The Battle of Sedgemoor 1685
The last battle fought on English soil
What was the Monmouth Rebellion?
The Battle of Sedgemoor, fought on 6
July 1685 on the moors on the edge of
Westonzoyland, was the last major battle on English soil when Englishmen took up arms
against fellow Englishmen. The battle was a climax of a rebellion led by the Protestant Duke
of Monmouth attempting to overthrow James II the Catholic King of England.
Why did it happen?
Wily King James II had kept the political and religious tensions of his court and country
under control but when James, his autocratic brother, succeeded him in February 1685
suspicion was rife. Monmouth was Charles’ eldest, but illegitimate, son and had been
brought up at court by his father’s side. He was a charismatic and courageous man who had
earned great honours on the battlefield and became a natural focus for all who opposed
James. He was living in exile in Holland when his father died but was soon encouraged to
return and lead a rebellion against King James.
Over a period of 25 remarkable days from landing at Lyme Regis until the battle in
Westonzoyland, Monmouth recruited a rebel army of almost 10,000 men, marched over 200
miles to Keynsham and Bath, had three minor skirmishes with Royalist forces before
succumbing to the Royal Army with huge losses. Monmouth himself was beheaded.
Nevertheless, the consequences were far reaching, in many ways shaping English politics
up to the present day.
300 rebels and 200 Royalists were killed on the battlefield; 1000 rebels were killed as they
fled; 320 were executed; 750 were transported as bonded slaves.
The Monmouth Rebellion is a fascinating story of ordinary people being motivated to take
up arms to fight for what they believed. So why not learn more:
* Visit Westonzoyland Church where 500 prisoners were held after the battle in appalling
conditions until the infamous Bloody Assizes.
* Walk to the Battlefield Memorial and imagine what it was like to have been there on that
fateful misty morning.
* Visit St Mary’s Church where Monmouth climbed the tower to spy the Royal Army.
* Visit the Blake Museum which has displays about the battle.
* Visit the villages of Chedzoy, Middlezoy and Othery which all share part of the story.
Westonzoyland now has a visitor centre at the Church. For more information and a full story
about the Monmouth Rebellion, visit www.zoylandheritage.co.uk/
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