Synopses & Reviews
A fresh approach to the English civil war, War in England 1642-1649
focuses on answering a misleadingly simple question: what kind of war was it to live through? Eschewing descriptions of specific battles or analyses of political and religious developments, Barbara Donagan examines the 'texture' of war, addressing questions such as: what did Englishmen and women believe about war and know about its practice before 1642? What were the conditions in which a soldier fought - for example, how efficient was his musket (not very), and how did he know where he was going (much depended on the reliability of scouts and spies)? What were the rules that were supposed to govern conduct in war, and how were they enforced (by a combination of professional peer pressure and severe but discretionary army discipline and courts martial)? What were the officers and men of the armies like, and how well did they fight?
The book deals even-handedly with royalists and parliamentarians, examining how much they had in common, as well as discussing the points on which they differed. It looks at the intimacy of this often uncivil war, in which enemies fought at close quarters, spoke the same language and had often been acquainted before the war began, just as they had often known the civilians who suffered their presence. A final section on two sieges illustrates these themes in practice over extended periods, and also demonstrates the integration of military and civilian experience in a civil war.
Drawing extensively on primary sources, Donagan's study illuminates the human cost of war and its effect on society, both in our own day as well as in the seventeenth century.
"Barbara Donagon's book is...supremely rich and rewarding, judicious and erudite...a rich and readable book without overstretched and tendentious conclusions...[This] is a book whose insights should be considered and absorbed by anyone with an interest in the early modern world and in those who lived it." --Journal of British Studies
"Donagan has drawn upon an impressive amount of primary research in military sources to create an original, important description of the experiences of the soldiers and civilians who suffered through England's Civil War.... A wealth of information and fresh ideas about 17th-century English warfare. Highly recommended."--H.T. Blethen, CHOICE
"This is a new perspective: a scrupulous, thoughtful, and thoroughly researched addition to studies of the English civil wars. Valuable in itself, the study also provides a new viewpoint from which earlier assumptions about forces and motives, personalities, and military matters in the English civil wars can be fruitfully rethought."--Laura Lunger Knoppers, American Historical Review
"Barbara Donagan's description and analysis of the Siege of Colchester is magnificent, well written and thorough: I knnow of no finer description of a siege and would recommend it to all students of the experience of war."--Charles Carlton, The Journal of Military History
"[An] ambitious book." --Renaissance Quarterly
About the Author
is an independent scholar at The Huntington, California.
Table of Contents
2. Before the War
3. The Texture of War: the Soldier's World
4. Slay in Love: the Moral and Judicial Economy of the Civil War
5. The Protagonists
6. Case Histories: Two Sieges