if it was fit for a king! All the organs of government were now recreated from scratch; The Law courts opened at Oxford Schools, the Exchequer at All souls, and ordnance office at Christchurch. A magazine was set up at New College, the mint at New Inn Hall.

And people started to pour into the town pulled by the court. The place would become absolutely packed, over stuffed with people, including the king’s army and there was poo and detritus everywhere, with accompanying plague and disease. There’s a bloke called John Taylor who was put in charge of the nasty business of keeping the rivers and water courses clean. Now John Taylor is an interesting chap if you will permit me to digress; he called himself the water poet, because he was a boatman, who’d plied the trade in London, carrying by his own reckoning, 20,000 people over the course of his life. He also loved travelling around and writing about his country, but in quite eccentric ways; just for example, he travelled from London to Queenborough in Kent, in a paper boat with two stockfish tied to canes for oars; how is that even possible? But I’m told it’s been re-enacted. He also invented a palindrome – are you ready for this? Here it goes

Lewd did I live, & evil I did dwel

You’ve got to slightly misspell Dwell, but it works. Anyway, why am I telling you all this? Because although in favour of many aspects of parliament’s beliefs, he was a great fan of the BCP and so ended up supporting the king, and in Oxford where he was given up with this thankless task of keeping the water courses clean. As the water poet, he of course composed a few stanzas about it, as you do, with a couple of lines that go

Dead hogs, dogs cats and well-flayed carrion horses

Their Noisome corpses  soiled the water courses

I could go on, but I don’t want to make you ill, so I’ll stop. I’d like to tell you more, but you know, we are supposed to be talking about the great events of the civil war and the search for liberty and rights of the people. But if you are a fan of English nonsense, the likes of Edward Lear for example, and who could not be, I ask, there’s a very eminent scholar called Noel Malcom who traces the origins of the nonsense genre to John Taylor, and surely, Stockfish on canes will never not be funny, even if not quite the level of ;there in a wood a piggy wig stood with a ring in the end of his nose’.

For a bit more colour about the new royal Oxford  let me tell you about one of the people that did some flooding into Oxford, forced out of their home town – one Anne Harrison. She will find love in the city with one young gallant, Richard Fanshawe but initially she was distraught on arriving in his new, mad, crowded world. She came from a well-off merchant family, and described herself at home in her youth

That which graver people call a hoyden girl

When they arrived at Oxford the Harrisons were of course much reduced in wealth,and anway Oxford was suffering a serious housing crisis, so she wrote despairingly

We finding ourselves like fishes out of water…from as good a house as any gentleman in England…we come to a baker’s house in an obscure street, and from rooms well furnished to lye in a very bad bed in a garret

And so on. However, where’s there’s a court and a hoyden there’s fun to be had, and she hooked up with the daughter of the Earl of Holland, Isabell Thynne, and amused themselves in a couple of ways; one by putting on little plays in Trinity College, and another by frankly terrorising aged Dons. Let me explain. By and large, Oxford was split – the townspeople didn’t welcome the royalists, but the university did. But despite their royal enthusiasm, for many of the older Profs of course, suddenly the world was unacceptably wild used as they were to their books and their ivory towers. And it seems that Anne and her friends liked to find fun in the gloom of civil war by shocking the old dudes by, as one reported, turning up to Chapel

Half-dressed, like angels

Angels not being used in the biblical sense here. It was generally accepted that such an occasion shortened the life of one aged prof called Ralph Kettell, for whose heart the shock was all too much. Opportunities for a good Social life would increase once the Queen arrives back, as she will next year, and sets up shop in Merton College.

Now I was supposed to be polishing off the fighting in England in 1642. Well, even before Turnham Green, the war was general; it is no longer about the King’s army versus the Parliamentary army, we have hit plurals; armies. So let us do, very broad brush summary by region – North and East, Midlands, West & South west. Are you sitting comfortably? If so, and even if you are not, I shall begin.

In the north of England, I have carefully already introduced you to the main protagonists, William Cavendish, the Earl of Newcastle, a very grand and well heeled man, and during his career as a general described by Clarendon as

amorous in poetry and music, to which he indulged the greatest part of his time

Given to getting up around 11 after a good lie-in when the army he commanded had been up and marching since the crack of dawn. But he spent loads of money raising a royal army, who were beautifully kitted out – Newcastle’s Whitecoats. Charles knew a good thing when he saw it, and made him Governor of Newcastle and the 4 counties of the North – Northumberland, Durham, Cumberland and Westmoreland, and the battle ground was effectively Yorkshire, since the royalists in Yorkshire quickly asked for help.

Because in the orange sashed corner of parliament were the Hothams, John and John, who have appeared already holding Hull for parliament. But also the minor Gentry family of the Fairfaxes, father and son, Fernandino and Thomas, and you’d better get used to that name; we’ve already seen them snubbed by Charles at York. The Hothams were a bit horrified at the success and authority given to the Fairfaxes, because they were a terribly ordinary family, and had found their support amongst hoi polloi of the textile towns of the West riding of Yorkshire like Bradford and Halifax, where there were a lot of Crowthers, by the by, hence the panic of the Yorkshire royalists and appeal to Newcastle. Newcastle’s army was the 10 ton gorilla in the north, maybe 8,000 strong with 2,000 horse; and once the local neutrality pact had failed, Newcastle controlled most of the counties for the king,  including the great city of York, and much of the coast, except the clothing districts of west Yorkshire, and fair towns of Scarborough and Hull.

Let’s go to the west, south and west. Wales will be mainly royalist, though not exclusively; the historian David Scott noted that Wales  was rather unique among the Stuart kingdoms by being quite strongly royalist and therefore worried by parliamentarians on the one hand, while at the same time sharing England’s same panic about Irish Catholics.[2]

In the west and south west of England we are going to talk about Ralph Hopton and William Waller. Ralph Hopton was a puritan MP, who had been one of those moderate constitutionalists, initially supporting reforms, but then alienated by the increasing extent of the restrictions on the king’s authority, so he jumped ship and became a royalist. Down in Cornwall there had again been a local peace treaty, but when all that fell to pieces Hopton had been left in control of the County. Cornwall, which always had something of its own flavour, would be one of those places most steadfastly loyal to Charles.

Ralph Hopton was very good friends with William Waller; they’d fought in the Thirty Years War together, they’d accompanied Elizabeth Stuart and had to escape Bohemia together with her – you may remember I mentioned it ages ago, in expectation of just this moment. But in this war they found themselves on opposite sides. In late 1642, Waller had marched with his levies though the south of England, capturing Chichester, Farnham, Arundel, Winchester – he made Robin of Essex look like a slug, he was the most successful parliamentarian general of the early part of the war by far, and the news sheets started calling him William the Conqueror. As he moved towards the southwest, he would come into conflict with his bestist pal, Ralph Hopton. And they will write to each other through the storm.

In the Midlands, Lord Brooke, the young Junto man had already been involved before Edgehill, but the midlands would always be vulnerable to the King’s main army close by at Oxford, and his most talented commander, prince Rupert.

The overall profile, then, as it is generally given, is that at the end of 1642, Charles probably had his nose in front, despite the repulse at Turnham Green. The story is generally given that the king was strong in the north, west and south west, parliament strong in the south and east. But this is a generalisation so gross as to be the equivalent of eating all the pies in a Greggs one lunchtime. Or a backed Bean Sandwich. The big thing to remember about the English Civil wars is that everywhere, or most everywhere, it is a patchwork of loyalties, there’s no dividing line, north and south, east or West, England or France. To say that the king was strong in the west is merely to say that at any given time they were in a position to impose their control over the area. Areas change hands all the time – from entire regions, to individual parishes or villages. It’s all mixed up.

This meant that fortresses and garrisons would play a very important role in the civil wars; there are far more sieges than pitched battles, because garrisons were needed everywhere to hold on to territory, and the amount of territory defined your tax and recruiting base, of course. But even the most successful campaign very rarely cleared a region of all opposing military outposts, there were always pockets that needed to be cleared up by local forces, based in garrisons; and then they are swept away when bigger armies appear in their region, and then move on.

Let me give you something of an example of this ebb and flow; an example of the local conflicts fought in parishes, towns and villages up and down England and Wales. I’m going to do this by returning to the story of the puritan gentry woman Brilliana Harley at Brampton Bryan in Herefordshire. We’ve heard about the Harley’s before in these pages, of how Robert Harley had been a reforming MP; of Brilliana’s worries for her son Ned at Oxford university, their puritan introspection and worries about how well they lived their life and supported the poor of the parish according to their view of God’s law. Brilliana was the normal manager of the estate, and now even more so; Robert was usually away, both as an MP and a military commander. Brilliana was made painfully aware that sympathies of the locals lay with king; she was not by nature a martial sort of person, but her sense of duty to family, community and cause were powerful; she realised early that she would need to fight to keep hold of her estates and loyalties. By July 1642, she was improving the defences of their manor house; she writes to her son Ned about her resolution to stay and defend their home, despite the dangers and hostility all around

‘If I go away, I shall leave all that your father has to the prey of our enemies; which they would be glad of…I cannot make a better use of my life’[3]

By December 1642, the threat from her neighbours in Ludlow was explicit

‘They are in a mighty violence against me.’

Her tenants stopped paying rent, grocers were ordered not to deliver to her and one of her servants was beaten up in town; threats were made to drive off her cattle, and Brilliana worried that

They might seize upon my house and cut our throats

Finally, the King ordered a local Royalist to prepare to attack the manor, and in March 1643 demands were made to hand the house over. She refused, More than that, Brilliana had the moat of the house filled with water, preparing to hold out as long as she could.

But in May 1643 there was relief; William Waller and his parliamentarian army came to the area, and suddenly parliament held local control. For the Harley’s it meant security; one of Brillian’s servants was released from jail along with other local parliamentarians, and the pressure was off. But the relief was short lived; Waller and his army moved on, and the old loyalties re-asserted themselves, once more local royalists demanded she surrender the house. Brillana uses words to maintain her freedom; she does a clever job of corresponding with the local royalist commander, Sir William Vavasour and holding him off with vague promises; all the while preparing to fight, getting together a contingent of soldiers and buying arms for them. By July, Vavasour could no longer be fobbed off. He brought 700 men to the gate of Brampton, drove off the cattle, demanded Brilliana surrender in return for a safe conduct. Brilliana’s letters indicate she was in something of a panic, but was convinced of her cause despite the danger. She replied imperiously that

‘I have the law of nature, of reason, and of the land on my side.’

So the royalists started bombarding the manor house, constructed earthworks to press the attack; still Brampton Bryan held out. And it did seem everyone was terribly keen to avoid any bloodshed. So much so that one John Scudamore brought a letter directly from the king to Brilliana. He was admitted to the house, by dint of a rope ladder, up which he shinnied in all his finery, and presented said letter to Brilliana. It was full of sort of olde worlde chivalry, demanding a peaceful surrender

‘unwilling that our forces – in respect of your sex and condition – should take such course for forcing or firing of the same as they must otherwise take’.

But Brilliana was having none of that; this was her place, destined for her son Ned in the cause of parliament, not for the king. Once more she refused.

And again, at the moment of danger, the fates intervened; In August 1643 Essex’s parliamentary army reached the region, at nearby Gloucester.  Vavasour and the royalists were forced again to raise the siege. But just as had happened with Waller, Essex moved on, local loyalties reasserted themselves, Essex left, and before the rat had reached the end of the drain, royalists were back, in force, threatening siege.

By this time, Brilliana’s stalwart defence of the house had become a cause celebre for Parliament. The London newsheets sang the story of her defiance and isolation, a sign of the rightness of her cause. But it could not last; in October 1643 she died; and although the house continued to hold out, it’s heart was broken, by 1644 they were forced to surrender. Prince Rupert as was his idiom,  ordered the defenders to be put to the sword; but William Vavasour the royalist commander was a local, and would not suffer that; he refused, and allowed the defenders to leave.

These local conflicts and hold outs were a common story throughout the Civil wars, I’m sure there will be more; at this very time for example, Brilliana had written with triumph that all Lancashire was in control of the parliament, but in point of fact it wasn’t – Just like Brampton Bryan, Lathom House was being held against all comers by the Countess of Derby.

One more thing then for 1642 is the continuing and persistent longing for peace. There was a general feeling, and it will persists for much of 1643 even, that this all could simply not be happening, here, in our own little peaceful world. Up and down the country many of the county gentry and middling sort, as we have seen, though very much politicised and engaged, could not quite believe in this dreadful transformation from a deeply settled, ordered and peaceful society. They could not understand why king and parliament could not get this resolved. After all there seemed to be so little differences between their utterances – as we discussed in episode 382, so much of the rhetoric depends on what you believe the balance of rights between parliament and king to be; Charles now pretending that he’d never really meant to rule without parliament, he’d just been messin’ us about with all that ‘new counsels’ chat, and of course he meant to recreate Good Queen Bess’s church. I would take you back to the MP Henry Marten’s Protestation oath, now being sworn to by communities up and down the county even as the blood-red flower of war blossomed. It was an oath where parliament had itself appealed for unity, and specifically re-affirmed the community of the Commonwealth, based on king, parliament and reformed religion.

As the horrors of war came closer to more and more people, the peace party in the country was reflected in parliament; some of the primary movers in the peace faction were staunch reformers, including most notably Denzil Holles, who had been one of those holding speaker Finchy in his chair in 1629 so that John Seldon could complete his protest against the royal usurpation of the people’s representatives. This will always be a faultline in parliament, in both lords and commons – the peace party, and war party. We’ve already seen it happen with the likes of Edwrd Hyde, MPs and individuals will now continually leave parliament and London to return to the king, horrified by the arrival of bloodshed.

And of course this changes the balance of those left in parliament; it means that the house will container a greater proportion of those who recognised that freedom that must be fought for, despite the cost. Even then, a peace party will persist, and there will be a constant stream of petitions to the king for peace. So it was in December, when 3000 citizens marched on the House of Lords and the London Common Council and demanded peace. In January 1643 the likes of Marmaduke Rawden, a merchant looking increasingly out of place in the puritan dominated London Artillery Company spoke for the petition, and made sure it was sent to the king at Oxford.

On 13th January 1643, the King’s response to the petition was read out in the Guildhall of London in front of the assembled masses; Charles demanded the immediate surrender of the Mayor, Isaac Pennington, and other aldermen like John Venn. One speaker Thomas Langley spoke in favour of the king’s demands to the assembly, but then John Pym spoke up; he rejected these demands, he , defended the rights of the Mayor, and argued convincingly that the arrest of Charls’ opponents was no basis for negotiation, no sign of moderation. Pym won the argument that the freedom of the elected Aldermen must be defended; as he finished the citizens waved their hats and roared

We will live and die with them! We will live and die with them!

It has to be said that the case for war was supported by many of the radical preachers; because they saw that only parliament stood between them and the repression of their religion; unless Charles was defeated, there would be no Presbyterianism or none of the religions freedoms that the Independents fought for. The fiery, witty preacher Hugh Peters, had a talent for appealing directly and powerfully to ordinary people in a way that inspired and engaged them. He could be pretty extreme, many loved him, many hated and feared him, and he would accompany the army throughout the wars. He’d returned in a delegation from Massachusetts in 1641 and he now declared

The Lord’s battle is begun in your land, fight courageously, go on victoriously, lend more moneys, send your servants and comfort one another with these words: Puritan, Rebel, Roundhead, for at the general day when ye shall be called by these names, be sure to make answer and ye shall be sure to go to heaven[4]

Scary and inspiring in equal measure; but see how the insults of royalists – rebel, roundhead, puritan – began to be worn as badges of pride. Still the desire for peace across parliament continued, and ye another, more serious set of proposals were discussed by the Lords and Commons; they retreated from some of the 19 propositions that had been the parliamentary manifesto of 1642, though continued to insist on religious reform.

These there then presented to Charles in Oxford in February 1643 in what became known as the Oxford Treaty. Charles responded with his own set of demands; when parliament returned with a proposal for a 20 day cessation, Charles then raised his demands, insisting that the Navy be put under his immediate control before negotiations started; he may just as well handed out razor blades by MPs on their own throats. And yet, still parliament debated the propositions, and it wasn’t until April 1643 that they finally realised there was no grounds for discussion here, Charles had no desire for peace on anything other than his own terms, and the search for peace was abandoned.

The Historian Richard Cust and others are pretty clear about what was going on with Charles, the Queen and his swordsmen advisors here. He had no intention of coming to an agreement. He actually wrote to Ormond at this point in Ireland about his own proposals saying

No less power than his who made the world…can draw peace out of these articles

His intention was to look serious about peace to the country at large, while forcing parliament to end the process, and therefore look like the warmongers. He wanted to present himself as the sorrowful, misunderstood, peace loving father of the country, the injured party facing a bunch of warmongering, power crazy rebels. At the same time, appearing to want to talk might enable him to divide parliament, and encourage the position of the peace party in parliament. Finally, stringing out negotiations also gave him specific military advantage; the ear of Essex, parliament’s supreme military commander, had become attuned to the siren calls of the peace party. So he refused to move his army until the process was done. While Charles’ army was free to roam under Rupert’s command, and do as it would.

By April 1643, though, it was clear that more fighting would be needed before Charles could be forced to enter into genuine negotiations that actually had an outside chance to re-establish peace.

[1] Scott, D ‘Politics and War in the Three Stuart Kingdoms’, p54

[2] Scott, D ‘Politics and War in the Three Stuart Kingdoms’, p35

[3] Fraser, A: ‘The Weaker Vessel: Woman’s Lot in Seventeenth-Century England’, loc 3920

[4] Childs, J: ‘Loyalty House’, p62



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