[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:
This post is like DVD extras: it’s a section that I cut from my book because it didn’t fit. The references are a bit cryptic as I haven’t had time to expand them. You can see the woodcut in question on page 10 of my Social-Political Animals paper (PDF). I also discussed this pamphlet in my essay in The Horse as Cultural Icon.
The War Horse and the Mill Horse
On 2 January 1644, George Thomason acquired a pamphlet entitled A Dialogue betwixt a horse of warre, and a mill-horse; wherein the content and safety of an humble and painfull life, is preferred above all the noyse, the tumults, and trophies of the warre (TT E.80). Its woodcut depicted the war horse as a proud cavalier and the mill horse as a humble roundhead. The title page gives the impression of peace propaganda, representing extremists on both sides as equally bad. Inside the pamphlet is a satirical verse dialogue between the two horses. The mill horse repeatedly calls for peace, condemns war and admits faults on both sides:
England was happy; peace and plenty too
Did make their rich abode here, but now view
The alteration, Warre hath brought in woe,
And sad destruction doth this land o’reflow; … (TT E.80, sig A2r)
Or what is the true ground of this sad warre
Where King and subjects both ingaged are;
Both doe pretend the justnesse of their cause
One for Religion, Liberty, and Lawes;
Doth stand, while that the King doth strive again
His Right and due Prerogative to maintaine;
The King keeps close to this, while subjects be
Growne mad to eclipse the sonne of Majestie
By enterposing differences; how canst thou judge
Where the fault is? both at each other grudge, (TT E.80, sig A2v)
But this is false neutrality. The mill horse subtly insinuates that Parliament is right and the King is wrong. He even lets slip that he identifies with Parliament when he refers to its soldiers as ‘our stout Musketiers, whose bullets flye, In showres, as in the fight at Newbery’ [emphasis added] (TT E.80, sig A1v). When he claims to stand for the commonwealth he implies that this is inseparable from Parliament. Although the two horses are ostensibly roundhead and cavalier stereotypes, they are treated very differently. The war horse has the most negative traits of a cavalier. While he makes some pretence of honour and loyalty to the King he later admits that he does not care what the war is about because war is an end in itself and he benefits from it. Plunder, rape, free quartering and even the war itself are shown to be entirely the fault of the cavaliers. The portrayal of the mill horse is much more positive. He distances himself from sectaries and social disorder, valuing tradition and moderation. It becomes increasingly clear that the war horse is a straw man, who damns himself with his own hypocrisy and amorality. He even admits that the Oxford newsbook Mercurius Aulicus has lied.
This tract is clearly polemical, but there is no proof that it is propaganda according Peacey’s definiton: ‘polemical works which appeared with the connivance of those political figures whose interests were best served’ by them (Peacey, P&P, 2). The dialogue was printed by Bernard Alsop, who often sold cheap populist pamphlets, sometimes got in trouble for scandalous publications and has not yet been identified as an official propagandist (Freist, 104–5; Poyntz, ‘Recycled Woodcuts’, Mercurius Politicus). In order to make money he needed to appeal to a fairly large audience. Therefore it is likely that there was a perceived demand for a pamphlet like this. Like Alsop, Parliament needed to make money from as many people as possible. Whether or not it was consciously intended or officially sanctioned, the dialogue’s message coincided perfectly with the requirements of the parliamentary war effort. Rather than fighting in the war, the mill horse quietly gets on with his work, and yet he can claim that ‘for the common wealth I alwayes stand; And am imploy’d for it’ (A1v). By late 1643 Parliament needed a majority of people to do little more than carry on their trades and pay their taxes.
The dialogue does not seem to be aimed exclusively at a militant puritan audience. The jokes about sex, farting and arse kissing are not necessarily anti-puritan but suggest a broad appeal. As Marchamont Nedham later insisted, publications aimed at a popular audience ‘must be written in a jocular way … which ever sways the sceptre in vulgar judgement, much more than reason’ (Peacey, P&P, 195). The dialogue has relatively little religious content, and this is mostly conventional anti-popery. There is some satire of bishops when the war horse says:
I shall be made a Bishop, and grow fat,
As Archer said, when Bishops rul’d twas worse,
That had no more Religion then a Horse.
While this is consistent with the radical puritan root and branch bill it is just as consistent with traditional anti-clericalism. The only positive statement about religion is the mill horse’s claim that Parliament stands for ‘Religion, Liberty, and Lawes’, but this religion is left even more vague than the protestant religion in the Protestation. Apart from religion, the mill horse’s position is surprisingly similar to the writings of Nehemiah Wallington. While Wallington struggled hard to become a good puritan, he rarely acted in a militant way and did relatively little to help the parliamentary war effort. He once responded to rumours of a popish plot by arming himself and joining a crowd which went to Westminster, but he did not play an active role in the parliamentary war effort beyond paying his taxes. In his notebooks he represented himself as disliking confrontation, violence and death. Although he prayed for parliamentary victory, he recorded and condemned atrocities committed by both sides in ‘this uncivil war’. His use of the phrase ‘world turned upside down’ and his criticism of Independents and sectaries are surprisingly similar to the conservative writings of John Taylor (Seaver, WW, 53, 91, 101, 107, 151, 157, 161–2, 168, 171, 174; WTUD). Wallington was clearly not one of the militants who started the war, but once Parliament had constructed systems for extracting resources through quotas and assessments, his limited and moderate support was all that was needed. The role of militants was increasingly to implement and manage administrative systems rather than to provide the resources themselves, as they had done in 1642.
Welcome to my new blog, which is basically the old one at a new address. I should probably have done this years ago but it never seemed convenient. When I started history blogging it was an experiment and I wasn’t sure if I’d still be doing it more than 5 years later, so I didn’t buy a domain name for the blog and then I got used to the old address. Now I don’t see any reason to ever stop doing it permanently, but having had a hiatus for a few months it seemed like a good time to move. I’ve been really busy because on the day I submitted the final manuscript of my book, I was offered a new job which then went on longer than expected and overlapped with proofing and indexing the book. That’s all out of the way now, so I should be able to manage about one post per week for the rest of the summer at least.
It looks like my book, now definitely titled Horses, People and Parliament in the English Civil War: Extracting Resources and Constructing Allegiance, will be out at the end of July. You can preview the contents, index and first ten pages of the introduction at the Ashgate website, and it’s available for pre-order at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk
[posted by Gavin Robinson, 9:25 am, 30 November 2011]
The future has taken root in the present. It is done.
Or in other words:
No more forever FINISHED ABANDONED COMPLETE DONE FINAL LAST FINISHED We finished it. I finished it for you.
Yesterday I sent off the final typescript of my book to Ashgate. So it’s all over (apart from proofreading, indexing and then promoting it when it comes out). The title is now Horses, People and Parliament in the English Civil War: Extracting Resources and Constructing Allegiance, and the ISBN is 978-1-4094-2093-4. There were more things I could have done to make it better, but you have to draw the line somewhere, and as it ended up at 99,037 words there wasn’t space for anything else. The perfect is the enemy of the good, and I think I’ve written something that’s good enough to kick ass. Determinism and essentialism don’t stand a chance.
So now what?
I’m going to watch every episode of Thundercats.
And probably some more sensible things too, but my plans are in the air because I’m waiting to hear details of some possible paid work. Expect more blog posts (and maybe better ones too) than I’ve managed so far this year.
Also congratulations to Brett Holman, who has just got a book contract from Ashgate. As one of them finishes another one starts…