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Raising the standard

Updated Sunday, 7th January 2001

Charles I called for the support of his people

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As the country inexorably polarised, Charles prepared for war. He placed his beloved Queen Henrietta-Maria and their daughter, Princess Mary, on a boat bound for Holland and safety.

Henrietta-Maria was laden down with valuable crown jewels in a desperate attempt to raise money abroad and drum up support for the Royalist cause; Mary was being married off to a Dutch prince in the hope of currying favour with England's Protestant allies.

Typically, Henrietta Maria left her husband with some stern advice - remember, she said, 'that it is better to follow out a bad resolution than to change it so often', and not 'to begin again his old game of yielding everything.' As Henrietta Maria and Mary sailed into the distance, Charles galloped furiously along the cliffs of Dover, watching them until they finally disappeared over the horizon. Then he turned inland and readied himself for the struggle to reclaim his authority.

Dover cliffs Creative commons image Icon hans s under CC-BY-ND licence under Creative-Commons license

After months of raising troops, stalled negotiations, seizing arsenals, and securing ports, the King at last declared war and he chose the strategically vital town of Nottingham to raise his standard. On a blustery, wind-swept day the King arrived to show his hand. On a hill outside this market town of traders and silk workers, three troops of horse and 600 infantrymen paraded the Royalist standard before twenty men raised it.

Unfurled and placed in a hole dug deep by swords and daggers, it bore the triumphant legend, 'Give Caesar His Due.' A proclamation condemning the Commons and their troops as traitors was read aloud by a royal herald. The die was cast; there was no going back now. England, along with Scotland, Ireland and Wales, was about to be ripped apart by a bloody Civil War.

 

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