Sunday, August 15, 2010

The English Civil War

click photo to enlarge
The English Civil War (or English Revolution) and the ensuing Commonwealth and Protectorate of the seventeenth century have always seemed to me to be neglected periods of English history. Schools often treat them in a fleeting manner, skimming over the essentials, but rarely dwelling on their deeper significance. Higher education gives every impression of finding other periods more attractive. I get the feeling too that there are fewer books about this era than about other, often less interesting times. Moreover, it's my impression that the average English person actually knows more about the American Civil War and its outcome than about our home-grown conflict and its consequences, probably due to the wide coverage of the former in Hollywood films.

Which, of course, begs the question of why this should be. Is it because England's revolution appears as an aberration in our (almost) seamless sequence of monarch succeeding monarch? Does violent revolt and regicide appeal less to British sensibilities than to those of the French or all the other nations that replaced a monarchy with a republic? Are we so besotted with a class structure that has a royal family at its apex that we can't countenance greater egality? Or are we a conservative nation for whom change must be gradual, if it comes at all? There may be other reasons, but none that immediately spring to the mind of this confirmed republican.

A recent visit to Tattershall Castle in Lincolnshire co-incided with a display by an English Civil War re-enactment group. When we decided to go the castle, a brick building dating from the 1440s, we hadn't known that the The Tower Hamlets Trayned Bandes, a re-creation of a Civil War Parliamentarian militia would be there, skirmishing and laying seige to the fortification. So, as well as photographs of the architecture (and my family) I also managed a few of the members of the re-enactment group as they went about their business.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 64mm (128mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/160
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On