Running Man

“He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day.”

The above saying has proven advantageous for several historical figures. You can introduce kids to this wise old adage by telling them about England’s merry monarch, Charles II, whose life wasn’t always merry. In 1646, civil war forced the teen-age heir to the English throne into exile. A few years later, he returned to claim the crown, which was no longer on the head of his father, Charles I, since he longer had one. England’s Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell, had cut it off in 1649, and Junior was a tad bitter. Things didn’t go very well, however, and Crowell’s forces defeated young Charles in the Battle of Worcester on September 3rd, 1651, forcing him to flee the country again. (The six harrowing weeks he spent eluding capture are told in the 1958 movie, The Moonraker). He finally got away on October 17th, 1651, but while he may have been out, he wasn’t down. Not permanently, anyway. Cromwell died in 1658, and his son Richard was not popular (or ruthless) enough to keep the Puritans in power. The English people wanted the monarchy back, and Charles II returned. Nine years to the day of his leaving England, he was overseeing the execution of the men who’d signed his father’s death warrant. (Cromwell didn’t escape vengeance either. Though dead, he was dug up and hung.)

Some other strategic withdrawers:

King Alfred, who, beleaguered by the Danes, withdrew into the marshes of Somerset, from whence he was able to conduct guerrilla warfare.

Edward IV & his brother, Richard (later Richard III), who fled England in September, 1970, but they returned the following spring and Edward successfully retook his crown.

Napoleon Bonaparte, who was forced into exile to the Island of Elba in March, 1814, but was back creating difficulties for the European powers just eleven months later. Clashing with them at the Battle of Waterloo (June 15th, 1815), he was defeated, and packed off to the Island of St. Helena, where he died three years later. But he did get to fight another day – and write his memoirs.

There was also Richard Cromwell, son Of Oliver. After Charles II’s restoration, he fled to Paris, but he decided not to fight another day. When he did come back twenty years later, he lived under an assumed name.  


  1. Robert the Bruce spent time as a fugitive. The legend of the Bruce and the spider comes from his time on the run. According to legend, he adopted the patience and perseverance he saw exhibited by the spider’s repeated attempts at building her web across the cave, trying and trying again until she succeeded.

  2. Yes, surprising how many kings had to go on the lam. But who/whatever taught Bruce perseverance, it paid off, Eighteen years after first being outlawed by the English King, Edward I, over the stabbing of a rival (and excommunicated to boot because he did so in church), he was king of an independent Scotland and recognized as such by papal authority.

    1. It helped that the Hammer of the Scots, Edward Longshanks, had died and left an heir (Edward II) who possessed less strategic and tactical skill than his father. Robert the Bruce won an amazing victory at the battle of Bannockburn.

  3. He did indeed. Poor Eddie Jr. wasn’t his father’s match in a lot of ways, and unlike Daddy, who had a nice, supportive wife, he got a murderous, conniving shrew. Mind you, she did have quite a lot to put up with …

    1. Isabella, She-wolf of France – beautiful, intelligent, adulterous, and deadly.

  4. That’s the one!

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