chapter  18
10 Pages

The last stand

By December 1645 it had become obvious to most observers that the King was losing the war in England. In Scotland too his adherents were now defeated. There remained Ireland, the one kingdom where Parliament and its allies had made little progress. The Royalist Ormonde held Leinster, while the interior was controlled by the Catholic rebels, officially neutral in the struggle between King and Parliament. If Charles could persuade them to enter the war on his behalf, their thousands of experienced, fanatical warriors could reverse the decision in England. To this end he had appointed their co-religionist Lord Herbert a special emissary to them in March 1645. By the end of the year these negotiations seemed about to succeed and an Irish army was reported ready to cross to Chester and North Wales.1* To receive it, Charles needed to maintain his existing garrisons there, and in the WestMidlands, to provide the bridgehead for its campaign.