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.
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.
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
The causes and meaning of the Civil Wars
Causes of the English Revolution 1529-1642 by Lawrence Stone
A sophisticated account of the scholarly controversies about whether the English
Civil Wars were inevitable or a chance event.
The 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.
Roundhead 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.
The conflict itself
The 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.
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.
The Great Rebellion 1642-60 by Ivan Roots (Sutton, rev. ed.
Lucid and full account that sees the English Civil Wars as a rebellion rather
than a revolution. A good introduction.
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.
The 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.
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.
Understanding 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.
Cromwell: Chief of men by Antonia Fraser (first published 1973;
A detailed and sound account, written with a real feel for the narrative of
Oliver Cromwell's life.
God'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.
Cromwell: An honourable enemy – The untold story of the Cromwellian
invasion of Ireland by Tom Reilly (Weidenfeld & Nicolson,
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.
Cromwell in Ireland by James Scott Wheeler (Gill & Macmillan,
Full account of Oliver Cromwell's campaign to complete the English conquest
Women and the wars
The Weaker Vessel: Woman’s lot in the 17th century by
Antonia Fraser (first published in 1984, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, new
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.
Unbridled 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.
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.
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
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
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 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.