Battle of Naseby

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The Battle of Naseby was the key battle of the first English Civil War. On the 14th of June 1645, the main army of King Charles I was destroyed by the Parliamentarian New Model Army commanded by Sir Thomas Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell.

Contents

The Campaign

At the beginning of 1645, most of King Charles's advisers urged him to attack the New Model Army while it was still forming. However, Prince Rupert of the Rhine, who had recently been appointed General of the Army and therefore the King's chief military adviser, proposed instead to march north to recover the north of England and join forces with the Royalists in Scotland under Montrose. This course was adopted, even though the King's army had to be weakened by leaving a detachment (including 3,000 cavalry) under Lord Goring, the Lieutenant General of Horse, to hold the West Country and maintain the Siege of Taunton, in Somerset.

At the same time, after the New Model Army had abandoned an attempt to relieve Taunton, Parliament's Committee of Both Kingdoms had directed Fairfax, its commander, to besiege Oxford, the King's wartime capital.[2] Initially, Charles welcomed this move, as Fairfax would be unable to interfere with his move north. Then at the end of May he was told that Oxford was short of provisions and could not hold out long. To distract Fairfax, the Royalists stormed the Parliamentarian garrison at Leicester on 31 May. Having done so, Prince Rupert and the King's council reversed their former decision and marched south to relieve Oxford.[3] They sent messages ordering Goring to rejoin them, but Goring was reluctant to leave the West Country.

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