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Battlefield: Cromwell’s Last Stand

The Parliamentarians’ crushing defeat of Charles II’s army at Worcester finally brought to an end more than a decade of civil war in Britain. Julian Humphrys explains…

Climb the 235 steps to the top of the tower of Worcester Cathedral and, once you’ve recovered your breath, you’ll be rewarded with a remarkable bird’s-eye view of the city below you. You’ll also be standing on the very spot where, on 3 September 1651, Charles II watched his tired and outnumbered army prepare to do battle with the forces of Oliver Cromwell. It would be the final battle of the Civil Wars.

After his father’s execution in 1649, the throne had passed, in theory at least, to Charles II. Charles was supported by the Scots, who disapproved of Charles I’s beheading (he had been their king as well) and had fallen out with their former English parliamentarian allies, particularly over religion. Parliament reacted by sending an army north which, led by Oliver Cromwell, defeated the Scots at Dunbar on 3 September 1650. Hostilities dragged on but on 1 January 1651, Charles was crowned king by the Scots at Scone. at July, the English crossed the Forth and, after defeating the Scots at Inverkeithing, cut their army off from its chief source of supplies. Hoping to tempt Charles and his Scottish army into hostile English territory, Cromwell left the border unguarded. Charles took the bait. At the beginning of August, he led his army into England.


Royalist soldiers were killed by Cromwell's army

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About History Revealed

This might well be our most-packed issue ever, and we’ve got pretty much every time and place imaginable covered. Our section in the centre pages looks at those archaeological discoveries that make our understanding of the past possible – from buried kings to mysterious writings.