Cavaliers and Roundheads

Cavaliers and Roundheads : English at War, 1642-49

3.65 (97 ratings by Goodreads)
  • Hardback
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A social and military history of the Civil War that split the country 350 years ago. In a field in Nottingham in the summer of 1642, King Charles I watched his standard being raised in a high wind and driving rain. For six years thereafter England was rent by civil war. Families and friends were bitterly divided as men left home to fight for King or Parliament. Castles and towns were besieged and attacked, houses were plundered, churches and cathedrals desecrated. Some 200,000 lives were lost, many from the plague. The book recreates scenes of war and is enlivened by revealing character sketches - of the slight, sad, obstinate King, his ruthless nephew Prince Rupert and the forceful Oliver Cromwell, as well as a large cast of less familiar characters. This book commemorates the 350th anniversary of the Civil War. Other books by Chistopher Hibbert include "George IV", "The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici", "Rome: The Biography of a City", "The English: A Social History" and "Redcoats and Rebels: The War for America 1770-81".show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 159 x 240mm | 844g
  • HarperCollins Publishers
  • HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • 8pp colour and 16pp b&w illustrations
  • 0246136324
  • 9780246136329

Review Text

A rollicking, if not always enlightening, narrative history of the English Civil War, by the prolific Hibbert (The American Revolution through British Eyes, 1990, etc.). Hibbert concentrates with some success "upon what happened rather than upon what brought it about, upon the minor engagements [rather] than the major battles, and upon the impact the fighting had upon the civilian population." Neither before nor since has there been a war in England that so swept up everyone in its path: By its end (signalled by the execution of Charles I), nearly 200,000 lives had been lost - 80,000 killed in the fighting and more than 100,000 from accidents and disease in plague-ridden towns. Throughout, Hibbert displays an eye for the curious and illuminating detail - quoting poet and playwright Thomas May, for instance, on Cromwell's New Model Army: "Never did hardly any Army go forth to war with less confidence on their own side." The author succeeds in conveying the ruthlessness of war and the fears and anguish of those who fought ("Oh Lord, thou knowest how busy I must be this day. If I forget thee, do not thou forget me," wrote one soldier on the eve of battle), and he conveys most of his material with great vividness (the Earl of Newcastle was a "rich and generous dilettante, skilled horseman, graceful dancer, indifferent playwright, and execrable poet"). But what's sorely lacking is the background that Hibbert deliberately avoids: Why the war occurred; why there was a growth of class consciousness at the time; why religious animosities grew so deep; and how a revered monarchy came to be overthrown. Without this information, Hibbert can't escape the besetting vice of much narrative history - that it so often seems like just one cursed thing after another. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

97 ratings
3.65 out of 5 stars
5 18% (17)
4 41% (40)
3 31% (30)
2 10% (10)
1 0% (0)
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