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​The third and final siege of Oxford #90secondhistory

Oxford University
On June 25 in 1646 the Royalists surrendered Oxford to their Parliamentarian foes, confirming the end of England's bitter civil war. Here's how Oxford's part in the English Civil War played out. 

Royal HQ
Oxford was the headquarters of King Charles during the English Civil War. Most in the city supported the Parliamentarians, however the University was strongly royalist and the various colleges were home to the royal party. 

Three sieges
Oxford was besieged three time during the English Civil War. The first siege, in 1644, saw two large Parliamentarian armies attempt to surround the city. However, their scouting was poor and the King managed to escape unnoticed, even though he was travelling with more than 70 carriages.

In 1645 the New Model Army, under the command of Fairfax, tried again. Their attempt was called off when they discovered the King had already fled. Fairfax abandoned his siege to give pursuit, facing and beating the Royalists at Naseby

The King suffered further defeats, encouraging the Parliamentarians to focus on Oxford again in May 1646. 

One shot
Around the same time King Charles surrendered himself to a Scottish army besieging Newark. With the Civil War all but settled, Fairfax wanted to minimise bloodshed and decided to take Oxford by negotiation rather than warfare. Only one shot was fired during the third siege, and it landed in Christ Church meadow without causing harm. 

All is lost
Knowing that all was lost, the Royalists in Oxford agreed to talks, which dragged on for more than a month. The house in Marston where the negotiations took place still exists today. The Royalists finally surrendered on 20 June 1646. This was the final blow to the cause and signalled the end of this phase of the English Civil War.

Royal troops started leaving Oxford on 24 June. A day later, Fairfax was given the keys to the city. 

Oxford suffers
Oxford suffered for its support of the King. Oliver Cromwell was made Chancellor of the University and filled key positions with his supporters. In 1651 Parliament ordered the destruction of some of the city's greatest architectural monuments - only some of which were later rebuilt. 

Kings end
Charles's Scottish captors handed him over to Parliament. In 1647 he escaped but was captured again. Parliament decided there would never be peace while the King was alive, and he was tried and executed in 1649.

Want to know 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 Battle of Naseby  

 
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