The Battle of Reading (or Battle of Broad Street or The Reading Skirmish or The Reading Fight) was a battle in 1688 at Reading in the English county of Berkshire. It was the only substantial military action in England during the Glorious Revolution. It was celebrated in Reading for hundreds of years afterwards.
In November 1688 William and Mary landed at the head of a Dutch army in attempt to wrest control of the country. After retreating from Salisbury James II's main force was stationed on Hounslow Heath while an advance guard of 600 were placed at Reading to stop the march of the Dutch towards London. These 600 troops were composed of Irish Catholics under Patrick Sarsfield, who wild rumour asserted were planning to massacre the townsfolk.
On Sunday 9 December James II sent part of his army to Reading to stop the march of the Protestant army. The people of Reading had already sent a messenger to William who was at Hungerford to ask for help, and a relief force of about 250 Dutch troops was sent to the town. Warned in advance of the Royalist positions in the town they attacked from an unexpected direction, and got into the centre of Reading. Forcing the Irish troops back, the Dutch attack was supported by Reading men shooting from their windows. The Dutch soon forced the Irish troops to retreat in confusion leaving a number of their side slain, twenty to fifty depending on the account. There were few deaths on the Dutch side, one being a Catholic officer.
James was already convinced that only Irish troops could be relied on to defend him, but this defeat by an inferior force and the willingness of the people of Reading to support a Dutch invasion further signalled the insecurity of his position. Thus on Tuesday December 11 James fled London in abortive attempt to escape. He eventually escaped to France, where he found the support of Louis XIV and then Ireland, where most of the population supported him. His last hopes of regaining the throne were dashed with his defeat in the Williamite war in Ireland