The Civil War – more than just men with beards

Swordfighting

One of my first experiences with the English Civil War was at school. A rather overweight middle-aged man with a beard came into the class dressed as a Roundhead and showed off muskets, pikes and general fighting tactics.

Yet despite all this effort, I found it rather uninspiring. When you also combine it with the main battles being in rather bland fields, for a while the civil war was something old and rather meaningless.

It was only later when I had to study the social side and the impact of the war that it finally became quite impressive. Here are my top three reasons why:

  1. The Civil War still remains the last major armed conflict fought on English soil. Despite two World Wars (including the Battle of Britain in the air), we haven’t experienced land combat on mainland Britain since. We find it difficult to imagine from recent history that ordinary people would have been caught up in the conflict and could not have been protected from it.
  2. It was a period where Britain temporarily became a republic – and not that temporary either, it lasted 11 years! Many historians also see this as one of the reasons why Britain adapted better to the social changes of industrialisation and avoided the revolutions that swept Europe.
  3. The ideas of the Civil War challenged the influence of the state in people’s religious beliefs. The church was a way to influence communication to ordinary people and there was state persecution of religion. It may seem a little old hat now but this was a significant step towards freedom of thought and expression.
Olde White Hart Newark

The Olde White Hart, likely to have been used as a residence for Royalist soldiers

Add into all of this, Nottinghamshire as the starting point and the place of surrender for King Charles I and now there’s more intrigue in the mix for us. In raising his flag at Nottingham Castle, Charles effectively starts the scrap with a gesture of defiance after years of niggles and disagreements.

It’s in historic Newark that you can see best how the Civil War affected real people. The town was held by Royalist troops and often laid siege over the conflict. So if you’ve recently seen a siege scenario unfold on the news in somewhere like Libya or Syria, some 350 years ago in England it was Newark. The technology would have been different but the effect on people would have been similar.

A few years ago, my parents went on a short break to Dublin and came back to tell me that ‘there’s a lot of history there – you can still see the bullet holes in the walls’. They were surprised when I told them they could find similar at Newark Castle too – and so could you.

Take the Civil War trail around the town to discover more, and we have a mouth-watering prospect of a National Civil War Centre due for September 2014 to help tell the tale.

Posted on 15 March 2013
Featured author: Dale Web Marketing Officer

A Mansfield lad who likes reading, running and red wine.

Comments (0)

Post a comment

Our monthly pick

Nottingham We Dig The Castle

We Dig The Castle: Unearthing Nottingham’s Archaeological Secrets Part Two

This blog is the second instalment of a two part blog. To read part one click here. Back in July I visited Nottingham Castle to find out more about the annual archaeological excavation ‘We Dig The Castle’. A partnership project between Trent & Peak Archaeology, Nottingham City Council and Historic England, this excellent scheme invites volunteers…

Your favourite places

Featured authors

  • Sarah Louise

    A very lucky marketeer in her dream job. Passionate about all things Nottinghamshire and firmly believes if you work really hard and are kind, amazing things will happen!

  • Kinga

    Addicted to music and learning languages. Loves reading, gardening, travelling and everything new media related.

  • Alistair

    Originally from Preston – but now calling Nottingham home – Alistair’s a St Helens rugby league fan who loves travel and music.

  • Natalie

    Proud to represent the county I grew up in. Travel loving devoted mum of two who carries a torch for the city’s unsung hero, Captain Albert Ball VC.

  • Sophie

    Writer and amateur local historian with an affection for English eccentrics. Returned to Nottingham in 2013, only to fall in love with the creative and cultural goings of the city.

Have a go...

unesco city of literature nottingham

Speak In Nottingham To Me – A Beginner’s Guide To Nottingham’s Dialect

Language is certainly one of our best creations. Without it, it would be difficult for us to coexist, establish communities and share feelings. Language makes it all easier and helps us work together and understand one another. Throughout history people always felt the need to find one universal language for all. Several attempts were made to popularise different languages…