King Charles I (1600-1649)
Commanded the Royalist's forces in spite of his lack of practical experience. By 1645 he had had experience of two years of war in England and had learned from his officers, many with experience of the Thirty Years War on the continent. His achievements included the highly successful campaign against the Earl of Essex's army at Lostwithiel in Cornwall in the late summer of 1644. His capital was in Oxford, so his ability to control his armies was limited by distance. There was also a lack of clarity in the chain of command. Charles had a tendency to act on the advice of the person most recently consulted and his views were shaped in an intense correspondence with his wife, Henrietta Maria, the daughter of Henry IV of France and a Catholic.
Prince Rupert (Count Palatine of the Rhine and Duke of Bavaria, 1619-1682)
Has been portrayed as a cavalry commander of flair and courage, which is accurate, flawed by impetuosity and romantic glory-seeking, which is not. Although he was only 22 years of age, he was already an experienced officer when he came to England and he led his troops to many notable successes. Rupert had served in the imperial cavalry in the Thirty Years War and his experience, including the siege of Breda in 1637, gave him an understanding of artillery, fortifications and siege-craft. In 1644 Rupert began with successes but he was defeated at Marston Moor in Yorkshire on 2 July. By 1645 Rupert's relationships with Charles's other advisers were dangerously poor which undermined the effectiveness of the Royalist command. In September, after Naseby, Rupert was forced to yield Bristol to Fairfax, an act Charles regarded as near-treachery. It brought their relationship to an end.
George, Lord Digby (1612-1677)
Was a member of Charles's court and of his Council of War, although he had no previous military experience. He fought at Edgehill and allowed his men to take part in the pursuit of the enemy cavalry, claiming he was unaware of his role as reserve. In spite of this error he was made a secretary of state. He had a deep animosity for Prince Rupert and did what he could to shake the king's confidence in him.
Sir Jacob Astley (1579-1651)
Was Sergeant-Major General of Foot to Charles I. He had served in the Dutch army from the age of 18 and was military tutor to Prince Rupert. He was created Baron Astley in November 1644. He fought on after Naseby and surrendered the last Royalist field army at Stow-on-the-Wold in 1646.
George Lisle (d. 1648)
Served in the Low Countries before joining the Royalists. He fought at First Newbury, Cheriton and, with notable valour, at Second Newbury. He was executed in August 1648 after the siege of Colchester at the orders of Fairfax on the grounds that he had broken his parole, although both Ireton and Rainsborough were blamed as well.
Prince Maurice (1620-1652)
Was Rupert's younger brother and served in Holland with him from 1637. With his brother he joined the Royalist army in August 1642, led his own regiment at Edgehill and then fought in various theatres in England with no small success. He commanded the right wing of Royalist horse at Naseby. He was lost at sea in September 1652.
Sir Marmaduke Langdale (1598-1661)
Was a Catholic Yorkshireman recognised by both sides in the Civil War as an outstanding cavalry commander. After the Battle of Marston Moor in 1644 he commanded the Northern Horse. He was captured by the Parliamentarians in 1648 but he escaped from captivity in Nottingham Castle disguised as one of his captors. Then, dressed as a milkmaid, reached the river Humber which he swam before disguising himself as a clergyman and making his way to London before going abroad.
Sir Thomas Fairfax (1612-1671)
Son of Ferdinando Lord Fairfax, was born in Denton in north Yorkshire. He had some limited military experience gained in the Low Countries. In 1639 he served under Charles I against the Scots, but joined the Parliamentary forces when the Civil War broke out in 1642. His father commanded Parliament's Northern Army. Father and son were defeated at Adwalton Moor, outside Bradford, in 1643. Sir Thomas, together with Oliver Cromwell, checked the Royalist encroachment from Newark by beating them at Winceby in October. The next year father and son united to besiege York and brought Prince Rupert rushing to the rescue of the Royalists, precipitating the Battle of Marston Moor on 2 July. On the creation of the New Model Army in 1645, Sir Thomas, who was neither an MP nor a peer and thus was eligible to hold office in the army, was the obvious choice for Captain General - its leader. In a matter of months Fairfax moulded the new formations, more than half composed of veteran soldiers, into a disciplined force. He was not in favour of the execution of Charles I and withdrew from public life in 1650. He supported the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II.
Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658)
Was a country gentleman of modest means and no military experience who represented Cambridge in the Long Parliament and raised a troop of horse when war broke out. He was a deeply religious man who recruited similar men to his service. By 1644, as Lieutenant-General of the Horse of the Eastern Association, he demonstrated his abilities as a commander at Marston Moor where he defeated the royalist right wing and then joined Fairfax to rout Goring's horse. In spite of being a Member of Parliament and thus not eligible to hold office in the army, he was appointed Lieutenant-General in the New Model Army at Fairfax's request and commanded the horse at Naseby. His subsequent career showed him to be one of the greatest generals Britain has ever produced.
Henry Ireton (1611-51)
Was without military experience when the war began, but in June 1642 raised a troop of cavalry and fought at the battle of Edgehill in October and at Gainsborough in 1643 under Cromwell. He then became Cromwell's Deputy-Governor in the Isle of Ely. He served as quartermaster-general to the Earl of Manchester in Yorkshire in the Marston Moor campaign of summer 1644 and at Newbury that October. Cromwell appointed Ireton Commissary General of Horse, i.e. second in command, at Naseby. In June 1646 he married Cromwell's eldest daughter Bridget. In 1650 he was made Cromwell's deputy in Ireland and died of a fever at Limerick.
Philip Skippon (c.1600-1660)
Returned in 1638 from some 25 years professional soldiering in Denmark, Germany and the Low Countries and took up the post of Captain Leader, i.e. training officer, to the Society of the Artillery Garden in London. The Society was a group of amateurs which performed military exercises and many such clubs were active throughout the country, giving their members some familiarity with formations and drill. Skippon was appointed to the command of the London Trained Bands as Sergeant-Major General of the City of London in 1642 and led his force to outface, alongside the Earl of Essex, the king at Turnham Green in November that year. Essex made him Sergeant-Major General of his army. When the New Model Army was formed, Skippon was chosen for the same post and did sterling work in uniting the old and new troops into an efficient force.
Edward Montagu (1625-1672)
Raised a regiment in the Parliamentarian cause in 1643 and fought at Marston Moor. At Naseby his regiment was in the front line and did well. After taking part in the storming of Bristol he became a member of parliament.
Sir Hardress Waller (c.1604-1666)
Served in Holland before the war and in Munster until the formation of a regiment which Sir William Wallers major-general, James Holborne, declined to lead because, as a Scot, he would not serve in the New Model Army. His little regiment was broken at Naseby and retreated behind the reserves. Waller was wounded when storming Basing House in October 1645.
Thomas Pride (c.1605-1658)
Is said to have been a foundling and a brewers drayman, an allegation enjoyed by Royalist propagandists who made up rude rhymes about him. He commanded the regiment of the wounded Colonel Edward Harley in the reserve at Naseby and acquitted himself well, taking a prominent part in holding the line and then forcing the Royalists to retreat. In December 1648 he took part in preventing some 140 members of parliament from attending the House, an incident that became known as Prides Purge. The remaining MPs, known as The Rump, were supporters of the army and the proposal to bring the king to trial.
John Okey (1606-1662)
Rose to the rank of major in Sir Arthur Hasilrige's Regiment of Horse in Sir William Wallers' army (note: the source for this information may be unreliable). On 1 March 1645 Fairfax proposed to Parliament that the dragoons should be formed into a regiment and it was so resolved two days later. Okey was given the command, taking over John Lilburne's regiment near Abingdon on 30 April. Okey's Regiment had an establishment of 1,000 in ten companies, but when he led them at Naseby they numbered no more than 676 officers and men. His letter about Naseby was written within two or three days of the battle.
Colonel Thomas Rainsborough (or Rainborowe) ( c.1610-1648)
Was a sea captain whose sister married, first, John Winthrop who became Governor of Masschusetts and after his death John Coggon of Boston, Mass. He raised a foot regiment which had men from Massachusetts among its officers: Lt. Col. Israel Stoughton, Major Nehemiah Bourne and Captain John Leverett who became the colony's governor in 1673, but their presence at Naseby is uncertain. Rainsborough's brother, William, served as a captain in Sheffield's Regiment of Horse. Rainsborough was in the Parliamentary second line at Naseby, possibly in command of the reserve. He fought at Lamport and distinguished himself in the taking of Bristol in September 1645.