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Engish Civil War

Posted: Sun January 3rd, 2010, 5:28 pm
by Misfit
Oh goodie, a fresh field to talk about (thanks BB for setting it up). I've read quite a few great novels on this period and am finding it fascinating - there is so much story material to work with here. What's amazing is that I always thought it was _just_ about disputes between Charles I and Parliament but there is quite a bit more to it than that.

Here's a Listmania I put together on Amazon but it's still growing and any other suggestions are most welcome.

Posted: Sun January 3rd, 2010, 5:57 pm
by boswellbaxter
Jane Lane wrote quite a bit about this period. I have a few of her novels, including The Severed Crown and the rather unappealingly titled The Young and Lonely King.

Posted: Sun January 3rd, 2010, 6:09 pm
by boswellbaxter
There's a list of HF set during this period by Fuzzy History (who posts here occasionally): ... civil-war/

Posted: Sun January 3rd, 2010, 6:42 pm
by EC2
It's a period that's never reached out and grabbed me. I do read novels set in this time, but I have to be pushed into it and they tend to stay lower down the TBR. I think it may be because I studied this period for my 'A' levels and I perhaps equate it with forced learning as opposed to fun learning, especially as I was well into the medieval period at that point of personal study, and I didn't really want to learn about boring old Stuarts etc. I suspect the prejudice has remained to a degree. :(

Posted: Sun January 3rd, 2010, 6:56 pm
by Misfit
[quote=""boswellbaxter""]There's a list of HF set during this period by Fuzzy History (who posts here occasionally): ... civil-war/[/quote]

Thanks for that. Genie still posts over at PBS, but I rarely see her here.

I've heard both good and bad about As Meat Loves Salt and still can't decide if I want to tackle it.

EC, if I'd had a period shoved down my throat in school I'd probably hate it too. The stories I've like best so far are not so much focused on the Stewarts as they are in the surrounding countryside and how the conflicts affected them.

Posted: Sun January 3rd, 2010, 7:22 pm
by annis
There are a couple I'll add:

Claire Letemendia's "Best of Men" - a good view of the politics surrounding the build up to the start of the Civil War- Review here

Ronan Bennett's "Havoc in its Third Year" about a coroner in Yorkshire amid the English Civil War who questions the guilt of an Irishwoman his Puritan fellow-governors believe to have murdered her baby.It's a compelling but bleak picture of what happens when any overly rigid moral system is imposed on a community.

Ross King's "Ex-Libris" is very interesting, too, really captures the ferment of philosophical and scientific ideas which were such a part of this period. Review here

Margaret has quite a list on her website, in the Seventeenth Century section ... tml#17Brit

Maybe I'll add the review I just did for Elizabeth Goudge's "White Witch" here as well

Posted: Sun January 3rd, 2010, 8:22 pm
by Ariadne
I had the US Civil War shoved down my throat in high school, though good historical fiction has helped me get over my aversion to the period. I still don't care to read the men-and-battles version of its history -- it reminds me too much of being forced to watch dreadful filmstrips in 11th-grade history class. The English Civil War, though, is not a problem as I don't think it was ever mentioned during my schooling.

I have The Best of Men on preorder at BD. I saw the $5ish price and couldn't resist! The Murph title cited on Genie's page is an excellent source if you want to know titles of novels, though I agree with very few of her (Murph's) annotations. She's heavily critical of Belle, for instance, and just about anything with a mildly romantic bent.

Posted: Sun January 3rd, 2010, 8:27 pm
by Eigon
I started off with the '1066 And All That' view that the Cavaliers were Wrong but Wromantic and the Roundheads were Right but Repulsive!
Then I started reading Rosemary Sutcliffe's Rider on a White Horse, about General Fairfax, who was upper class enough to wear all the lace and satin, but whose sympathies lay with the Roundhead side. I seem to remember Rosemary Sutcliffe chose him to write about because of a disagreement with her mother. It was something to do with the Puritan characters never being written sympathetically - I forget the details.
The nice thing about the book is that a lot of it is from the point of view of Lady Fairfax, showing what it was like to be a camp follower, albeit high ranking.

These days, having read a little more about the history, my sympathies are far more with Parliament. I think I may have been a Quaker, or even a Digger or Leveller, if I were around at the time!

Posted: Sun January 3rd, 2010, 8:36 pm
by Misfit
I do intend to read the Sutcliff book in the near future.

Is there ever really a right or wrong side in a conflict like this? In the end the real losers are the people and the countryside, much like in the US Civil War. Brother against brother.

I don't like books with a lot of heavy battle scenes either. I did read the Shaara trilogy on the US Civil War and while they were very good and eye opening I doubt I'll ever read them again.

Posted: Sun January 3rd, 2010, 8:39 pm
by annis
Posted by Eigon
--the Cavaliers were Wrong but Wromantic and the Roundheads were Right but Repulsive!
Love it! Sutcliff was onto a winner with Sir Thomas Fairfax, who was both Wromantic and Right :)
There was a strong tradition of Quakerism in Rosemary Sutcliff's family background, which might also have inspired her interest in the Puritan cause.

One thing to watch out for when buying a copy of "Rider on a White Horse" is to avoid the Puffin edition, which is an abridged version for younger readers.

There were several noblemen who experienced intense conflict with Puritan leanings and personal loyalty to the king. Charles' standard bearer Sir Edmund Verney was one of these. His story also shows how divisve loyalties split families apart.

"Verney demonstrates well the heart searching that went on before the outbreak of the Civil War. He had a long association with Charles I, having been his servant before he came to the throne (1613), and had maintained that relationship in the intervening years. By 1642 he had benefited from Charles's sales of monopolies, received a court pension, and had lent Charles large sums of money.

However, he was also a Puritan, a MP, and a member of both the Short and Long parliaments, and was opposed to Charles's arbitrary measures during the Eleven Years Tyranny. Even his sons were split - his eldest son fought for Parliament (as did his older brother), while his two younger sons joined Verney and fought for the King. Verney explained his decision to fight for the King in a letter, expressing motives common to many of Charles's supporters.

I have eaten his bread and served him near thirty years, and will not do so base a thing as to forsake him; and choose rather to lose my life (which I am sure to do) to preserve and defend those things which are against my conscience to preserve and defend
Verney Memoirs, London, 1892, Vol. I, p.277

When war broke out, Verney was appointed to be the King's standard-bearer, but at the battle of Edgehill (23 October 1642), he was killed while engaged in intense hand to hand fighting, and the standard captured. "

According to the family history his body was never recovered, but his severed hand was found, still clutching the standard.

(Edit) Elizabeth Goudge's "Witch Witch" covers the Battle of Edgehill and the capture of the Royal Standard (the flag, that is, the pole still being in Sir Edmund's possession!) She also tells the story of the daring recovery of the flag from Oliver Cromwell by the Royalist Captain John Smith.