While the triumphant Rupert crushed all before him, his ally, the Earl of Newcastle was doing less well. Pushed back to York, he spent two months under siege by 30,000 combined Covenanterand Roundhead troops. Around him devastation was everywhere. The Roundheads systematically destroyed York's surrounding suburbs as they headed towards the ancient city walls. It was the civil war equivalent of the bombing of Dresden. For one Roundhead soldier, the carnage and mayhem was too much.
Had thine eyes yesternight with me seene York burning, thy heart wld have been heavier. The lord affect us with the sad fruits of wasting waves & speedily mercifully end our combustions, which are carried on with high sinnes & heavie desolations. Truly, my heart sometimes, is ready to breake, with what I here see.
As the Roundheads started mining the city walls, Rupert received an urgent message from the King: 'If York be lost, I shall esteem my Crown little less…immediately march with all your force to the relief of York.' Rupert headed east to relieve York and the Earl of Newcastle. The Parliamentary and Covenanter commanders heard of his march and headed south to intercept Rupert along the Knaresborough road.
But Rupert was smarter than that. He placed a decoy line of soldiers to trick the Roundheads into thinking that he was preparing for full battle. He then swung north and relieved York through the northern gates. The Roundhead troops watched in fury as the Cavaliers marched through the city walls behind their backs.
But Rupert was not here to lift a siege. He wanted to finish off the troublesome Parliamentary rebels. With the West and the North-West in Royalist hands already, a quick victory at York would destroy the Roundhead force forever. The Covenanters and the South East would quickly crumble. But Rupert was also keen to meet someone - a brilliant cavalry soldier who had beaten Royalist troops time and again. As Rupert settled down for the evening, outside the city walls, preparing to deliver the final blow to the Roundheads, he asked: 'Is Cromwell here?'