The Battle of Worcester 1651: The last battle of the English Civil Wars
by Bernard Mills
Thursday 31 March 2016
Bernard Mills looked every inch the 17th Century gentleman when he spoke to the Society on the evening of 31st March about the final battle of the English Civil Wars – the Battle of Worcester. In full semi-military costume, with baldric and sash, Bernard first invited members of the audience to guess which side he was on – no small task. In fact, he said, he was a parliamentarian, though it was actually difficult to distinguish between sides.
Looking briefly at the causes of the Civil Wars, Bernard ran quickly through from August 1642 when Charles I raised his standard at Nottingham, through battles such as Edghill and Naseby, to Charles’s execution in January 1649.
Charles’s son, from exile in Europe, then approached the Scots asking for their support. Thus began the road to the Battle of Worcester, less a pitched battle, more a series of skirmishes beginning at Upton-upon-Severn and reaching Worcester via Powick. Parliamentarian forces numbered about 30,000 to young Charles’s rather weary and bedraggled army of some 13,000 – 14,000 men (mainly Scots).
The story of the defeat of the Royalists and Charles’s subsequent escape was both a thrilling and a tragic one and held the audience spellbound, as evidenced by the long discussion which ensued.