Siege Famine in Northern England during the British Civil Wars, 1644–1649

  • Tristan Griffin University of Cambridge


During the 1640s, several Royalist fortresses in Northern England were subject to length sieges, particularly after the defeat of the major Northern Royalist field army at Marston Moor in 1644. The difficulty of directly assaulting these strongholds lead to starvation becoming the Parliamentarian and Covenanter besiegers’ main weapon. This article analyses the methods used by the Royalist garrisons to try and alleviate siege famine, including raiding, rationing and ersatz foodstuffs, and their consequent collapse owing to hunger-induced popular unrest or the effects of famine diseases such as scurvy, starvation and dehydration on the soldiers themselves.