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Battle of Naseby

The Battle of Naseby was the key battle of the first English Civil War. Fighting on June 14, 1645 near Naseby in Northamptonshire the 12,000-strong Royalist forces commanded by Prince Rupert were well beaten by the 15,000 Parliamentarian soldiers of Sir Thomas Fairfax.

Battle of Naseby
Dates of battleJune 14, 1645
ConflictEnglish Civil War
Battle before
Battle after
Site of battlenear Naseby,
12km south-west of Market Harborough
Combatant 1Parliament
led byThomas Fairfax
Forces15,000 men
Combatant 2Royalists
led byPrince Rupert
Forces12,000 men
resultdecisive Parliamentary victory

On June 13, the Royalists, who were making for Newark were at Market Harborough. Thomas Fairfax planned to intercept them as soon as he was reinforced by Cromwell. The King's hand was forced when Henry Ireton captured his reguard near Naseby, ten kilometres to the south of the royalist army.

The Parliamentary forces were drawn up to the south on slightly higher ground, with Ireton's cavalry on the left, Cromwell's cavalry on the right and the infantry under Philip Skippon in the centre. Facing Ireton was Rupert's calavry, facing Cromwell Marmaduke Langdale and the Royalist infantry was commanded by Jacob Astley.

Ireton's first action met with some success, but was soon countered by a charge by Rupert which attacked not only the cavalry but the infantry in the centre. Skippon's forces were pushed back up the hill, and Ireton's cavalry routed. But on the Parliamentary right, Cromwell attacked and broke Langdale's cavalry.

Now Cromwell was free to turn to the exposed flank of the Royalist infantry, and they were caught between his forces and dragoons which had been posted in hedges to the west. Rupert's cavalry were unable to assist, having gone too far in pursuit of the Parliamentary forces and their baggage train. The Parliamentary forces fought the Royalist infantry to destruction or surrender. Fairfax's forces pursued Royalist fugitives fleeing north to Leicester in an attempt decisively to destroy their army as a fighting force.

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