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Battle of Marston Moor

Unlike the Battle of Edgehill, Marston Moor gave The Parliamentarians an outright victory. With the help of Scottish Covenanters, the north of England was irretrievably lost to Charles I.

The Scottish Covenantors

Created to defend their church in 1638, this group of Scotsmen signed an agreement with the English Parliament in September 1643. The terms of the agreement were that in exchange for Parliament's support for the Scottish Kirk, The Covenantors would be an ally of The Parliamentarians (also known as Roundheads).

The Scots did not look upon themselves as being rebels against Charles. In making an alliance with The Parliamentarians, they felt they were helping to show the king the error of his ways.

The Opening Moves of Marston Moor

In April of 1644, the Scots and The Parliamentarians, under the command of Lord Fairfax, laid siege to York. Busy finding recruits for The Royalist Army (also known as Cavaliers) in Liverpool and Shrewsbury, Prince Rupert was commanded by Charles I to lift the siege.

The Parliamentarians had expected reinforcements to join them from The Midlands. But finding they would not arrive in time, the siege was abandoned. Instead, the Parliamentarians marched to Marston Moor to intercept Rupert.

Rupert, however, had put the River Ouse between himself and his enemy. The Royalists entered the city of York.

With orders from Charles I to defeat The Parliamentarians in the field, Rupert took his army to meet Fairfax. Although The Parliamentarians had already begun to march south, word was quickly brought that The Royalists were heading for the moor. The Battle of Marston Moor was about to begin.

Prince Rupert of the Rhine had a total of 17, 000 men to deploy which included the garrison from York. Lord Fairfax and his officers (one of whom was the controversial figure of Oliver Cromwell) had 21, 500.

A Short But Decisive Engagement

Arriving at the moor on July 2, 1644, Rupert allowed himself to be convinced by his commanders that it was too late in the day to begin fighting. Thus, Rupert allowed his soldiers to break for supper. Shortly after 7:00 PM, however, a large clap of thunder, accompanied by pouring rain, helped to announce the arrival of The Parliamentarians. The biggest battle ever fought in Britain had begun.

The Battle of Marston Moor lasted only a few hours. The majority of the Royalists were either killed or taken prisoner. Rupert himself had to hide in a field to avoid capture. The Parliamentarians only lost 300 troops.

Rupert managed to rally the survivors and retreat to Chester. Here he hoped to rebuild his army. With this march south, the Royalists' abandoned the north.

Victory secured, The Parliamentarians turned their efforts back to York. The city surrendered on July 16, 1644. Over the coming months, the Scots and Parliamentarians defeated Royalist garrisons in Northern England.

While the Battle of Marston Moor damaged Prince Rupert's reputation for being invincible, Oliver Cromwell's reputation as a ruthless commander was made. During the following months, Cromwell's importance and influence greatly increased.

Article by "Tudor Rose"

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