In the second to final lecture, a familiar date seemed to be popping up quite a bit: September 3rd. I found it interesting that within a 45 minute lecture covering the Glorious Revolution, September 3rd appeared at least three times. With my curiosity heightened, I decided to delve into the history of September 3rd in British history as a whole.
In 1189 on September 3rd, Richard the Lionhearted was crowned in Westminster.
On September 3rd, 1650, the Battle of Dunbar was fought during the Third Civil War between England and Scotland. This battle was the meeting of the Scottish Convenanters under David Leslie, and the English Parliamentarians under Oliver Cromwell. Leading up to the battle, Cromwell was leading an exhausted English military back to their supply camp located at Dunbar. The Scottish leader Leslie thought that they were retreating, and decided to follow them back to their supply base, effectively blocking any path back that Cromwell could take. Cromwell was stuck, but he was also sneaky. Under the cover of night, Cromwell enlisted and relaunched a large deployment of troops set up on the Scottish right flank while their enemies slept. Then as dawn broke on September 3rd, Oliver Cromwell led a frontal charge of the Scottish camp with his forces, and as anticipated when the Scottish tried to flee, Cromwell’s placed troops were able to seize and destroy the retreating Scots. The battle is considered a decisive victory for the English Parliamentarians, and Cromwell’s forward thinking and strategy is most likely the reason.
September 3rd, 1651: Oliver Cromwell returns with the Battle of Worcester in order to crush the English royalists. In this battle, the English Civil War comes to an end. This final battle pins church versus state in one final meeting between Cromwell and King Charles II’s forces. King Charles II was counting on royalist support from Scotland to help him secure the throne his father had been forcibly removed from. David Leslie, Scottish commander at Dunbar, agreed to support King Charles II with any fighting in Scotland, but then the King chose to bring the battle back to England. Cromwell and the Parliamentarians secured a decisive victory over King Charles II and his supporters with the implementation of the “New Model Army”. Cromwell boasted numbers of over 28,000 troops on his side, while King Charles II had less than 16,000. The numbers were devastating for King Charles II. He is thought to have lost over 10,000 troops, while Cromwell’s side is believed to have lost closer to 200 men. As can be inferred, Charles’ forces were dismembered. Cromwell took many people prisoner, but the elusive King Charles II escaped with his life, and finding an oak tree to hide out in, which gave birth to a national holiday, and provided the namesake for many modern English pubs.
September 3rd, 1658: The trilogy of Cromwell’s and September 3rd’s in British history is complete on this day that Richard Cromwell succeeded his father as Lord Protector of the commonwealth. Richard Cromwell was given enormously big shoes to fill, and unfortunately, he was unable to handle the office with the same power and finesse as his father. Richard had hardly any military experience, leaving him with the question of controlling the New Model Army, and he was unaware of how to approach the financial regime. This led to him being unable to assert his control and drive the army and people forward.
The correlation between Oliver Cromwell’s achievements and life events and the 3rd of September is interesting to say the least. One of his first major military campaigns in Dunbar showed him for the master of strategy that he was. And then a year later, this was confirmed again as he drew on his forces, and newly implemented New Model Army in order to overthrow King Charles II and become Lord Protector of England. Then finally, Oliver Cromwell’s impact on Britain ended with his death on September 3rd, 1658.
- Cary, Henry, ed. (1842). “Battle of Worcester”. Great Britain History Civil War, 1642-1649 Sources. pp. 353–360.. Edited copies of primary sources from the Bodleian Library.
- Dunbar Martyrs Campaign (2009). “The Dunbar Martyrs”. Dunbar Martyrs site. Archived from the original on 20 April 2009.