normal complete Parliament--so little question was there of a Royalist victory paving the way for arbitrary tyranny! However, the Oxford Parliament did make it easier for the King to extract some scanty replenishment for his gaping coffers, with the goodwill of the contributors and without overstepping the limits of constitutional propriety.
THE THREAT FROM THE NORTH
BUT Oxford besides being a seat of government, was a seat of war. Its possession had been the real though not the intended fruit of the King's initial drive on London. It had given him a fixed point round which to manœuvre, and a main base of operations--the nearest he could get to a Cavalier London.
But with how decisive a difference! For London was not only the greatest British sea-port, road centre, and reservoir of wealth, munitions, and manpower, but a fortress that from time immemorial had been proof against both assault or siege. Oxford was a provincial city, prosperous enough in peace time, but entirely lacking in the resources to equip it for a main base of operations in a nation-wide war.
It is true that the King and his staff worked with desperate resourcefulness to make up for its deficiencies. They even improvised works in the neighbourhood to supply the most urgent necessities of the campaign--there was a powder mill, for instance, started at Osney--but it was a pitiful driblet at best that could be obtained through such channels compared with the overflowing refreshment that could be fed into the rebel war machine.
It was indeed possible by the combined efforts of Town and Gown to surround Oxford with a ring of fortifications calculated to make the stoutest rebel commander quail before the prospect of direct assault. But Oxford was approachable from all sides, and once the King could be shut up in it--an only too easily thinkable operation--the probabilities were overwhelming that it would be starved out, and the war over, within a matter of a few weeks. For like the King in chess, he had only to be checkmated for the game to be over, no matter how many other of his pieces remained on the board.