Cavaliers to Roundheads
In 1642, King Charles I raised his standard at Nottingham as a formal declaration of war. During the next six years the Royalists fought the Parliamentarians in two bloody civil wars. For support, the King looked towards South Wales and the Welsh gentry. Many of the gentry offered their allegiance to the King, as they were keen to protect the order that had elevated them to power. However it was their tenants, the 'common people' that were called upon to fight and sacrifice their lives. This for a cause that they probably cared little for.
By 1645 the Royalist cause was floundering. After suffering a heavy defeat at Naseby, Charles I came to Wales to rally support. On his trip through the county borough he visited Thomas Morgan at Ruperra Castle and Edward Prichard at Llancaiach Fawr Manor. However, rather than rally the Welsh gentry around him, he appears to have angered many with his demands and actions. Such was the strength of ill feeling towards the King and the ravages of the war, that a Peaceable Army was raised in an effort to force concessions and compromise from the Crown. Soon Welsh support for the King had all but collapsed. By 1648, Cromwell himself had led an army into South Wales to crush the last vestiges of Royalist support. In 1649, Charles I was executed and the county borough now fell within the English Republic.
Evidence of conflict within the county borough is scarce. At Caerphilly Castle, an earthen 'redoubt' was built beyond the medieval defences. Whether this gun platform was raised by the Royalists or Parliamentarians is unclear, as is the nature of any battle that ensued. At Martins Farm nearby, it is alleged that the Parliamentarian army buried their dead. It is also said that Parliamentarian troops used St. Illans Church, Eglwysilan as a stable for their horses, this a deliberate act of sacrilege. The role of Colonel Edward Prichard of Llancaiach is well documented. After his change of allegiance from the Crown to Parliament, he went on to become Governor of Cardiff Castle. Here he fended off a Royalist siege in 1646. He then went on to support Cromwell's New Model Army at the Battle of St. Fagans in 1648.
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