In April 1643 a Parliamentarian army commanded by the Earl of Essex set out to besiege the Royalist stronghold of Reading as a preliminary to attacking Charles I's capital of Oxford. Although the army succeeded in taking Reading, a combination of inadequate supplies, poor weather, epidemic disease and Royalist raids prevented the hoped for advance on Oxford and eventually led to the virtual disintegration of what its commander described as "the bravest Army in Christendom." Using contemporary accounts by eyewitnesses and Parliamentarian and Royalist journalists wherever possible, this book tells the story of the failure of the Earl of Essex's 1643 spring offensive, concentrating in particular on a day-by-day account of the 12-day siege of Reading, now largely forgotten but on which "the eye of the whole kingdom was fixed" in late April 1643.
Malcolm Barrès-Baker was born in London and educated at Dr. Challoner's Grammar School, Amersham, Wadham College Oxford and King's College London. After spells as a teacher and proofreader he now works for a museum in West London. Although he has written historical articles for several magazines, produced a number of pamphlets on places in the London Borough of Brent and contributed a small box on the Special Operations Executive to a guidebook to Albania, this is his first book. He has been interested in military history since childhood, and in the English Civil War since studying it for "A" Level between 1974 and 1976.