N is for Naseby


We have safely arrived at the letter N in this year’s A-Z blogging challenge and I bring you a short article about Naseby.

The Battle of Naseby in particular. On 14th June 1645 the small town of Naseby in Northamptonshire saw the decisive battle of the first English Civil War. It was the latest in a whole series of battles and skirmishes between the Royalists (Cavaliers) under King Charles I and Prince Rupert of the Rhine, and the Parliamentarian New Model Army (Roundheads) under Oliver Cromwell and Sir Thomas Fairfax which had taken place the length and breadth of England and Wales.

More battles were fought after this one, but Naseby was the event that tilted the balance of strength towards the Parliamentarians. They outnumbered the Royalists by about two to one, with more than 2000 more horses, 4000 foot soldiers and 500 dragoons (mounted infantry) than them. The Royalists suffered the most losses too with 1000 killed and 5000 captured versus the 400 killed on the Parliamentarian side.

Painting of the Battle of Naseby in the first English Civil War
Painting of the Battle of Naseby in the first English Civil War

With such heavy losses it was a straightforward matter for the Parliamentarians to wipe out the remaining pockets of resistance and soon held the stronger position in the war.

English_civil_war_map_1642_to_1645

Charles I went on the run and after a period of exile he was captured and kept prisoner in Carisbroke Castle and Windsor Castle before he was put on trial for high treason and executed in January 1649. Nobody had put a monarch on trial before, and to try one for high treason has never been since. (Treason is a crime against the monarch, and high treason is a crime against the state. Charles I was accused – and found guilty – of putting his own personal desires and gains before those of the state). Charles II was crowned, but he too went into exile and there followed an interregnum and England was a Republican Commonwealth under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell (1653 – 1658) and Richard Cromwell, his son (1658 – 1659).

Charles II was restored to the monarchy in 1660 but Naseby stands out as a battle of major importance in our country’s history. Without that particular battle at that time, who knows how the course of the Civil War might have gone, and who knows where our politics might lie today. We may still be a Republic, or we may not have any sort of Parliament at all and be totally governed by the monarchy.

Location of Naseby on a modern map
Location of Naseby on a modern map

 

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