Today (January 23) marks an auspicious anniversary for Leeds because 374 years ago on this day, it was stormed by Parliamentary forces during the English Civil War.
Indeed, a battle took place, during which some 40 men died, including one of the vanquished Royalist commanders, Sergeant Major Beaumont, who drowned trying to flee across the River Aire, much to the amusement of the attackers.
Indeed, Sir William Savile, leader of the Royalist forces, only narrowly escaped the same fate himself, after he was forced to swim the river to secure his own escape.
It was snowing that day and Fairfax mustered his forces on Woorhouse Moor, from there issuing a demand to the Royalists for them to give up the town.
Savile sent a curt note back saying he was “not used to give answer to such frivolous demands.”
This incensed Fairfax, who decided to split his attacking forces, one on each side of the river, with him leading one of the columns.
He noted: “On the morning, I marched from Bradford with six troops of horse and three companies of dragoons and almost 1,000 muskets and 2,000 clubmen... we marched to Woodhouse Moor and I dispatched Sir William Savile with a written requirement for the town to be delivered to me, to which Sir William disdainfully answered immediately.”
During the ensuing battle, the Royalists held their attackers off for three hours but were eventually overcome, their leader fled.
That day, the Parliamentarians took 450 prisoners, two cannon and a store of weapons and ammunition in what was a strategically important victory.