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2 July: On this day in history

What events happened on 2 July in history? We round up the events, births and deaths…

Published: July 2, 2022 at 6:05 am
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2 July 1644 Cromwell crushes the royalists at Marston Moor

Catastrophic defeat atomises Charles I’s influence in the north

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Prince Rupert’s royalist troops were just settling down for supper when the battle of Marston Moor broke out. It was the summer of 1644, and on the moorland just outside York, Rupert’s army faced its Scottish and parliamentarian adversaries. Rain was coming; there was a hint of thunder. Hearing the parliamentarians singing psalms, Rupert thought his opponents would wait until morning. But moments later, the enemy cavalry charged.

Like all battles, Marston Moor was an exercise in bloody chaos. While the parliamentarian right and centre struggled to make headway, the cavalry on their left wing, under Lieutenant General Oliver Cromwell, carried all before them, twice charging and driving their enemies from the field. Even as darkness was falling, the moor was littered with corpses, while many of the royalist troops, ignoring their officers’ orders, fell back in confusion.

It was a royalist catastrophe. Almost at a stroke, they had lost control of the north; from this point, Charles I was merely postponing the inevitable. But for one man in particular, Marston Moor was a sign of divine approval.

“Truly England and the Church of God hath had a great favour from the Lord, in this great victory given unto us, such as the like never was since this war began,” wrote Oliver Cromwell afterwards. “The left wing, which I commanded, being our own horse, saving a few Scots in our rear, beat all the prince’s horse. God made them as stubble to our swords.” | Written by Dominic Sandbrook


2 July 1743

Britain’s second prime minister, Whig politician Spencer Compton, 1st Earl of Wilmington, died at St James’s, London.


2 July 1862

Birth near Wigtown, Cumberland, of English physicist William Henry Bragg. In 1915 he and his son, William Lawrence Bragg, were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for their services in the analysis of crystal structure by means of X-rays.


2 July 1900

Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin made the first flight in the airship that bears his name over Lake Constance near Friedrichshafen in southern Germany.

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2 July 1961

Ernest Hemingway, Nobel Prize-winning author of such classics as The Old Man and the Sea and For Whom the Bell Tolls, committed suicide at his home near Ketchum, Idaho.

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