Trinity in the Civil Wars

The City of Oxford suffered greatly in the Civil Wars between 1641 and 1651. In the autumn of 1642 Oxford was briefly occupied by the parliamentarian forces, but in October that year, King Charles I set up his court at Christ Church, and the city and colleges were crowded with royalist supporters and soldiers.

Trinity was staunchly loyal to the king, and in January 1643 almost the entire stock of the college’s silver plate was loaded onto carts and driven off to be melted down into silver pennies to pay the troops. Several times, Oxford was besieged by Cromwell’s soldiers. Food became short, the undergraduates were sent home, and the remaining college residents were forced to take their turn digging ramparts and defending the city.

After the trial and execution of Charles I in January 1649, all the colleges of Oxford were forced to submit to Visitors imposed by the Commonwealth government. A new Puritan President, Robert Harris, was imposed on Trinity. Numbers only slowly recovered, uncollected revenues were written off, and the neglected buildings were badly in need of maintenance. College fortunes were at a very low point.

 

Loggan's map of Oxford (1675) showing Trinity (numbered 14) and the ramparts dug to defend Oxford in the Civil Wars

Loggan’s map of Oxford (1675) showing Trinity (numbered 14) and the ramparts dug to defend Oxford in the Civil Wars

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