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The battle of Marston Moor, which occurred in 1644 at the height of the English Civil War, was a turning point in the conflict. The Royalist side, supporting the divine right of kings, a high church verging on Catholicism and the status quo, had had some reverses but some successes too. The Parliamentarian side, who on the face of it seemed to have a much more egalitarian manifesto but actually did their best to take all the joy out of life and replace it with knowing ones place and a good work ethic, actually had a better more professional army but many of the Royalist commanders were more experienced.
In particular, 24 year old Prince Rupert of the Rhine, nephew of King Charles I, who really demands a post all of his own, had a reputation of being unbeatable. But his sharp wits were pitted against Oliver Cromwell, whose intention was to take control of the north, denying Royalists contact with and support from the Royalist forces in Scotland.
As usual in affairs of this nature, neither side knew exactly where the other was, both tried to get the best position, both tried to hang on until more troops came up in support. In the end the Parliamentarians had the greatest numbers and Oliver’s cavalry swept the field despite all young Rupert’s dash. The poor lad was deeply demoralised at the height of the battle by the death of his pet dog “Boye” , accused of being his ‘familiar’ by the deeply religious and rather batty Puritans who refused to believe that anyone so young could cause them so much trouble without infernal intervention.
With Rupert’s run of successes broken, a large number of soldiers killed or captured, loss of all the big guns and most of the supplies the remaining Royalists returned to safety leaving Oliver and his army to consolidate their position.
I originally intended to write about how the very last detachment of longbowmen fought at Marston Moor and how the intense physical and mental training they had to undergo in order to be effective was replaced by half a days training with a musket. But although it’s one of the things all long bow archers knows, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence for it. In fact the last use of longbows in battle could have been at Nazeby or at Tippermuir in Scotland. 😦 I’d llove to know for sure, wouldn’t you?