Peter and Dan Snow take an in-depth look at the battles that shaped our nation using state-of-the-art graphics. They go back to 1645 and the Battle of Naseby.
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350 years ago a great battle was fought in the heart of Britain,
a battle that would shake the British monarchy to its core.
It would challenge forever
the belief that the King had a God-given right to rule
without the consent of his people.
Together with my son, Dan, I'll be revealing how the ferocious clash
that took place here revolutionised the way Britain was governed.
On one side - soldiers of the King,
on the other - men fighting for Parliament.
The first British army where talent meant more than breeding.
I'll be following the story of these ordinary men who were shaped into a new kind of fighting force.
Our officers are on the field because they are good soldiers,
not because they have been placed there by right of birth.
A man fights for his conscience, it's better than any King.
These English fields are seen as the birthplace of British democracy,
but it was a birth that was drenched in blood.
Bloodshed, right here,
in 1645, on the battlefield of Naseby.
In 1629, England was ruled by an uneasy alliance
between the King and Parliament.
But the alliance was reaching breaking point.
At the heart of the problem was a conflict about how much control
Parliament could or should have over the monarch.
The King, Charles I - a neat, elegant man -
believed he had been appointed by God
to rule as he saw fit,
that he had the Divine Right of Kings.
Charles had been at loggerheads with the Members of Parliament for years.
The Puritans amongst them disliked his marriage to a French Catholic
and his fondness for lavish religious ritual.
Others criticised his choice of political advisers
and his expensive wars in Europe.
By 1629, Charles was so sick of Parliament arguing with him
that he shut it down and ruled alone.
But this left Charles with a problem.
The King needed MPs to vote him the right to collect key taxes.
Without Parliament, Charles had to find other ways to get money out of his subjects.
Loopholes were found in ancient tax laws to squeeze as much cash out of the people as possible.
Taxpayers were outraged at this abuse and the sidelining of their Parliament.
Many regarded Charles as a tyrant.
We had nothing, we were bled dry.
He made demands that were unreasonable.
He believed only in his divine right to rule
and then he ignored the will of Parliament.
Charles ruled on his own for 11 years,
but in 1640 he found himself in need of serious money to finance a war.
Desperate for cash, he swallowed his pride
and turned to the people who could vote him the money - Parliament.
The MPs returned to London
and amongst them was one who would rise from obscurity
and become the King's most powerful enemy.
Oliver Cromwell was stocky, ruddy-faced
and famously he had warts.
He was hard-working Puritan gentry...
Call himself a gentleman, he didn't even look like a gentleman,
didn't sound like a gentleman. He's a farmer, nothing elegant about him.
He may only have been a farmer,
but now Cromwell and his fellow MPs had the King in their power.
They would give him the money he wanted but only if he agreed to radical reforms.
At first, Charles accepted their demands,
but his anger was growing with these upstart MPs,
then they insisted on a veto over his choice of political advisers.
This was a drastic challenge to his authority.
And the King refused to give in.
Over the next six months the crisis deepened.
No political compromise could be found,
and it seemed increasingly likely that the power struggle would erupt into a civil war.
On Monday 22nd August 1642,
King Charles raised the royal standard. This was a call to arms for his supporters.
The King of England had declared war on his Parliament.
As both sides began to raise armies,
difficult decisions had to be made up and down the country.
Which side would people support?
Should they back the King and join his cavaliers or support Parliament
and become known as a roundhead?
These decisions would set brother against brother and friend against friend.
Within weeks the country was thrown into brutal conflict.
When the civil war began,
both sides thought one great battle would decide it, but it didn't.
It went on and on.
There was the battle of Edge Hill, the battle of Turnham Green,
the battle of Hogden Heath,
Bristol Field, Sorton Down, Nantwich,
Adwarton Moor, Lansdown Hill,
Barston Moor and many others.
The problem was both sides maintained armies
strong enough to threaten each other but not to deal out the killer blow.
So the civil war dragged on.
Two years into the conflict, the situation was bleak.
'44, I'd say it was definitely one of the darkest periods of the war.
England was in a terrible state.
Families fighting families, brothers fighting brothers.
How Englishmen could do this to one another...
The country was weary.
In fact, after two years of warfare,
there was still no clear victor.
The war had divided the country in half, literally.
The Royalists had their capital here in Oxford and controlled the Midlands, the south-west and Wales.
Parliament had its capital here in London and controlled the south-east, East Anglia and the North.
Something had to happen to break this stalemate,
and in the autumn of 1644,
it looked as if that moment had come.
A crucial encounter took place near the Berkshire town of Newbury.
Here Parliament was handed a golden opportunity
to inflict a crushing defeat on the King once and for all.
It ordered three armies to join together to confront the Royalists.
The Parliamentarians would have Charles totally outnumbered.
At last, an end to the civil war was in sight.
On the evening of the 26th October 1644,
the two sides met face to face just north of Newbury,
not far from this castle at Donnington.
The castle was held by the Royalists,
commanded by the King in person.
Here's the castle here.
The Royalists also held strong defensive positions at Shaw House
and Speen Hill,
with a total of 9,000 cavalry and infantry.
The Parliamentarians were massed over here to the east, up on Clay Hill.
They had the King powerfully outnumbered,
19,000 men to the King's 9,000 -
an advantage of more than two to one.
It was the greatest numerical advantage Parliamentarians had enjoyed since the Civil War began.
The Royalists stationed around Shaw House were told to strengthen their defences and dig in.
400 Musketeers were placed in a dry moat around the house,
another 400 in the gardens there.
They may have been outnumbered,
but they'd been on a winning streak
and they were feeling confident.
During the last battle we had three positions,
we were dug in at Shaw House, we had the castle
and, all right, we were outnumbered,
but we had one thing - we weren't afraid.
Seeing that the Royalists held strong defensive positions,
the Parliamentarians, up here on Clay Hill, came up with a bold idea.
They would exploit their advantage in numbers by splitting their forces
and by attacking the Royalists from front and rear simultaneously.
Once night fell, two-thirds of the Parliamentarian army
would march off through the dark in a great arc,
which would take them round behind Donnington Castle
and put them here, in the rear of the Royalist line.
Once in position, they would fire a cannon as a signal
to those over here on the east side
to start a simultaneous attack on this sector, around Shaw House.
It was an ambitious and daring plan,
and among the Parliamentarian commanders in the outflanking party
was Oliver Cromwell, now a Lieutenant General in the Parliamentarian forces.
Before the war, Cromwell had never fought in a battle,
but after two years of conflict, he'd proved a gifted cavalry officer.
As night fell, Cromwell,
his cavalry and thousands more Parliamentarian soldiers,
set off on the long march.
When the troops marched off, half carried muskets weighing 7lb
and the other half were carrying these -
very cumbersome, very long spears called pikes.
They were about 16 to 18 foot long.
Given that I'm 6' 6" - about a foot taller than the average infantryman in the Civil War -
I'm finding it difficult to use. I don't know how they managed.
I've been marching for over an hour tonight,
but I probably managed a measly three miles, which is a fraction of what they had to.
The interesting thing about these
is that night marches must always have been tricky -
before GPS and infra-red night sights and stuff -
but with these it's lethal! I've hit trees about four times,
I've piled it into the ground several times almost killing myself, let alone the guys behind me.
Just the thought of a whole army of people walking down the road with these is terrifying.
My shoulder and neck are really stiff, really painful,
and I can see why they risked such punishment
by sawing the bottom two or three feet off their pikes.
The Parliamentarian soldiers marched through most of the night and into the following day.
By early afternoon the next day,
the Parliamentarians' great encircling movement was complete.
They had the King surrounded, and at three o'clock the commander of the troops over on this side
gave the order for his infantry to attack
and for a cannon to be fired as a signal to comrades over here.
The battle of Newbury had started.
As soon as they made their move,
those Parliamentarians came under a hail of cannon fire.
They pushed on and soon infantry was fighting infantry.
The Royalists put up an impressive defence.
The Parliamentarians hadn't expected it to be this difficult.
The Royalists should have been on the point of collapse, outnumbered and threatened from two sides,
but they weren't collapsing. Something was going wrong.
The Parliamentarians' plan had relied on a co-ordinated attack on two fronts.
But whilst the Parliamentarians here were in the thick of it,
the rest of their army over here on the east had still not made a move.
It was only after an hour of fighting that they finally received the command to attack.
The bold plan to trap the King in a simultaneous two-pronged assault had failed.
Soon it was too dark for anyone to see and the battle simply stopped.
What had seemed a golden opportunity for Parliament had been thrown away.
It was said their plan for a two-pronged attack failed
because the cannon signal hadn't been heard on the second front.
Possible, but there was a suspicion amongst some Parliamentarians,
Cromwell included, that the high command simply wasn't up to the job,
and in view of what happened later that night, he may have been right.
The Royalists had fought ferociously to hold off the Parliamentarians,
but knew they weren't up to another day.
So that night the entire Royalist army quit Newbury and headed off on the road to Oxford.
Thousands of them would have crossed this bridge in Donnington.
It was the obvious line of retreat, but no Parliamentarians blocked their path.
There was nothing to stop the Royalists escaping.
We got the order to withdraw
and they let us walk away.
They gave us no trouble,
much to my amazement.
The next day, Cromwell was desperate to give chase,
but to his fury his request for troops was refused.
Newbury had been a humiliating fiasco.
Cromwell blamed it on vacillating and incompetent leadership.
He was furious that such a perfect chance to end this destructive war had been squandered.
Cromwell was now convinced that if Parliament was to win the war
its army needed new commanders and a radical overhaul.
So he headed to Westminster to make this happen.
Throughout the rest of the winter, Cromwell worked to push two new laws through Parliament.
These laws would revolutionise Parliamentarian forces.
MPs passed one bill to create the country's first ever national army.
Out would go the loose network of local militias
and in would come a new force, centrally administered,
a slick co-ordinated organisation.
The second bill removed all members of the Commons and the Lords from military command.
Leadership would now be based on ability, not class.
The lessons of Newbury had been learned,
the so-called New Model Army was born.
Soon, equipment, uniforms and weapons were pouring in. There was a recruitment drive too.
Both old and new soldiers were freshly equipped.
There were thousands of new muskets, pikes, saddles and swords,
and for the first time a uniform coat, the same for all the infantry.
To keep costs down they went for the cheapest dye, red.
The New Model Army were the first redcoats.
Discipline was very strict. There was to be no swearing, no excess drinking and no plundering.
Any breach of the rules would be dealt with severely.
Should you blaspheme? You'll have a hot spike thrust in your tongue.
Also, if you were to call a fellow Parliamentarian a roundhead,
then you will be cashiered instantly upon the spot.
We are a professional fighting army.
The Royalists, those rogues, are ill-disciplined.
We will beat them in battle with discipline.
In the New Model Army, only two things counted to get to the top.
One was proven ability as a soldier, and the other commitment to Parliament's cause.
Social standing didn't really matter. For the first time ordinary men could become senior officers.
One man, Thomas Pryde, had been a drayman before the war.
Another, John Houston, had been a cobbler, and yet both these two
were now Lieutenant Colonels in the New Model Army.
Myself, I'm just a man of the land, a farmer.
My men are proud of me and I am proud of them and I am proud to lead them.
Oliver Cromwell was a driving force in designing the new army.
Early in the war he had created an outstanding regiment of horsemen known as the Ironsides.
They were now the core of the New Model Cavalry
and Cromwell made sure that the key principles, training and discipline,
that made the Ironsides so formidable,
were now applied to the entire New Model Army.
Cromwell made his horsemen train relentlessly to perfect the skills
of disciplined riding and effective use of weapons,
skills still practised for competitions by the army today.
He sliced that one in two, I reckon.
-Almost half and half.
The army riders have been doing this for years.
We've only got one day. ..What'll we be able to do by the end of the day?
Right. So I'll get you to sit on a broom handle,
and we'll put you on motorbikes because you don't ride,
so you'll ride as pillion, and get you attacking the target.
And then walk forward, simulation of being on the bike.
The momentum will take you forward, you'll come to the melon and stop.
-That's the easy bit.
-That's the easy bit. Now, see what we do when we get on the bike.
Time to trade our broom handles for the real thing.
-There you go, Peter.
-Take your swords.
-It's a sharp sword, this.
That's why we're careful and do the broom handles to start with,
-you don't want to damage the men.
-I'm feeling sorry for those melons, particularly mine.
OK, well, let me take that off you.
Let me take that sword off you, Peter.
How did you find that?
Er, good. At low speeds it's all right,
but when the speed comes up near a horse, that target just flashes by.
I don't know how you can hit it.
It becomes second nature. You just go straight into it.
That's training, day after day. Get the technical side sorted, so in a battle you're aggressive.
-So once again it's momentum that counts?
If you get the aim right, you'll make a real mess of the person you hit.
-Just hold that sword.
-Yeah. It's a very, very effective weapon.
From winter to spring 1645, the men of the New Model Army honed their skills.
Their commanders were determined that training and discipline
would make the New Model into a crack force to crush the Royalists.
But as the New Model Army began to take shape,
there was one notable absentee -
Oliver Cromwell himself.
The very law that Cromwell had promoted to improve the professionalism of the army,
the one that blocked MPs from holding command,
excluded him too from holding command.
The driving force behind this military revolution had to sit and watch from the sidelines.
I thought it was very foolish.
I mean, Cromwell was a man amongst men and we believed in him.
He had proven himself so many times on and off the field.
It was like we'd thrown away one of our greatest strengths.
Parliament appointed Sir Thomas Fairfax as overall commander of the new army.
Fairfax was a battle-hardened soldier, respected by his friends and enemies alike.
He took to the job with great energy.
Just as well, because with the arrival of Spring
the start of a new campaigning season was now very close.
Charles had spent the Winter in Oxford.
The city had been transformed since becoming the Royalist capital.
Teaching work at the university almost ground to a halt.
This beautiful cloister was the Royalist gunpowder store.
Imagine - one mistake with a match and it'd be blown to smithereens.
Students who had been learning their Plato and Aristotle
now used these quads as military training grounds.
As Winter turned to Spring, King Charles must have been aware
that Parliament was creating a new army.
But he didn't believe this demanded any changes on his side, except one.
He appointed his nephew, Prince Rupert,
as Lieutenant General in charge of all his forces in England.
Prince Rupert is a fearsome man of immense personal courage.
I felt that with Prince Rupert in overall command,
the next season's fighting would be successful.
The new commander was not the only thing Royalists felt they had in their favour.
Many also had a very low opinion of Parliament's so-called New Model Army.
I heard that one officer was nothing more than a brewer's drayman,
another a shoemaker.
With officers like these,
I feel very confident.
We didn't think we had any reason to feel scared.
The Parliamentarian commander, Fairfax, was confident too.
By the end of April the New Model Army was far better drilled, equipped and organised
than the army that had been humiliated at Newbury.
Now Fairfax wanted just one thing,
to find and defeat the King.
By early May, Charles and the Royalists were also on the march - heading North.
Everyone was in buoyant mood.
The King himself wrote to his wife that things had never looked so good.
Perhaps Charles was being over-confident because he'd just made an extraordinary decision.
Against the advice of his new commander, Prince Rupert, he divided his army.
He sent off 3,000 cavalry to the west country,
where he believed the New Model Army were heading.
And he and Prince Rupert had taken the rest of his army North
to relieve garrisons and gather reinforcements.
Little did he know Charles was within days of the battle that would decide his fate.
Charles, Rupert and the Royalist army arrived here in the town of Market Harborough in June 1645.
At this stage, they had no clear idea where the New Model Army was.
In fact, Fairfax and his Roundheads were hard on their heels -
they were just 15 miles away, and in very good cheer.
That same morning they'd had some excellent news.
At 6am, the New Model Army were preparing for the day ahead,
saddling their horses and packing up their kit, when they saw Oliver Cromwell galloping into camp.
The news spread fast. Parliament must have realised its mistake
in excluding one of its most talented and popular officers.
'Cromwell was now in charge of the New Model Cavalry, with the rank of Lieutenant General of Horse.
The men greeted his arrival with a huge cheer.
That was a beautiful sight. We believe now we have God on our side with the general,
and we must surely win.
The New Model Army was spoiling for a fight.
Soon, word reached the Royalists that the enemy was close by.
The moment he received the news, Charles called a council of war here in Market Harborough.
And the outcome - rather than march on north, they would turn around and confront the Parliamentarians.
Some, like Prince Rupert, had urged caution,
but Charles was convinced that he had an army of veterans who could see off the untested New Model Army.
In the next 24 hours, the most decisive battle of this protracted civil war would be played out,
and the battlefield? A hilly area between Market Harborough and Naseby, six miles to the south-west.
Early on the morning of Saturday 14th June, 1645,
at 6am, the Royalists moved South out of Market Harborough
and formed a battle line along that high ground about three miles away over there.
This is that ridge just here.
The King and Prince Rupert positioned their forces all the way along that ridge.
Now, this piece of high ground here, where I'm standing now,
is where Cromwell and Fairfax rode up to, to look at the lie of the land.
They'd moved their New Model Army up here, just slightly north of the village of Naseby,
which is just off down there.
They could clearly see the Royalists fanning out on that other ridge over there,
so they were in no doubt the King and his men wanted to do battle.
But there was one snag.
The trouble was, the New Model Army's position was too good, and actually made a battle less likely.
The slope in front of them was so steep it would be suicide for enemy cavalry to charge up it.
Fine for defence, but not if you wanted to provoke an attack,
and that was exactly what Cromwell wanted to do.
So he said to Fairfax, "I beseech you,
"draw back to yonder hill which will encourage the enemy to charge us."
And so they agreed to shunt their entire battle line sideways,
to some more gentle ground to the west.
The Royalists followed the lead,
also eager to bring the conflict to a head.
Both sides now began to assemble on either side of the valley
that was to become the battlefield of Naseby.
By 10am, the two armies had moved to their new positions -
the Royalists all along that slope over there, the Parliamentarians up there.
That Royalist ridge over there is just here.
The two sides were on opposite slopes facing each other, with 800 metres of flat ground between them.
The two battle lines were about a mile wide from end to end.
Estimates varied, but the king had roughly 4,500 infantry
in three lines in the centre.
The king himself, dressed in full plate armour,
was back here with his reserves in the third line.
On the flanks, the Royalists cavalry.
Around 10,000 Royalists altogether.
Against them, around 13,500 men of the New Model Army.
Their cavalry were also split into two wings.
Their right wing was commanded by Oliver Cromwell.
In the centre, here, were the infantry.
Neither side had a great battle plan. Both thought they would win in a straight contest, a head-on clash.
It was on strategy, the strength, courage and discipline that would decide the battle.
The New Model Infantrymen began to form up here, on this slope.
Then came an order from Fairfax - they were to move back over the crest of this hill,
so that the Royalist infantry over there wouldn't be able to see them.
This may have been to disguise their strength and their numbers,
but it also meant that any raw recruits amongst them
wouldn't be intimidated by the terrifying sight of their enemy.
Just before the battle began, Cromwell spotted another opportunity.
In those days, all this was open land except for long hedgerow here.
Cromwell saw that these hedges could provide perfect cover,
so he sent an attachment of dragoons - soldiers who travelled on horseback but fought on foot -
led by Colonel Oakey, up behind the hedges to a spot right up here,
yards away from where Prince Rupert's horsemen were preparing to advance.
We galloped there, which took the edge off my nerve
and, er, we positioned ourselves as we were told.
Oakey's men rode up here, dismounted, and then took cover behind these hedges.
From this vantage point, they could see the Royalist cavalry,
preparing for a charge. The dragoons loaded their weapons,
and through the hedge they unleashed a hail of musket fire.
Shots came from nowhere, and the horses just went,
had no choice.
Some of our men were hit.
We had to keep moving. The rebels were firing from behind hedges.
The battle of Naseby had begun.
Startled by the surprise attack, 2,500 horses of the Royalist cavalry
charged in waves, three men deep, swords drawn.
The left wing of the New Model Cavalry, facing them, moved forward to meet them.
They all seemed to move at once.
It sounded like thunder.
Swords drawn, charging off.
Then we were in the thick of it. It was all a blur,
you can't remember details - you just keep at it.
The Parliamentarian cavalry did well in the initial flash,
but as reserves piled in on both sides, the Royalists got the upper hand.
We were just too good for them. Swordplay, everything - too strong.
The rebels just turned and fled.
They turned and ran like cowards, and we chased them.
Most of the New Model Horsemen were chased off this battlefield by the Prince's cavalry.
In fact, some of them kept going and didn't stop till they reached Northampton, 15 miles away.
The Royalist cavalry galloped off in pursuit, until they discovered the Roundhead baggage train.
Unable to resist the temptation,
many of them didn't return to the battle, but got stuck in a tussle for booty.
Our charge was a complete success. It was an exhilarating time,
and then to be faced with all that plunder...
Well, I defy any man to ignore it.
The cavalry charge over there was a disaster for the Parliamentarians.
Half their supposedly disciplined force of horsemen had disappeared from the field altogether,
and by now the Royalist infantry had begun their advance straight up here.
They tramped forward in tight formation, five regiments in a line half a mile wide.
We got the order to advance, the drum sounded,
and we began to march to the beat.
Muskets loaded, ready to fire.
VOICE BARKS ORDERS
We moved up the hill,
and we still couldn't see them.
We knew they were there, we knew they weren't far away.
But we didn't know what we were going to walk into.
These men were hardened veterans, but they would have had dry mouths and pounding hearts.
It must have been unnerving, knowing the New Model Army
was ready and waiting, but just out of sight over the brow of the hill.
We were just behind a hill,
which meant the Royalists could not see us, but it also meant that we could not see the Royalists.
And we were all of us nervous, old hands and new recruits alike.
Suddenly, Parliamentarians moved to the crest of the hill into full view of the advancing Royalists.
They came into view over the slope and they were so close! We had no idea they were that close.
I looked down and there was the enemy, closer than I had imagined.
Both sides fired.
Up to half of the New Model Infantry were new recruits,
and when they found themselves face to face with the Royalists,
much of what they'd learnt in training seemed to melt away.
Many failed to grip their muskets tightly enough.
When they fired, the shot passed over the head of the Royalists.
After the initial round of fire, everything seemed to go silent for a moment.
It seemed like forever.
You lived those minutes like days,
but I hadn't been hit.
I thought, by God's hand, this day was my last.
But somehow, by His grace,
I was still standing.
With the gap between the two sides fast closing,
there was no time for reloading of muskets,
and so they fought hand to hand.
The musketeers grabbed their weapons by the barrels and used the butt to club people to the ground.
We went straight in there - turn your musket round and crack a few skulls.
The pikemen threw away their long pikes and lashed out with their swords instead.
There was a great roar from both sides
and I began to run without thinking.
All about was chaos.
A bloody mess.
Mud, screaming -
enough to turn a heathen to God, that's for sure.
After half an hour of this furious infantry battle,
so successful was Royalist pressure that parts of the Parliamentarian line were fragmenting.
Fairfax's regiment here was still standing its ground,
but to his left men were running for their lives.
The fiercest battle of all was fought by Skipman's regiment, here.
They fought valiantly. But eventually, they were pressed back.
Despite its new commanders, recruits and training,
the New Model Army's first line looked close to collapse.
Half our cavalry had left the field.
God knows where they went.
And our infantry were being hard-pressed.
It seemed to me that we were breaking.
As the Parliamentarian infantry fought for survival in the centre over there,
Oliver Cromwell and the rest of the Parliamentarian cavalry
were right here where I'm standing, looking on helplessly.
This is where Cromwell was, over here on Parliament's right wing.
Cromwell would have liked to come to the rescue of the infantry
to his left, over here, but he now had to deal with a bigger threat.
He and his horsemen had to face the rest of the king's cavalry about to attack him from this slope over here.
Prince Rupert's first cavalry charge over on the other side had destroyed the Parliamentarian left.
Now Parliament's centre was being beaten back as well.
So if Cromwell failed to fight off the King's cavalry
over here on the right, the battle of Naseby would be as good as lost.
The Royalist horsemen started to charge.
Cromwell ordered his men to charge to meet them.
The fate of Parliament's army now depended on Cromwell and his Ironsides.
The cavalry battle that followed was savage.
The Royalist horsemen fought hard,
but eventually the New Model Army's discipline and training began to pay off.
We rode in at their line and took them straight.
That was hard, that was hand to hand.
My men held their line, my men went through their line,
and this time it was them Royalists that turned and fled.
For the first time in the battle, Parliament had the edge.
Maybe the King could have regained the advantage now -
if he had introduced his reserve,
they MIGHT have overpowered the Ironsides and won the day. But he did not.
Soon, the Royalist cavalry were fleeing back over the hill there.
Suddenly, it was Cromwell and the New Model Army who had the golden opportunity.
As the Royalist cavalry turned and galloped off in utter confusion,
Cromwell allowed only part of his force to chase them away.
With the cool judgment that Prince Rupert had lacked,
Cromwell held back most of his cavalry,
wheeled them to the left and fell upon the Royalist infantry in the centre.
We turned our men on horse and we went back to their infantry.
That was exciting. That was exhilarating, we were proud.
And it seemed then that with God on our side we would surely have victory.
Cromwell's cavalry had turned the battle in Parliament's favour.
Now the Royalist infantry were at their mercy.
What really went wrong for us?
As the Roundhead cavalry, we were in no shape to defend ourselves.
There's nothing you can do against the horses, kicking and slashing through with their swords,
and men were falling like flies.
To make matters worse, the Parliamentarian infantry,
who had seemed to be on the brink of collapse, were now strengthened.
Some of these reinforcements were from the reserves.
Others were men who had fled from the battle
but were now being sent back into the fray by their commanders.
Those men whose firing had started the whole battle, Colonel Oakey's dragoons,
were so inspired by what they saw, they came out from behind the hedges and charged.
Dragoons - well, we'd never done cavalry charges before.
We was all fired up,
we all wanted to be part of it,
and so we did. We rode and we fought.
And it wasn't long before the combined Parliamentarian pressure
of the reinvigorated infantry in the centre,
Cromwell's rampaging horsemen over here on the right,
and the daredevil dragoons coming in on the left
began to break the Royalists' line and turn the king's infantry regiments into flight.
All except one, just here.
Not all regiments broke.
One regiment stood -
They were there at the storming of Bolton and Liverpool,
and at York.
They were notorious.
There was only the Bluecoats left -
one regiment against the whole rebel army.
As other troops surrendered or fled, the Bluecoats stood firm.
They were like a wall of brass,
thrusting their pikes at attacking horses and firing volley after volley.
The New Model Cavalry charged once and then again, but to no avail.
The Bluecoats held their ground.
The odds were massively against them, but the Bluecoats refused to surrender.
More and more New Model Army troops set upon them with sword, pike and musket butts.
The cavalry hammered them from front and rear.
I could see them - they were standing strong and they held on and they held on
and they were withstanding wave upon wave of attack.
I knew they couldn't last forever.
But as they held on and held on, I began to think that they might.
But the New Model Army relentlessly pursued its assault,
pouring fire into the ranks of blue.
Faced with overwhelming force, the Bluecoats finally broke, and they were cut to pieces.
We stood and watched them all being slaughtered.
And I cried.
The Royalists were in retreat.
But then Charles, who seems to have been strangely inert throughout the battle, had a sudden burst of zeal.
Even though he MUST have known the battle was now certainly lost,
surveying the scene here before him,
Charles tried to rally men for one final cavalry charge against the pursuing enemy.
But someone, described by the council at the time as a person of quality,
seized the King's bridle,
swore at him and exclaimed, "Would you go upon your death?"
Charles, always swayed by the last person to speak to him,
heeded the warning, and fled.
The King may have escaped but his men weren't so lucky.
A group thought they were on the main road, but when they got here,
they realised it was a dead end.
When the Roundheads caught up with them, there was carnage.
This field is still known today as Slaughterford Field.
But wherever the Royalists ended up, they fared little better.
Thousands were taken prisoner.
The Royalist army was cut down at its knees, and with it went the Royalist cause.
Naseby was not the last battle of the Civil War, but it was the beginning of the end.
The destruction of Charles' infantry on this battlefield was decisive.
The King would never lead such an experienced army again.
Don't know what the future holds.
I never thought we... would be defeated like this.
Why do they want a country without a king?
What would that be like?
I hope the King sees reason now. He listens to the will of Parliament.
That is my hope,
I think it might be too late for that.
The King did not make peace with Parliament.
He tried to fight on, but it was futile.
Within a year, Parliament had triumphed and Charles was a prisoner.
In 1649, he was tried for treason here, in Westminster Hall,
condemned to death and beheaded.
The country became a republic, with Oliver Cromwell as its head of state.
The monarchy was eventually restored, but the Civil War had changed Britain forever.
Parliament had entrenched itself at the heart of the constitution.
King Charles I had aimed at absolute power.
After Naseby, no other British monarch would dare do that again.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Peter and Dan Snow go back 350 years to tell the story of a battle that shook the British royal family to its core. It was the turning point in a civil war that had ripped the country apart for three long years. With the aid state-of-the-art graphics, father and son reveal the crucial moments of a battle that is seen by many as the starting point of British democracy.
Dan Snow experiences at first hand what it would have been like for the ordinary foot-soldiers as they struggled with cumbersome pikes and Peter joins his son on the back of a motorbike, where they try their skills with a sword in a simulated cavalry charge.