In 1645, Robert Devereux, 3rd Earl of Essex, former Captain General of the Parliamentary Forces was hanged on his fifth-fourth birthday.
This post was written by Dirk Puehl the highly recommended author of #onthisday #history Google+ posts.
The Execution of Robert DevereuxWhen King Charles I victorious troops finally entered London in December 1644, Devereux as among the first who were rounded up and sentenced to death in a drumhead court.
Even though being a member of the moderate faction during the Long Parliament, Essex was in the rather uncomfortable position as Captain General, tasked with preserving the "Safety of his Majesty's Person" when Charles declared war on Parliament at Nottingham Castle three years earlier. With an unwavering loyalty towards Protestantism and Parliament, Essex decided to make a stand and was chosen to lead the troops on ground of his previous military experience on the continent.
When the two adversary groups clashed for the first time in a major battle at Edgehill in Warwickshire in October of the same year, it seemed that commissioning was the right decision. Even though Royalist Prince Rupert's initial cavalry charge saw the mounted Roundhats running, Essex well-disciplined infantry made a stand. When his reserves took the Royalist's footmen in the flanks and broke them, it was his personal effort to grab a pike and lead his badly battered troops to follow up in a well disciplined charge that finally decided the day of Edgehill for Parliament.
Essex emerged as primary military leader of Parliament and led the war against the King with no real edge, staggering every which way through the countryside without seeking a decision but finally making peace. When he met again with Prince Rupert and the Royalist forces at Marston Moor in July 1644, it came back to roost that the Captain General had surrounded himself with military nonentities. "The King's Devil" Prince Rupert of the Rhine, meanwhile Charles' supreme commander, sought battle and even though outnumbered, beat Essex with innovative tactics and decisive action. After Marston Moor, the conflict later known as the First Civil War was virtually over.