The Civil Wars Experienced: Britain and Ireland, 1638-1661

The Civil Wars Experienced: Britain and Ireland, 1638-1661

The Civil Wars Experienced: Britain and Ireland, 1638-1661

The Civil Wars Experienced: Britain and Ireland, 1638-1661

Synopsis

The Civil Wars Experienced is an exciting new history of the civil wars, which recounts their effects on the 'common people'. This engaging survey throws new light onto a century of violence and political and social upheavalBy looking at personal sources such as diaries, petitions, letters and social sources including the press, The Civil War Experienced clearly sets out the true social and cultural effects of the wars on the peoples of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland and how common experiences transcended national and regional boundaries. It ranges widely from the Orkneys to Galway and from Radnorshire to Norfolk. The Civil Wars Experienced explores exactly how far-reaching the changes caused by civil wars actually were for both women and men and carefully assesses individual reactions towards them. For most people fear, familial concerns and material priorities dictated their lives, but for others the civil revolutions provided a positive force for their own spiritual and religious development.By placing the military and political developments of the civil wars in a social context, this book portrays a very different interpretation of a century of regicide and republic.

Excerpt

I have worked on the mid-seventeenth century for almost twenty years. In the optimism of my youth I harboured hopes that the mid-seventeenth century history of the British Isles was the history of revolution. However, my Civil War education coincided with the onset of two conservative impulses: Margaret Thatcher's twentieth-century Conservative 'revolution' and the publication of Robert Ashton's important work on the mid-seventeenth century, The English Civil War: Conservatism and Revolution. In the wake of both of these potent forces my optimism about the progressive nature of the Civil War period began to dissipate. During my post-graduate years I became convinced, just as several of my slightly older colleagues were, that a Royalist victory, whether in 1646, in 1648 or even 1651 could have involved some degree of political or even social change too. Many Royalist activists were as much outsiders as some of Cromwell's russet-coated soldiers. I worked on the small Royalist army of the North Midlands led by Lord Loughborough. The vast majority of the 350 officers under his command were relative political, social and economic nonentities, in the world beyond their parish boundaries. Had these men been on the winning side then it was not beyond possibility they may have demanded some part of the spoils? They would certainly have benefited financially, as many of their opponents were to do after the war, and they would have weeded out and replaced the petty and middling parliamentarian officials in the local county. Perhaps, if their service had been exemplary they may have been rewarded with positions of national importance. However, it would always remain true that the Royalist victors would have wanted a place in the status quo rather than any part in a brave new world. Whilst many parliamentarians would have also desired nothing more than this for themselves, the fact is that some of their number forced major changes upon the four nations in the wake of victory in 1648. There were limits to the notion of the conservative revolution. Even if the revolution of December 1648 to March 1649 was in any way conservative, the resulting political consequences, the restructuring of British and Irish polity were radical.

The tide of the twentieth-century Conservative revolution also reached the high water mark. For all of Margaret Thatcher's confidence, much of the brash revolution of the 1980s was revealed in the wake of a deeply flawed economic

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