Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by dontfearme22, Oct 23, 2017.
Is that Welsh? What kind of shenanigen would happen to those sheep-shagger?
interesting to see if cornwall and wales share a similar fate here, OTL Cornwall resisted protestantism heavily because scriptures were not translated into cornish and they felt it an imposition of english, I'm guessing Wales of this TL will look a bit like the OTL Prayer book rebellion.
Right on the money. In this timeline, England is even more aggressively Protestant and that Protestantism is going along with a rise in English nationalism. Just as in OTL, English attempts at forcing unified English-centric practices over a multicultural Empire are running into serious resistance. ATL it is happening tenfold. In Wales as you will eventually see, war was actually not inevitable, but sparked by a series of violent episodes that forced a larger movement. I would compare it to the 1916 Easter Rising really. It was the reaction to a small, isolated uprising that sparks the larger one.
Much of the cause for rebellion is much deeper than specific events, going to longterm economic, social, and religious trends that I will also be talking about. My view of history is that individual events are but the snapping of larger macro-trends, like earthquakes along a fault line.
Events along the 'Celtic Fringe' in this timeline end up being the place where all the tensions that OTL led to the English Civil War, instead funnel towards. Wales suffers so England survives in peace ATL. But its okay who cares about wales anyways ;_;
So, is Wales Catholic ITTL?
Parts of it are. Like OTL Catholicism survives in some rural enclaves like the far North. But even ITTL it is primarily Protestant, if much less enthusiastic than the English. There is also a Welsh bible, despite this timeline having greater Anti-Celtic sentiments in England. Attempts to persecute native Welsh culture (much of it as a percieved war on 'popery' against the less evangelical Welsh peasantry) run rampant.
The Welsh Rising of 1621
The Gentleman Humphrey Tanner, anonymous portrait, c. 1617
Gwell angeu na chywilydd ("Better Dead than Shame!")
- Welsh war cry recorded at the Battle of Hawarden
Spoiler: Map of the Great Rising
Wales has always been a rugged land that fosters an insular culture resistant to outside forces. It was the stronghold of Celtic culture during both Roman, and Saxon invasion. For centuries, Welsh was a byword for foreigner among the English, the word itself derived from an ancient Germanic term for “stranger”. The Welsh call themselves the Cymry, from the word for “countrymen”. Ever since the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons during the collapse of Roman Britain, Wales has been defined foremost by its conflict, and coexistence, with these newcomers. The Normans aggressively pursued conquest in Wales to stiff resistance. The border region between England and native Welsh lands became ruled by independent, fractious, Norman lords. It became known as the Welsh Marches and defined a key characteristic of the medieval relationship between the English crown and the Welsh: the English would try to assert their authority over the region through local intermediaries - equal parts antagonistic to their subjects and blending with them. A successful English campaign in 1283 ended the last independent Welsh kingdoms but did little to stop the now infamous Welsh rebelliousness. Constant rebellions and lawlessness in the region eventually pushed the English crown to integrate Wales fully into the kingdom, which it did with the Laws in Wales Acts of 1535 and 1542, passed by Henry VIII. These extended English rule over all of Wales. They paved the way towards the full integration of Wales into England.
Britain in the 17th century
Centuries of English rule had integrated Wales into the larger kingdom, but much of Welsh society remained firmly rooted outside English control. The economy was largely agrarian, but with some developing industry to export meat and wool. Trade along the coast sustained a healthy seafaring economy. Most of the population, 70 – 80% still engaged in agriculture. As the English economy was beginning to develop more robust service and industry sectors, the Welsh economy remained close to a more stereotypically medieval one. This economy was held at the top by landed gentry who cultivated their wealth through increasingly sprawling estates. Craftsmen, educated figures and yeomen were forming a growing part of society at the same time the rural poor were being forced more and more into landlessness. These rural poor remained profoundly Welsh in culture, speech, and lifestyle. Like Ireland and Scotland, a ruling class of often distant estate-holding nobility of mixed native and Anglo roots supervised a large Celtic population. This is not to say that Wales was a state living in oppression, though certainly the Welsh were not masters in their land as they once were. Wales experienced slow economic growth brought on by a general peace, and its integration into the more prosperous kingdom of England eventually brought all that empires colonial riches to those who had access. Wales was characterized by rising social and economic inequality that separated the mixed gentry and middle class with the uniformly Welsh rural peasantry. This inequality was exacerbated by religious changes rooted in England.
At the opening of the 17th century, England was wracked by societal change. The foremost of these was the rise of Protestantism in increasingly militant varieties. War after successive war against Catholic forces in Europe, the development of a thriving pamphlet industry, return of veteran privateers from the Netherlands, and a general romantic fascination with crusader-like exploits in the New World all together fueled a profound religious awakening in England. England, specifically, because this awakening was coupled with a sort of ethnic nationalism that identified the English as stewards of this awakening against a global horde of “muhammadens, savages, and papists” as one pamphlet put it in 1605. English preachers like John Stevens, Peter Bostock and Jethro Cresswell spurred this movement through ‘big-tent’ speeches that captured not just the middle and upper classes, but also the English peasantry. Religion was a public, a populist affair. This revival targeted its ire on the continental French and Arab, but also made enemies of the dissident Scot, Irish, and Welshman. Wales was nominally Anglican, but pockets of Catholicism in the rural South-east and North became black spots on the English religious reputation. The Purity Laws of 1617 cracked down on religious freedom on the Isle of Britain at large. They enacted brutal punishments for those deemed in dissent from the Anglican church and forbade the use of any scriptures except for in English. It was targeted against the Scottish church foremost, but it was enthusiastically enforced in Wales as well by local Anglo-Welsh gentry.
King James had successfully maintained a general peace in Britain for much of his reign, but the development of such radical elements in his Parliament, especially against the Scots, threatened that peace. He had attempted to prevent the passage of the Purity Laws through negotiation, but after Scottish peasants rioted in March he threatened to dismiss Parliament unless they overturned their own law. This was taken by the Puritan branch of Parliament, or Blackbands, as a royalist intervention on the side of the Catholics – disregarding James own efforts to stamp out Catholicism years prior during the Popish Recusants Act of 1605. The Blackbands did not stand down, and Parliament was dismissed shortly followed by the passage of new laws that watered down greatly the controversial legislation. One provision that King James did not strike was requiring the imposition of Anglican ritual. This was a compromise measure to English Puritans, a significant bloc in English politics. This did little to prevent Scottish resistance, and since the punishments were no longer as harsh nor enforcement as vigorous the laws in general had little impact. King James had forced himself into an awkward situation, between Parliament and the Scottish Church with little to show for it. Similar consequences were felt in Wales, but where in Scotland there was a strong native church tradition to oppose it there was little such resistance in Wales. The burden fell upon the Welsh peasantry who, even if they were Protestant, resisted the imposition of an increasingly evangelical strain of the faith.
Prelude to Rebellion
The Purity Laws were characterized by mutilation, delivered irrespective of class. In British society at large men of means could expect exemption from the sort of violent, physical punishments delivered to lower classes for the same infractions, but the Purity Laws were an exception. Some Welsh gentlemen had their noses cut off for resisting the laws. Protests about such treatment among the gentry were a large part of pushing the King to intervene. Even afterwards, the Welsh were treated harshly for any perceived sign of dissent from mainstream English Anglicanism. Part of this dissent was linguistic. Purity Laws repealed the use of the Welsh bible. Historically the translation of scripture into Welsh was one factor that had driven the spread of Protestantism into Wales, but the Parliamentarians behind the Laws viewed any language outside of English as inherently unbecoming to the Anglican church. They further feared the use of languages like Scots, Gaelic, Cornish or Welsh, could be used to mask seditious intents. While Welsh gentlemen protested over their harsh treatment, the peasantry was alienated and furious by a perceived betrayal by the English church. The Purity Laws became a tool for local Elites to violently control their workforce, sanctioned by Parliament, who supported and rewarded such behavior by English gentry in the Celtic Fringe. Still, there was little talk of uprising. Wales was a firm royalist stronghold. Many believed the king would protect them from Puritan excesses.
The King was often trapped between different Protestant factions at court, in Parliament, and among his subjects. English Puritans pushed for reforms across society to bring it away from Catholicism and towards the supposed spirit of the English Reformation. Many in the English middle class were Puritan. As the maritime economy grew middle-class Puritans moved to growing coastal centers of industry. Wales, by its position on the sea had a number of these fast-growing coastal cities, like Swansea or Cardiff. These cities saw English and Welsh interact in a high-speed dynamic economic situation that, as previously stated, was prosperous but not equally among everyone. Coastal cities became the lifeblood of Wales, but they also were bombs of cultural unrest, fueled by economic inequality.
In 1619 one man, Thomas Mumford, accosted a priest mid-service in Swansee during an argument (it is believed the source of the contention was about giving the sign of the cross - seen as superstition by many Puritans). Another churchgoer, likely a Welsh migrant recent from the countryside, interpreted it as an assault and swung at him with a stool. This grew into a larger fight between the three men which ended in the Welshman in prison, and Mumford set free but for a small fine. The alleged sympathies of the local garrison under Lord Robert Devereux (Earl of Essex) towards the towns Puritans only further inflamed tensions in the town. Swansea was a traditional seat of glovemaking in Britain, but the availability of cheap bootleg fabrics from Iberia had put many out of business. Frustration with the perceived unfair treatment of the Welshman boiled over into rioting. Two days later a mob descended on the cities prison intent on freeing the imprisoned man, but were repulsed by the garrison. Several were killed. Mumford himself was caught and nearly lynched by a crowd. Protests began to spread across South Wales, turning into anti-Puritan (and anti-English) rioting in Catholic areas. In the Puritan port of Bristol, protests erupted in turn as a response to Englishmen like Mumford being targeted by mob violence. Some English preachers advocated moving to Wales to 'bring peace' to the region and protecting the faithful there. The situation was rapidly spreading out of control to the great worry of the government, in England and Wales.
Later that year, Lord Buckingham, one of the Kings closest advisors, assigned Humphrey Tanner to curb insurrection in the region. Tanner, a gentleman of otherwise minor importance, was granted the job as an easy path to prestige in reward for aiding Buckingham financially. Tanner was less suited to military matters as he was to politics, mismanaging his finances so poorly he had to request an extra loan from the King to outfit his own troops. Many of Tanners men had volunteered from England, eager to do their believed God-given duty in protecting their countrymen. In 1620 Tanners force of 2000 marched into the area of the worst rioting, near the Catholic enclave of Flintshire in the north. The regions English community had been driven towards the border by violence. Tanners soldiers descended into the countryside, eager to rectify injustices. The situation was not helped by widespread propaganda painting violent excesses by papist mobs. Such propaganda certainly rang in the ears of the English soldiers when they began to torch the areas towns that spring. Moderates at court feared this escalation would not stop the fighting, and successfully had Tanner change his policy towards just incarcerating known 'trouble-makers'. This calmed the situation for a few months. After Tanner withdrew to camp for winter, it seems as if the violence had abated. Rioting was dying down in Wales, and unrest in now Scotland was occupying the crowns attention.
As part of maintaining the peace, Tanner planned to march his way west deliberately through rural Wales as a show of force. While leaving his wintering quarters near Wrexham he suppressed a small protest led by a local pastor named Lloyd Todd. Todd was unashamedly Catholic, and instigated a fight with English soldiers, who beat him to death. His death set the whole region into a new wave of riots. This time, local militias banded up to remove Tanner from the area permanently. These militias were nominally for local town defense, from bandits and the like, but the excesses of the English soldiers pushed them to band together into a larger fighting force. They elected Robert (Rob) Bowell as their leader, a former cavalryman returned from the wars in Ireland.
At the battle of Bryn Alyn a militia repulsed an attack by a force of soldiers under Sir Spencer Myddelton sent to suppress them. Shortly thereafter, another group assaulted English camps in the north near Caergwrle. These groups used guerilla tactics to evade reprisal by far superior forces, showing success in disrupting the movements of Tanners army. Frustrated by the renewal of violence in the area Lord Buckingham along with the Blackbands pressured Tanner to return to his previous tactic of mass evictions and house-burning. Weeks of more regional fighting ended with the massing of the local militias camped outside The Ffrith, a small pastoral area south of Mold. Intent on crushing this force before it spiraled into a larger rebellion, Tanner attacked with his entire army on April 5th. The Welsh had word of his force well in advance but decided that fighting defensively from camp was their best option. The Welsh camp was pitched with an open field at one end, and surrounded by scattered trees and low, rolling terrain to all other sides. Much of the camp rolled down and away from the field, but the normal stone fences that surrounded it had been dismantled by a previous expedition during the last year to punish the local landowners. Tanner scouted the area and decided to assault head-on across this open ground.
He placed his army at one end of a wide field against the Welsh force. He hoped to use his six cannon to break the militias and then ride them down with his small cavalry force, but wet, foggy, conditions rendered his cannons gunpowder useless. Rob Bowell massed the Welsh militias of 1000 at the far end of his own camp while putting several hundred at the front, facing Tanner. These men stood in a tight formation, but wide, to give the impression of being a more substantial part of his army than it really was. At high noon after an unsuccessful cannon volley, Tanner ordered the cavalry commander Godfrey Symeon to lead his thousand cavaliers at a hard charge against the Welsh line. The appearance of the ragged Welsh forces, armed with more pitchforks then pikes, gave Tanner confidence he could disperse the enemy without committing his infantry. Symeon charged, and as expected the Welsh broke far before he closed. They scattered back through the Welsh camp. Unprotected by any sort of fence or hedge, the camp was no deterrent to Symeons cavalry, who rode right into it. Once deep inside, Bowell gave the signal to his waiting force that surged into the camp. The weather was already foggy, and combined with tents, trees, and smoke from gunfire the cavaliers were quickly disoriented and surrounded. Symeon was struck down and less than half found their way out of the ambush. Worried by the commotion and smoke rising from the camp, Tanner had his men dress ranks for a larger assault. When scattered units of cavalry began to return to his lines, he committed his infantry. Colonel Thomas Chatham led the royal center right into camp. Sir John Redding took a regiment and moved into the rolling woods on the left to try and catch where Tanner believed the bulk of the Welsh force was, attacking his remaining cavalry at the back of the camp. Bowells force had just finished dragging the last cavaliers out of their saddles when the first English foot entered the camp. The Welsh attacked Chatham with surprising tenacity. After an half-hour of intense fighting the Welsh eventually abandoned the field in advance of Reddings attack. The battle was a draw, but the loss of a large number of heavy cavalry was a crushing blow to Tanners reputation. The Welsh force retreated with most of their number intact into the nearby villages. Tanner attacked the nearby village at Llanfynydd but could not proceed further, retreating to Wrexham.
The militia leaders wanted only to repulse Tanners army from the area, not contest any other English authority. This began to change as local priests started to give sermons casting the movement in a religious and cultural light. Gradually, led by the local clergy, the resistance movement took on an anti-Puritanical, anti-English tone, swelled by hordes of volunteers from the nearby towns. The eventual rebel petition delivered to the King on May 17th called for not just the removal of odious English forces from the area, but also the right towards free religious practice in the Welsh parishes, the final abolishment of all Purity Laws, and guaranteed protection of the right to use the Welsh bible.
Rob Bowell attacked more English positions in the nearby valleys. By mid-summer Tanner had lost governmental control of a large swath of the area around Flintshire. After Welsh fighters slaughtered a band of soldiers outside Mold, Lord Buckingham was forced to renounce his ties to Tanner and called him back to London. King James blamed Tanner for instigating a revolt among the Welsh and drove him from political life. James replaced Tanner with the young Edward Montagu, Earl of Manchester. In the time between when Montagu was appointed and could begin to march with renewed forces, and when Tanner was called to London (June 1st to September 12th, or 103 days) Welsh forces fought constant battles with the remaining English soldiers in the country. This became known as the 'Hundred Days of Terror'. It was the fighting here that truly transformed the rebellion from a reaction towards a single punitive expedition to a larger seperatist movement. Rob Bowell became a more prominent leader, writing letters to solicit funds from across Britain. This bore fruit when the Earl of Pembroke himself, William Herbert, began to funnel weapons to the cause. The Earl himself was not Welsh, or even Catholic, but believed that fueling the insurrection would help occupy the Lord Buckingham, for whom the Welsh problem was already proving a serious political scandal. Pembroke was by far the most influential supporter, but Bowell also successfully gained support from Scots, Irish Catholics, and of course many in Wales. Bowell himself was a Catholic, but not ardently so - he went to great lengths to paint the insurrection as a movement against Puritan excesses not a Catholic uprising, or even a Protestant one. This put him at odds with many even of his own men, who followed him out of personal admiration above anything else. The greatest weakness of the Welsh Rising, as it would become known, was the constant tension between Protestant Welsh, and Catholic, united only by their hatred of England.
As fall came around, Montagu was finally able to march north with over 6000 men. He arrived at Chester in mid-September. The city was on edge after reports of Welsh raids targeting nearby towns. Montagus scouts reported an enemy force of several hundred marching to take Raglee Castle. He quickly intercepted and crushed them and moved to reinforce Connahs Quay against another attack. At the battle of Deeside, Montagu again defeated a rebel army, but Bowell was nowhere to be found. He had given off such minor raiding operations to subordinates. Bowell himself was busy raising forces in central Wales for a larger invasion of Flintshire. Bowell’s growing alliance with rebel cells across the nation gave him the means to orchestrate both a war across Wales, while he concentrated on the north. In January 1622, the protestant Welsh leader Owen Gwynn captured the border town of Oswestry to the south, blockading a large swath of rural land from resupply. Bowell led his main army against Wrexham soon after.
Montagu took his force south to defend Wrexham. James called for the campaigning army of the heir apparent Prince Charles to return from Ireland to aid in the suppression. Both sides were digging in. The Parliamentarian Blackbands gained many supporters from the moderate, pacifist faction ("Greenbands") in the wake of the Kings decision. Despite Bowells best efforts to transcend the movements Catholic roots, his war was marked as a Catholic one in England, not a Welsh one. Unlike the Glyndŵr Rising 200 years earlier, Bowell never experienced a large-scale exodus of English Welsh to his cause. For many in England, the goal was extermination of a Catholic threat, not compromise. In mid-February Bowell surrounded Wrexham. Montagu, confident in the cities defenses, decided to wait out the rebel force until Charles arrived from Ireland.
Bowell attacked the city with captured cannons but had little success. Multiple attempts to force Montagu out equally failed. Raiding the countryside for supplies hurt Bowell’s own base of support. After months of ineffective sieging, Bowell withdrew in May. He marched west to intercept Prince Charles before he could unite with Montagu. He succeeded at the Battle of Mostyn on June 14th. Issues crossing the Irish sea meant that the Princes army arrived only piecemeal. By the time the Prince knew the Welsh had taken the port before him he had already lost four ships worth of troops. He redirected his fleet to Liverpool, fearing Chester too was lost. Emboldened at his success, Bowell then turned south and attacked Montagus army marching from Wrexham. His daring offensive pushed Montagu to give battle at Hawarden on the 21st.
Bowell based himself near Hawarden Castle. The local garrison had turned it over to him without a fight when he arrived. The Welsh army enjoyed the considerable support of the local people, while Montagu was forced to rely on an extended supply train from Wrexham. With now an army of almost 14,000 men Bowell was confident in his chances against Montagu. The great bulk of this was regional Welsh levies, many from farther south and outfitted cheaply with donated equipment. Supplies smuggled from Catholic nations in Europe meant that Bowell had better-armed, more conventional pike and shot regiments than when he fought Tanners forces, but this charity effort paled to what the Tower of London provided Montagu. A small number of Irish and Scottish supplemented the Welsh army, along with 2,000 horse, and 5 cannons.
Montagu had considerably less men, 6000, but he had the benefit of more horse and cannon which often proved more significant in battle than more infantry. Unlike Tanner, who recruited from Puritan volunteers in East Anglia, Montagu raised his levies from the areas around London and then the Midlands, to avoid the sort of destructive behavior that plagued Tanners army. These men were outfit according to the popular military fashion at the time, with tight-fitting metal helmets and in cheap red-dyed coats. Montagu had twice as many horsemen as Bowell, and 12 cannons. A number of these horse had trained in the 'Moor' fashion, where they operated as wide-ranging dragoons rather than proper cavaliers meant for direct charges. The young Earl gave the bulk of his army to his elder commander Lord Ayleward, a gentleman of standing at court. Ayleward was experienced from fighting in colonial wars, and pushing 60, was three times his superiors age. Montagu himself took his dragoons and marching from the south, taking the hamlet of Dobshill early in the day. Ayleward established himself at Broughton to the east. The battlefield between the three villages (Hawarden, Dobshill and Broughton) was divided up into many small farming plots with thick stands of trees between Dobshill and Broughton. Montagu feared that Welsh fighters might use the forest as cover from which to break into his lines, and so moved his cavalry up to the high ground left of the trees past Dobshill to get a vantage point.
An attempt by the Welsh command to negotiate prior to battle was rejected, Montagu, as other English commanders would, refused to treat the rebels as a legitimate force with all due privileges. By mid-morning Montagu sighted the Welsh force moving against Broughton. Fire between the English cannon at Broughton and the few Welsh guns broke out just before 10 am. On the far side of the forests Montagus cavalry engaged with a force of Welsh cavalry under Howell Dee. The intensity of Dee's charge forced Montagu to retreat, but both forces found it difficult to maneuver through the fenced farm plots of the area. Montagu fought Dee off and withdrew to reunite with Ayleward. At noon the Welsh reached firing range with the English muskets. Both sides engaged in an intense firefight, with the English muskets using makeshift barricades as defenses and the Welsh hiding behind stone walls out in the fields. All the while intense English cannon-fire pounded the Welsh center.
Montagu would try to move his cavalry back around to defend Dobshill, but soon found himself in a vicious fight with the Welsh cavalry over the town. His temporary withdrawal earlier in the day gave the Welsh enough time to move their light Irish mercenaries nearer the town, who supported Dee with skirmishing fire. Montagu was almost stabbed in the throat, but his gorget blocked the strike. The greater English cavalry force was cut down to size by a combination of relentless Welsh attacks and supporting fire. At 1 pm Montagu had begun to withdraw to Broughton, and by 3 the Welsh had captured the entire left flank of the battlefield.
The Welsh center was in desperate need of support. On hearing he had broken Montagu’s cavalry Bowell commanded Dee to flank the main English army. Dee's cavalry rode up from the left and attacked Montagu’s flank. Montagu’s own beleaguered horse were unable to resist, and broke to flee to Wrexham. Seeing the Welsh horse attack the English, the Welsh center broke into a spontaneous charge. With a cry of “Gwell angeu na chywilydd!” (Better death than shame!) the Welsh frontline attacked the English barricades. Many threw away their pikes to wield daggers, clubs, axes and swords instead. Ayleward rallied his men to face the Welsh advance, ordering his cannon to load grapeshot, but before they could get off a volley the Welsh engaged his defenses. The English center broke before overwhelming numbers. Montagu managed to withdraw his reserves before a total rout ensued, moving to regroup at his supply center at Wrexham. Nearby Chester was a more achievable target for the routing infantry, many of whom fled east rather than south with their commander. Ayleward was killed in the fighting to protect Broughton. The town was subsequently looted by the victorious Welshmen. Bowells army suffered greatly at the hands of Montagus guns, with 1300 wounded and 700 killed among the infantry alone. Dee's cavalry force lost a quarter killed, but it paled in comparison to the lossess inflicted on Montagu. The English suffered almost 2400 wounded with 1800 dead. The disorganized rout and envelopment of the English center had enabled the Welsh cavalry and infantry to ride among them and slaughter as they pleased. The brutality of the Welsh can be chalked up to how the war had become a religous one - the Welsh Catholic forces were notably crueler to the English than the Welsh Protestants. The ghastly slaughter of so many Protestants was one part of the growing tensions between the Protestants in the Welsh army and their Catholic comrades.
The Battle of Hawarden was the second time an English army was defeated in the field by supposedly disorganized rebels. The Welsh victory can be most attributed to the tenacity of the individual soldiers and the skill of the nascent Welsh cavalry under Howell Dee. While Montagu conducted himself ably he underestimated the fighting ability of his enemy like Tanner before him. He would not make that mistake again. He had time to reorganize his army at Wrexham while Bowell tended to his own losses. Prince Charles army marched at full haste to Chester a week later. Bowell retreated south to recoup his losses with fresh levies. He had exhausted the northern countryside, and with far superior English forces in the region he hoped to outmaneuver them in the south. Leaving Owen Gwynn in the north to harass Montagu he marched to Welshpool in Powys. Local rebels had risen up to take that region during the Hundred Days of Terror, giving Bowell a stronghold where he could recover without harassment.
Montagu joined up with the Prince Apparent. They lacked proper reconnaissance in the rural Welsh heartland, so together they decided to pacify the north while waiting for the Welsh army to appear again. At the end of summer, Bowell had raised fresh levies and set his sights on new targets. He united with the main southern rebel force under Rhys ap Cadwgan. The archetypical Welsh mountain fighter, Cadwgan had spent the last year building a roving army in the Welsh interior, coordinating with Bowell to build up support while Bowell was campaigning in Flintshire. Cadwgan attacked Swansea on September 15th. Taking it delivered the first large city into Welsh hands since the rebellion began. However, Bowell wanted to strike England directly. Soon after Cadwgan had taken Swansea, Bowells army sieged Shrewsbury on the 24th of September. If the city fell, Bowell reasoned, he would have an open path to raid deep into England. Welsh tried to supplement their meagre artillery train with improvised 'log cannons' dug around Shrewsbury. Bowell took the city after a short few weeks, but his tactic of mass assaults cost him gravely in casualties. He left the city under the command of his senior officer Dafydd Maddox and marched to Birmingham. Shrewsbury’s quick collapse sent panic through Parliament. The Blackbands authorized funds for a new army to defend the city. King James, beginning to suffer from disease in his old age, even prepared himself to take personal head of this force.
Cadwgan ran into resistance in the far south from a new force from Bristol - the so-called Lords Army, a volunteer protestant force bent on protecting southern England and Cornwall from a feared Welsh invasion. 2500 men of this army landed at Cardiff on October 6th. Cadwgan had planned to take the city, along with Newport, to rob England of the valuable commercial wealth of the area, but the reinforcement of the Lords Army motivated him to instead continue to raid along the coast. His own force numbered 4000 men along with a sizable fleet of small boats meant for coastal sailing. Cadwgan fortunately did not have to worry about invasion from the west, since the nominal English force at Pembroke castle chose to remain neutral. He concentrated his efforts to further deplete English resources in the south-east.
England on the Retreat
Around October, the English were fully on the retreat in Wales proper. The rural interior was wholly ceded over to rebel forces, though these same forces were rarely unified among themselves. Cadwgan was fighting small indecisive battles with the Lords Army and Montagu, now fighting in rebel territory around Monmouthsire, while Bowell marched to Birmingham. Prince Charles had to march out of Wales to defeat a rebel force in Scotland aiming to take advantage of the unrest, leaving just the Kings army to protect Birmingham. James was unable to take command as he had hoped, but placed Lord Robert Devereaux, Earl of Essex at the head instead. Devereaux raised fresh levies of 5000, with Sir John Eliot commanding another 5000. Devereaux had humiliatingly lost Swansea to the Welsh raiders earlier in the year and appealed to the king at having a chance at redemption. Sir Eliot was a respected man in Parliament but quarreled with Buckingham. his position of trust for such a critical campaign indicated how far Buckingham had fallen in the Kings favor by this point.
Eliot quickly became recognized as the primary commander of the English defenses. He was a more able politician, and it was not lost on contemporary observers that he overshadowed Devereaux through sheer personal charisma. He advocated an aggressive strategy to counter the Welsh army. He followed to the letter the Blackband position of suppression Catholicism through both military and cultural persecution. Recognizing that the Welsh army was already prone to religious tensions, he sought to intentionally inflame them. Parliament passed a law stating that while Protestant rebels might expect amnesty in the event of peaceful surrender, those Catholics who rebelled could expect execution if captured. As expected, this drove a wedge in the Welsh army. Bowells army was commanded by all Catholics. Increasingly, Bowell had also placed his Protestant forces at the front of his army, leading to them suffering the heaviest casualties. Feeling disenfranchised by their commanders, Protestant Welsh began to desert to the English side.
Bowells army faced another new problem: supplies. When fighting in Wales, he relied on his men receiving aid from friendly villages who would equally deny them to the English. Now that he was in England, local people actively resisted his foraging parties. He also lacked the developed supply infrastructure the English army had. By October 11th Bowell needed a decisive victory or he risked his army hemorrhaging to nothingness. That day his scouts sighted an English force stockpiling supplies at the village of Cosford. From his camp at nearby Telford, Bowell dispatched his reliable cavalryman Howell Dee to capture the much-needed supplies. These supplies were in fact, being prepared ahead of the incoming English vanguard. Dee had no difficulty routing the small English party guarding them, but the English had broken their own supply wagons as they fled, leaving Dee no easy way to cart the supplies back to his own lines. He requisitioned a few from local farmers, but as time went on more and more English scouts were sighted in the area. By noon Dee decided to abandon the supplies and ride at full haste before he risked combat. Soon after, forces of English dragoons gave him chase. A Welsh rider was able to give word to Bowell, who doubled his marching pace to support Dee before the English infantry arrived. As the day went on, hour by hour, more Welsh arrived to the area and made contact with English units arriving piecemeal themselves. By 5 pm Sir Eliot had arrived with the entire English force of 10,000. Bowell successfully recovered the English supplies, which gave much-needed ammunition to the Welsh musketeers. Fighting paused for nightfall. Both armies camped in preparation of a decisive battle tomorrow. On the morning of October 12th 1622, Bowell deployed his army as best he could through some fields by the town. Sir Eliot deployed opposite, leading the center himself while Devereaux’s force brought up the right flank and Colonel Robert Walker leading Eliots cavaliers on the left.
Battle started as Bowell moved his center towards Eliot. Bowell placed at the head his remaining force of Scottish mercenaries (some of the only Protestant soldiers he had left). The Welsh center bunched up to make a deep pike formation to drive right through the English line. With only one volley of musket fire the Welsh slammed against the English force. Howell Dee's cavalry engaged Robert Walker on the left flank. Devereaux moved up on the right but was impeded by skirmish fire from Welsh troops based in Cosford and a small party of dragoons. It was around mid-morning that a heavy rain broke out, turning the field into a sodden mess. Without his cannon or muskets, owing to the weather, Eliot decided to force victory through his infantry. Eliot sent his reserves to his left flank in support of Walker. Dee's cavalry had been fighting on and off for nearly two hours by this point and faced with a fresh charge by newly arrived English cavalry withdrew. The thin English center buckled against the Welsh attack, curving inwards. With the left flank open without Dee to stop him, Eliot moved all his remaining non-committed men up the left to further press the Welsh center. Reminiscent of Cannae, the bulk of the Welsh forces soon were trapped in a tight space unable to maneuver. Bowell tried to rally his remaining cavalry to break the English left, but to little avail. Bowell signaled the retreat at 4 pm. This was a grave mistake, as the withdrawal of the Welsh right allowed Devereaux to press to the Welsh center as well. Walkers cavalry broke to pursue the fleeing Welsh cavalry, but the English infantry stayed, and continued to envelop the Welsh infantry.
The center became a muddy nightmare. Ceaseless rain and the moving of thousands of men liquified the soil. As the Welsh were forced closer together, many cried out for quarter, but in the din of battle their cries were not heard. Fighting continued well into the night as the English methodically hacked through the trapped Welsh infantry. Some Welshmen managed to escape, but lost in unfamiliar country were easy prey to English cavalry. Eliots commanders were so appalled by the fighting that some asked him to call an end to hostilities, but Eliot refused. He believed all remaining rebels to be Catholics, and decided it was better they were wiped out than made prisoners. By the morning of the 13th, almost 7000 dead lay about the field, of which all but 800 were Welsh. Bowells army fled in disarray to Shrewsbury. On the retreat local townspeople rose up to harass his survivors, so that Bowell lost several hundred more men just on the short way between Cosford and Shrewsbury. This defeat broke the confidence of Bowells army, who usurped him on the 16th. Bowell himself fled back to Wales, from which he vanishes from history. It is believed his shame on defeat led him to go into a forced exile. Bowells army was passed over to Colonel Brychan Maddy who led them in a retreat back into Wales.
Cadwgans Cornish Invasion
Cadwgan now was the most powerful rebel general in Wales. a Protestant, he had tolerated the Catholic Bowell as an ally of convenience but in Bowells absence decided he had little need of the alliance. He provided no support to Maddy as the withered army made its way to Powys and then Flintshire. Maddy had some success in taking the long-coveted prize of Wrexham on December 1st. A harsh winter caused even more to desert to seek shelter with their own families, and so Wrexham offered no resistance when Sir Spencer Myddleton, at the head of an small English force, reclaimed it for the crown on the 18th. Maddy was captured and beheaded in Wrexham on the 20th.
The remaining Welsh rebels gathered around Cadwgan. The Catholics now weakened the English felt more comfortable negotiating with those who remained. After recapturing Shrewsbury Eliot made good on his promise to those protestant Welsh he captured, giving them amnesty after an oath of allegiance to the crown. Cadwgan had a far smaller force than Bowell did, and had little hope of fighting Eliot, so he turned towards a source of potential support, Cornwall. The Cornish had their own long history of rebellion against the English. Cadwgan used his small navy to ferry what troops he had in Swansea to Crantock [Newquay] on the Cornish coast in January 22nd, 1623. Cadwgan made an alliance with the pirate Richard Finch, who represented one of the Gentlemen Pirates of Elizabeathen fame. Finch was no friend of the crown after a personal spat between him and the King and helped Cadwgan ferry troops and supplies from Wales into a rapidly growing base in western Cornwall.
After defeating an ad-hoc response force at White Cross on February 17th, Cadwgan marched across Cornwall towards Exeter. The city fell due to collaborators among the garrison lifting the gate. Cadwgan used Exeter as a base to compel nearby towns to provide him new troops. Reinforced with Cornish volunteers, and now English soldiers, Cadwgan relied more and more on his English-speaking officers to manage his force. Cadwgan refused to learn English himself. Among these turncoat officers were William Coryton, William Thornton and Sir Eastyn York. Cadwgans was, for lack of a better term, a pirate army. The appeal of loot did far more to win over non-Welsh to Cadwgan than the Catholic crusades of Bowell, even if Cadwgan always refused to ingratiate himself with non-Welsh. Following a general plan to sweep up through Southern England, York took the Cornish regiments and moved north through Devon towards Somerset while Cadwgan and Finch sailed up the Bristol channel to raid the coast. Cadwgan intercepted and destroyed ships carrying arms for the Lords Army on June 7th, and then by June 11th sailed up the River Parrett to take Bridgwater. Eliots army reached Bristol a month earlier and had reinforced the cities defense in preparation for a siege. With reinforcements from Sweden, and plenty of time to rebuild any weakened regiments with new levies, Eliot was fully prepared to crush this last rebel army.
Cadwgan had difficulties moving on land through the Somerset Levels, a large area of moorland separating Bridgwater from Bristol. Cadwgan considered moving a force south through Dorset but did not want to separate his army. He decided to stay in Bridgwater and attack instead from the sea. His combined fleet attacked settlements along the coast until he tried for a serious landing at Portishead to take control of Bristol river ports on the Avon. Finch died when a cannonball struck his command deck while attacking the nearby fort at Battery Point. The combined Anglo-Welsh fleet withdrew in disarray after several failed landings.
More minor naval actions ended in July 25th with the Battle of the Rocks where an English fleet under Admiral Lord Holyoke sunk much of the rebel navy. Soon after Eliot defeated Cadwgan in Bridgwater town proper forcing him towards the coast. Cadwgan hoped to take his remaining forces and board what ships he had to sail back to Wales but was intercepted mid-march at Bridgwater Bay. In a surprising turn the Welsh survivors inflicted a devastating blow to the English pursuing army, giving them time to lick their wounds and withdraw south to their waiting fleet at Watchet. Cadwgan left Cornwall on August 3rd.
Once back in Wales, at Swansea, he immediately faced a deteriorating situation at the hands of the Lords Army. In his absence his subordinates had difficulty containing the stream of English military volunteers into the area. Setback after setback drove Cadwgan to flee to the hills. On August 17th the Lords Army under Isaac Chelsea defeated Cadwgan during a botched raid near Brynna. Cadwgan was captured, and delivered to Parliament where he was tried, and then beheaded, on September 6th. Scattered resistance kept up, but the Welsh made no further significant victories against the English before the last rebel stronghold of Machynlleth fell on November 14th. The rising was over.
Aftermath and Legacy
The immediate aftermath of the rebellion was characterized by a harsh crackdown on any causes Parliament deemed responsible for the original unrest. Anti-Catholic sentiments were at a fever pitch in England. Conspiracy among the Welsh priesthood, foreign aid to rebel forces, and the steep cultural divide between the native Welsh and English were some of the foremost concerns. The Parliamentary Blackbands came out as the leading clique in government after the rebellion. They passed with near-unanimous support the Suppression Acts which targeted the power of the Welsh clergy. The Acts forced churches to register their members with English courts (in English), banned town militias in the Welsh boroughs, outright banned Catholicism, newly banned the Welsh language, and required all Welshmen to swear an oath before a court to the King, and Parliament. This last point is crucial, because not only did it elevate Parliament symbolically to equal status with the crown, it also meant that the traditionally royalist Welsh would have to swear allegiance to a now-infamously Puritan Parliament.
Alongside legal reforms, John Eliots army went on a wide-sweeping campaign through Wales in 1624 – 25 to enforce the religious bans. This campaign saw mass evictions from Catholic areas to be forcibly resettled by Protestants. Financial incentives offered to Englishmen and Scots to move to cleared lands swayed few, and in practice the great bulk of new arrivals were other Welshmen. Welsh Catholics fled to continental Europe where they settled in Brittany, parts of Iberia, and even the colonies.
Thousands of supposed rebels were hanged, and thousands more were fined. Widespread devastation in Wales led to economic decline that lasted for decades. English flight from Wales had started during the Rising but only accelerated afterwards. By the time Wales began to recover economically, one side effect of this was the development of a much more solidly Welsh middle-class than had existed previously. The Welsh interior saw brutal ethnic cleansing that left many Anglo-Welsh estates wiped out. These estates would lie fallow or be bought up by this Welsh middle-class. The greatest economic consequence of the Rising was in fact, a more robust, equitable economy than had existed prior.
England was changed as much by the rebellion as was Wales. Prior to the Rising, tensions between Parliament and the King were heating up over differing religious and political opinions. The Rising galvanized the English people, united them against a common enemy and demonstrated the effectiveness of the English military. Both the crown and Parliament contributed to fight off the rebels. King James died in 1625 and was succeeded soon after by prince Charles. This transition happened at the high point of the crackdown. Charles found himself having to reconstruct a nation at a time when he was more interested in playing court politics. Years of campaigning in Ireland, Scotland and Wales left the young King an embarrassing bachelor. He would eventually marry the Swedish princess Katherine of Scheven while again, abroad. Charles became so (in)famous for travel that he was known by the dubious nickname of ‘Charles the Missing’. Charles had firm opinions about his power as a sovereign which clashed often with Parliament. He was keenly aware of the power of money, but less aware of how to best accrue that power – months of debate over who should bear the brunt of the financing for the rebuilding of lost English military infrastructure ended with the crown paying the bulk of it. This combined with the utter desolation of the royalist stronghold of Wales left Charles in a lesser position than Parliament for much of his reign. Charles gained a deep respect for the Welsh people while campaigning there. He lifted bans on Welsh cultural practices and ensured that funds for the rebuilding of forts in the Welsh interior also went to rebuilding civilian structures like mills, churches, and the like.
Leading Parliamentarian generals like Eliot and Devereaux saw their political careers lifted by the Rising. So did their soldiers. England involved itself more and more in continental wars on behalf of Protestant allies. Not only did the common soldiers of the Rising receive ample payment for their service, many went on to serve both in regular armies and as privateers in later continental wars. One English commander John Longstreet, would become a famous soldier in the colonies. His son, Charles, was appointed governor of Virginia. Another, Robert Cromwell, became a prominent Englishmen who resettled in Wales. His son Oliver was, like Longstreet’s son, appointed to government office.
The thing with wales 'being royalist' can be argued not to be true in the sense unlike alot of places had a choice wales was still fuedal, the people had no say they followed what ever there lord chose and served him as its there duty. More developed places such as haverfordwest and pembroke choose parliament.
Really do believe scotland or ireland would have been better england already has a great animosity towards them while wales always tolerated. Puritans beliefs would be supportive of the welsh not of these acts that are centralizing the welsh. They believed in autonomy of local church to serve its church people and was fine having religion done in welsh one of the main radical puritans was welsh, john penry. Moreover when it came to standard book of prayer they were fine with it being in welsh. The commonwealth didn't use armies to enforce religious dogma but setting up schools. The english government knew the welsh weren't secret papists but simply remote from everyone so it made it hard for them to get standardised religion to get there.
What about acts such as, An Act for the Translating of the Bible and the Divine Service into the Welsh Tongue and Act for the Better Propagation and Preaching of the Gospel in Wales. These acts set about religion in wales keeping them in line with england but allowing the welsh to do it in welsh. The thing with wales was the more protestant push equalled more stuff to made in welsh thats why it worked so well. So why did a departure from this happening when the people who would support the welsh the most are the people now crushing them the most.
Why not ireland its full of irish and there mostly catholics. Welsh are just english bumpkins who just don't speak english, scots and irish to English are the enemy.
Super short summary to spare people the paragraphs below. Why Wales? Wales rebelled generally, for the following reasons:
1. A rise in anti-Welsh cultural persecution driven by anti-Catholic fears among English lawmakers.
2. Economic inequality that uplifted a Anglo-Welsh / English middle and upper class to the detriment of the rural poor
3. Harsh policies by land-holding gentry towards their tenants.
4. Tensions between Welsh Catholics, moderate Protestants and English Puritans
Smaller rebellions happened in both Scotland, and Ireland. Scotland experienced its own series of wars, and Ireland had a entire long, grueling conquest a few decades prior to the Rising. They aren't in this post well...because its called the Welsh Rising - at some point I gotta stop writing
Now the meat of it. To get to your individual points:
Traditionally Wales was viewed as a solid royalist stronghold. Really I would, and I am not a expert, say that Wales was more royalist than not, but that the real variable was political engagement - not support for the king. Monmouthshire OTL was considered firm royalist territory but really most households were neutral in the conflict. Now, ATL Wales is royalist again, as a generalization, but also because the King served as a blocker against many unpopular laws in Wales. They saw the King as more on their side than Parliament, simple as that.
ATL England is both more protestant and more ethno-nationalist. ATL you did have laws promulgating Welsh scripture as part of the conversion effort but those laws were repealed as Parliament took on more of a ethnic character. The idea was, the only way to truly ensure that citizens are following proper doctrine and not spreading sedition, is to have them speak in a common tongue. Welsh, once seen as a vehicle of conversion, became seen as a cover for treasonous behavior. A barrier against integration into a harmonious whole.
The repression of such laws was part of why the rebellion started ATL. The Rising here is directly caused more than anything else from frustration at English puritanism, really English ethno-nationalism. Alternatively many in England felt justified by the belief that Wales was harboring large populations of Catholics (which, OTL parts of rural Wales were Catholic well through the Civil War). Those feelings were somewhat based on reality. There were many Catholics in Wales, and unlike Ireland the Welsh Catholics were right across the border from the heart of England. Fear of papist conspiracy ATL and OTL both drove English policy. ITTL those fears were directed towards neighboring nations rather than at portions of English society (to generalize).
Puritan English never supported the Welsh the way the Welsh supported themselves. There is no way around it, native Welsh society is radically different from English society and resentment from that division and of course, forcible conquest, lasted well through the 17th century. You will notice that Bowells revolt (the Rising here) had much less public support than Owain Glyndŵr had centuries earlier. Glyndŵrs was really a national uprising. Bowells is a Catholic one supported by discontented Protestants alienated by economic inequality and systematic persecution.
Lastly....it is hard for me to take this comment seriously when you end it with the Welsh are just 'english bumpkins'. It feels like a vague, and honestly rudely shallow characterization of a very rich culture.
Thats not my view rather the english view held of the welsh. English attitude is rude towards welsh, but still see them as loyal partners while dislike of scots and irish is genuine dislike.
I agree. Though we are constantly joking about the Welsh (sheep shaggers being the most famous), we don't actually dislike them and I've yet to meet a single Englishman who wants to wipe them off the face of the Earth or something dumb like that. In regards to the Irish and Scots, there are indeed those who dislike them because unlike the Welsh, they can be a nuisance at times though there are many who don't dislike them.
My apologies, I misinterpreted your comment.
There was very real anti-Welsh prejudice during the OTL English Civil War. I cannot explain this topic better than Mark Stoyle does in his article English Nationalism, Celtic Particularism and the English Civil War. I put a copy on Dropbox for people here to read it, if they are so interested:
Here is the relevant quote:
Given that ATL English ethno-nationalism is even higher it seems quite plausible to me that the effects of that would also increase among non-English populations, and then also plausible those same populations would defend themselves, violently if they saw no other recourse. Couple this with economic, social, and religious issues ATL Wales was primed for war.
True, in the past and this TL, our modern view of the Welsh doesn't exist so that's a shame.
The irony of bigotry is that people often think that its natural, or they try to root it in somehow inalienable differences between peoples, but really ethnic hatred and racism can come and go quickly based on short-term causes. Think of how Yugoslavia broke up, or the Rwandan genocide. Irish and Italian immigration to the US during the early 1900s. Its a combination of people having problems and blaming those problems on an 'other' against whom action must be taken to resolve the issue. ITTL English anxieties about Catholic hegemony, anxieties about the purity of their own religious movements, anxieties about the strength of their national union found targets in the other peoples of Britain. Welsh anxieties were rooted in a feared loss of their own cultural identity, imposition of less palatable strains of religion and inequality despite apparent national prosperity.
Tbf this is also the same time london thought the king somehow brought an army of irish to enter london so they london set to arm itself.
But why pick the welsh over the scots or irish they have very bad blood between them and england, ethno-nationalist england would pick abusing scotland, and ireland well before abusing wales.
Even in the civil war while wales was mostly monarchy, the welsh were seen as seperate from scots and irish. This can be seen in the fact they weren't destroyed like the scots or irish were by Cromwell and his ilk and parliamentary mps went out of there ways to reconcile wales and england during civil war which was shown in the last page. Again the commonwealth used schools in wales while new model army in ireland. If there a conflict/boogeyman of Celtics the welsh would be the last. Also hasn't parliament not won the power struggle here so alot of the attention caused in said article would not be here due to no conflict with the king the puritans would be more accommodating then as its part of their doctrine, the article shows alot of hatred simply came from them supporting the king. The article also points out the scots as being more disliked and seen as a greater threat. So if the welsh are in rebellion surely the situation for the scots and irish is worse. This bring me to a question i have is ireland going protestant now?
I think honestly my gripe is simply why the english picked on welsh first? If england got to the point they want to wipe out welsh culture they would have wiped out the Irish and scots first, they were more hated and threats. Wales passive compared to them. The fact wales some how is getting worst of it over ireland and the scotland is just what surprises me.
(Don't take this as me saying there should be no welsh rebellion, im just upset the great duo of wales and england is dead and scotland and ireland got away)
Also can scot and irish please then get crushed as f in the chat for wales they should bleed more than wales.
England did not pick on Wales first. It wasn't that they singled out Wales, but that English policy affected all the peoples of the empire who responded in different ways. The Irish fought their own wars(plural) of resistance decades before, Scottish rebels rose up periodically through this period and even during the rising itself. The Welsh rebelled last if anything, but the Welsh armies had far more success than the Scots did and so the Rising became a larger problem. In the post itself, you will notice at times English generals had to move their armies to fight in Scotland. Prince Charles himself had to sail from fighting in Ireland to suppress the rebellion. The entire British Isles were at war, the Welsh were just winning more battles than anyone else. But, the higher you rise the harder you fall. Because the Rising grew to such a large scale built off the early successes against England it also meant the aftermath was much more severe.
Ireland will remain Catholic except for where English and Scots settle. The massive financial burden of the Rising will limit English colonial efforts in Ireland and Scotland for many decades.
Alas...do not expect many more posts about England in the near future. The next post is going to be a cultural one focusing on Andalusia. Do expect more wicked maps though.
Separate names with a comma.