UKC

/ The English Civil War

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Trangia on 28 Apr 2018

Last year I walked the Cotswold Way from North to South and towards the end I came across various references to the Civil War culminating in crossing the battlefield at Lansdown Hill 1643 outside Bath. Last Sunday I did a walk along th Medway Valley and crossed an ancient stone bridge at East Farleigh where I am told Civil War skirmishing took place with the opponents holding each end of the bridge.

These have got me thinking about the Civil War and I realise that I know virtually nothing about it other than it was a struggle between Royalists and Parliamentarians. 

I want to learn more about it and study it in more depth.

Can anyone recommend a good readable history book about the Civil War as an introduction?

Andy Hardy on 28 Apr 2018
In reply to Trangia:

Antonia Fraser did a good biography of Cromwell which I enjoyed a couple of years ago "Cromwell Our Chief of Men"

webbo - on 28 Apr 2018
In reply to Trangia:

The history of England volume 3 civil war by Peter Ackroyd or Civil war by Maurice Ashley.

DD72 - on 28 Apr 2018
In reply to Trangia:

To accompany the reading "The Devil's Whore" on More 4 probably takes all sorts of liberties with the facts but it does give a nice feel of the sort of revolutionary ideas that were unleashed at the time. 

Andy Clarke - on 28 Apr 2018
In reply to Trangia:

Civil War by Trevor Royle. Covers all three kingdoms from 1638-1660 in a sweeping narrative. Pretty weighty at 800+ pages, but carries you along. 

Andy Clarke - on 28 Apr 2018
In reply to DD72:

Excellent and very readable treatment of these radical ideas in Christopher Hill's classic The World Turned Upside Down. 

mbh - on 28 Apr 2018
In reply to Trangia:

Battles of the English Civil War, Austin Woolrych. 

I see that my copy was on sale for 30p, so it's not the most recent study, but a rattling read, as I recall.

Covers Marston Moor, Naseby and Preston.

Ramblin dave - on 28 Apr 2018
In reply to Trangia:

I recently read The English Civil War: A People's History by Diane Purkiss, which is pretty good.

Trangia on 28 Apr 2018
In reply to All:

Wow! Great quick response from you all! Lots of good recommendations there, so difficult to know where to start. To Ramblin dave, I was browsing in Waterstones this afternoon and flipped through the Diane Purkiss book and did wonder about it. On the strength of your recommendation will probably start with that, but the others all look good, so if I enjoy the subject will very likely read those too. I always find it's worth reading more than history on a subject.

Thanks again all.

 

Clarence on 28 Apr 2018
In reply to Ramblin dave:

> I recently read The English Civil War: A People's History by Diane Purkiss, which is pretty good.

I just bought that, it looks like a good alternative to the usual political or military view.

For a historical overview I can recommend the Osprey Essential History volume on the subject, short but everything essential is there. For a military history the usual go-to book is All the King's Armies by Stewart Reid. Caliver Books in Eastwood are specialists in the period and have reprints of all kinds of contemporary documents such as drill manuals and propaganda pamphlets. It is a fascinating period in British History that rarely gets the attention it deserves.

Bobling - on 28 Apr 2018
In reply to Trangia:

Fiction rather than history but "The Rider of the White Horse" by Rosemary Sutcliffe was good!

Rampikino - on 28 Apr 2018
In reply to Trangia:

I once visited a client at his incredible old house up past Wigan. Magnificent place.

He pointed to the kitchen table and told me that Cromwell had slept on it the night before one of the battles (Edge Hill?) and that he had been using the place to keep an eye on a Royalist troop movements.

I had no reason to disbelieve him!

webbo - on 28 Apr 2018
In reply to Rampikino:

> I once visited a client at his incredible old house up past Wigan. Magnificent place.

> He pointed to the kitchen table and told me that Cromwell had slept on it the night before one of the battles (Edge Hill?) and that he had been using the place to keep an eye on a Royalist troop movements.

> I had no reason to disbelieve him!

Either the table had moved or it is fable as Edge Hill is a long way from Wigan. Battle of Preston maybe?

Toccata on 28 Apr 2018
In reply to Trangia:

The wonderful History of Britain by Norman Davies covers it well and has 1000 pages of the background to the conflict. Oh and there’s some stuff on what happened next.

Toccata on 28 Apr 2018
In reply to Trangia:

I’ve dined several times at Sidney Sussex where they close curtains over the (supposed) head of Cromwell before toasting the Queen.

1
webbo - on 28 Apr 2018
In reply to Trangia:

many years ago I played a Levellers tape to a more educated climbing partner. Who said “ The levellers part of Olive Cromwell’s  new model army which got me interested and reading about the Civil war.

I even managed to find a book about Honest John Lilburne in the local library who was behind the Levellers an early socialist type group. Well worth a read if you can find it.

 

jess13 - on 28 Apr 2018
In reply to Trangia:

Went to look at the battlefield at Marston Moor near Wetherby a few weeks ago. There is not much there but a memorial at the side of the road which bisects the original positions of the two armies. What struck me was how flat the countryside was and I wondered how anyone really knew what was going on.

On reading about the battle it turned out that Cromwell and his Ironsides defeated Prince Rupert,s cavalry on the left then raced across the face of the rival infantries to rescue the struggling Parliamentary cavalry on the right so he got a good look at the enemy positions. Prince Rupert went and hid in a beanfield. The Marquess of Newcastle's royalist troops were killed to a man because they wouldnt surrender, many of the dead on both sides were buried in a nearby wood.

Plenty on Wikipedia with loads of references.

Post edited at 21:52
Clarence on 28 Apr 2018
In reply to webbo:

And the Levellers gave rise to the Diggers who were a big influence on the early hippy scene. The Ranters on the other hand were religious anarchists with a predilection for nudity. Interesting times.

You give one king a too short back and sides and everyone thinks they can do what they want.

Bogwalloper - on 28 Apr 2018
In reply to Trangia:

Wait a couple of years for the next one ..........

W

webbo - on 28 Apr 2018
In reply to Bogwalloper:

> Wait a couple of years for the next one ..........

> W

A couple of problems that might get in the way. The Kings arsenal is no longer at Dull and it hasn’t got any walls these days to keep people out. Although I would suspect that folk might like walls to keep people in. Also who’s going to raise a banner at Nottingham you couldn’t get them to raise a cake these days.

Rampikino - on 28 Apr 2018
In reply to webbo:

Potentially. How much is true I don’t know...

TobyA on 29 Apr 2018
In reply to Trangia:

For a very sideways view of that period keep an eye out for the film A Field in England. It's been on iPlayer a couple of times. Very strange but perhaps actually gives some insight into how people saw the world back then.

l'amour on 29 Apr 2018
In reply to Trangia:

Have a listen to Revolutions podcast. It starts with the English Civil War and is excellent.

http://www.revolutionspodcast.com/page/22/

neilh - on 29 Apr 2018
In reply to Trangia:

Where I live there is a small church with a slight hill running down to the river Mersey at Warrington. Warrington was one of the few places with a ford across the Mersey.  So was a good north south link. 

There were quite a few skirmishes in the civil war. 

The road is named red lane. This was due to the blood flowing down the lane after one skirmish. 

Civil war history is all around us . Fascinating stuff

winhill - on 29 Apr 2018
In reply to Trangia:

To get a feel for the times, Christopher Hill, already mentioned but also God's Fury, England's Fire by

Martin Braddick is brilliant. After them Keith Thomas's Religion and the Decline of Magic covers a longer time period but also covers the ideas as well.

Next Monday is the re-enactment at the National Civil War Centre in Newark. Worth a visit usually but the current exhibition at the centre is incongruously about suffragettes.

Buildings in Newark still have the scars of the battles but Newark itself in an anagram of Wanker, so it's a mixed experience, a bit like the civil war,

Minneconjou Sioux on 30 Apr 2018
In reply to Rampikino:

>> He pointed to the kitchen table and told me that Cromwell had slept on it the night before one of the battles (Edge Hill?) and that he had been using the place to keep an eye on a Royalist troop movements.

> I had no reason to disbelieve him!

TBF, I think every historical town in England makes some claim to having somewhere where Cromwell slept, hence the number of pubs named after him ;-)

 

scaredandweak - on 30 Apr 2018
In reply to Trangia:

Cromwell pulled down my house ( maybe not personally )

nickh1964 - on 11 May 2018
In reply to Trangia:

Totally agree with the suggestion of Norman Davies, a fine book. If you can find it the radio 4 series on the Civil war from years ago with Bernard Hepton as Cromwell (one of THE great radio voices) was a great piece of epic drama. For a fascinating insight into the aftermath you can do no better than dip into Pepys diaries, they start with him helping to bring Charles 2nd back to England, he records seeing the regicides heads on spikes on London Bridge, and so on. There are many good condensed versions, Abe books is a great place to look, but in the end I have gone hardcore and am reading the whole lot as bedtime reading, such a rewarding way to end the day. 

Duncan Bourne - on 11 May 2018
In reply to Ramblin dave:

> I recently read The English Civil War: A People's History by Diane Purkiss, which is pretty good.


I'll second that. A very good account of all the various things going on at the time

felt - on 11 May 2018
In reply to Rampikino:

> He pointed to the kitchen table and told me that Cromwell had slept on it the night before one of the battles (Edge Hill?) and that he had been using the place to keep an eye on a Royalist troop movements.

They say you'd have a well-stocked forest with all the "Royal Oaks" Charles II is meant to have hidden in. Combine with all the pieces of the "True Cross" and you've got a Kielder, hence the SI unit of gullibility: the Kielder.

 
Rampikino - on 11 May 2018
In reply to felt:

It’s certainly true that I wish I had kept a note of where it was so I could have looked it up later. I will never know...

EdS - on 11 May 2018
In reply to Trangia:

English Civil Wars. The were 3

First (1642–46) and second (1648–49) wars pitted the supporters of Royalists  against the Long Parliament. Number 3 (1649–51) was Charles 1 lot vs the Rump Parliament

 

Rampikino - on 11 May 2018
In reply to EdS:

> English Civil Wars. The were 3

> First (1642–46) and second (1648–49) wars pitted the supporters of Royalists  against the Long Parliament. Number 3 (1649–51) was Charles 1 lot vs the Rump Parliament

Actually more.

The Wars of the Roses - civil war.

felt - on 12 May 2018
In reply to Rampikino:

And Stephen and Mathilda -- civil war

Having said that, neither were your full-on, upper-case, definite article sort of see dubyas.

Postmanpat on 12 May 2018
In reply to EdS:

  They weren't really "English" civil wars. They are sometimes, and more appropriately,  known as the "War of the three kingdoms". The rebellion of the Scots presbyterians was the immediate catalyst for war and the Scots remained involved (usually) on the parliamentary side. Meanwhile there were ongoing military actions in Ireland from 1641 onwards  (the Irish catholics suporting the king) ,eventually and infamously crushed by Cromwell in 1649.

Post edited at 09:18
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Ian Jones - on 12 May 2018
In reply to Trangia:

History of England by GM Trevelyan is the classic read. 

Deleted bagger - on 12 May 2018
In reply to Trangia:

It's a compelling period of British history. Earlier this week I was listening to one of Melvyn Bragg's podcasts. The way the conflict went from the elites contesting the struggle for power between themselves to total war is horrific. In terms of casualties as a percentage of total the population no other conflict has been as bad.

mbh - on 12 May 2018
In reply to Deleted bagger:

> In terms of casualties as a percentage of total the population no other conflict has been as bad.

A sign of the times, perhaps? The roughly contemporaneous Thirty Years War in central Europe was similarly devastating.

 


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