399 End Game


Charles options in 1645 were increasingly limited,  as Fairfax and Cromwell closed down garrison after garison, and parliament defeated the few remaining royalist field armies. In Ireland he sent an envoy with secret instructions to the Confederate Association – maybe new concessions would a fresh army of 10,000 men to turn things around? Or in Scotland, Montrose was still ripping Covenanter armies to pieces – and had marched into Glasgow and called a new Scottish parliament. Or maybe France would help?  Jean de Montereul, Mazarin’s diplomat, was making nice noises. Surely all was not yet over? After all, he was God’s annointed facing mere rebels.

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It’s 3 o’Clock in the morning at the East gate in the city walls of Oxford. No time for anyone to be anywhere other than tucked up in bed ,or possibly watching the cricket from Australia. But on 17th April 1646 there is activity at the gate, with two very well-known royal advisors looking to exit the city. There was just the two of them, with their baggage, looked after by servant. They were clearly on important and highly secret business – I mean why else would they be abroad at this hour? One of them was a divine Michael Hudson, the king’s Chaplain. Fanatically loyal to Charles Stuart, he was also not short of an opinion or two; in fact Charles had been heard to call him ‘his plain dealing chaplain’. The other was even more illustrious; Jack Ashburnham, a close courtier and advisor; one of those who, with George Digby, had urged Charles to ignore his commander Rupert, and attack at Naseby.

Now, anybody wanting to get out of the city at this hour, with Fairfax’s forces so close, would probably have been laughingly turned away by the city guard. But on this this occasion. Because the Governor himself was there to let them out.

And so they were through the gate and only their way, clattering over the poorly spelled Magdalen Bridge. ‘Farewell Harry’ came the call from the walls, wishing the servant a good journey as they disappeared into the gloom.

Now then, we’ll come back to many gated Ilium, or Oxford. For now, at the end of episode 398, Fairfax and his New Model were heading off to Bristol, critical to the King’s cause, one of the few large royal fortresses left, along with Chester, Newark and Oxford; and of course a port, a route for royal salvation from Irish armies. Rupert’s presence there as Governor was a sign of its importance, and Rupert was very aware of how important it was. He had committed to Charles hold it, not quite promising to hold it though it’s walls were made of butter, but the next best thing –  to hold it for four months, while Charles tried to recover his cause. And Rupert began firing the villages around the walls, like Clifton, to clear the field of fire.

Meanwhile Charles had woken from the slumber that followed Naseby. Let’s have a quick look around Battlefield Britain shall we and have a look at the Royal options. Here’s the gig. In England it is really not good, he has no major land army. There are bits. Jacob Astley is gathering levies in North Wales; Langdale’s cavalry from Naseby was at Chester. The shards of Goring’s army, Ralph Hopton and Charles, the Prince of Wales, were at Exeter, and the fortress at Newark is still held by its governor, Richard Willis. And there’s Oxford of course. It ain’t great.

In Ireland, things are really, really complicated, so let’s spend a minute or two there, because if Charles was going to get proper fuel to kickstart the coughing and spluttering engine of the royal military cause, it is Ireland most likely to deliver the expert kick of the mechanic. Quick reprise of the situation – ready for this? After the Cessation with the Confederate Association, Ormond still nominally in control of the protestant forces in Ireland, and he was in control of forces around Dublin, though 9,000 had been sent home to England to help the king. Although a substantial number just deserted to parliament’s side. And meanwhile some of Ormond’s regional generals, wouldn’t obey his orders anyway, and in Ulster the New Scots under Munro certainly weren’t having any of that. Ormonde has been exhorted by Charles to get a permanent treaty signed with the Confederates, but it’s slow going; Ormond is a staunch Protestant, and conscious of getting the best long term deal for the House of Stuart.

Ok, on the Confederate side, we really have two broad coalitions. There’s the traditionalists, who want to get a deal with Charles based on toleration for Catholic and confirmation of their land rights, and want to help the king win in England as the basis of that agreement. They signed the Cessation in 1643, they are in the ascendancy. But then there’s the Clerical party; they are much more militant, they take the Pope’s view first and foremost, the Catholic church must become the established church in Ireland, they’ll have all those church lands back please, and an agreement with the Stuarts might be a thing – but the first task was to win all of Ireland to their control first.

Now while Ormond was doing his best, Charles pants were on fire. Charles’ management of people is frequently dodgy, history is littered with them; Hamilton, locked up for doing his best in Scotland with the worst possible hand, Rupert bad mouthed and mistrusted, Digby set at the top table; but here’s probably one contender for the victor ludorum, the top management balls up. I speak o the Earl of Glamorgan. In June 1645, he landed in Ireland from Charles with a public commission to help Ormond out, and being Catholic might help. But while Ormond laboured away to do a long term peace deal which balanced all parties, Glamorgan had been given a secret commission to do his own deal,

To conclude a peace with the Irish whatever it cost[1]

Carte Blanche then. So while Glamorgan smiled and waved a nodded sympathetically at Ormond’s efforts to construct a lasting peace, Glamorgan agreed a secret deal with the Confederates to restore land rights, land to the Catholic church and offer toleration, in return for 10,000 troops. But the treaty was to remain secret until those troops reached England.

So there’s that pot cooking – and who cares if Ormond is having his legs sawn off by his boss without him knowing it? The ends surely justify the means when you are dealing with rebels. Another pot cooking was in Scotland, where Montrose was flying; on 15th August, he faced an army of maybe 8,000 with his own 5,000; and yet again beaten then. The slaughter of Covenanters was extraordinary –  maybe as many as 4,500 of them. Montrose entered Glasgow, called a parliament, and called for his king. He appeared to be master of Scotland.

So it’s there that Charles decided to go. It was to be the start of a period of some travel for him; in 1645 after Naseby it’s been calculated he travelled 1,200 miles trying to put his cause back together. This particular trip was abortive, since he was chased by a parliamentary cavalry force of 3,000 under Sydnam Poyntz. So he went he with a quack and a waddle and a quack and a very unhappy frown to Newark, Huntingdon, Oxford and Worcester.

His attention now turned to Bristol, and not in a good way. Fairfax arrived with an army of 10,000. Inside Bristol there was plague so that Rupert had barely 2,000 fit enough to man the walls. Hugely outnumbered, but still not enough for Fairfax to properly invest the walls tightly, so the plan from the start was persuade Rupert to save lives and surrender honourably – and if not to storm the walls. There was to-ing and fro-ing in Rupert’s best foot dragging style, and some dashing sorties, equally in Prince Rupert style. Which gave  Rupert all the intelligence to know he was doomed. Still the princely foot was dragged in surrender negotiations so Fairfax ordered the assault at the very unprincely time of 1 am on 7th September, and despite many brigades being fought off, Colonel Rainsborough’s was successful, fighting their way in/. There was more talking, and this time Rupert accepted the inevitable – and to save the lives of the inhabitants from sack, accepted terms. He and his men were allowed to march free, with their swords, but not their guns; this despite the fact that the inhabitants of Bristol disagreed with the leniency, with cries of

Give him no Quarter, Give him no Quarter![2]

Fairfax and Cromwell disagreed though, and both met Rupert who was

‘Clad in scarlet, very richly laid in silver lace, and mounted upon a very gallant black Barbary horse’

Such is the Wrong but wromantic idiom. Both also accompanied Rupert on his first two miles towards Oxford. I wonder what they talked about – I’d like to have been a fly on the saddlebags.

A couple of bits and pieces after Bristol. One is the continuing saga of the growing split between Cromwell and the Independents’ on the one hand and search for protestant religious toleration, and the Presbyterian MPs and their search for a new uniformity on the other. Cromwell’s letter home to the Speaker praised his soldiers at Bristol and talked of

Presbyterians, Independents, all here had the same spirit of faith and prayer, the same penance and answer; they agree here, know no names of difference; pity it is and should it be otherwise anywhere!

So that’s nice then…however, when parliament reprinted his letter they left the sentence out. Singing the song of the religious pluralism was not on the Presbyterian Hymn sheet.

The other bigger story though came when Charles got the news about Bristol. The background is not just Charles’ increasingly desperate situation, but also those warn wet lips pressed to his ears. The lips of Digby. He had not been slow to poison Charles’ trust of Rupert after Naseby, and Rupert had rather helped him out. Now he had a field day. I am getting the wormtongue and Theoden thing here to some degree – whispering tales of poison into the ear of the king. In the shattering disappointment of the news, Charles lost any sense of judgement, and fired off a letter to his nephew, the sort of letter you should really leave 24 hours and rereading before sending.

In it Charles bemoaned the loss of Bristol, but more than that

Your surrendering it as you did…is …the greatest trial….that has befallen me; what is to be done after one who is so near to me both in blood and friendship submits himself to so mean an action? (I give it the easiest term)

Charles then fired his nephew, his most loyal and talented commander.

My conclusion is to desire you to seek your subsistence…somewhere beyond the seas

Just to rub salt into the bare raw wound, Charles insisted that Rupert use a particular passport to quit his realm, and that passport was signed by none other than your truly, George Digby. At the same time, Charles ordered Edward Nicholas to arrest also the governor of Oxford, William Legge – for no better reason than that he was Rupert’s ally.

Meanwhile Charles now decided that Montrose was his best bet, and charged off north to Chester, to bolster the garrison there, hook up with the remnants of Langdale’s Northern Horse and then head north to take control of Scotland with Montrose. Two things resulted. Firstly, news reached him about yet another mighty battle from his new favourite hero, Montrose.

Montrose, by the way, had been joined by the fabulously turncoaty John Hurry. Really the man was shameless. So Urry was there at the battle of Phlliphaugh on 13th September, when Montrose ran into one of Scotland’s best commanders, David Leslie, with his battle hardened troops from the English campaigns. And this time at last Montrose’s luck and genius deserted him. Philliphaugh was a crushing defeat. And the Covenanters were not slow to take vengeance, fired by the lowland suspicion of the Highlanders, and the brutality of Montrose’s campaign. When the highlanders surrendered on promise of quarter, they were gathered up an 50 of them shot; about 300 other of the soldiers wives  and children were shot.

So that was that. Montrose was indomitable – he fled to the northern highlands and there did his best to carry on a guerilla type war; but his big chance, which he had entirely constructed himself with MaColla, had gone. Alastair MaColla was not there, as it happens. He had got impatient as this distraction and returned to the battle against the Campbells in Kintyre; in the process burning a building full of Campbell women and Children known thereafter as Barn of Bones. Ah the romance of the Highland clans eh? Eventually MaColla was run to ground and defeated in 1647, and would return to the side of his chief, the Earl of Antrim, and have a part to play in the Confederate army.

There was then more news, which Charles was to enjoy first hand. And here we can connect with the History of England Tour, 2023, for we went to Chester where the walls are magnificent and there is a tower, called the Phoenix Tower. From there Charles overlooked Rowton Heath where he saw his brave commander Marmaduke Langdale take on parliament, and acquit himself with honour. At the end of it Charles is supposed to have said, with impressive and even biblical theatricality

Oh lord what have I done that should cause my people to deal thus with me?

By which you can probably guess the result. Chester would continue to hold out bravely, but all Charles could hear were the sounds of doors shutting. And so he returned by the highways, low-ways and more frequently backways to Newark, where he was approached by Gorgeous George Digby, begging a boon. As a result Charles fired Colonel Willis, Newark’s commander and another friend of Rupert. And then appointed this famous warrior Lieutenant General of all his armies of the north, which is to say not very much. Diggers had a plan to hook up with Montrose, another wildly optimistic plan. So he took the last of Charles’ cavalry. And headed north, but was intercepted and defeated. Happily, he escaped – the loss of such a talent to the royal cause would indeed have been disastrous I am sure you will agree – and ended up in Ireland. The Irish are famously lucky.

Well, there was Charles in Newark in October, as his upper, contemplating his options when there was a commotion outside his doors. And then the doors burst open – and who should it be? Why, only his nephew, Prince Rupert of the Rhine his ex-Governor of Bristol, Colonel Gerrard his ex commander in Wales,  and Richard Willis the ex governor of Newark and a bevy of men.

Well there was a furious exchange, all three professing their loyal outrage at the way they had been treated. Charles finds it difficult to be regal, it feels a bit like the sort of back and forth you’d get in a playground. He orders them to remove themselves, they refuse and clamour on about weachof their various injustices. Until in a right paddy Rupert declares

By God the cause of all this is Digby.

Charles has lost all majesty. His reply is hurt petulant sarcasm

Pardon, me I am but a child, Digby can leade me. where he list!

Rupert & CO look nonplused. They all storm out.

There is a route back to reconciliation; Rupert insisted on a court Martial, which found him guilty of being a bit wild but not treasonous, and solution which made nobody happy, but was at least bearable to both. Rupert, and Legge would be reconciled to the king by December. But the message of Charles story in 1645 so far is that it is all falling to pieces.

Fairfax and Cromwell had meanwhile split up after Bristol, Fairfax to sweep up the south West, Devon and Cornwall, Cromwell to the south to close down the various royalist garrisons there. By and large both offer lenient terms to fortresses to surrender; Winchester and Langford House for example surrendered on generous terms. The exception was Basing House, loyalty house, this the third of their sieges, and defended as stoutly and bravely as before.

But this time they lasted only 6 days. They refused to surrender, so the bombardment went ahead and a breach made. They were again summoned to surrender. The Marquis of Winchester thought about this. Now, in the vast majority of cases during the civil war, quarter ended up being given anyway; so the good Marquis rolled the dice. It was poor decision. The New Model was faced with storming  the walls, and afterwards they let rip. Many died in the fierce fighting; about 100 defenders, 50 attackers. For a while no quarter was given, until Cromwell relented; and the castle was then given over thoroughly to sack, everything portable was removed – and in fact a local market for grain stated too. The Marquis was Catholic, so worst of all 6 priest were found and murdered. The Maquis himself was sent to the Tower on charges of High Treason which were never prosecuted, and he regained his lands at the Restoration and lived to the ripe old age of 72. Cromwell then marched his men back to join Fairfax in the west country.

As was normal, the fortifications were slighted – it’s a common story by all the parliamentary commanders; the same was done at countless places by countless commanders, and by order of parliament. Quite often it’s one of those ‘huh Cromwell and his soldiers this along with iconoclasm, Christmas and all, and again this is parliament not Cromwell. And also – totally sensible – after all what state is happy with the idea of a bunch pf private fortresses up and down the country? In this case Cromwell told the locals to take what bricks they wanted, and many are to be found in local houses still. Another example is Lady Bankes’ stout resistance of Corfe Castle in Dorset. Eventually, the siege by Colonel Bingham had it’s impact, she surrendered and was allowed to march out., In this case the inhabitants of nearby Poole thought ‘huh, we’ll have a bit of that, petitioned parliament for the castle to be demolished and the proceeds used to maintain the poor of the town, And so parliament decreed it should be so. And very picturesque it looks too.

In Devon and Cornwall the last of the resistance dragged on around Exeter and in Cornwall, and the prize was not just to squash resistance but Charles the Prince of Wales and the commanders and advisors around him; the marginalised Edward Hyde, the commander with whom we started this war, Ralph Hopton. There they were in Exeter and then in the castle at Pendennis, and as they tried to reconstitute a new army from over taxed and over weary Cornwall, you can almost hear them scrawling ‘they are coming we cannot get out’ in old dusty diaries.

Eventually, Hopton was forced in February 1646 to sally out with his remaining army, 5,000 strong, to challenge Fairfax’s relentless advance of 10,000. He took up a defensive position at Torrington, in Devon and there is a potential for me to go into this in depth, because Jane very kindly leant me a book on the Battle and a lovely local history too. But this is not that time I think; essentially Hopton was overwhelmed and pushed back into the town where there was fierce fighting and the royalist powder store blew up and demolished the church and prisoners held there.

Hopton withdrew to Truro. In March he surrendered to Fairfax and was allowed to go free. He, the Price of Wales, Hyde and a bevy of royalist advisors fled then to Jersey, where the young 16 year old Prince had a pinnace built for him and had a great time sailing around the island which does sound fun – good to get away and Hyde from all those mouldy serious faced advisors like, you know, Hyde. Back in Cornwall, Fairfax reached St Michael’s Mount and there found a grubby looking Marquis of Hamilton, and released him back into the wild. He went to London signed the Solemn League and Covenant and swore to retire from any kind of politic I mean who would serve a king who had treated him so rubbishly? Well James Hamilton would was the answer as it happens. He was encouraged out of retirement by an apologetic king offering gifts – a dukedom and sincecures, at which we should all mutter ‘timeo danaos et dona ferrantum’. I fear the Greeks when bearing gifts. The result in the long run would be the same for Hamilton as it was for the Trojans. But also his bther Lanark and the Duke of Argyll were at him too and so in the end he went back to the king, and we will hear of him gain, poor lamb.

So we are close to the end of the fighting, but that came on 21st March. As Charles sat in Oxford contemplating his options, in December 1645 the loyal and rather unsung hero Jacob Astley was sent out with a mission to gather up an army and bring them to Oxford. This was really tough; after all Charles no longer had much territory to tax, so money; and if you were going to choose a side to fight for at this stage, surely it would start with a P not a C. But there was Chester and north Wales, and some garrisons in the West Midlands. The back of the sofa essentially, so out when Astley set out Chester seemed like a good destination, but Chester finally gave up In February 1646 and came to terms so on Astley went, raising troops in Wales and bits and bobs from as many garrisons as he could. Eventually he’d managed to gather up all the fluff and old buttons; in this case about half of his 3,000 men were figured to be reformadoes, captains without men. A pretty ragged bunch, for whom the end of the war would be the end of a career, and as Charles Forlorn Hope marched there was little rejoicing and much plundering. Astley was being shadowed by a Welshman, Thomas Morgan. Morgan had learned English during the thirty Years War fighting for the Protestant cause with de Vere and had a pretty tidy war fighting for Fairfax. With his 3,600 men he chased Astley down as he headed for Oxford, and caught him at Stow on 21st arch. By the sounds of things it was hard fought, but in the end the reformadoes broke and ran

The story goes that Astley was captured in the town, and looked pretty knackered, as you would do. He was 67 now, and enjoyed a pretty full military life, including being the military tutor of Prince Rupert and fighting at Edgehill, Gloucester, Newbury, Naseby and now Stow. So Morgan’s  soldiers found the old chap a drum so he had something to sit on. Astley sat down looked at his captors and remarked breezily

Well, boys, you have done your work, now you may go and play—if you don’t fall out among yourselves

Astley knew a thing or two. He gave his parole not to fight again, and unlike plenty did not break his word, retired to Maidstone as people do and died in 1652.

Which brings us to Oxford really, and back to Charles, sitting there receiving bad news after bad news. Charles attitude and mood since Naseby had been up and down like a yo-yo, up for wild optimism, down for despair. Defeat brought not wisdom nor the spirit of compromise though. It brought instead a growing fatalism and redoubling of his determination not to ‘quit his grounds’. But there was a growing sense of realisation that while, of course, God would never allow rebels and traitors to prosper, and that ultimate victory for the royalist cause was inevitable, the truth was emerging that he might not be the instrument to achieve it.

So after the fall of Bristol he wrote to his son and heir Charles ordering him to get ready to go to France, and impressing on him that if he was captured he must on no account

Yield to any conditions that are dishonourable, unsafe to your person or derogatory to royal authority

He wrote to Edward Nicholas of his determination

Never to yield up this church to the government of papist, Presbyterians or independents

Just as the English Presbyterians and Scots were determined to force a new church on England, so Charls was determined to stand by the new church he and his instrument of oppression Laud had enforced on the English. Makes you feel someone ought to say, let’s forget uniformity why doesn’t every congregation just choose their own way to God instead? Oh – wait, some people are saying that. I may be revealing my prejudices and biases.

Charles also wrote to Nicholas the same as regards royal power, and advised that any who advised him

To recede in the least title I shall esteem him either a fool or a knave

Thus was Rupert banished for advising him that he must now treat for peace and his personal survival. Of his close counsellors, only Digby, Nicholas and Jack Ashburnham remained reliable in his view. Hyde had long ago been sidelined and sent away with the PoW; now Dorset, Hertford, Lindsey and Southampton were to go. They begged the king to negotiate for peace. Charles response was that

He would place his crown on his head and preserve it with his sword if the swords of his friends failed him

The four of them then  effectively tried to stitch up a deal with Parliament to seize Charles and deliver him to London. Sadly for them, the last place parliament wanted Charles was in London, where he might whip on the crown – in fact Charles would make the same offer later and received a horrified not on my sainted grandmother’s nelly in reply.

You need to sit up now and listen to this bit, pause your ironing or take a break from your running and catch your breath, stop the car in a layby, pull the emergency cord on the train, or whatever, because what I am about to say I think will tell you everything you need to know until January 30th 1649.

Charles had already alluded to the concept of martyrdom back in 1642 when he told the long suffering Hamilton that

No extremity or misfortune shall make me yield for I will either be a glorious king or a patient martyr

In 1645 to his son he wrote that compromise would

Make me end my days with torture and disquiet of mind…but your constancy will make me die cheerfully

To Digby he wrote

If I cannot live like a king, I shall die like a gentleman[3]

I once went on a training course about negotiation. The bloke there told a tale of the negotiations at the end of the Vietnam war, with the message that the Vietnamese were prepared to sit their for years to get what they needed, and had no desire to negotiate, and so basically stuffed their opposing negotiators. I have no idea if that is true or not, he was just a sales trainer, bit his point was that it takes two to negotiate, and that there is no point trying to make a deal with someone not prepared to negotiate. I would, highly controversially, suggest that this may well be what parliament has been doing and will now do in spades. Negotiate with a man who thought his best interests outweighed those of his subjects. Or maybe that’s harsh; maybe with a man who believed his own interests as king were absolutely indistinguishable with the best interests of his subjects.

OK, Charles then had a few choices. One of them, and his favourite had been the Irish, which we talked about earlier, so let’s catch up[ on how that went. You might remember that Charles had sent Glamorgan with a secret plan; to smile and wave at Ormond, and it the back ground to cut his legs off by negotiating a secret deal; and that secret deal had indeed been negotiated – toleration and land rights in return for 10,000 men. Then two things happened.

Firstly, came the arrival of Cardinal Giovanni Battista Rinuccinni, a Papal Nuncio send by the new Pope in response to a request sent by the Confederates back in 1643. Now Rinuccini is an interesting and controversial character. The historian Tadhg Ó hAnnracháin (tie-g o Henrician) summarises the two opposing camps, both contemporary and modern, as on the one hand

‘a rash, intransigent, and unrealistic zealot’

Which in complimentary, and a much more complimentary view by nationalist historians emphasising his devotion to the Catholic cause. Here is Tadhg’s own assessment

He was highly intelligent, psychologically shrewd, meticulous, persistent, and an inspiring orator in both Italian and Latin. His passionate religious convictions and his belief in an interventionist deity meant that, while often adept at political manipulation, at bottom he was no politician[4]

So, Rinucinni came with a view that was European, the view of the Counter Reformation rather than native Irish. He came with a view that toleration was lilly livered and wishy washy. What was required was the complete re-establishment of an established Catholic Church of Ireland along with a repatriation of all the stolen church lands. He also came with a view that any deal that tried to shore up Charles was just not ambitious enough – what was needed was for the Confederates to completely capture all of Ireland. And then impose a settlement from a position of power.

He also came with great religious authority, and crucially, with cash. His arrival gave leadership to the clergy; because they had always agreed that complete mastery in Ireland was critical – now they had a powerful leader. In addition, and just as crucial, was that the very best Irish commander agreed with them – Owen Roe O’Niell, the Confederate commander in Ulster facing the New Scots and Robert Munro.

Rinucinni did not approve of the Glamorgan treaty, and he did not trust the Confederate faction of Old English who had pushed it through, and were even now raising regiments to provide said army of 10,000. However, he decided he could not get his alternative entirely do instead he worked with what he had. He called Glamorgan in, ripped up the old treaty and proposed another – the return of all those church lands, complete authority of the Catholic church etc etc.

Now to make everyone dance to this tune he came with news, news that HM’s envoy to the Papal court, another Digby, this one much more impressive, Kenelm Digby about whom I must write sometime, had agreed just such a deal. Which was probably true, though it had no chance of being approved by anyone, but it helped swing it and Glamorgan agreed to everything in secret treaty number two.

All looking good; and it has to be said that Rinucinni surely had a point? What was the point trying to shore up a king who had clearly lost militarily? His strategic grasp of that at least seems pretty robust. But it was in the balance – would the rest of the confederates and Old English in particular, could they be brought to agree with this radical new view?

Well then events came. In an ambush, the letters of an Catholic Archbishop were captured. And in those papers was the original Glamorgan treaty. Well, when that got out, and get out it did, no cat with any number of pigeons could have sent more feathers flying. Parliament and the protestant English had further evidence of the depth of Charles’ duplicity – here was just the thing he’d sworn blind never to do. Ormond suddenly realised that his king valued him not one iota and had been playing him for a patsy; plus Ormond was a convinced Protestant and was horrified at the Church of Ireland being sold down the river. Charles and Digby panicked. Their solution was to categorically dump Glamorgan in the brown stuff. Absurd they said, Glamorgan never had the right to negotiate such a settlement. When Glamorgan produced the papers from the king giving him complete care blanche, Charles denounced them as forgeries. Ormond had Glamorgan thrown in the slammer.

It is yet another age-old much repeated example of the servant being stitched up to preserve the needs of the master – Charles has done it a few times, but he’s surely not alone. The immediate impact though was to utterly sink the Glamorgan treaty, and the idea of an Irish army in England was dead. Now that army was to be diverted to Rinucini’s plan: the conquest of Ireland. And that meant defeating Munro’s New Scots in Ulster. And in meant invading and capturing Dublin. You can hear how that goes in the next episode.

So Charles options had shrunk. But there was another. In the form of another international diplomat – Jean De Montereul.

Montereul was a French diplomat, He had been appointed by young King Louis XIV’s famous first power broker, Cardinal Mazarin. Mazarin authorised Montereul try and get Charles and the Scots to come to a deal. He was, and I quote to lead the Scots

To understand that…they will have no reason to doubt France will assist them with banners unfurled

Hurrah! Understandably, the Covenanters assumed this to mean military support – banners and furled and all. Behind his hand in France, Mazarin made it quite clear that he would not commit the life of one Pomeranian Grenadier to Scotland’s cause. Well, Parisian Pikeman might be a better phrase. Don’t you just love diplomacy? Sent abroad to lie for your country.

Now his wife nor Montereul nor anyone had yet managed to shift Charles towards acceptance of the Presbyterian church model. Charles had also incidentally sent feelers to Fairfax for a chat – rejected of course. But Montereul kept at it, sneaking into Oxford, to see the king. It’s not entirely clear who said what to whom, through Montereul’s brokering; and indeed in may well be that Montereul was not in fact being an honest broker, more along the lines of a more-than-a-little-dodgy broker. Either way, Charles thought that he’d won a commitment to being placed back on the throne by the Scots, and that he would not be pressed beyond what his religious conscience could bear. The Covenanters would not prove to take that view of life but we’ll see how that goes.

By April 1646, as news came in that Exeter had fallen as well, then Charles options were; to sit where he was as Fairfax tightened the siege around Oxford. And that could end only one way. Or he could take the initiative and just turn up in London. Since Parliament were clearly worried about the trouble he could cause in London, that would seem an encouragement. Or he could believe what he wanted to believe, that the Scots could now re-install him on his throne, with some vague promise of toleration for Presbyterians which would not go against his vow to maintain his version of the Church of England.

Hmm. Well on 27th April, 2 men and their servant, apparently called Harry, left the East gate of Oxford in the middle of the night, headed over Magdalen bridge up Headington Hill. Before long they be on the way towards London, staying the night in Henley on Thames and then Harrow, which is just 15 miles north of Westminster.

Now the end of the First civil war is normally taken as 24th June when Oxford surrendered and Rupert and Maurice left England; though it’s noted that Wallingford held out to July and I think Harlech in Wales held out lonest, until March 1647. But effectively, by 27th April Charles had effectively made his choice; because, as you have probably guessed, the Servant was no servant, but Charles Stuart, the king of England, reliving the days of his youth with the dashing Buckingham, setting out on an adventure is disguise.

[1] Carlton, C: ‘Charles I: The Personal Monarch’, p283

[2] Fraser, A: ‘Cromwell: Our Chief of Men’, p169

[3] Cust, R: ‘Charles I: Political Life’, p410

[4] Tadhg Ó hAnnracháin, ‘Rinuccini, Giovanni Battista’, ODNB




5 thoughts on “399 End Game

  1. Every time I’m getting sorry for Charles (and he was pretty stitched up by others, too), I’m reminded of what a jerk he was to pretty much everyone around him. I’m in the middle of a biography of Elizabeth Stuart right now and his perfidious dealings with her and her children’s cause makes me wonder why Rupert ever fought for him at all.

    Is it telling that this war didn’t seem you be about “getting rid of his evil advisors”? Of it it is, I’ve not picked up that vibe.

    1. That’s an story I haven’t covered, though someone (Craig) suggested I should…darn! Yes,and Rupert was SO loyal!
      Coinrad Russell made the point that Charles kept on personalising the dispiutes prewar; trying to get people toback off becuase HE was the one saying it, their annointed monarch and so of course they should stop arguing and do what they told. He wrote that once the problem became Charles himself, it was much harder to solve

      1. Charles is an interesting example of someone who wanted to wield power like Elizabeth I or Louis XIV (anachronistically), but was utterly lacking the touch to do it. A reminder that while the masters make it seem easy, they’re really just very good and without the ability, you look like a twit.

  2. “Oh lord what have I done that should cause my people to deal thus with me?”
    Asking is good, Charles, but useless when you won’t listen to anybody’s answers.

    1. it does very much have the feeling of a line given to him later by a royalist building a martyrology. But also seems entirely like to be the sprt of thing he’d have thought!

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