[posted by Gavin Robinson, 8:10 am, 1 August 2012]
My first (and possibly last) peer-reviewed academic monograph, Horses, People and Parliament in the English Civil War: Extracting Resources and Constructing Allegiance, has now been published by Ashgate. More details of what it’s about below the cut, and there’s also an interesting response at Mercurius Politicus. You can find it at these places, and probably others:
Amazon.ca (hardback only, but cheaper than UK and US prices)
[Edited 5/8/12: previews of the Kindle edition are now available at Amazon in the UK and US and are slightly longer than the PDF preview at Ashgate; also Erik Lund pointed out that the hardback is cheaper in Canada]
I understand that at those prices many people won’t be able to afford it, but if you’re a lecturer, please consider recommending it to your library and using it in your teaching. It has lots of cool ideas and useful facts that would fit into a wide variety of courses:
English Civil War: obviously it would complement any course about the civil wars. Highlights include a critical review of the historiography of allegiance, an important contribution to the debate on why Parliament won, and gender and animal perspectives on the war. It’s broken down into fairly short sections, some of which tell a self-contained story that a session could be structured around (the bits about the Watford petition, the Earl of Carlisle and Henry Marten would be particularly good for this).
Military history: has a lot to say about the resources versus battles debate. The section of the introduction that deals with this is available in the free preview at the Ashgate website.
Women’s and gender history: I’ve tried to integrate women and gender into political and military history. There’s some good stuff about false universals, unequal distribution of property, women’s agency and puritan masculinity.
War and gender: one of the few books that considers the intersections of these two important topics.
Animal studies: it’s all about horses. I’ve argued that horses should be seen as agents in the civil wars, and criticized anthropocentric approaches to allegiance.
Below is a more detailed summary of what it’s all about:
[Just had an exhausting week in the archives but I found this old half-finished post on my hard drive:]
This week [actually last November] I’ve been reading Wallington’s World by Paul Seaver (probably no relation to the unknown stuntman). It’s all about Nehemiah Wallington (not to be confused with Nehemiah Wharton), a mid-seventeenth-century London wood turner who wrote lots of notebooks, some of which have survived. The notebooks are mostly about Wallington’s puritan faith, but they also include lots of incidental details of his life and family. Seaver analysed the surviving books to see what they could tell us about London tradesmen, puritanism and the English Civil War. Today his approach looks quite dated, but maybe that’s not surprising for a book published in 1985. In the introduction there’s a lot about “inward thoughts” and Wallington’s “mental world”. Although there’s no direct mention of Collingwood, his idealism seems to be a big influence on Seaver’s assumptions: that historians can and should find out what people in the past “really” thought. Stephen Greenblatt’s Renaissance Self-Fashioning had already been published five years earlier, but I don’t think it was required reading for historians at this time. Greenblatt discussed the difference between inward and outward selves, but also argued that the very idea of the authentic inner man was constructed through writing. Even writing a private diary is an external act which doesn’t necessarily give us access to the author’s mind. Dan Todman pointed out in The Great War: Myth and Memory that a person’s memories can change every time they’re rehearsed. Therefore the act of writing down our experiences can influence our memories of them rather than just neutrally recording them.
In my forthcoming book I’m trying to get away from worrying about what people “really” thought by concentrating almost entirely on external actions (which includes speech and writing). I’m using horses as a case study to show how material objects and actions could be used to construct parliamentarian identities, arguing that it was actions which made the civil wars happen and that opinions without actions aren’t all that important, even if we could find out about them. Wallington makes an interesting case study here because his writings are all about the theory and practice of puritanism. By traditional definitions he was “a Puritan”. But he doesn’t seem to have done very much to help the parliamentary war effort other than paying his taxes. This was partly because he didn’t have much spare money and partly because he seems to have lacked the confidence and social skills to play an active role, but his writings don’t tend to advocate violent revolution. His puritanism seems to have been orthodox, conservative and introspective. While he criticized the cavaliers, he wrote that parliamentary armies were just as bad, and used phrases like “this uncivil war” and “world turned upside down”. His use of the latter phrase and his criticism of Independents and sectaries are surprisingly similar to John Taylor, whose writings were often conservative and favourable to the King. As Nick at Mercurius Politicus points out, trying to classify writers as royalist or parliamentarian can be tricky and counter-productive. Wallington’s writings also suggest that puritanism wasn’t a straightforward cause of the English Civil War. Although Wallington eventually represented himself as assured of elect status, he never represented himself as God’s instrument in the way that Oliver Cromwell did. He took an obsessive interest in God’s punishment of sinners, but apart from a few passive-aggressive letters to his neighbours he didn’t take much direct action against sinners himself. Wallington’s notebooks make quite a contrast with militant preacher Stephen Marshall’s bloodthirsty sermon Meroz Cursed, in which he insisted that everyone had to fight against the enemies of the true church or be cursed.
[Apparently I was going to write something about gender and sexuality here but I can't remember what. Half my readers will be disappointed and the other half will be relieved!]
Party on, Nehemiah…
S. Greenblatt, Renaissance Self-fashioning: From More to Shakespeare, New edition. (2005).
Stephen Marshall, Meroz cursed, or, A sermon preached to the honourable House of Commons, at their late solemn fast, Febr. 23, 1641 by Stephen Marshall … (London, 1642).
Paul S Seaver, Wallington’s World: A Puritan Artisan in Seventeenth-century London (London, 1985).
Dan Todman, The Great War: Myth and Memory (London, 2007).
[posted by Gavin Robinson, 7:16 pm, 25 April 2008]
When I posted about Brian Manning’s The Far Left in the English Revolution I wondered whether it was worth investigating any of his other works. Mercurius Politicus said it was, so I got a copy of The English People and the English Revolution out of the library. It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that MP was right as he knows a lot more about civil war historiography than I do. As well as a lot of useful material on the outbreak of war in 1642 there are plenty of examples of poaching, deer massacres, and livestock being driven onto disputed enclosures, which is an unexpected bonus for my work on animals.
The Stour valley riots get good coverage, pre-empting many of the major points of John Walter’s argument, apart from Manning’s determination to see class war everywhere . As Walter pointed out, the victims were all suspected royalists or catholics. Manning took elite perceptions of the mob’s motives too much at face value. Sir Thomas Barrington and Harbottle Grimston might have been alarmed by the many-headed monster, but they weren’t attacked themselves and probably weren’t in much danger compared to Countess Rivers. As Manning acknowledged, the Earl of Warwick’s steward was saved from a mob when someone recognised that he really was the Earl of Warwick’s steward.
The thing I found most interesting was an enclosure dispute in Huntingdonshire in 1641 in which Oliver Cromwell supported the commoners and Lord Mandeville acted on behalf of his father, the Earl of Manchester. This was the same Lord Mandeville who, after succeeding to his father’s title, became general of the Eastern Association. The feud between Manchester and Cromwell in 1644 is very well-known but I had no idea that animosity between them might go back this far. Other people might well have made the connection, but there isn’t any mention of it in Malcolm Wanklyn’s reassessment of Manchester.
Brian Manning, The English People and the English Revolution, 1640-1649 (Heinemann Educational: London, 1976).
Brian Manning, The far left in the English Revolution 1640 to 1660 (Bookmarks,: London :, 1999).
John Walter, Understanding Popular Violence in the English Revolution (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1999).
Maclolm D. G. Wanklyn, ‘A General Much Maligned’, War In History, 14 (2007), pp. 133-156.
[posted by Gavin Robinson, 5:33 pm, 24 November 2007]
Like Alan Harris’s marking, the background reading must be done. English Civil War causes and allegiance posts now have their own category, and this is the latest addition. This week I’ve been reading Anthony Fletcher’s The Outbreak of the English Civil War, published in 1981. This is a very detailed look at what happened in England from 1640 to 1642. In some ways it’s a product of its times, as it’s very heavily influenced by the revisionism of Conrad Russell and John Morrill, but Fletcher added a lot of new evidence and some ideas of his own.
[posted by Gavin Robinson, 11:28 am, 17 October 2007]
This week I’m going through some anthologies of important articles about the English Civil War, still looking at definitions of war/revolution and approaches to allegiance. This post is a brief summary of some of the articles in Peter Gaunt’s The English Civil War: The Essential Readings (2000). Despite the title, Gaunt acknowledges in the introduction the problems of defining and naming whatever it was that happened in the 1640s and 1650s. However, he doesn’t pay much attention to the problems of defining when in 1642 war broke out, just asserting that it was the raising of the standard at Nottingham in August which marked the official start of the war. It’s interesting that Gaunt pays some attention to the neglected question of how and why the First Civil War ended as it did, attempting to redress the balance in the historiography which has been far more concerned with why it started.