guest post, history, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Montrose, Scotland

Brockt up in Flanderis – Montrose’s regular cavalry: Guest Post by Charles Singleton

The early modern period was to be a period of rapid development in military affairs. The phrase Military Revolution has been coined to describe this period of change. The increasing use of black powder weapons was to user in growing professionalism and thus ever spiralling costs and financial demands on armies and the execution of wars. This was an all embracing movement that affected almost all of Western Europe.

The contribution to military developments made during this period by the Scots is frequently overlooked. During the period in question, one of Scotland’s principal exports was men in the shape of mercenaries to fight in the European wars. In Scotland’s harsh economic environment, the lure of money, adventure and booty drew many to the colours. Many Scots were to achieve fame and high rank overseas; none more so than Alexander Leslie, Earl of Leven, who entered Swedish service in 1605. In 1636 he was promoted to Field Marshal.

Yet despite the contribution to military developments made during this period by the Scots, the development of the Scottish regular is all too often overlooked by that of archaic Highland Warrior. This is especially so when reading of Montroses campaign of 1644-45.

The backbone of Montrose’s armies throughout the Civil Wars was to be regular troops. Amongst these regulars were the regiments which formed the ‘Irish Brigade’. They were mostly professionals, described by one contemporary source as, ‘brockt up in West Flanderis, expert souldiouris’. The Brigade was despatched to Scotland by the Earl of Antrim on behalf of the Irish Confederation, and the nature of its composition can be gleaned from the list of officers sent by Antrim other than listing the officers by name also divides these forces into three regiments with companies, various officers, ensigns and non-commissioned officers attached. This structure would seem to fit the model of most infantry formations that were to have been found in Western Europe at this time.

Like their Scottish and English counterparts, the Irish were to be found in the military camps of Europe. As the Thirty Years’ War drew on in Europe, the French in particular were to make extensive use of Irish troops. The French promoted Michael Wall of County Waterford, perhaps echoing David Leslie’s achievement in the Swedish army, to army commander in 1639. The outbreak of the Irish rebellion was to see considerable numbers of Irish troops, experienced in the latest military practices, return to Ireland.

The returning veterans, in addition to bringing military experience, also brought back the latest ideas on how to support armies. After the initial series of uncoordinated attacks, the Catholic rebels had to create administrative structures with which they could support not only their new armies, but also at the same time procure monies and equipment. A supreme council was established, along with an association, which was to resemble the English Parliament’s regionalized war efforts. The rôle of the supreme council was to appoint military commands, build up war materials and create taxes with which to support the war effort. The Confederacy was also able to gain support from abroad. France, Spain and the Papacy were able to contribute significant sums of money to the Catholic cause. However, the bulk of finances would be gathered from home. Using methods that proved to be very similar to the ones used by the warring factions in England, the Confederates cast the net far and wide. Supporters were asked to contribute, whilst merchants provided loans (considered by many to be an essential part of military funding). In addition a mint was established at Waterford. Traditional sources of revenue were used and others developed. Significant percentages of church tithes and freehold taxes were allocated to the support of the army. Excise duties were introduced and placed on liquor, tobacco and cattle.

With the establishment of a financial infrastructure, the Confederates were able to develop a home armaments industry. Apart from over running production centres, such as furnaces and forges at Kilmacoe in County Wexford, they were able to establish their own industrial plant, such as the iron works at Artully in County Kerry. To run the new plants and contribute their experience, foreign arms workers were sought out by the agents of the Confederacy to come to Ireland. Special efforts were made to attract foreign gunsmiths.

The modern nature of the Confederacy administration and war effort was also reflected in the equipping and organisation of its army. The ‘traditionalist’ school is led by writers such as James Hill, who claim that the sword was the principal weapon of the Celts, and that the charge was central to their tactics. Closer examination, however, reveals a far greater degree of change and sophistication in military affairs. By the start of the seventeenth century, the swordsman, whether in Celtic or Western European society, was rapidly becoming an anachronism. In the early sixteenth century European armies, especially the Spanish were to field considerable numbers of sword and buckler men. By the early seventeenth century the swordsman had almost disappeared from the European battlefield. Like the longbow, a skilled swordsman could not have been produced in a matter of weeks and, like the longbow, its demise was hastened by the relative ease by which soldiers could be trained to use either pike or musket. Those Irishmen that flocked to the colours of the Confederacy in 1641 would have been the veterans of pike and shot warfare in Flanders and Germany, or were to be trained by these veterans in these modern methods. Like those veterans returning to Scotland in 1638, many Irish troops were to bring arms and equipment in lieu of pay with them on their return. Owen Roe O’Neill, who returned in 1642, was not only to bring three hundred commissioned and non-commissioned officers, veterans of Spanish service, but also a considerable amount of equipment and monies.

The output of the home industrial base certainly reflects the manner of weaponry made. Immediately after its capture by the Confederates, the ironworks at Lissan were immediately turned over to the production of pike heads. Special emphasis was placed on the home production of musket barrels and locks. The home industry was to become so well established that, after the Cessation of 1643, English Royalists were to place orders with the Irish arms industry.

Export records are also able to build a profile of the equipment ordered by, and issued to, the Confederate armies. Early in the rebellion, contact was made with friendly foreign powers and merchants and, as a result, the import of foreign weapons was soon well established. Shipments began to arrive in January 1642 and, by the end of February, the Venetian ambassador was able to report the large scale of deliveries to Ireland from the continent. A sample delivery from Europe would be that made in October 1644 by Nicholas Everard and Jean de la Villette. Together they were to import: 4,000 muskets, 1,000 pairs of pistols, 1,000 carbines, 20,000 lbs of match and 600 barrels of gunpowder. So lucrative was the export of goods to the Confederacy that France, Spain and the United Provinces all attempted to solicit the business of the Confederates’ agents and representatives.

Various Scottish regular units further supplemented the Irish regulars. Regiments such as the Strathbogie had actually been in existence since the Bishops’ wars. A contingent of this regiment was described at the time as ‘about 60 musketiers and pikoniers, with twa cullouris, ane drum, and ane bag pipe’. They were trained by a professional soldier, Lieutenant Colonel Johnston, and were equipped with both musket and pike that the King had despatched to his Scottish supporters in the Bishops’ Wars. This unit, amongst others (possibly even Highland clan regiments), was to benefit from the capture at Aberdeen in March 1645 of 1,800 muskets and pikes. Montrose’s attempts to raise significant numbers of Scottish regulars met with only limited success. To a greater extent this was his own fault. By failing to foster good relations with various other Royalist rebel factions, such as the Gordons who dominated the north-east of Scotland, he was unable to consolidate control of an area long enough to raise and train viable numbers of regulars. An army of Scottish regulars would have gone a considerable distance to legitimise Montrose’s cause. The use of Irish troops only served to alienate him to potential supporters.

The lack of regular cavalry prevented Montrose from capitalising on his early victories in the autumn of 1644 and establishing himself in a commanding position in the Scottish lowlands a year earlier than he did. The Royalists’ dearth of horse was rapidly transformed by the defection to their cause of a regular cavalry unit led by Lord George Gordon. From the descriptions of contemporary accounts, Gordon’s horse and the other small troops of cavalry raised in support of the King’s cause were seemingly trained and equipped in the orthodox ‘harquebusier’ style. Though not numerically strong, cavalry were to play an increasingly significant role in Montrose’s victories, particularly Auldearn, Alford and Kilsyth.

Montrose’s lack of political tact resulted in the loss of considerable numbers of Gordon’s horse, when after the battle of Kilsyth their use in the invasion of lowland Scotland would have been critical.

Charles Singleton has researched the War of the Three Kingdoms for over twenty five years. He lives in the West Midlands and works within the Museum and Heritage industry. He is the editor of the 2012 edition of the Oxford Guide to Military History, and is the author of “Uncharitable Mischief, barbarity and excess in the British Civil Wars” published by the Pike and Shot Society. His third book, on the battle of Naseby, will be also published by Helion.
His book on Montrose is available from Amazon here

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history, politics, ponderations, present, society, writing

The (Public) Rights of Man. And Woman

I got my log-in details for my Public Lending Rights registration today.

Now, unless you’re an author, that probably means very little to you, and if you are an author, you’re probably thinking “PLR? oh crikey yes!”

Basically, I’m now recognised as an author whose work is available in libraries, and I get paid royalties for same. Which is kind of exciting, and makes me kind of sad at the same time, because there should be something more to it than an email saying that I’m now registered. I don’t know, a fanfare? A raspberry? It’s sort of the stamp of recognition that I am a Real Author, and holding my own against people with epic publicity budgets and dedicated PR teams. And there’s me, writing like stink in the back bedroom on a laptop with most of the keys missing.

But more than that, it made me think about libraries, and other institutions that we take for granted – education, that we take for granted, and the ability to read books. I live in Cornwall, and I can’t walk much more than a mile from my house in any direction without coming across one of the Passmore Edwards Institutes.
John Passmore Edwards was born in Blackwater, within walking distance from me, in 1823. He was the son of a carpenter, and like the children of many of the Cornish working poor of the 19th century, pulled himself up by his bootstraps. He became a journalist, and then a media magnate, as well as a delegate to peace processes in Europe between 1848 and 1850. However, and most significantly for me, he was also a passionate believer in the working man’s right to an education; he was a generous donor to the Workers’ Educational Association, and gifted libraries, schools, and art galleries for men and women whose hard working-life meant that they – or their children – did not have the luxury of access to full-time education.

I wonder sometimes if perhaps we turn full circle; if perhaps having been given the right to education, people no longer see it as a hard-won privilege, a thing that men and women fought to achieve. That to many of us now it’s devalued currency, as taken for granted as our air and clean water. Two hundred years ago, my little boy would only have been going to school tomorrow if we could afford it, or if he could be spared from wage-earning labour that put food on the family table. (Yes, two hundred years ago, children were still working in mills, their nimble little fingers, speed, and small stature being valuable, and their poor little bodies being cheap to feed and dispensable.) Schooling until the age of ten was only made compulsory in 1857, and the age at which a child could leave school was only set at sixteen, in 1972.
We – people my age – we have never been part of a society in which we want to learn but are deprived by circumstance of the ability to do so. Have never, thank God, lived in a world where books are “for your betters” – not beyond the reach of poor people, or working people, or children, but are for everyone.
And, you know, maybe we need to think about that. That maybe education and literacy are still a prize, an achievement to be proud of, rather than a casual box to be ticked. That there are still places in this country where adult literacy is not universal, before we even consider that there are countries in the developing world where parents are still fighting for their children’s opportunities to be educated out of poverty. We don’t hold any moral high ground on literacy at all. When you think that Passmore Edwards and his like made it possible for every adult in England to access literacy and learning, the idea that there are grown men and women who have the physical and mental capacity to gain an education, and make a conscious choice to remain ignorant is rather obscene.

Books are not our friends. Books are as necessary as breathing. Not just mine, but science books – romance books – books about keeping fish, or driving test theory.

If you’re reading this, it’s because someone fought for your right to an education. Don’t ever take it for granted.

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history, new books, politics, ponderations, present, religious ponderations, romance, women

The Tudors are SO 2015. This? Is Where It’s All Happening

But the Tudor era is a period of lust, of intrigue and sexy debauchery and passion and jealousy and desire and excellent dresses…. so why don’t I write about the Tudors?

It’s a funny one. I mean, it’d be easier if I did. I’d be riding on the coat tails of Philippa Gregory and Anya Seton and Hilary Mantel – and everybody knows about Henry VIII and his convoluted love-life, and Elizabeth (and Essex….maybe) and her even more convoluted and intriguing passions. The fashions are gorgeous, the TV producers and the film producers are crying out for bodices to rip open and breeches to undo: why, in the name of creation, am I writing about a period mostly known for its unflattering fashions and spawning the man who coined the term “warts and all”?

And I guess the answer is – because I find principle sexier than unprinciple.

I’m fascinated, intrigued, and ultimately repelled by the English Civil Wars – a war without an enemy, as the Parliamentarian commander William Waller wrote in 1643 to his friend the Royalist commander Ralph Hopton. “We are both upon the stage and must act such parts as are assigned us in this tragedy, let us do it in a way of honour and without personal animosities“.
I think it’s interesting that many people’s perception of the protagonists now is that the King’s supporters were fun-loving, free-spirited party animals who loved wine, women and song – 17th century rock stars, in effect – whilst Parliament’s were dour, short-haired, joyless and worthy.
It’s cobblers, of course – both sides had men of fire and honour, as committed to their cause as each other.
And to me, that’s considerably more appealing than a fat old guy with a bad temper and a gammy leg, a sexual predator who abused his power to bribe, flatter and coerce women into his bed and whose politics were – allegedly – based in his codpiece.

I think we love the idea of the Tudors because they’re so marvellously larger than life, an almost Machiavellian world of political treachery and intrigue apparently centred on a thing we all understand – sex. We “get” desire, and jealousy, and love-conquers-all; we understand, we sympathise with, a world where a man-monster is a figure of terror as well as desire – almost the ultimate Christian Grey, the sexy uber-CEO who manipulates as well as seduces.
And maybe the idea of a quieter passion isn’t so flamboyant. The Wars of the Three Kingdoms don’t inflame the public imagination the same way because there is, simply, no sex involved. Oliver Cromwell looked like a potato. (Elizabeth must have seen something worth the having in him, because they had a long and happy marriage and a number of children.) Thomas Fairfax was married to the somewhat volatile Anne for twenty-seven years, and praised her lack of beauty as a virtue in his – somewhat dodgy – poetry. Charles and Henrietta Maria were uxorious enough that she went over to Europe, sold her jewellery, and raised troops for him. Rupert – well, Rupert never married, so let’s not mention Rupert’s love life. (Suffice it to say it was varied and active.)

It’s not that women were not strong, involved, characters in their own right. Why should Brilliana Harley, sending the family plate to safety in boxes marked up as “Cake” to avoid detection by Royalist troops, be any less appealing that poor hapless Anne Boleyn?
Or if your taste runs towards tragic romantic heroines, Bridget Cromwell, travelling across a war-torn country to marry her scarred hero Henry Ireton under siege in Oxford, only to be widowed so short a time later?
Or the King’s spymistress, Jane Horwood, intelligencing for him and loving him at one and the same time? (Oh, I hope she had some happiness with him, even if his letters to her portray their liaison as more pragmatic than romantic. Her husband was such a vile, abusive, violent piece of work, I do hope that Jane found love, after a fashion, with Charles – someone who was decent, and honourable, and treated her with courtesy. Not my type, but then what do I know? I’m a Fairfax girl…)

So many stories, and so much passion – but for the spirit, not for the body. For a cause, for a thing which people – both Royalist and Parliamentarian – believed in with, literally, the last drop of their heart’s blood.

And as for the fashions? Quite like the Elizabeth of Bohemia look, myself.

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history, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, new books, romance, Thomazine. writing, women

In the Shadow Of The Storm by Anna Belfrage – a review

In The Shadow of The Storm: Book 1 of The King’s Greatest Enemy

I have to admit to a degree of worry as I started to read this new book, because I am a great fan of Ms Belfrage’s Graham Saga.

My first worry was that it wasn’t going to be as good – and my second was that it was going to be Alex and Matthew in the 14th century: a trap that many successful authors fall into, of replicating carbon copies of their successful characters in another period of history.
Well, I needn’t have worried on either head.

I am very fond of Alex and Matthew Graham, but there is always – in my reading – that element of tension in their relationship. With Adam and Kit, despite the somewhat – unusual – beginning of their marriage, there is never any doubt for me that no matter how tumultous this period of history is, their love is solid. This is not, I don’t think, a will-they won’t-they story, set against a faintly-drawn generic historical background. It’s a story of will Fate let them, in what has to be one of the most violent, tumultous, passionate, uninhibited periods of English history. A man and a woman, who find each other, and are determined that conflicting loyalty, intrigue, and murder will not come between them.

Be not misled, gentle reader. We are not in the realms of courtly love here. We are dealing with a real and passionate period, where a brutal punishment can be meted out to a man in scenes of graphic savagery, and a woman be poisoned to death by her own family – and where the same man who raises a sword with violent skill, can make love to his wife with kindness and tenderness.
We are also dealing with a very accomplished author, who can describe love as well as pain with skill and empathy.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Alex and Matthew are very much a self-contained unit, but Kit de Courcy and Adam de Guirande are a fantastically-drawn pair of lovers enmeshed in a complicated political and social web. And a well-researched, authentic, believable one, that feels as right to the reader as a warm wool surcote.

Be warned: there is a considerable amount of brutality in this book. The Welsh Marches in 1321 were a place of unpredictable political allegiances, where a wise man keeps an eye on the main chance. Not a period where an author should tread, without a considerable amount of background research, and certainly not a period where an author who fears to describe spilled blood should go. (Just as well this author fears neither.)

I scent a long and happy relationship for this reader, with the de Guirandes….

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heroes, history, Yorkshire

Set On Like A Terrier – John Lambert

Well, the Selby book is out, and fending for itself quite nicely, and so I’m going to blog about the real-life hero of Selby – a chap called Colonel John Lambert, sometimes known as “Cromwell’s understudy”.


A rebel to the last, and a man who led the last resistance to the Restoration, his vision of the Rule of the Major-Generals – although it didn’t work, in the end – was a massively progressive piece of thinking away from the idea of one absolute monarch, towards dividing England into military districts ruled by Army Major Generals who answered only to Cromwell. The 15 major generals and deputy major generals—called “godly governors”—werecentral not only to national security, but Cromwell’s crusade to reform the nation’s morals. The generals not only supervised militia forces and security commissions, but collected taxes and ensured support for the government in the English and Welsh provinces. Commissioners for securing the peace of the commonwealth were appointed to work with them in every county. While a few of these commissioners were career politicians, most were zealous puritans who welcomed the major-generals with open arms and embraced their work with enthusiasm. However, the major-generals lasted less than a year. Many feared they threatened their reform efforts and authority. Their position was further harmed by a tax proposal  to provide financial backing for their work, which the second Protectorate parliament—instated in September 1656—voted down for fear of a permanent military state.

I think when we look at that proposal, we have to see past the words “military state” and see just what he had in mind: an unprecedented move away from the arbitrary whims of one unrepresentative individual, unconnected to the districts he governed. Lambert was opposed to the idea of a civilian government, as well as to a monarchy, but there is no indication, ever, that he was interested in personal advancement for his own ends, or in the military dictatorship that Cromwell is often suspected of. My guess is that Lambert was a man who’d seen civilian government in action, seen royal rule, and seen Army discipline – and he preferred Army discipline. It worked. You knew where you were, and where to go if it went wrong. It was a fundamentally-flawed, unpopular vision, and in the end it failed. But when you consider that prior to the Civil Wars there’d never been any other system of goverment but rule by a monarchy, to even look at functional alternatives was a massively progressive move. Yay Lambert.

John Lambert was born on 7th September 1619, at Calton Hall, in the parish of Kirkby-Malhamdale in Skipton. He was the younger son of Josias Lambert (d.1632) by his second wife, Anne Heber. The Lambert family was of ancient lineage and well established in Yorkshire, but Josias had fallen into debt, perhaps because of a slump in wool prices on which the family wealth depended.
Josias struggled to restore the family fortunes, but seems to have failed. John was probably educated at Cambridge and the Inns of Court, although he never practised law. In 1639, he married Frances, the daughter of Sir William Lister, who remained a close and influential helper throughout his career.
On the outbreak of the English Civil War, Lambert joined Parliament’s Northern Association army under Ferdinando, Lord Fairfax and quickly rose to the rank of colonel. He fought at the siege of Hull in 1643, and was with Sir Thomas Fairfax at the battle of Nantwich in January 1644. Sir Thomas sent Lambert with a column of troops back across the Pennines to seize Bradford in March 1644. After defeating a counter-attack by Colonel Belasyse, Lambert secured Bradford as a second base for the Yorkshire Parliamentarians, along with Hull.  In April 1644, Lambert joined forces with the Fairfaxes and Sir John Meldrum for an attack on Selby that forced the Yorkshire Royalists to withdraw to York. He was second-in-command of the Yorkshire horse at the battle of Marston Moor (July 1644). Lambert’s cavalry were on the Parliamentarian right wing, which was routed by Lieutenant-General Goring, but Lambert and a few steadfast troopers remained with Sir Thomas Fairfax when he forced his way through the Royalist lines to join Cromwell on the victorious Parliamentarian left flank.
When Fairfax was appointed captain-general of the New Model Army in 1645, Lambert took command of the Northern Association. However, his political involvement began when he worked with Henry Ireton in framing the treaty negotiations at Truro, Exeter and Oxford. He continued his association with Ireton during 1647, being active in organising the protests against Parliament’s plans to disband part of the Army and send the rest to Ireland and in July 1647 he was one of the officers appointed to draw up charges against the Eleven Members, who were driven from Parliament when the Army occupied London. Lambert was also involved in the Army’s negotiations with the King, collaborating with Ireton in framing the Army’s Heads of the Proposals.
In July 1647, soldiers of the Northern Association, in solidarity with the New Model, seized their commander, the Presbyterian Major-General Poyntz, and sent him to Fairfax as a prisoner. Lambert was ordered back to his old command to replace Poyntz. Already well-known and popular with the northern troops, he quickly restored order and discipline. On the outbreak of the Second Civil War, he continued to hold the North until the fall of Pontefract Castle in 1649, so that he did not hold any direct role in the trial and execution of Charles I.
With the ending of the civil wars on the mainland of Britain, Lambert became actively involved in civilian politics as well as maintaining his military commands. He was one of the eight commissioners appointed to supervise the settlement of Scotland in October 1651. After the death of Henry Ireton, Parliament nominated Lambert to succeed him as Lord-Deputy in Ireland—but while he was preparing to leave for Ireland in May 1652, Parliament reorganised the Irish administration and voted to abolish the office of Lord-Deputy. Lambert refused the offer of a lesser appointment and Charles Fleetwood went to Ireland in his place. After this, Lambert became an active opponent of the Rump Parliament. Apart from his disappointment over Ireland, he shared the impatience of fellow army officers over Parliament’s lethargy in formulating a permanent form of government.
Lambert fully supported Cromwell when he forcibly dissolved Parliament in April 1653. In the constitutional discussions that followed the dissolution, Lambert proposed a small executive council to govern the nation, with powers limited by a written constitution. Lambert’s proposal was passed over in favour of the Nominated Assembly or “Parliament of Saints” proposed by Major-General Harrison. Lambert declined a place in the Assembly and worked to undermine it. He collaborated with the moderates who organised the abdication of the Assembly’s powers to Cromwell in December 1653. Furthermore, Lambert sent troops to subdue the protests of the radicals and to drive them from the Parliament House. He had already drafted the Instrument of Government—the written constitution that defined Cromwell’s powers as Lord Protector—and he came to play a major role in the Protectorate through his energetic participation in key offices and committees. He was widely regarded as the probable successor as Lord Protector in the event of Cromwell’s death.
After the failure of the First Protectorate Parliament in 1655, Lambert proposed the imposition of direct military government under the Rule of the Major-Generals. He was appointed Major-General of a large area of northern England, with his seat of government at York, but he preferred to remain at the centre of power in London and delegated the administration of his districts to his deputies Robert Lilburne (the Leveller leader John’s elder brother) and Charles Howard. However, a rift was developing between Lambert and Cromwell. They disagreed over the advisability of a war with Spain in 1654; Lambert’s position was further undermined by the refusal of the Second Protectorate Parliament to grant taxes to finance the government of the Major-Generals, which led Cromwell to abandon the system early in 1657. The final split with Cromwell was over the terms of the Humble Petition and Advice. Lambert opposed moves towards a wholly civilian form of government and led the Army’s opposition to Cromwell’s acceptance of the offer of the Crown. He refused to take the oath of loyalty when Cromwell was installed as Lord Protector for life and was ordered to resign his commissions in July 1657. Lambert retired to his house in Wimbledon with his wife and ten children, where he devoted himself to gardening and artistic pursuits.
After the death of Oliver Cromwell, Lambert – now elected MP for Pontefract – supported Cromwell’s successor, his son Richard, but the Major-Generals Fleetwood and Disbrowe forced the dissolution of Parliament in April 1659. However, they were unable to prevent the recall of the old Rump Parliament which re-assembled a month later and forced Richard’s resignation. Lambert was re-appointed to his commands in the Army. As Parliament’s most capable commander, he was sent against the Royalist rebellion led by Sir George Booth in August 1659. Lambert’s veterans easily defeated Booth’s rebel army, and he avoided unnecessary bloodshed by allowing the Royalists to disperse and forbidding his cavalry from pursuing them.
Parliament voted Lambert a £1,000 jewel as a reward for his services, which he used to pay his troops. His officers took up Fleetwood’s submission to Parliament that Lambert should be re-appointed to the rank of major-general, along with calls for godly reform, a Senate to limit the House of Commons and for no officer to be cashiered without a court martial. However, the republicans remained suspicious of Lambert’s motives, and in September 1659, there were moves to have him dismissed. In an attempt to assert its authority over the Army, Parliament revoked the commissions of nine senior officers, including Lambert, in October 1659. The Council of Officers responded by resolving to expel Parliament and on 13 October, regiments loyal to Lambert encircled the approaches to Parliament and prevented MPs from sitting.
The Committee of Safety was reinstated to rule as an interim government and Lambert was restored to the rank of major-general. Meanwhile, Hesilrige appealed to other army generals to support Parliament against Lambert and his followers. General Monck, commander-in-chief in Scotland, declared that he was ready to uphold Parliament’s authority. Lambert marched north against Monck with around 12,000 troops, reaching Newcastle in mid-November 1659 where he was delayed for several weeks while the Committee of Safety negotiated with Monck’s representatives for a peaceful solution to the crisis.
In southern England, Arthur Hesilrige seized the Portsmouth garrison and demanded the return of Parliament. The republican vice-admiral John Lawson sailed the Channel fleet to Gravesend and threatened to blockade London, while riots broke out in the city against the military régime. In mid-December, the Committee of Safety dissolved itself and Fleetwood was obliged to recall the Rump Parliament. Lambert tried to march south in an attempt to regain control of the situation but his unpaid troops were reluctant to fight. When Lord Fairfax declared his support for Monck, Lambert’s forces disintegrated. Offered a general indemnity, Lambert submitted and was placed under house arrest. In March 1660, he was ordered to London to appear before the Council of State. Unable to meet the impossibly high security of £20,000 that was demanded of him, he was imprisoned in the Tower of London.
Lambert made a desperate attempt to resist the approaching Restoration. He escaped from the Tower in April 1660 and issued a proclamation calling on all supporters of the “Good Old Cause” to rally on the battlefield of Edgehill on Easter Day 1660 from where he planned to advance on Oxford and to join forces with rebels from the south and west. The response to Lambert’s call-to-arms was sporadic. Edmund Ludlow plotted an uprising in Wiltshire, cavalry units from the Midlands and Yorkshire rode to join him, several garrisons declared for Lambert and uprisings of civilian republicans were reported in Somerset, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire.  However, before Lambert could gather all his forces, however, he was confronted near Daventry on Easter Day, 22 April 1660, by troops sent by Monck under the command of Colonel Ingoldsby, a regicide who hoped to win a pardon by recapturing Lambert. When Ingoldsby prepared to attack, Lambert’s small army defected or fled. Lambert was ignominiously taken prisoner by Ingoldsby himself when his Arab charger became bogged down in a muddy field. The following day he was brought back to London. After being forced to stand beneath the Tyburn gallows, he was returned to the Tower.
Aged 40 at the Restoration, Lambert spent the rest of his life in prison. He was brought to trial alongside Sir Henry Vane in June 1662, accused of high treason. Although sentenced to death, Lambert appealed to the King’s mercy and the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. He was moved from the Tower to Castle Cornet on Guernsey, and finally to Drake’s Island in Plymouth Sound. Frances Lambert took a house in Plymouth and visited him when permitted, but after her death in 1676, Lambert lapsed into insanity. He died in February 1684 at the age of 64, having spent the last 24 years of his life in prison.

A tragic, lonely end, for a man who deserves to be better known.

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Babbitt, childbirth, history, Margriete, women

Losing Her Cherry – what did happen to Margriete Babbitt?

“Kersen” is back in the Kindle short story charts. Which is, of course, right and proper.

But whilst I have been playing with the formatting of “Red Horse” prior to its being unveiled with its lovely new cover courtesy of Jacques le Roux, I have realised something that I think I might have always known.

You see, Margriete Babbitt – nee Gerritszen – aka the Amazon, is all of thirty-seven, thirty-eight when she marries her young mercenary. (He’s eighteen, but it’s all right… he’s tall for his age.)
And that would make her forty-five when she dies. Now Hollie never knew what happened to his first wife: he was away at the time of her death, up to the elbows in mud and blood at the siege of Nuremberg. But I think I might…

Pregnancy and childbirth were a risky business, in the 17th century. It is estimated that between 6 and 7 per cent of women could expect to die from childbirth related causes. A married woman would become pregnant, on average, five or six times.

From 1619 to 1660 in the archdiocese of Canterbury, England, the median age of the brides was 22 years and nine months while the median age for the grooms was 25 years and six months, with average ages of 24 years for the brides and nearly 28 years for the grooms, with the most common ages at marriage being 22 years for women and 24 years for men; in one parish in Devon, the aberage age of marriage fluctuated between 25 and 29 years. Interestingly, the Church dictated that the age when one could marry without the consent of one’s parents was 21 years. A large majority of English brides in this time were at least 19 years of age when they married, and only one bride in a thousand was thirteen years of age or younger. (So much for the myth of the Early Modern child bride!)

So – Griete, married for a second time, a middle-class widow of independent means, already living on the polite peripheries as the owner of a tavern. In her book In the Family Way: Childbearing in the British Aristocracy, 1760-1860, Dr Judith Schneid Lewis gives details of a woman whose last surviving child was born when she was 46; Catherine Tothill, wife of William Tothill, Esq., who resided at Shardeloes in Buckinghamshire during the 17th-century, is thought to have given birth to 33 children, the last, presumably, being in her forties. Margriete at forty-four would be an older mother, but not a freakishly old one.

And it would seem that women were aware of their chances, in childbirth. Anne Bradstreet’s poem “Before the birth of one of her children” addresses her husband directly on the possibility of her death in labour, with resignation, though not necessarily with fear. It has been suggested that women possibly expected their suffering in travail as an affliction of humanity resulting from Eve’s original sin – certainly, most women expected danger in childbirth, and expected to get on with it in as well and with as much Christian fortitude as may be. The midwife, and, if you could afford one, the physician, were instruments of God’s will, and although it would be sinful to rely on them to thwart His design, it would be equally sinful to not take appropriate concern over one’s bodily welfare.

For a good, thorough reading of the 17th century woman’s approach to childbirth, I suggest Sharon Howard’s academic paper ‘Imagining the Pain and Peril of Seventeenth-century Childbirth: Travail and Deliverance in the Making ot an Early Modern World’ (2003)

And as for Margriete?
No, that won’t ever be a story in its own right, because she died without her lollopy mercenary-boy with her, and he would have held her hand if he could, and he couldn’t.

Some things are too sad for even me.

(Image of The Cholmondley Ladies copyright Tate Gallery)

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Babbitt, Fairfax, Het, history, new books, ponderations, Russell, writing

Babylon is Fallen, to Rise No More

Well, the good news is, I’ve finished the new book.
The bad news is, it is not “Babylon’s Downfall” – it’s part one of the road to Marston Moor, it’s the battle at Selby in 1643, and it’s called “The Smoke of Her Burning”.

I should like to say, worry not, I am not turning into George R R Martin (tha knows nuthin‘, Hollie Babbitt)

But I’m not sure that I’m not.

I can honestly say no one comes back from the dead, mind, but there is a Walk of Shame, all the way from Essex to Yorkshire. Instead of the Wall I have the Ouse. I have in-fighting Babbitts, disfigured heroes (yes, Russell’s back!) stern heroines, and there may even be one or two scenes of Het Babbitt without her stays on.

Game o’ thrones, my lily-white backside, as Rosie would have it.
Bloody game o’ commonwealths, more like it.

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