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English Civil Wars
Offers a summary of the political events, the people involved, the battles and the technology of 17th-century warfare.

English Civil War Society A re-enactment group

Contains information about the activities of the re-enactment group and its research into the 17th century, plus an online discussion forum.

Civil War
Offers detailed analysis of the personalities, events and battles of the Civil War era. Also considers the century of 'tremors' that precipitated the upheaval, and explores the 'aftershocks' that continue to affect British and Irish politics to the present day. A joint BBC/Open University website.

Choosing Sides in the English Civil War

Excellent article by Dr Mark Stoyle, on the BBC History website, in which he examines the complex motivations behind the allegiances in the civil war.

The Sealed Knot
Re-enactment society named after a group that, during the Protectorate, plotted the restoration of the monarchy.

The Oliver Cromwell website
Set up by the Cromwell Association, looks at Oliver Cromwell's life as a soldier, politician and private individual.

Britain’s very own Taliban

Fascinating New Statesman article by historian Tristram Hunt, in which he asserts that ‘Oliver Cromwell's Puritans were fundamentalists who banned Christmas, outlawed holly and covered up their women’, and Cromwell himself was not the hero of the common man and protector of democracy that New Labour has tried to paint him.

The Pamphleteers’ Protestant Champion

Interesting (if long) article by Kevin A Creed, which views ‘Oliver Cromwell through the media of his day’ – pamphlets, sermons and broadsides.

The Regicides
Part of the British Civil Wars, Commonwealth and Protectorate 1638-60 website, this has just about everything you could possibly want to know about the men who signed Charles I’s death warrant or simply had urged others to do so. There are brief biographies of more than 60 of them.

Original Historical Texts
Original 17th-century newspapers, which include coverage of the execution of Charles I and the death of Oliver Cromwell.

The Siege of Brampton Bryan Castle

Detailed account of how Brilliana, Lady Harley held the family castle against Royalist forces in 1642.

Essex in the Civil War: A county for Parliament
Interesting website that exploits the civil war sources housed in the Essex Record Office.


The causes and meaning of the Civil Wars

Book coverCauses of the English Revolution 1529-1642 by Lawrence Stone (Routledge, 2001)
A sophisticated account of the scholarly controversies about whether the English Civil Wars were inevitable or a chance event.
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Book coverThe Debate on the English Revolution by R C Richardson (Manchester University Press, 3rd ed. 1998)
A clear guide to the many controversies about the origins and meaning of the English Civil Wars.
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Book coverRoundhead Reputations: The English Civil Wars and the passions of posterity by Blair Worden (Penguin, 2002)
The book shows how the memory of the civil wars, and rival interpretations of them, have permeated English thinking. A long section traces the changing reputation of Oliver Cromwell, a villain to some and a hero to others.
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The conflict itself

Book coverThe Civil Wars of England by John Kenyon (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, new ed 1996)
A good, well-written and pithy introduction to the complex and controversial arena of Civil War history.
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The English People and the English Revolution by Brian Manning (Bookmarks, 1991). Out of print.
Weighty analysis that sees the English Civil Wars as a class struggle, and looks at popular participation in the conflict.

The English Revolution, 1640 by Christopher Hill (first published 1940; Lawrence & Wishart, 1955)
Brief, readable and provocative Marxist account that sees the English Civil War as a class war.
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Book coverThe Great Rebellion 1642-60 by Ivan Roots (Sutton, rev. ed. 1995)
Lucid and full account that sees the English Civil Wars as a rebellion rather than a revolution. A good introduction.
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The King's War 1641-47 by C V Wedgwood (first published in 1958; Penguin, 2001). Out of print.
Classic narrative account of the English Civil Wars, full of detail but very easy to read. An excellent introduction.

Rebellion or Revolution? England from Civil War to Restoration by G E Aylmer. Out of print.
Clear and balanced account of the main themes of English Civil War history.

Book coverThe Royalist War Effort 1642-1646 by Ronald Hutton (Routledge, 2nd ed 2002)
Shows how the Royalists developed and sustained their military machine during the 1st Civil War, and why they ultimately lost.
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This War without an Enemy: A history of the English Civil Wars by Richard Ollard (first published 1976; Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2000). Out of print.
A readable account of the effects of the English Civil Wars on communities, families and ordinary people.

Book coverUnderstanding Popular Violence in the English Revolution: The Colchester plunderers by J Walter (Cambridge University Press, 1999)
A critical re-evaluation of one of the best-known episodes of crowd action in the English Civil Wars, in which thousands of people plundered the houses of the landed classes.
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Oliver Cromwell

Book coverCromwell: Chief of men by Antonia Fraser (first published 1973; Phoenix, 2004)
A detailed and sound account, written with a real feel for the narrative of Oliver Cromwell's life.
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Book coverGod's Englishman: Oliver Cromwell and the English Revolution by Christopher Hill (Penguin, 2000)
Not just a biography but a survey of 17th-century English history as seen through Oliver Cromwell's eyes, with an emphasis on the role of religion.
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Book coverCromwell: An honourable enemy – The untold story of the Cromwellian invasion of Ireland by Tom Reilly (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2000)
Cromwell has long been regarded as a genocidal maniac and a religious fanatic – one of the most reviled figures in Irish history. But, argues Tom Reilly, the traditional viewpoint lacks any solid evidence.
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Cromwell in Ireland by James Scott Wheeler (Gill & Macmillan, 2000)
Full account of Oliver Cromwell's campaign to complete the English conquest of Ireland.
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Women and the wars

Book coverThe Weaker Vessel: Woman’s lot in the 17th century by Antonia Fraser (first published in 1984, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, new edition 2002)
An expert on the period, Fraser brings to life the many and various women she has encountered in her considerable research: governesses, milkmaids, fishwives, nuns, defenders of castles (Brilliana, Lady Harley), courtesans, countesses, witches and widows.
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Book coverUnbridled Spirits: Women of the English Revolution 1640-1660 by Stevie Davies (Women’s Press, 1998)
Resurrects forgotten texts to bring to life ... prophetesses who predicted the fall of the king and the rise and fall of Cromwell; Peace Women who marched against the war; Leveller women who condemned oppressive legislators and abusive taxes; Fifth Monarchists who attacked the government; separatist women who founded dissenting churches and spoke for liberty of conscience; and radical Quakers who stood for gender and class equality.
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Women All on Fire: The women of the English Civil War by Alison Plowden (Sutton, 2000)
The story of women in the conflict, from Queen Henrietta Maria to ordinary women such as the oyster wenches of London who dug trenches to defend the city. Includes Lady Brilliana Harley who held Brampton Bryan Castle in Herefordshire against the Royalists.
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Places to visit

The Commandery Civil War Centre
Worcester WR1 2HU
Tel: 01905 361 821
Fax: 01905 361 822

During the battle of Worcester, Charles II made the Commandery the Royalist headquarters. Today, the museum has fascinating displays telling the dramatic story of one of England's most turbulent periods of history, including the trial of Charles I.

Cromwell Museum, Huntingdon
Grammar School Walk
Cambridgeshire PE29 3LF
Tel: 01480 375 380
The only museum dedicated solely to Oliver Cromwell houses personal letters, family possessions, portraits and documents relating to Cromwell and his family. The museum is housed on the site of the grammar school that the Lord Protector once attended. Website contains information about books, portraits and documents, as well as an online exhibition.

The Cromwell Collection, Huntingdon
Huntingdon Library
Princes Street
Cambridgeshire PE29 3PH
Tel: 0845 045 5225

In 2002, the collection was created by adding to the existing library collection a substantial amount of new material plus the Cromwell Association’s library. The result, together with the resources of the Cromwell Museum (see above) and the County Record Office in Huntingdon, is one of the most comprehensive collections of material on Oliver Cromwell and his times outside academic circles, available to people of all ages.

Museum of London
London Wall
London EC2Y 5HN
Tel: 0870 444 3852
Information line: 0870 444 3851

The museum's Cromwell Collection is one of the largest of its kind. Formed by Sir Richard Tangye, a wealthy 19th-century industrialist and passionate enthusiast for all things Cromwell, it includes many rare manuscripts and printed books, medals, paintings, objets d'art and a bizarre assemblage of 'relics', such as Cromwell's Bible, button, coffin plate, death mask (in the museum's 'Macabre London' gallery) and funeral escutcheon.

Brampton Bryan Castle
On the A4113, 10 miles west of Ludlow, Shropshire
The castle held against Royalist forces by Brilliana, Lady Harley. The curtain walls and ruins of the towers and square gatehouse remain. The castle is privately owned, but is occasionally open to the public.

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A Royalist playing card mocking Cromwell

A Royalist playing card mocking Cromwell
(Mary Evans Picture Library)

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