THE CIVIL WAR HAD ITS FORMAL OPENMG ON A STORMY DAY IN August, 1642, when the royal standard was set up outside the castle walls in Nottingham. The herald read a declaration on the causes of the conflict and had trouble with the manuscript, because King Charles had called for pen and ink and made some last-minute alterations in an effort to have everything quite clear.
The King might feel he knew what the war was about, but few other people did. Thomas Knyvett wrote bitterly to his wife, "The best excuse that can be made for us must be a fit of lunacy," and Sir John Oglander echoed his bewilderment when he spoke of "our unnatural wars, no man understanding the true grounds of it." Oglander was a royalist with a dearly loved brother on the side of Parliament, and he had special reason to hate the cruelty, of a civil war.
Each man had to make up his mind where his loyalties lay, and only a few extremists found the task easy. The King's standard-bearer was a typical case as he stood on that windy hill in Nottingham, for Sir Edmund Verney believed that the bishops were the cause of the war and it was against his conscience to fight for the bishops. Yet it was equally against his conscience to fight against the King. "I have eaten his bread and served him near thirty years and will not do so base a thing as to forsake him." His eldest son was on the Parliament side, a tragedy that made no difference to his father's love for him. "He bath ever lain near my heart, and truly he is there still." But as a result Sir Edmund almost welcomed the death he met that year at the battle of Edgehill.
The same split, if a less heartbreaking one, showed in the