Text only
Time traveller's guide to Stuart England
War - home
The warsTimelineCromwellCounting the costAsk the expertsFind out more


Counting the cost

According to the National Army Museum in London, there may have been as many as 250,000 war-related deaths in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales during what is now popularly known as the English Civil Wars. These losses represent a greater proportion of the population than the British dead of World War I.

This statistic may come as a surprise. Often when the English Civil Wars are discussed or presented on television or in film today, there is a tendency to concentrate on Charles I’s comparatively civilised arguments with Parliament and on his trial and (until the last moment) relatively decorous execution. The blood-soaked battlefields, the atrocities, famine and riots of that era have somehow been forgotten.

Below are snapshots – from contemporary commentators and from present-day histories – that give some idea of the true horror of the civil wars that, in the 1640s, tore the British Isles apart. But it is worth remembering the words of George Orwell:

... Atrocities are believed in or disbelieved in solely on grounds of political predilection. Everyone believes in the atrocities of the enemy and disbelieves in those of his own side, without ever bothering to examine the evidence.
Looking Back on the Spanish War, 1943

Mobs and mob violence
Sacks and sieges
The aftermath

Top Top

Scene from Channel 4's Blood on Our Hands

Scene from Channel 4's Blood on Our Hands


The wars | Timeline | Cromwell | Counting the cost | Ask the experts | Find out more | Home