Born at Beverley in Yorkshire, Marmaduke Langdale inherited substantial estates from his father. He gained his first military experience in 1620 on Sir Horace Vere's expedition to the Palatinate. In 1626, Langdale married Lenox Rodes (d.1639) with whom he had four sons and three daughters. He was knighted by King Charles I in 1628 and increased his estates during the 1630s to become one of the leading gentlemen of Yorkshire. Despite his opposition to policies such as ship-money and forced loans, Langdale was appointed High Sheriff of Yorkshire in 1639. His refusal to co-operate in collecting controversial taxes incurred the King's displeasure and Langdale was threatened with prosecution before Star Chamber in 1640. However, on the outbreak of the First Civil War in 1642, Langdale was named as a Commissioner of Array for Yorkshire and appointed a colonel in the King's service.
Langdale joined the northern Royalist army commanded by the Earl of Newcastle and fought against the Fairfaxes in Yorkshire. In February 1644, during the Scottish invasion of northern England, Langdale routed the Covenanter cavalry at Corbridge on the River Tyne. At the battle of Marston Moor 1644, Langdale's cavalry fought on the Royalist left wing with Lieutenant-General Goring, who routed Fairfax's cavalry and came close to breaking the Allied infantry. After Marston Moor, Langdale took command of Newcastle's veteran cavalry regiments, which became known as the Northern Horse. They were always conscious of being an élite force, but were often volatile and difficult to control.
In February 1645, Langdale led a daring raid into Yorkshire, defeating Major-General Lambert at Wentbridge and relieving the siege of Pontefract Castle. The raid was a military success but Langdale's troopers left a trail of pillage and rape, causing great damage to the Royalist cause in Yorkshire. With no infantry support, Langdale was obliged to retreat from Pontefract and the Parliamentarians soon resumed the siege. In May, he joined the King at Ashby-de-la-Zouch then rode to cut off Parliament's garrison at Leicester in preparation for the arrival of Prince Rupert, who stormed and plundered the city on 30 May. Despite a near mutiny amongst his troopers who wanted to return to the north, Langdale was present at the battle of Naseby where the Northern Horse faced Cromwell's Ironsides. Outnumbered, they were steadily driven back, then outflanked and routed.
After Naseby, Langdale joined King Charles on his attempt to march towards Scotland to join forces with the Marquis of Montrose. The Royalists were diverted at Chester where they attempted to lift the siege. Langdale's cavalry advanced to Rowton Heath ready to attack the besiegers, but were defeated by a pursuing force of Parliamentarian cavalry under Colonel-General Poyntz. Langdale and the remnants of the Northern Horse attempted to continue the gallant ride to Scotland under the command of Lord Digby in October 1645. Digby's advance guard surprised and captured a Parliamentarian garrison at Sherburn-in-Elmet, Yorkshire, but was itself driven out in the confusion of an attack by Colonel Copley. Chased to Skipton and then across the Pennines into Cumberland, the Northern Horse were finally defeated on Carlisle Sands by Sir John Browne on 24 October 1645. Digby and Langdale escaped to the Isle of Man.
In 1648, Langdale was among the English Royalists who supported the Engager invasion of England. He seized Berwick for the King on 28 April and joined the Duke of Hamilton on his march through Lancashire. On 17 August 1648, Langdale was guarding the road into Preston while the main Engager army crossed the River Ribble when Cromwell launched an unexpected attack, initiating the three-day running battle of Preston. Langdale fought bravely to resist Cromwell's advance but was overwhelmed and driven back. He survived the battle but was taken prisoner at Nottingham and imprisoned in Nottingham Castle until October 1648 when he escaped to the Continent. His name was included on Parliament's list of seven Royalists excluded from pardon for their roles in the wars.
Langdale continued his military career fighting for the Venetians against the Turks in 1652. At Charles II's court-in-exile, he advocated an alliance with Spain as a means of regaining the throne of England, which brought him into conflict with Sir Edward Hyde who criticised Langdale's limited understanding of the situation. Like Digby, Langdale became a convert to Roman Catholicism. He was created 1st Baron Langdale in 1658. After the Restoration, he recovered his estates in Yorkshire and was appointed Lord-Lieutenant of the West Riding. He died in August 1661.
John Barratt, Cavaliers, the Royalist Army at War 1642-46, 2000
Andrew J. Hopper, Marmaduke Langdale, first Baron Langdale, Oxford DNB, 2004