The widows and orphans of Parliament’s military commanders
This chapter will examine how the Long Parliament and interregnum regimes treated the widows and orphans of their fallen military commanders. It will draw upon the petitions of the widows of the social elite, along with correspondence written by them or on their behalf. It will explore how elite war widows were able to mobilise networks of interest in their favour and the strategies they adopted to safeguard their families, livelihoods and estates. It will also analyse the conduct and deportment expected of elite war widows and the ways in which their self-fashioning sought to elicit favourable responses from authority. The chapter will compare and contrast the treatment of elite widows with those of the rank and file, as well as the widows of royalist officers petitioning for relief after 1660. It will conclude with an appreciation of how their involvement and sacrifice in a cause made some of these widows significant political figures.
Historians of the British Civil Wars are increasingly taking notice of these bloody conflicts as a critical event in the welfare history of Europe. This volume will examine the human costs of the conflict and the ways in which they left lasting physical and mental scars after the cessation of armed hostilities. Its essays examine the effectiveness of medical care and the capacity of the British peoples to endure these traumatic events. During these wars, the Long Parliament’s concern for the ‘commonweal’ led to centralised care for those who had suffered ‘in the State’s service’, including improved medical treatment, permanent military hospitals, and a national pension scheme, that for the first time included widows and orphans. This signified a novel acceptance of the State’s duty of care to its servicemen and their families. These essays explore these developments from a variety of new angles, drawing upon the insights shared at the inaugural conference of the National Civil War Centre in August 2015. This book reaches out to new audiences for military history, broadening its remit and extending its methodological reach.
The introduction surveys the historical and historiographical contexts which underpin and link the various chapters in Battle-Scarred, before outlining the questions and topics covered in the chapters. By adumbrating trends in military historiography and the history of early modern medicine, the editors highlight how the contributors have utilised potential synergies between these two sub-disciplines in order to make a series of significant contributions to the study of military medicine and war-related welfare. The chapters are arranged in three sections: the first section considers attitudes towards the bodies of the slain and efforts to control epidemic disease in civil-war garrisons; the second brings together professional, political and literary aspects of military medicine; whilst the third explores the complex relationships between war, societal culture, welfare and memorialisation. The editors argue that by examining the myriad ways in which English and Scottish people at various levels of society responded to the trauma and stress of civil war, the volume will help foster a more rounded approach to military history, and a sounder grasp of the historical origins of modern British attitudes towards war-related institutional care.
The conclusion summarises the achievements of the volume’s chapters, and how they provide a powerful reminder that the consequences and human costs of war do not end with treaties and peace settlements, but linger for generations afterwards. It stresses the scale of the numbers injured and the increased importance of medical personnel as a result of the wars. It points the way to forthcoming research that will be done on pension records, and reflects that the seventeenth century still has much to teach us today about the provision of medical care and military welfare.