Explore 1600s stories

Lieutenant-Colonel Randolph Egerton, The King's Troop of Horse Guards, c1672

The Restoration and the birth of the British Army

In 1660, the monarchy was restored when Parliament invited King Charles II to take the throne. Although the military played a crucial role in his return, the King soon established a new force - the British Army.

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Cavalry of the New Model Army, c1645

British Civil Wars

Fought between 1642 and 1651, these wars were primarily disputes between Crown and Parliament about how the British Isles should be governed. But they also had religious and social dimensions, and witnessed the creation of the first national standing army.

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The Battle of the Boyne, 1690

Nine Years War

Between 1689 and 1697, British soldiers joined a European alliance against French expansionism. At the same time, extensive fighting took place in Scotland and Ireland between the supporters of King William III and the deposed James II.

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King James II, c1685

The Glorious Revolution

The Army played an important role in the downfall of King James II and his replacement by William of Orange in 1688. This ‘Glorious Revolution’ restricted royal power and had a profound impact on the long-term future of the British Army.

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General Sir Thomas Fairfax, c1645

Thomas Fairfax: A man of honour

General Sir Thomas Fairfax was arguably the most important general of the British Civil Wars. As Commander-in-Chief of the New Model Army, he played a key role in defeating the Royalists.

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Oliver Cromwell, c1653

Oliver Cromwell: Lord Protector

Lieutenant-General Oliver Cromwell was a natural cavalry leader. He played a vital role in Parliament’s victories at the Battles of Marston Moor and Naseby, before leading successful campaigns in Ireland and Scotland.

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Parliamentarian soldiers at a tavern, c1645

The war on Christmas

In 1647, Christmas was almost cancelled as the Long Parliament and its army tried to banish all festivities that smacked against the sober Puritan values of the period.

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10th (Prince of Wales's Own) Royal Hussars, 1812

Cavalry roles

Soldiers who fought on horseback were known as cavalry. Often dominating the battlefield, they performed a variety of roles, from smashing enemy formations to scouting and reconnoitring.

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Edward Walker: Eyewitness to civil war

Edward Walker: Eyewitness to civil war

We explore the papers of Sir Edward Walker, Secretary of War to King Charles I, who was at the heart of the Royalist effort during the British Civil Wars.

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English pot helmet, 1640s

Battle of Naseby

Sir Thomas Fairfax led his troops to victory over King Charles I at the Battle of Naseby on 14 June 1645. His triumph won the First English Civil War (1642-46) for Parliament and ensured that monarchs would never again be supreme in British politics.

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Explore 1600s events

British Civil Wars: Technology and tactics
Secondary workshop

1 - 30 July 2020

FREE

British Civil Wars: Technology and tactics

Using our handling collection, explore Civil War battle tactics, weaponry and equipment to consider the experience of warfare in the 17th century, and the impact on civilians.

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Explore 1600s learning resources

British Civil Wars
Trail

KS3 (Age 11 to 14)

British Civil Wars

Follow this gallery trail to find out what it was really like to live through the British Civil Wars.

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