English Civil War

Anglo-Scottish War
©Angus McBride
1650 Jul 22 - 1652

Anglo-Scottish War

Scotland, UK

The Anglo-Scottish war (1650–1652), also known as the Third Civil War, was the final conflict in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists.

The 1650 English invasion was a pre-emptive military incursion by the English Commonwealth's New Model Army, intended to allay the risk of Charles II invading England with a Scottish army. The First and Second English Civil Wars, in which English Royalists, loyal to Charles I, fought Parliamentarians for control of the country, took place between 1642 and 1648. When the Royalists were defeated for the second time the English government, exasperated by Charles's duplicity during negotiations, had him executed on 30 January 1649. Charles I was also, separately, the king of Scotland, which was then an independent nation. The Scots fought in support of the Parliamentarians in the First Civil War, but sent an army in support of the king into England during the Second. The Parliament of Scotland, which had not been consulted before the execution, declared his son, Charles II, King of Britain.

In 1650 Scotland was rapidly raising an army. The leaders of the English Commonwealth government felt threatened and on 22 July the New Model Army under Oliver Cromwell invaded Scotland. The Scots, commanded by David Leslie, retreated to Edinburgh and refused battle. After a month of manoeuvring, Cromwell unexpectedly led the English army out of Dunbar in a night attack on 3 September and heavily defeated the Scots. The survivors abandoned Edinburgh and withdrew to the strategic bottleneck of Stirling. The English secured their hold over southern Scotland, but were unable to advance past Stirling. On 17 July 1651 the English crossed the Firth of Forth in specially constructed boats and defeated the Scots at the Battle of Inverkeithing on 20 July. This cut off the Scottish army at Stirling from its sources of supply and reinforcements.

Charles II, believing that the only alternative was surrender, invaded England in August. Cromwell pursued, few Englishmen rallied to the Royalist cause and the English raised a large army. Cromwell brought the badly outnumbered Scots to battle at Worcester on 3 September and completely defeated them, marking the end of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. Charles was one of the few to escape. This demonstration that the English were willing to fight to defend the republic and capable of doing so effectively strengthened the position of the new English government. The defeated Scottish government was dissolved and the kingdom of Scotland was absorbed into the Commonwealth. Following much in-fighting Cromwell ruled as Lord Protector. After his death, further in-fighting resulted in Charles being crowned King of England on 23 April 1661, twelve years after being crowned by the Scots. This completed the Stuart Restoration.