The English Civil War: Papists, Gentlewomen, Soldiers, and Witchfinders in the Birth of Modern Britain

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In this compelling history of the violent struggle between the monarchy and Parliament that tore apart seventeenth-century England, a rising star among British historians sheds new light on the people who fought and died through those tumultuous years. Drawing on exciting new sources, including letters, memoirs, ballads, plays, illustrations, and even cookbooks, Diane Purkiss creates a rich and nuanced portrait of this turbulent era. The English Civil War’s dramatic consequences-rejecting the divine right monarchy in favor of parliamentary rule-continue to influence our lives, and in this colorful narrative, Purkiss vividly brings to life the history that changed the course of Western government.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
There are many ways to approach the history of the 17th-century upheaval that beheaded a king and laid the foundations for democratic revolutions to come, and this absorbing, ungainly study tries them all. Oxford historian Purkiss (The Witch in History) draws a gallery of sharp biographical sketches of participants from Cromwell to ordinary soldiers, paying special attention to the oft-neglected doings of women, like aristocratic intriguer Lucy Hay and radical dissenter Anna Trapnel. She also slathers on plenty of social history, digressing on everything from contemporary housing to cookbooks. And she interweaves an avowedly disjointed, episodic kings-and-battles narrative of military campaigns and political maneuverings, replete with dramatic eyewitness accounts. Fixated on trees rather than the forest, Purkiss offers no clear overview of events or much coherent interpretation of the conflict, aside from some facile psychoanalysis ("Charles I's longing to make the monarchy independent of any hurtful criticism proceeded from the bullied child he was"). The book doesn't work as a general introduction, but readers who already know some of the history will find it full of colorful personalities and scenes and evocative period writings that bring to life the people, culture and violent turmoil of the age. Photos. (July) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465067572
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 12/3/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 680
  • Sales rank: 962,416
  • Product dimensions: 8.98 (w) x 6.12 (h) x 1.64 (d)

Meet the Author

Diane Purkiss is a Fellow and Tutor at Keble College, Oxford. She is the author of the highly acclaimed The Witch in History and At the Bottom of the Garden. She holds a B.A. from the University of Queensland, and a Ph.D. from Merton College, Oxford. She lives in Oxford, England.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations     vii
Maps     xi
The Last Cavalier?     1
The Meek-Eyed Peace     7
Two Women: Anna Trapnel and Lucy Hay     39
The Bishops' Wars, the Three Kingdoms, and Montrose     71
Pym against the Papists     98
Stand Up, Shout Mars     121
The Valley of Decision     140
Bright-Harnessed Angels: Edgehill     175
Down with Bishops and Bells: Iconoclasm     196
The Death of Dreams     207
The War over Christmas     233
The Queen's Tale: Henrietta Maria     244
Newbury Fight     252
Two Capitals: Oxford and London     266
The Bitterness of War     288
Two Marriages     300
The Power of Heaven: Marston Moor and Cromwell     323
The Cookery Writers' Tales: General Hunger, Hannah Wolley, Kenelm Digby and the Deer of Corse Lawn     340
Twenty Thousand Cornish Boys: The Battle of Lostwithiel     357
The Nation's Nightmares     373
Th' Easy Earth That Covers Her: The Children's Tales     389
God with Us! Montrose's Campaign     397
New Professions: Parliament Joan and Richard Wiseman     407
TheWorld is Turned Upside Down: The New Model Army and Naseby Fight     416
Ashes: The Siege of Taunton and the Clubmen     435
The Birds in the Greenwoods are Mated Together: Anne Halkett and the Escape of James II     442
Nor Iron Bars a Cage: The Capture of Charles I     451
A New Heaven and a New Earth: Anna Trapnel and the Levellers     463
Stand Up Now, Stand Up Now: Gerrard Winstanley and the Diggers     511
The Second Civil War     532
To Carisbrooke's Narrow Case: Charles I in Captivity     543
Oh, He is Gone, and Now hath Left Us Here: The Trial and Execution of Charles I     552
Into Another Mould? The Aftermath     561
Further Reading     571
Index     603
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