[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:
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…
[posted by Gavin Robinson, 10:07 am, 30 October 2011]
The Horse as Cultural Icon: The Real and the Symbolic Horse in the Early Modern World is a new collection of essays about early-modern horses edited by Peter Edwards, Karl Enenkel and Elspeth Graham, and published by Brill. It should be out next week and it’s already available for preorder on Amazon US (if you’ve got loads of money) but I can’t find it on Amazon UK yet.
I’ve got a chapter in it about the military and social value of horses, mostly in early-modern England but it also touches on the middle ages and the First World War. It’s basically exploring Bruce Boehrer’s idea that horses were socially devalued in early-modern England. It includes an alternative narrative of cavalry warfare, a discussion of how horse ownership and cavalry service were (or weren’t) related to elite social status, and a look at the cultural myths of cavalry and chivalry in literature.
The full contents are:
Greg Bankoff, ‘Big Men, Small Horses: Ridership, Social Standing and Environmental Adaptation in the Early Modern Philippines’, pp. 99-120.
Pia F. Cuneo, ‘Visual Aids: Equestrian Iconography and the Training of Horse, Rider and Reader’, pp. 71-97.
Louise Hill Curth, ‘‘The Most Excellent of Animal Creatures’: Health Care for Horses in Early Modern England’, in pp. 217-40.
Peter Edwards, ‘Image and Reality: Upper Class Perceptions of the Horse in Early Modern England’, pp. 281-306.
Amanda Eisemann, ‘Forging Iron and Masculinity: Farrier Trade Identities in Early Modern Germany’, pp. 377-402.
Jennifer Flaherty, ‘‘Know Us by Our Horses’: Equine Imagery in Shakespeare’s Henriad’, pp. 307-25.
Elspeth Graham, ‘The Duke of Newcastle’s ‘Love For Good Horses’: An Exploration of Meanings’, pp. 37-69.
Ian F. MacInnes, ‘Altering a Race of Jades: Horse Breeding and Geohumoralism in Shakespeare’, pp. 175-89.
Richard Nash, ‘‘Beware a Bastard Breed’: Notes Towards a Revisionist History of the Thorough bred Racehorse’, pp. 191-216.
Gavin Robinson, ‘The Military Value of Horses and the Social Value of the Horse in Early Modern England’, pp. 351-76.
Elizabeth Anne Socolow, ‘Letting Loose the Horses: Sir Philip Sidney’s Exordium to The Defence of Poesie’, pp. 121-42.
Sandra Swart, ‘‘Dark Horses’: The Horse in Africa in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries’, pp. 241-60.
Elizabeth M. Tobey, ‘The Legacy of Federico Grisone’, pp. 143-71.
Andrea Tonni, ‘The Renaissance Studs of the Gonzagas of Mantua’, pp. 261-78.
Elaine Walker, ‘‘The Author of their Skill’: Human and Equine Understanding in the Duke of Newcastle’s ‘New Method’’, pp. 327-50.
[posted by Gavin Robinson, 9:54 am, 1 January 2011]
I’ve just finished writing an essay for a collection called The Horse as Cultural Icon: the Real and Symbolic Horse in the Early Modern World, edited by Peter Edwards and Elspeth Graham, which will be published by Brill (I’m not sure exactly when, but probably within the next twelve months). My chapter is called ‘The military value of horses and the social value of the horse in early-modern England’. It’s quite eclectic, mixing numbers from empirical research with words like semiotics and simulacrum, ranging from Milton and Shakespeare to anonymous scatological poems and cheap woodcuts. I took Bruce Boehrer’s essay ‘Shakespeare and the Social Devaluation of the Horse’ as a starting point and worked outwards, looking at how the middling sort appropriated the horse and how the elite tried to make it more exclusive. Although it’s mostly about the 16th and 17th centuries I went back into the middle ages and forward to the First World War to show how the social and cultural roles of horses aren’t necessarily related to the reality of war. I’ve cited Stephen Badsey and David Kenyon for proof that cavalry were still useful in the 20th century and that there was and is an awful lot of prejudice against them; and I’ve cited Michael Prestwich and Anne Curry to show that 14th and 15th century men-at-arms were flexible all-rounders and that only a minority of them were knights. By taking a longer view than most previous works on early-modern horses I’m trying to break out of a vaguely Marxist master narrative in which The Transition From Feudalism To Capitalism and the increasing use of gunpowder doomed the knight on his charger and gave the aristocracy an identity crisis, and in which social, economic and military base determines cultural superstructure. Rather than marking a turning point, Shakespeare’s treatment of horses and chivalry in Henry V seems to be part of a debate which was already going on in the 14th century, was still going on throughout the 17th century, and is perhaps still going on now. Cultural beliefs that cavalry were useless seem to be independent of how useful cavalry actually were.
The best thing is that I’ve used the phrase “order of magnitude” correctly and appropriately. I shouldn’t feel so pleased about this, but I get so annoyed by other historians misusing it to mean “quite a lot”.
Meanwhile I’m taking a break from posting here for a month or two (or maybe three) while I finish the first draft of my book. Before too long I’ll have made the inevitable transition from “oh no, I won’t be able to write enough” to “oh no, I’ve written too much”.
Bruce Boehrer, “Shakespeare and the social devaluation of the horse,” in The Culture of the Horse, ed. Karen L. Raber and Treva J. Tucker (New York; Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005).