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Defeat in the West Country

Updated Sunday, 7th January 2001

Inspired by Cromwell, and in the face of possible defeat, a new approach was needed by Parliament

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Throughout 1645, disaster rolled in upon disaster. After Naseby, Charles retreated to Hereford in a desperate attempt to enlist new recruits; Rupert meanwhile sped down to the West Country to secure the few remaining Royalist strongholds. It was a losing battle.

The West slowly succumbed to the combined forces of Fairfax and Cromwell.

At the Battle of Langport, Fairfax finished off the King's forces in the west. Committed as ever to his uncle's cause, Rupert was determined to make a stand.

He chose Bristol, the city of his greatest triumph, as the site to resist the Roundheads. He promised Charles he would hold it against all odds. But the power of Fairfax was too much. As Rupert's troops came under sustained attack and were forced to retreat to the inner defences, plague began to sweep through the city making further defence all but impossible. Outgunned and outnumbered, facing imminent slaughter, Rupert accepted Fairfax's offer of an honourable surrender and marched out of Bristol to the safety of Oxford.

When Charles learnt of the surrender of Bristol, he was outraged. He cut Rupert off from the Court and seemed at one point determined to have his nephew court-martialled for treachery. The King told him to 'seek your subsistence somewhere beyond the seas…and I pray God to make you sensible of your present condition and give you means to redeem what you have lost.'

Charles dismissed his most brilliant and loyal commander as a traitor and coward- another extraordinary error of judgement. He was now left with very few intelligent advisers or decent soldiers. Things were not looking good for Charles. And the news coming in from Scotland was dismal.

 

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