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Total War - Charles: Tactics and Personality

Updated Sunday, 7th January 2001

As the figurehead of the struggle, a lot came down to Charles' tactics and personality

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Battle scene Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: Wark Clements

The collapse of the Royalist armies by late 1645 placed even greater emphasis on the tactics and personality of Charles I, but he was no better placed to secure advantage by these means than he was through military means. Arrogant and inflexible, he mistook the rising power of the Independents as proof of division within his opponents' ranks, something which he could exploit for his own ends. When the Parliamentary moderates attempted to secure a peace settlement, Charles sent them packing, further strengthening the position of the hard-liners.

Charles also tried to conclude a settlement with the Irish Confederates in 1645. In return for giving him an army of 20,000 men, Charles promised to meet a number of their demands. However, by the time the deal was concluded, Chester had fallen to Parliament and the Irish troops were unable to land. Charles had granted contentious demands, infuriated his Parliamentary opponents and hadn't even gained a military advantage. It was a no-win situation.

Thwarted in his Irish plans, Charles looked to the Scots Covenanters for relief. Both sides feared the rising power of the Parliamentary radicals and thought they could secure advantage by concluding an alliance.

Consequently, on 5th May 1646, Charles I wandered into the Scots Covenanters' camp at Southwell and surrendered. The First Civil War was over but as Charles and his hosts entered into long-winded theological and political debates, Ireland erupted in flames once more.

Three faces of Charles I

The famous Van Dyke triple portrait of 1636 was originally produced to enable the Italian sculptor Bernini produce a bust of Charles without having to meet him. However, the multiple faces of the King presented by the image neatly encapsulate the Puritan perception of the King in the late 1640s - that of a duplicitious and untrustworthy monarch.

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