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Civil War

When the royal standard was raised in Nottingham in 1642, England embarked on a long and bloody civil war. It was to see the execution of Charles I, a new Commonwealth under Oliver Cromwell, and, finally, the Restoration of the monarchy under Charles II in 1660.

The battle of Naseby, fought on 14 June 1645, was a key victory for the parliamentarians. Joshua Sprigge's account of 1647 provided an illustration of the field, showing the forces under Thomas Fairfax and the position of the enemy. He claimed that the action lasted two hours, resulting in 800 dead, and 4,500 prisoners taken.

Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658), a Cambridgeshire gentleman and fervent Puritan, first sat in parliament in 1640. His natural talents as a commander gave a strong power base in the army. He supported the trial and execution of the king and in 1649 led a brutal campaign of retaliation against the Irish. As Protector he had absolute authority.

Ballads and songs were a popular form of political expression in the civil war period. Many satirical poems were composed about current events and celebrities. They circulated privately. Collections were published in large numbers after the Restoration.

Further sources relating to this subject area are held by Manuscripts and Special Collections at King's Meadow Campus. See our website for information about our collections and catalogues.

Battle of Naseby Zoom in

Battle of Naseby

Oliver Cromwell Zoom in

Oliver Cromwell

'Rump Songs' (1662) Zoom in

'Rump Songs' (1662)

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