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Introduction

As the campaigning season of 1643 opened, Charles must have been pleased with the work of his local supporters in erecting garrisons to protect his territory and providing the financial support for them. Something was still missing, however, in most Royalist areas; a controlling hand capable of drawing upon the resources of several counties to provide a strong enough force to defend all of them, and of co-ordinating military administration and solving its problems over a comparably wide area. In Oxfordshire and adjacent counties such control was provided by the royal Council of War, a mixed body of soldiers and civilians which dealt with problems arising from the quartering of the royal army in this area.1* In the North it was represented by the Earl of Newcastle, based at York with the title of Lieutenant-General of the six northern counties and a formidable army, to which the Catholic community of the northeast, forseeing a grim future at the mercy of Parliament’s extreme Protestantism, had contributed considerable support.2 Lancashire, though nominally within Newcastle’s command, was in fact controlled by its own Commander-in-Chief, the Earl of Derby. In late winter he had strengthened his position by raising a regular army, again with great assistance from the local Catholics.3 In Royalist Wales, the Marches and the West, however, such figures were missing.