|Charles II in about 1651
a miniature by Samuel Cooper
The 21-year-old Charles was in grave danger of capture and death, but the weeks he spent on the run were a strongly formative experience, and after the Restoration he told the story frequently for the rest of his life. The hardships he endured gave him an intimate understanding of the common people like no other king had had. If he hadn't escaped, England’s history would likely have come out quite differently.
My second book, The September Queen, is the first fictional account of Jane Lane, who risked her life to help Charles, embarking on a perilous and romantic journey with the handsome young king disguised as her servant. The book will be released in the U.S. on November 1, and until then I’ll be blogging regularly about the daily events in Charles’s peregrinations.
|Plan of Worcester in 1651
On July 31, 1651, Charles set out from Stirling in Scotland with 3,000-4,000 cavalry and 7,000-9,000 footsoldiers, mostly of them Scottish highlanders. He crossed into England, hoping for a popular uprising of supporters, and on August 8 was proclaimed king at Penrith and Rokeby, but Carlisle failed to welcome him, and as he marched south his numbers dwindled as discouraged followers deserted.
|Charles in 1651, crowned as King of Scotalnd
|Half-timbered buildings in Worcester which would have
been there when Worcester was Charles's headquarters
|Bridge over the Severn, Worcester
|Wall on the riverside, Worcester
Harried by Cromwell’s forces following behind, after two weeks of rapid marches, on August 22 Charles and his exhausted men, many of them barefoot, limped into Worcester, where the mayor and sheriff proclaimed him King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland. He issued a general pardon for all who had fought against his father in the civil war, called for his subjects to join him to restore “the quiet, the liberty, and the laws of the English nation,” and rallied his followers in the riverside meadows near the cathedral.
|Alice on the river path near the cathedral, Worcester
On August 29, Cromwell’s army -- better equipped and supplied and vastly outnumbering Charles’s men -- arrived at Red Hill, a mile outside Worcester. Over the next few days there was some artillery barrage, but Cromwell made no move to attack the royalists within the city walls until September 3, the first anniversary of his victory at the Battle of Dunbar.
|The great hall in the Commandery,
Royalist headquarters in Worcester
|The Commandery from the street, the scene of desperate fighting
|Edgar Gate, one of the medieval gates in the city's walls
|Me on top of Worcester Cathedral,
looking south to where Cromwell's forces gathered
and the battle began
|The green area is the hilltop site of Fort Royal
view from Worcester Cathedral
|The Town Hall, Worcester
The streets near here saw some of the most bloody fighting
View north from atop Worcester Cathedral
|The house that was Charles's lodgings
|The street near the site of St. Martin's Gate
|The back entrance of Charles's lodgings, which allowed his escape
|"The King's House," Worcester. An 18th century view
of the building that was Charles's lodgings, from which he narrowly escaped
|View of Worcester Cathedral from the hill where Fort Royal stood
|Fort Royal - flower bed on site of gun emplacement
the hilltop fort saw brutal slaughter of Charles's men
|King's Arms at Ombersley, through which Charles passed escaping from Worcester
|Earl of Derby
he suggested Charles flee to Boscobel
|Boscobel and Whiteladies in 1660
|The ruins of Whiteladies in 1809
|Ruins of Whiteladies Priory in October 2009