The Forgotten Prince

A brief history of Prince Maurice of Bohemia

Prince Maurice, son of Frederick, the King of Bohemia, was born on the 6th January 1621.  The younger brother of Prince Rupert, and grandson of James I, he fought for the Dutch army during the thirty years war.

On the outbreak of the English Civil War, Maurice accompanied his elder brother Prince Rupert to England in August 1642 to fight for his uncle King Charles.  He was with Rupert at Powick Bridge, Edgehill and Brentford in 1642.  Early 1643 he was given command of 2000 troops and sent to Gloucestershire where he defeated Sir William Waller at the battle of Ripplefield, the first defeat inflicted on Waller.

In June 1643, Maurice took commanded of the Calvary in the Royalist Western Army commanded by the Marquis of Hereford and Sir Ralf Hopton.  To his dismay Hopton was unable to prevent Maurice’s unruly cavaliers from plundering his West Country neighbours.  Maurice was wounded and briefly taken prisoner during an attack on Waller’s outpost at Cheriton, Mandip on 12th June 1643.  

At the battle of Landsdown, July 1643, his cavalry were driven back by Haselrigge’s lobsters.  Although Landsdown was a Royalist victory, Hopton was badly injured in an ammunition explosion leaving Maurice to command the Royalist retreat to Devizes, pursed by Waller’s much larger force.  Maurice rode with Hopton for reinforcements, covering the forty-five miles Devizes to Oxford in one night.  He returned with Lord Wilmot and Sir Byron at the head of 1,800 horse, which inflicted grievous defeat on Waller’s at Roundway Down. 

Maurice then rejoined Prince Rupert in Bristol, where many of Hopton’s Cornish infantry were killed.  After the capture of Bristol, Maurice was sent to attack the remaining Parliamentarian strongholds in the South West.  He captured Dorchester, Weymouth and Portland in 1643, Exeter on 4th September and Dartmouth on the 6th October, but was driven back from Plymouth.

In April 1644, Maurice became bogged down in the long and costly siege at Lyme, which he was forced to abandon on the 15th June at the approach of the Earl of Essex.  

Maurice rejoined the King and took part in the defeat of Essex at Lostwithiel, in September 1644.  He was also present at the second battle of Newbury where his cavalry were routed in Waller’s flank attack.  In 1645, Maurice fought on the right wing at Nasbey with Prince Rupert.  He was then appointed Governor of Worcester with orders to prepare it as a contingency Royalist capital in case Oxford fell.  But when Rupert was disgraced for surrendering Bristol in October 1645, Maurice defended him to the king and accompanied Rupert when he attempted to gain a hearing for Charles at Newark.  Maurice and Rupert remained loyal to the end.  They surrendered at Oxford in June 1646 and were banished by Parliament.

Maurice remained with Rupert during his exile in France and on his piratical raids from Kingsale in Ireland.  In 1649 Rupert’s fleet was chased by Robert Blake from the Irish sea to the Mediterranean.  When Blake drove him from the Mediterranean, Rupert made a piratical voyage to the West Indies in 1651-1652, during which Maurice was lost in a storm.

References

Josephine Ross: The Winter Queen - the story of Elizabeth Stuart
Alison Plowden: Henrietta Maria – Charles I’s Indomitable Queen
Frank Kitson: Prince Rupert – Portrait of a Solider
Peter Young: Edgehill 1642 - The Campaign and the Battle
Peter Young: Cheriton 1644 - The Campaign and the Battle
Peter Young: Marston Moor 1644 - The Campaign and the Battle
John Adair: Roundhead General - A Military Biography of Sir William Waller.

       
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