By Austin Woolrych
This can be the definitive background of the English Civil struggle, set in its complete ancient context from the accession of Charles I to the recovery of Charles II. those have been maybe the main turbulent years of British heritage with reverberations down the centuries. Austin Woolrych captures the drama and the eagerness, the momentum of occasions and the strength of contingency. He brilliantly interweaves the background of the 3 kingdoms and peoples, gripping the reader with the fast paced but constantly balanced tale.
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Extra info for Britain in Revolution: 1625-1660
The Old Irish were passionately catholic, though their catholicism was largely untouched by the reforms associated with the Council of Trent and the Catholic Counter-Reformation. There was already tension between the native clergy who never left Ireland and the sons of the gentry who trained for the priesthood in the several Irish colleges in Rome and in the Spanish Netherlands, for the latter aspired to bring Irish catholicism into line with the Counter-Reformation. The Old Irish spanned a wide social spectrum, for poor as most of them were they boasted a native nobility whose greater members shared a life-style and often intermarried with the second element in the population, the Old English (or Anglo-Irish).
In 1604, when the long war with Spain ended, parliament repealed the Tudor statutes which had regulated the militia, so from then on it rested on no other legal foundation than the royal prerogative. During the years of peace the trained bands tended to be trained less and less, because the responsible gentry magistrates were often unwilling to levy the necessary rates to buy them muskets and to pay a professional soldier as muster-master. There were to be patchy attempts to improve their effectiveness, but their most serious limitation lay in their extreme reluctance to march beyond the bounds of their own counties.
But though there was eventually some check to waste and venality, Charles was as attached to Buckingham as James had been, and after the favourite’s death his court was to fall into disrepute for new and graver reasons. Charles’s other two kingdoms were very different from England, and even more different from each other. y8 25/9/02 4:23 PM Page 25 Three Kingdoms, Three Peoples 25 maybe a million, maybe slightly less. That gave a density of 28 people per square mile, compared with about 100 in England and 70 in Ireland.