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July in the 17th century

July - a month of decisive battles, of rebellions that fail and ‘revolutions’ that succeed .

In this month probably the first blood is spilled in the Civil War and both its largest battle and the final battle of the first Civil War are fought. In the latter part of the 17th century July sees the defeat of a rebellion and a ‘glorious revolution’.

1602 - 14th July. Giulio (Jules)Mazarin, an Italian but future French cardinal and French 1st Minister is born. His diplomacy will establish France as the main power in Europe.

1603 - 17thJuly. Sir Walter Raleigh is arrested for treason. King James I suspends his death sentence, locking him up in the Tower of London for 13 years, during which time he writes his "History of the World."

1606 - 15th July. Famous painter Rembrandt is born in Leiden, Netherlands.

1607- 7th July. "God Save the King" is possibly first sung for the first time at a private dinner for James I at Merchant Tailors Hall in London.

1608 - 3rdJuly. The city of Quebec in what is now Canada is founded as a trading post by Samuel de Champlain.

1609 - 10th July. With Europe fracturing along religious lines, the Catholic states in Germany set up a league under the leadership of Maximillian of Bavaria as a counter-balance to the Protestant Union. The stage is being set for the Thirty Years War.

1610 - 18th July. Artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio dies at age 38.

1616 - 29th July. Considered to be their greatest playwright and described as the ‘Shakespeare of the Orient’ Chinese playwright Tang Xianzu dies. His major plays are collectively called the Four Dreams.

1620 - 22nd July. The Speedwell sails to England from the Netherlands with members of the English Separatist congregation that had been living in Leiden, Holland. Joining the larger Mayflower at Southampton, the two ships will set sail together in August for the New World. The Speedwell will prove unseaworthy and be abandoned at Plymouth, England. The entire company then crowd aboard the Mayflower, setting sail for North America on September 16, 1620.

1625 - 2nd July. The Spanish army take Breda after nearly a year of siege. Arguably one of their high points in the Eighty Years War against the Dutch, who are fighting for their independence from Spanish control.

1626 - 30th July. Estimates of up to 70,000 people are killed by an earthquake and the tsunami it causes in Spanish ruled Naples and the surrounding area.

1627 - 10th July. An English fleet under George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham reaches La Rochelle, France, occupying the island of Re which commands the sea approach to the town. His mission is to incite this French Huguenot stronghold to rebel. Whilst successful in doing so, unfortunately, this campaign and those that followed over a two-year period, fail due to lack of money and support, disease and heavy casualties. This failure, along with other ‘foreign policy’, undermines Charles’s position at home.

1630 - 12th July. New Amsterdam's governor buys Gull Island from Indians for cargo and renames it Oyster Island. It later becomes Ellis Island.


The Fleet declares for Parliament and accepts the Earl of Warwick as its commander.

Charles appoints his general officers, with himself as Captain-General:

• Earl of Lindsay - General of the Army

• Sir Jacob Astley - Major-General of the Foote

• Prince Rupert, his nephew - General of the Horse

Parliament appoints the Earl of Essex as its Captain-General.

Parliament creates the Committee of Safety, comprising of 5 peers and 10 commoners, to oversee the defence of the kingdom.

Possibly the first blood of the Civil Wars is spilled in a skirmish in Manchester.

Towns and counties start to choose sides. As one example, the MP for Cambridge moves that two volunteer Regiments should be raised by the town - this MP will be made famous by the Civil War; his name is Oliver Cromwell. At Moorfields in London, 10,000 volunteers muster for the Parliament Army.

In an early blow to the Royalist cause the strategic town of Hull, with its important arsenal of weapons and munitions, is held for Parliament, in spite of a plot for its surrender, and the embryonic Royalist Army is driven off.


Royalist victory at the Battle of Lansdown near Bath in Somerset. The day after the battle an exploding gunpower card temporarily blinds and paralyses the Royalist Commander Sir Ralph Hopton and mortally wounds one of his senior officers. This incident and desertions leave the victorious Royalists more demoralised than their defeated opponents, leading to their retreat and the initiative passing to the Parliament forces.

However, just eight days later the Royalist Army, now reinforced, delivers a crushing defeat on the Parliament Army at the Battle of Roundway Down. The way is now open for the Royalists to subdue the West Country.

A probing attack on Royalist held Chester gains little and Parliament forces retire.

Royalist forces under Prince Rupert storm and take Bristol.

Parliament forces under Oliver Cromwell defeat the Royalists at the Battle of Gainsborough. Th town is however re-taken by superior Royalist forces within days.

Despite his defeat at Roundway Down Sir William Waller receives a hero’s welcome in London and a new army is raised for him to command.

Parliament representatives are order to Scotland to establish a treaty to bring them into the war on the Parliament side. A year later this will have a decisive impact on the outcome at Marston War and the war.


Marston Moor, outside York, is the largest battle of the English Civil War and one of the largest fought on English soil. It ends in victory for the allied Parliament and Scot’s Covenanter Army. In the aftermath York surrenders to Parliament and with defeat goes the Royalists command of the North. Among the approximately 4,000 casualties are two relatives of the leading Parliamentarian commanders - Oliver Cromwell’s nephew and Sir Thomas Fairfax’s brother. On the Royalist side, William Gascoigne, inventor of the micrometer screw and telescopic sight, is killed.

In the West Country, Lyme Regis is relieved by Parliament forces and another Parliamentary force bolsters the defence of Taunton.

Parliament forces under the Earl of Essex, accompanied by Lord John Robartes and including his Regiment, enter Cornwall intent on, securing control of the county and relieving Plymouth.


Just under a month after defeating the King at Naseby Parliament’s New Model Army under Fairfax and Cromwell defeat the last Royalist field Army at the Battle of Langport near Yeovil in Somerset.

The tide of the war has turned decisively in favour of Parliament. Further nails in the coffin of the Royalist cause are the fall of Bridgwater, with it stocks of vital suppliers and munitions, and the surrender of Pontefract Castle.

The only glimmer of hope is in Scotland where Montrose’s victory over Covenanter forces at the Battle of Alford leave the way open for him to move into the south of the country.


The Newcastle Propositions are drawn up by Parliament as the basis for a treaty with the defeated King, Charles I. They are rejected by him.


Pembroke Castle surrenders to Oliver Cromwell. In a bizarre twist in what was one of the Royalist uprisings in the third Civil War, the troops in Pembroke Castle included disenchanted Parliamentary soldiers, fighting alongside Royalists rebels.

1653 - 4th July. The Barebones Parliament sits. Filled entirely with nominees by Oliver Cromwell and the Army Council, it will be final attempt at finding a stable formula for governing the country before with its failure Cromwell becomes Lord Protector. The nominee to represent the City of London is Praise-God Barebone, a London leather seller, preacher and Fifth Monarchist - this Parliament will be named after him.

1667 - 21st July. The Peace of Breda ends the Second Anglo-Dutch War. Under the terms England gains New Netherland, which later become the colonies of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.

1685 - 6th July. James II defeated James, the Duke of Monmouth, at the Battle of Sedgemoor, the last major battle to be fought on English soil.

1685 - 15thJuly. The Duke of Monmouth, illegitimate son of Charles II, is executed on Tower Hill in England, after his army was defeated at Sedgemoor by his uncle King James II.

1687 - 5th July. The first volume of Isaac Newton's "Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy" is published in Latin by Edmund Halley. In this Newton states his laws of motion, including the well quoted ‘To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction’.

1689 - 27th July. Government forces defeated the Scottish Jacobites at the Battle of Killiecrankie.

1690 - 1st July. England's Protestant King William III is victorious over his father-in-law, the Catholic King James II at the Battle of Boyne in Ireland. Due to calendar changes in 1752 this later becomes commemorated on July 12th.

1690 - 12th July. Due to British change to the Gregorian calendar in 1752, the July 1, 1690, Battle of Boyne (in Ireland) was adjusted for celebration on July 12.

1691 - 12th July. William III defeats the allied Irish and French armies at the Battle of Aughrim, Ireland.

1694 - 27th July. The Bank of England receives a royal charter as a commercial institution. It had been set up by William III in the midst of a war against France to raise finances to fund the war.

1698 - 14th July. The first Company of Scotland expedition of five ships sets sail from the east coast port of Leith with around 1,200 people on board. This fleet will make landfall off the coast of Darien in Panama on 2 November. The settlers christen their new home "New Caledonia."

1699 - 6th July. Pirate Captain William Kidd is captured in Boston. This Scottish born pirate will be executed.

1712 - 12th July. Richard Cromwell son of Oliver Cromwell and Lord Protector for year after his father’s death, dies.