The Battle of Naseby #90secondhistory

Painting of Oliver Cromwell at the Battle of Naseby

The Battle of Naseby took place more than 375 years ago on June 14, 1645. Fought near Naseby, in Northamptonshire, it is important as the first truly decisive battle of the English Civil War.

The Royalist army was marching North with the Parliamentarians in pursuit. Fearing a decisive loss of morale if his troops kept retreating, King Charles I ordered his army to fight. 

This was the first big test for Parliament's newly formed New Model Army, which was led by Sir Thomas Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell.

The Royal army was outnumbered almost three to two, but the King believed his battle-hardened veterans could beat the untested New Model Army. 

The Parliamentarian’s started with a strong position high on Naseby Ridge. Cromwell felt it was too strong and the Royalists would never attack, so he ordered his troops back to tempt the enemy forward.

The two armies approached each other from either side of the ridge, both hidden from view until there was only time for one volley of musketry before the hand to hand fighting began. 

In the end, defeat was emphatic for the Royalists with many of the King’s veteran infantry and officers killed or captured, and much of his artillery and arms lost.

Charles’ baggage train was taken too and his private papers revealed his plans to draw Irish Catholics and mercenaries into the war. 

This fuelled Parliament’s determination to achieve a final victory. Within a year, they had won. 

Find our more: You can explore the battlefield with our expert historian Julian Humphrys as part of our English Civil War tour based in Oxford. 

  More articles about the English Civil Wars
>> The Battle of Worcester: the final chapter
>> How divine right sparked the English Civil Wars 
>> How Charles I's Royalist revival was crushed at Preston 
>> Marston Moor - a reckoning for the Royalists 
>> How Cropredy Bridge created the New Model Army 
>> Julian Humphrys on his English Civil War tours 
>> ​The third and final siege of Oxford


Image credit: The reproduction of Charles Landseer's painting of Cromwell at the Battle of Naseby used above is credited to Hajotthu and available under the Creative Commons Licence.