The Battle of Naseby took place on June 14, 1645, during the English Civil Wars. This battle between the Parliament, led by Oliver Cromwell and Sir Thomas Fairfax, and the Royalists, led by Prince Rupert of the Palatinate, tipped the balance against the King. The Parliamentary New Model Army had been pursuing the Royalists, who had left Oxford and stormed Leicester on May 30. A mile north of Naseby (about 20 miles or 32 km south of Leicester) the two armies met. Although outnumbered 14,000 to nearly 10,000, they attacked all along the line that the two armies were deployed along (along parallel ridges between which lay a valley known as Broad Moor). Prince Rupert successfully drove back the left wing of the Parliamentary cavalry and pursued them, leaving the center line of the royalist infantry vulnerable. When the more disciplined Parliamentary cavalry regrouped and delivered a decisive assault, the Royalist army suffered a complete defeat, losing 4000 prisoners and their artillery. With the loss of his best infantry regiments at Naseby, King Charles I, who could no longer meet the New Model Army in open battle, had effectively lost the war. It is estimated that 23,000 men and 15,000 horses were involved in the battle, and 5,000 soldiers were killed. (Information from Britannica Online and History Today, v.39)

Carlyle refers to the Battle of Naseby twice in "Hudson's Statue," first reference in the opening paragraph, "in Country Papers I have read emphatic heading-articles, recommending and urging that there should be a "People's Statue" of this great Oliver, — Statue furnished by universal contribution from the English People; and set up, if possible, in London, in Huntingdon, or failing both these places, in St. Ives, or Naseby Field." He refers to Oliver Cromwell's victory at Naseby Field, the locale of the Battle of Naseby. He refers to the Battle of Naseby for the second time, when referring to possible "attainments," like "new Battles of Naseby." He refers to the Battle of Naseby as the culmination of political disputes between the Parliament and the King, and new Battles of Naseby as new huge shifts, comparable to "Reformed Parliament, People's League, Hume-Cobden agitation, tremendous cheers, ... , French Revolution, and the Horrors of French Revolution."

Carlyle's later visits to Naseby Field

Shortly before his death in June 1842, Thomas Arnold, the great Rugby headmaster, liberal churchman, and Professor of history at Oxford, described to his dinner guests "with much interest, his recent visit to Naseby with Carlyle, " its position on some of the highest table land in England, — the streams falling on the one side into the Atlantic, on the other into the German Ocean, — far away, too, from any town, — Market Harborough, the nearest, into which the caviliers were chased, late in the long summer evening, on the fourteenth of June, you know" (II, 332). — GPL


Stanley, Arthur Penrhyn. The life and correspondence of Thomas Arnold, D.D., late head-master of Rugby school, and regius professor of modern history in the University of Oxford. 4th ed. 2 vols. London: B. Fellowes, 1845.

Last modified 14 August 2006