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Under siege... Merseyside Tales.

Byline: Stephen Guy

THE Civil War saw the King pitched against Parliament in a fight to the death over two conflicting philosophies - a monarch chosen by God and a Government elected by the people.

Liverpool, as a strategically important port on the Irish Sea, was the scene of bitter fighting and suffered three sieges in 18 months.

Charles I believed in the Divine Right of Kings and tried to rule without Parliament which was dominated by the Puritans.

Their brand of austere Christianity was despised by most of the aristocracy who made up the Royalist faction. The Puritans - dubbed Roundheads - wore simple clothing contrasting with the flamboyant fashions of the Royalist Cavaliers.

The first siege took place in May 1643 when the Royalists fought for two days before capitulating to the Roundheads.

Local grandee Colonel John Moore held Liverpool as governor for Parliament. The King sent his dashing nephew Prince Rupert to recapture the port in the second siege in June 1644.

The haughty prince pitched camp in Everton overlooking his target. He used a humble hovel as his headquarters - it was forever afterwards known as Prince Rupert's Cottage.

His army had carried out a massacre in Bolton and Rupert's arrival struck terror into the people of Liverpool. Many women and children were ferried across the Mersey to Storeton, Wirral, where they were guarded by the Roundheads.

About 400 people died in the hand-to-hand fighting as Rupert's soldiers fought their way into Liverpool to successfully retake the heavily fortified town. John Moore fled by sailing up the Lancashire coast.

A 19th century artist showed Rupert's siege under way with plumes of smoke billowing over the port dominated by its ancient castle. Ships lie at anchor on the river and in the Pool.

Sir Robert Byron was holding Liverpool for the Royalists when the third siege began in September 1644. A Roundhead force led by Sir John Meldrum bombarded the town for two months.

Finally, the Royalist defenders had enough and mutinied before deserting to Sir John. Liverpool was in Roundhead hands for the rest of the war.

Moore returned as governor but was criticised for fleeing - it was said he wanted to save his extensive property in the town including his residence, Bank Hall. He was replaced as governor by hardliner Lt Col John Ashurst in May 1645.

The port took on a new significance as an important embarkation point for troops sailing to Ireland where the bloody fighting continued into the early 1650s.

Roundhead leader Oliver Cromwell had a string of successes and won the war - Charles I was beheaded. England was a republic until the restoration of the monarchy in 1660.

. ? Stephen Guy is a director of the historic Lowlands West Derby Community Centre. Details at www.lowlands.org.uk or 0151 226 5352.

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ILLUSTRATION: A drawing of Liverpool at the time it was besieged
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Oct 6, 2012
Words:479
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