History

The surviving evidence for Newark-upon-Trent, 1642–46

Across England, between 1642 and 1648, numerous towns found themselves garrisoned. Whilst some issues were clearly military matters, relationships between civic authorities and garrison commanders over more generic matters often proved to be fraught. One such issue where responsibility was unclear was in the response to the arrival of endemic disease, such as typhus or plague, which impacted on all in a garrison town and where a degree of coordinated action was required to limit the spread of infection: who took charge, how and where were the infected treated and quarantined and who met the cost (both financial and logistical) in such situations? A rare survival of civilian sources from the town of Newark enables an exploration of some of the issues within this garrison town.

in Battle-scarred
Royalist hospital provision during the First Civil War

This chapter examines the philosophy and measures adopted by Charles I and his Council of War to provide hospitals and care for their army’s sick and wounded. The King’s army faced horrendous logistical, medical and environmental problems throughout the wars. His Council of War formed a centralised command system operating under the King’s autocratic personal direction. Their complete failure to coordinate an effective casualty care policy led, inevitably, to grossly insanitary living conditions and diseases. Surgical facilities were established at New Inn Hall Street and Sunningwell with an isolation hospital in Yarnton Manor. Overall, the King’s administrators adopted a very different approach towards casualty care that compared unfavourably with that of their enemies.

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Published in 1597, the Herball of John Gerard was instantly recognised as an essential medical treatise. It was substantially revised and extended in a new edition published in 1633. As the most extensive and up-to-date statement on matters medical, there can be no doubt that Gerard’s Herball must have been a go-to manual during the civil wars. Yet the role it played in the treatment of the soldiery and general populace has yet to be told. This chapter analyses a surviving copy of the Herball, and its seventeenth-century ownership and usage by the royalist family, the Coopers of Thurgarton. An analysis of the numerous annotations it includes and the conditions they identify, argues that this artefact was used to inform treatments for those suffering ailments commonly associated with seventeenth-century siege warfare, and in this instance, the sieges of Newark in particular.

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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.

in Battle-scarred
Gunshot wounds and their treatment in the British Civil Wars

This chapter examines the medical challenges posed by the increased number of gunshot wounds during the civil wars, and sets out the changes in the way these wounds were treated. The treatment of battlefield wounds expounded in surgeons’ manuals, is placed in context with what we now understand about the biology, pathology and effective treatment methods for wounds. The techniques used by the civil-war surgeon are compared with those of later periods. Despite a lack of understanding of microbiology, physiology and, in many cases, anatomy, many methods employed by civil-war military surgeons reflect good contemporary surgical practice. Despite the lack of antibiotics, anaesthetics, hygienic environments and high-quality surgical implements, survival rates from injuries on the field arrear to have been considerable, if treated. In developing treatments for the problems posed by gunshot wounds, some civil-war surgeons used an evidence-based approach, and laid the foundations for much modern surgical practice.

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Welfare, identity and Scottish prisoners-of-war in England, 1650–55

This chapter examines how the leadership of the Kirk of Scotland organised charitable collections for soldiers imprisoned in Tynemouth Castle and Durham after the Battle of Dunbar in September 1650. In the midst of the English invasion and subsequent occupation of Scotland, ministers in Edinburgh distributed letters across the country urging parishes to donate money to support the prisoners. Parishes responded enthusiastically. This chapter shows how ministers used the galvanising effect of this charitable scheme as a way to heal ruptures within the Kirk and the Scottish political landscape. Calls to help Scottish prisoners in England did not refer to the prisoners’ previous political affiliation or the contentious position of Charles II in Scottish political discourse. The Kirk’s charitable ventures were tremendously effective at gathering financial aid but they also contributed to a wider political debate about what it meant to be a good, loyal, Covenanter.

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The medical treatment of Parliament’s infantry commander following the battle of Naseby

At the battle of Naseby, Sergeant-Major-General Philip Skippon, commander of the New Model Army infantry, was near-fatally wounded. His subsequent treatment is one of the best documented examples of civil-war medical care. This chapter will investigate Skippon’s treatment in detail and demonstrate how the medical care he received was neither barbaric nor backward but in fact representative of significant advances that had been made in military medicine as a result of the civil wars. Moreover, this chapter will also explore the propaganda campaign surrounding Skippon’s treatment. It will argue that political considerations, namely the need to overcome opposition to the formation of the New Model from within the parliamentarian alliance itself, played a vital role in Skippon's care and the consequent portray of his providential survival as divine vindication of the New Model experiment.

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Psychological wounds and curative methods in the English Civil Wars

This chapter examines the public narration, in print, of forms of psychological disability brought on by the lingering effects of combat trauma and memories of fear among soldiers and civilians during and after the English Civil Wars. It demonstrates that a popular understanding of the disfiguring and disabling nature of psychological damage developed and discusses the curative methods by which people attempted to treat invisible wounds. Finally, this chapter argues that contemporary responses to the disabling nature of psychological trauma demonstrate a cognisance of the therapeutic value of attempting to construct trauma narratives.

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Wandering soldiers and the negotiation of parliamentary authority, 1642–51

Historians have long been interested in vagrancy during the early modern period, and the treatment meted out to travellers by local officials. However, despite the fact that so many vagrants were conscripted for military service, little work has been done on how they fared during the British Civil Wars. The closely-related topic of ‘wandering soldiers’ remains largely unexplored, despite the fact that they featured prominently in early modern ‘rogue’ literature. Demobilised veterans and deserters did not simply go home, not least because large numbers of conscripts, being unskilled and unmarried, had little reason to do so. The chapter investigates the scale, complexity and political significance of the problems which resulted, and why, given the fact that such individuals were potentially far more dangerous than normal vagrants, the moral panics of earlier decades were not repeated.

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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.

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