Karen Britland
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‘In the hollow of his wooden leg’
The transmission of civil war materials, 1642–9
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In late November 1645, a lame soldier was stopped and searched on his way out of Cardiff by the city's Parliamentarian governor. His wooden leg was unscrewed and was found to contain 18 ‘letters of consequence’, including one from Prince Maurice to Prince Charles and another from Secretary Nicholas to General Goring. The letters were sent up to the Commons: the lame soldier’s fate is not recorded. This chapter explores the clandestine transportation of letters by royalists during the English Revolution (in hatbands, gloves, hose, hollow canes, shoes and even in the belly). It investigates how poor men and women’s identities were often of less interest to newsbook writers than the messages they carried, and looks at the ways in which messengers hazarded their lives and bodies for the transmission of texts. Asking at what point information becomes of greater value than an individual human life, this chapter weighs up the ways in which bodies and texts became intertwined during the English Revolution.

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Insolent proceedings

Rethinking public politics in the English Revolution

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