Seizing the Fleet in 1642: Parliament, The Navy and The Printing Press

By Stephen J. Greenberg, published August 1991


From the outbreak of the Civil War in 1642 until his execution in1649 Charles 1 lost control of his navy and saw it ranged against him. At no time during the war could Charles count upon a strategic or tactical naval presence,  which resulted in the Royalist war effort being severely constrained. Parliament controlled London and London bankers and merchants stood by Parliament. Although Charles had considerably strengthened the weak navy he had inherited from his father, he did not spend his money on the men who sailed his ships. Poor conditions in the fleet were notorious. Whilst Charles felt secure with his navy, in reality captains and crews were obeying orders issued by parliament. After the navy at the Downs had been secured for parliament a brief account of the events was written and reprinted in four pamphlet editions, spreading the news as far as seventeenth century mass media would allow, thus publicizing parliament’s victory over the King in an early modern media blitz.

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Filed under: English Civil War | Other (location)
Subjects include: Navies

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