Tuesday 23 July 2013

Newark - 17th century town walls

Behind the walkway was the main ditch. Continental standards insisted this should be 20 feet deep and 50 feet wide, but again such huge dimensions were rare in England. The purpose of the ditch was to stop attacking infantry from penetrating any further. The outer face of the ditch was steep, but the inner face was vertical. On the continent this was faced by stone, carefully cut to offer no handholds or other grips to help an attacker climb it. In England the inner face of the ditch was more likely to be of wooden planks that held the earth back as much as made climbing difficult. Where this vertical wall reached the level of the outer bank it sloped back suddenly at an angle of 40 degrees. Like the slope on the outer bank this was designed to deflect incoming shot.
This main wall was built of stone, timber or earth and was thick enough to absorb the impact of cannonballs. Behind a parapet the main defensive artillery were located. Few fortresses in England had enough cannon to line the entire walls. Instead they were moved to what looked like a threatened spot and the other sections were manned by musketeers and had numerous lookouts to guard against a surprise assault. The earth spoil from the main ditch piled up here to provide platforms for the artillery.

from "The Sieges of Newark" by Rupert Matthewes.
Buy your copy HERE

A book dedicated to the four sieges of Newark during the English Civil War, the last of which marked the collapse of Royalist power in the Midlands. In 1642 King Charles I summoned Newark to support him, which it did with men, money and munitions. The city and castle where thereafter a loyal bastion of Royalist support on the edge of Parliamentarian territory. A roundhead attackin 1643 was driven off, as was a desultory siege in 1644. In 1645 the Roundheads arrived in large numbers, with heavy cannon and great determination. The Royalist garrison fougth back with imagination and courage, turning this into a text book example of 17th century seigework. After seven months garrison surrendered, ending Royalist hopes in this area of England. This book follows the standard pattern set by others in the Bretwalda Battles series. The reasons for and course of the war in question are outlined, then detailed analyses of weapons, tactics and strategies are given with particular reference to this battle. The course of the battleis then followed, with comment on what there is to see at the site today. Short biographies of the commanders are also given. The aftermath of the battle, its effects and importance to the progress of the war are then described. The "Bretwalda Battles" series has been running with increasing success as ebooks for some time. Now the first books in the series are being published in print format.

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