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trained bands

trained bands were the county- and city-based militia regiments, which, except for London and a few counties, played little significant part in the civil wars. The London regiments were built up to a strength of 18,000, mainly infantry, by 1643. Officered by the commercial leaders of the city, their rank and file comprised mainly apprentices and hired men rather than householders. They were employed in patrolling the Thames valley, but also played a critical role at Turnham Green, the siege of Gloucester, and the first battle of Newbury. Increasingly unwilling to leave London, they saw their role taken over by permanent standing armies in 1643 and 1644. The attempt by the moderate peace party of Denzil Holles to use the London trained bands in the projected presbyterian counter-revolution of 1647 was an abject failure: when summoned to defend London against the invading New Model Army, the men refused to stir.

Ian Gentles

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