Wales & the Marches: overview

When civil war broke out in 1642, most of Wales declared for the King. The principality became an important centre for raising recruits and money for the Royalist cause. Three noblemen were appointed as lieutenant-generals to govern and direct Royalist operations in Wales.

Early in 1643, Sir William Waller advanced to the Welsh border to disrupt Royalist communications between south Wales and Oxford. In co-operation with Colonel Massie, Waller secured Gloucester for Parliament, routed a newly-formed Welsh army and plundered several Royalist border towns before being driven back by Prince Maurice at Ripple Field.

On the borders of north Wales, the Parliamentarian commanders Sir William Brereton and Sir Thomas Myddelton drove Lord Capel out of Shropshire and invaded Royalist Flintshire in November 1643. However, the Parliamentarian advance into north Wales was thrown back by the arrival of Royalist reinforcements from the army stationed in Ireland.

When Prince Rupert was appointed president of Wales in February 1644, the King's ineffective lieutenant-generals were replaced by professional soldiers. Charles Gerard was particularly successful in containing the Parliamentarian enclave in Pembrokeshire. However, Rupert's defeat at Marston Moor damaged the morale of the Welsh Royalists. In September 1644, Brereton, Myddelton and Meldrum achieved a notable victory over Lord Byron at the battle of Montgomery, which forced the Welsh Royalists onto the defensive.

After the King's defeat at Naseby, the city of Chester remained an important Royalist stronghold until the end of the war. King Charles came to Chester late in 1645, only to witness his best remaining cavalry defeated at the city walls. The last Royalist field army was raised by Lord Astley on the Welsh border. Astley marched to reinforce the King at Oxford, but was intercepted and defeated by Brereton at Stow-on-the-Wold in March 1646.