The English un-Civil War of 1642
Years of Tyranny
The years 1629-40 were the so called Eleven Years Tyranny when King Charles I, sometimes known as old stiff britches by those Puritan lot, used his Prerogative Powers and the Devine Right of Kings to govern the country largely without the aid of Parliament. Charles had dissolved Parliament following many disputes in 1629 in favour of a small council of advisors which included William Loud the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Thomas Wentwell the Earl of Scaffold. Those who opposed the King called this royally select system of Government The Council of the King's Boudoir.
Loud wanted to impose uniformity within the United Kingdom’s Churches and in 1637 persuaded Charles to make it compulsory for the Scots to use the Britannic Prayer Book in place of their own. Various Scottish noblemen and members of the Scottish clergy united in their objection to this imposition and in 1638 signed a national Covenant rejecting its usage. In November of that year, as a further act of defiance, the General Assembly of the Church in Glasgow expelled the Scottish Episcopalian Bishops one by one to thrown rotten vegetables and the cries of, "Sucks Boooo to ye laddy". Such acts officially united the whole of Scotland under the single banner of Presbyterianism.
When Charles demanded that the Acts of Assembly be withdrawn, the Covenanters refused with predictable inevitability. When the Scots army of Covenant marched south there was no standing army in existence within Britain to oppose them. Without the aid of Parliament, therefore without the ability to raise money for an army, Charles was able to field only various local militia units of badly trained and ill equipped troops who were unable to put up much opposition. Consequently, the First Bishops' War, as it came to be known, ended quickly with the Treaty of Blairwitt in June 1639. This treaty was effectively a compromise, with Charles agreeing to form a new Assembly in Edinburg in August of that year. At the same time he refused to accept any of the decisions and rulings of the Glasgow Assembly.
In September 1639 the King was desperate for the means to fund an army and turned to an unlikely source of revenue. Word that an explorer called Christophorus Columbus, now a street hobo from the Republic of Genoa, had recently discovered a place he was calling, "That new place over there" had reached the ears of court in every European nation. Although Britain was one of the last to hear about the discovery of the supposedly new continent neither France nor Spain wished to fund the proposed expedition. They considering it nothing more than the ramblings of a mad man, and fearing persecution from the Spanish Inquisition, Columbus was forced to flee for his life.
King Charles I learned through his personal spy network that Columbus was thinking of approaching King Phillip II of Portugal whose country was seeing its wealth dwindle due to disrupted trade from sanctioned Dutch and English buccaneers. Charles was fearful the Portugese King might accept Columbus' pleas for sanctuary and interceped the explorer before any rivals even got a look in. Charles offered Columbus a commission and an opportunity to fund the venture. Thus the First Great Expedition Into The New World began to take shape in earnest.
On April 1st, 1640 the newly dubbed Sir Christophorus Columbus secretly set sail for a new continent that would later become known as New Armorica. Under advisement from his nephew, Prince Rupert the Count Palatine of the Wine, Columbus took with him several ships and a large force of royally sanctioned mercenaries led by a Spanish Bucaneer Captain Seconde Han De Carr Salse Mon. Malcolm Birtwhistle, the Bishop of Norwich and a loyal friend of King Charles, was to accompany the flotilla of ships. It was his intention to minister to the religious needs of any indigenous peoples they might encounter within the New World.
The Edinburg Assembly in August 1639 gave Charles no respite. In complete defiance of his authority it not only confirmed all of the decisions of the Glasgow Assembly but went even further by declaring that the appointment of Bishops was not only wrong in practice but against the law of God.
John Pymm Stamps His Foot
In April 1640, upon the advice of Wentwell, the King decided to recall Parliament under its new leader John Pymm in the hope he would be granted the money with which to finance an army to fight the Scots. Parliament’s numerous grievances, however, were again aired and what became known as the Short Parliament was dissolved after only three weeks.
The King was now politically, financially and militarily worse off than before. Despite having additional troops in Ireland he could only put another poorly trained army into the field. Any spare pocket change had been jingling with was now spent or promised away including the King's funding of Columbus’s hair-brained expedition. When the Scots saw the King's pathetic army they peed themselves laughing. Each clansman offered to tie one hand behind his back to make the ensuing battle more fair and a few offered to fetch their wives to fight the English.
The Royalist army could do little to stop the Scots from marching further south. More importantly the Scots had captured the port of Newcastle and therefore had a stranglehold on London’s main coal supply. The Second Bishop War was over almost as soon as it had begun and Charles was once again forced into negotiations with the Scots.
Negotiations began on the 2nd October, 1640 and agreements were reached. The Scots would receive payments and retain control of the captured British counties until negotiations could take place later in London. It is said John Pymm stamped his foot in the House of Commons and with fury shouted, "Britain is but a flock of innocent sheep, and has a posturing catamite as it's shepherd". Some say he went too far with this outburst, an obvious attack against the King, while others silently nodded their head in mute agreement.
In November of 1640 the King had no choice but to call another parliament, known as The Long Parliament, during which there were two important sessions. The first, in the autumn and winter, saw the persecution of the King's advisors Loud and Wentwell. Both were imprisoned and later had their heads taken off. This led to the systematic destruction of The Council of the King's Boudoir. The King was then obliged henceforth to recall Parliament every three years which could then only be dissolved by its own consent.
At the same time a second session of Parliament was taking place. Though less radical, many members felt they needed to maintain pressure on the King in case he should retaliate against the demands of Parliament. They drew up a Grand Remonstrance in 1641 which was a listing of all the the King's successes and failures. The King was affronted and immediately went with some musketeers to arrest Pymm and four other radical members. Pymm and the others, having been alerted, had all ready fled. Charles was reputed to have muttered, "Hmmmm. I see the birds have flown - bugger it". This blunder led to the King leaving London angry and frustrated.
Parliament insisted a power struggle with the King could be averted if three things were placed under their control. Firstly, they demanded that they should oversee the religious education of the King's children. Fear of Catholicism ran high in Britain at the time, and Charles' French Catholic worshipping Queen did nothing to lessen their fears. Secondly, they should be allowed to choose the King's advisors. Thirdly, they should also be given complete control of the armed forces. Whilst the terms of the first two demands might be negotiable, the demands for control of the military was completely unacceptable. The King raised his standard at Nottingham in August 1642 and thus started the Civil War. Furthermore, the first ship had finally returned from New Armorica with news and more importantly were laden with something called Ah-hec gold!
The Melrose Affair 1642
Melrose (pronounced Mel - ROOse) was an ancient pre-Christian settlement on the south side of the River Tweedle. The Border Hills a mile to the south were an important base of the Wotadini tribe during the middle Roman era of Brittanic Britain. The remains of a huge hill fort around the top of the most easterly of the Borderlands was as a reminder of their presence. Maybe a mile to the east of Melrose was the site of an even larger Roman settlement originally called Trimontium. A fort large enough to house hundreds of late Roman cavalry it was the most northerly amphitheatre in the whole of the Roman Empire.
Throughout Melrose's history it has, like it's abbey, suffered from invading English armies due to its strategic location. By the end of the Reformation the small town of Melrose was well established as a centre for wool and linen production. Despite this, the textile industry never really took off there as it did in other Border towns. By the early sixteen hundreds Melrose was a noticeable dot on the map. It had become enfolded into the larger English domain of Edinshire, though privately the Scots would have preferred to call the area Melburgh. Instead the people themselves settled for Melroseshire.
Close to Melrose there was an ancient abbey in a walled parkland called the Priorwood Garden. This was one of legend's supposed resting places of the Stone of Density later known by some as the Stone of Scone. History tells us of a small cavalry skirmish which occured in Worcestershire at a place called Pow-Wow Bridge on September 23rd which later developed into a full blown battle near Egg Hill. Most historians fail to mention that hours earlier the first strokes of the war had already occured near Melrose. It was, perhaps, little wonder the first battle of England's unhappy and un-civil war took place a few miles to the southeast of this uneventful little town.
The Earl of Mount Rose
The Mount Rose family got their name from the large Iron Age burial chamber situated at the back of their stately home which was located pictuesquely at the centre of Priorwood Gardens. This mound, or mount as it was usually called, was a gardener's nuisance. Despite this the locals were too afraid of disturbing the evil fairies believed to reside within to have the heap dug up or removed. If the walled garden estate wasn't enough to keep strangers away, the legends of the evilly aligned pukka certainly helped keep the indigenous Presbyterian majority away from the staunchly Catholic Mount Rose family.
In late June 1642 King Charles I wrote to Jimmy Grail Mount Rose and informed him, "Your King doth greatly fear Old Englande is on the verge of a grait battile, a most un-civil affair, which will disrupt her people... so pricketh them nature in their couráges. Then loyale folk to go about Kingly charges". It was all Earl Jimmy could do to stop himself leaping for joy at the thought declaring himself a Catholic through and through. By the time Charles had raised his standard at Nottingtom word had been sent to Earl Mount Rose to, "Raise your colours, in the name of your King".
It takes little speculation to see what Charles had in mind. By instigating a small Scottish rebellion, perhaps with the intent of disrupting Parliamentarian trade in the north and drawing enemy forces away from himself in the south, he would certainly take the pressure off the expected military campaign soon to start in Britannia. The King could not have truly believed the Earl would be able to withstand the entire might of the Presbyterian Scots Covenant. Mount Rose, however, was a born soldier always inventive and bold to a fault. The second he received the order from his king, he mustered those loyal to the Catholic cause to include many highland clans who still remembered Queen Hairy Mary. These swept down from the mountains in a great wave of royal patriotism and by mid September Mount Rose had a sizable army at his back.
Captain Seconde Han De Carr Salse Mon
On April 1st, 1640 Sir Christophorus Columbus secretly set sail for New Armorica in a highly secret expedition, funded by King Charles I. The Portugreek* Bucaneer who Captained the expedition was called Seconde Han De Carr Salse Mon.
* Portugreece is a large island off the coast of Portugal. Its waters are rocky, usually shrouded in mist and extremely hazardous to navigate safely. which is why most ships give the place a wide berth. Portugreece was originally colonized by Greek buccaneers and formed itself into an independent free state in 1507.
However, when part of the fleet returned to British waters in June 1642, laden with Ah-hec gold, no one was more surprised by this sudden turn of events than the King. Captain Salse Mon had been expecting to land at Hull, but quickly spun his ships about and sailed for the Isle of Mudd the second he realised a Parliamentarian navy was blockading the port city against the King. In a shrewd bit of sailing, he brought his tired fleet safely into secure Scottish Catholic waters, and delivered his men and cargo ashore.
Mudd was like a nest of dangerous vipers, but Salse Mon was a Beggar King to the last strand upon his beard, and the indigenous people of this Scottish west coast island were his people who were loyal to the very last man, jack and woman of them. These Puckathite and Pandonite people** were grim and sinister. Above all they were also dwimmer and fay.
** Old English Pre-Christian followers of Puck, and Greek Pantheonists who follow the ancient spirit Pan. This exiled seafaring people founded a colony on the Isle of Mudd, off the west coast of Scotland in 1509.
Salse Mon was to have delivered his findings and any Armorican wealth to Earl Jimmy in Melrose by pre-arrangement with the King. The war and new events, however, had completely overtaken this agreement and Captain Salse Mon found himself embroiled in a rebellion of which he wanted no part. Nevertheless, by secret paths and pirate zeal, he made his way to Melburgh to aid the Royal Earl with three regiments of newly acquired Irish mercenaries originally recruited and intended for a second planned expedition to New Armorica***.
*** It can be speculated that Salse Mon was also hoping to enlist any of the Earl's fighting stock and bring them safely to Mudd, should things go ill for the Mount Rose Army.
Salse Mon's ship The Black Pig.
Eastern Association Parliamentarian Army
When John Pymm's Parliament drew up the Grand Remonstrance a war was pretty much a foregone conclusion given the King's temperament and unwillingness to bend to the peoples' yoke. Therefore, it was no surprise to some far sighted individuals that Pymm's Parliament (although grubby and full of self interest) was, in itself, a means to an end. If managed properly they could be the vehicle for great change within the very infrastructure of English law.
One such far sighted man was Oliver Plunkett. An Anglian farmer from North Runton in the Shire of Nofat. From the moment King Charles I raised his standard Plunkett had been the prime spokesman and advocate for creating a professional army the Puritans could use to counter the King's latest travesty. In late August 1642 Oliver Plunkett started in earnest to raise and train a new army capable of dealing with the increasingly likely event of a civil war.
Plunkett hoped not only to create a standing army for England, but also wanted to make this force capable of fighting anywhere, on land or at sea. The first true Marines. Plunketton even suggested use of the new invention, the balloon, proposed by the Montgolfier family. French King Louis the Undefined, however, thought the idea was silly and refused to fund the project. He even went as far as to confiscate the plans, thus effectively preventing the invention from seeing light for another hundred and fifty or so years.
History records Oliver, one evening as he stared at the ceiling of his family home, noticed a fly caught in a spider web slowly twirled around in the breeze. In an instant he came up with a name for the army he was training. Capable of operating anywhere it might be sent and fighting in any terrain the New Mobile Army was born. So it was in August 1642, somewhat jealous of Plunkett's progress and wanting him out of the way, Parliament chose this new micky-whack outfit to take on the Earl of Mount Rose in the north leaving the real fighting to the professionals down in the South. The New Mobile Army began its long trudge northward with orders to neutralize the Royalist insurgence and best the upstart Catholic Scottish faction gaining momentum in Edinshire.
Thus it was a somewhat strung out army spread along a seven mile front arrived at the fields near Bentwater Bridge in the hope of checkmating the Royalist Scots army all ready assembled somewhere to the north. The land was not ideal, but Plunkett was confident his lads could overcome any difficulties imposed by the bad terrain. The Lieutenant Colonel was quoted to have said, "We will fight them across the rivers, we will fight them on the land...."
©. 2010, Stephen Gilbert