First Battle of Newbury - Background

Background

After the failure of Parliamentarian forces to gain a conclusive victory at the Battle of Edgehill in 1642, the Royalist armies had advanced on London, capturing Banbury, Oxford and Reading without conflict. On 13 November they faced the Earl of Essex at the Battle of Turnham Green, with Charles's advisers persuading him to retreat to Oxford and Reading. After Essex besieged Reading and Charles's armies failed in their attempts to relieve the town, a stalemate occurred on the front; Essex's army could not directly engage with the Royalists at Oxford due to disease in the ranks, while Charles was prevented from advancing due to the exhaustion of supplies and ammunition after the failed expedition to Reading. Despite this setback, the war was turning increasingly in favour of the Royalists. The early months of 1643 saw a "crushing" defeat of the Parliamentarians at the Battle of Adwalton Moor, while the Battle of Roundway Down left Parliament without an effective army in the west of England, the lack of which allowed the Royalists under Prince Rupert to storm Bristol with the Western Army and Oxford Army. The result was that Parliamentarian forces were depleted and appeared to be losing; Essex's army was the only significant one left in the field, and it suffered from reduced morale due to the defeats inflicted on Parliament by Royalist forces elsewhere in the war.

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