Now the hurly-burly's done, now the battle's lost and won... It should perhaps be remembered (if only briefly, and without false solemnity) that the events which these historical re-enactment societies recreate today in comradeship and good humour, for their own interest in history and the crowds' enjoyment of colourful spectacle, were among the most devastating in British 8 history.
It has been calculated that in England and Wales alone battle deaths between 1642 and 1651 may have totalled 85,00(), to which must be added about 100,(XX) military and civilian deaths from war-related disease. From a total population of perhaps five million, that loss represents 3.7% - which should be compared with 2.6% of the population of the British Isles dead in the First, and 0.6% in the Second World Wars. In Scotland and Ireland local hatreds brought a particular savagery to the Civil War campaigns, and losses were proportionately much higher.
In the early campaigns in England "Cavaliers" and "Roundheads" might call each other "Papist dogs" and "rebel rogues", but there is much evidence that they respected each other's courage and sincerity, however misguided. This tolerance largely disappeared during the Second and
Third Civil Wars, which were fought with ruthless determination.
The harsh lessons learnt during the war, and the decade of military rule which followed, have shaped British political history. It may be argued that the relative civil peace and order which we have enjoyed since those years is our legacy from those who risked everything, and often gave it, for King or Parliament on the battlefields of the 1640s.
The Sweets of Victory
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