Sedgemoor is an area very near to us, south of the Polden Hills and, as you can guess from the name it is a low-lying area full of reeds or sedges. A moor here means a damp, often flooded area. it is probably most famously known outside Somerset as the site of The Battle of Sedgemoor which was fought on the 6th July 1685.
It was a battle fought as part of The Monmouth Rebellion, which was also known as The Revolt of the West or The West Country Rebellion. It was an unrealistic attempt to overthrow James II, who had become King when his brother Charles II died in February 1685. James II was a Roman Catholic, and with the religious difficulties that England had gone through since the time of Henry VIII, it was not surprising that some Protestants opposed his succession. A suitable, and heir was seen as James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth, who was an illegitimate son of Charles II, and he claimed to be rightful heir to the throne.
On July 5th, 1685, the Duke of Monmouth gathered his rebel army of maybe 3500 men, in Bridgwater.
The army had been trapped the by the smaller but more experienced royal army of the Earl of Faversham. Trying to take his enemy by surprise, Monmouth planned to launch a surprise night attack from the most unexpected direction, across the marshes of Sedgemoor. However, their daring plan was discovered and their cavalry also missed the ford they were supposed to cross to get at the enemy.
The battle started at about 2 in the morning, Monmouth’s cavalry deserted the infantry was unprotected against Faversham’s horses. His professional soldiers, the army of the king soon began to tell. As the morning light revealed the rebels’ true plight of the rebels, Faversham launched a join cavalry and infantry attack. The battle lasted about three hours and about 1,000 rebels died compared to only about eighty of Faversham’s men. Monmouth’s army was totally destroyed. Monmouth fled and was later captured and subsequently beheaded in the Tower of London.
If you ever visit the area, you can find the site of the battle and there are some very good guides explaining what and where everything happened.
“The battle and battlefield are understood in great detail and, with the information provided here, it is possible to visit the site and to gain an exceptionally good idea of the terrain and the course of the action on the 6th July 1685. On a warm sunny day it is a very pleasant landscape to explore.”