MONMOUTH: THE WEST COUNTRY REBELLION

Wednesday, 13th September, 2017 - 7:30 pm

TICKETS: Adults £8.50, Friends £8.00, ES40’s/Students £4.00

The Monmouth Rebellion stands as a crucial and often over-looked first step towards modern democracy. It was the last direct rebellion against the Crown and ended with the very last pitched battle on English soil, the Battle of Sedgemoor. It started on June 11th 1685 on the beach at Lyme Regis.

In February of 1685, Charles II died suddenly and was succeeded five days later by his bother Catholic James II to the disgust of the primarily Protestant nation.

Events then escalated at an alarming rate as Charles’s illegitimate eldest son James, the Duke of Monmouth, in exile in Holland, landed in Lyme Regis on June 11th to raise a Protestant army and march on London. Monmouth’s army of 83 men was bolstered by local men and women as they marched north to Axminster, through Colyton and on to Chard, heading for England’s second city, Bristol and then on to London.  They were a ragbag of people from all strata of society, including one Daniel Foe, later to change his name to Daniel Defoe.

By the time Monmouth faced the Royalist Army at The Battle of Sedgemoor he had swelled his army to over three thousand Dorset men and women.  More by bad luck than bad judgement, less than five weeks after stepping on to the beach, the rebellion was over. His army was defeated in the thick fogs of the Somerset levels and the Duke of Monmouth had been executed on Tower Hill.

It was five weeks that shook the nation and severely undermined the confidence of James II and his supporters, a lack of confidence that William of Orange and Mary took full advantage of just three years later in the bloodless ‘Glorious Revolution’. They landed in Brixham and marched unopposed on to London.

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