Don’t Mention the Civil War

March 29, 2015 at 7:37 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

No, not the American Civil War. Or the Spanish Civil War. No, the English Civil War.

But I need to back this up a little. My wife and I visit the public library 2-3 times a week (sometimes more). I love the library, and while I try not to accumulate fines, I didn’t really mind paying them. It’s money for an institution I support. Nothing makes me crazier than people who borrow and then destroy library materials: People who scratch CDs or DVDs, who steal inserts or who tear pages from magazines because they are too lazy or too cheap to photocopy them, but I digress. My wife even buys magazines from the library, and she recently picked up two copies of History Today for me.

The February 2014 issue has a piece on Britain’s reluctance to admit it once cut off the head of its king and was for a period of 12 years a republic. True, kings had met untimely ends before Charles I, but this was usually the result of assassination or falling in battle. Never had a sitting monarch been executed. A significant moment.

And yet, it’s something which doesn’t seem to get the attention it should. In 1989, when France was celebrating the 200th anniversary of its Revolution, Thatcher sniffed that the British had had their revolution a hundred years earlier largely without bloodshed. The “Glorious Revolution” of 1688 though was a conservative overthrow of the final Stewart King, James II and a consolidation of the power of parliament and the interests within. It did not open radical possibilities in the same way the Civil was had half a century earlier. From Thatcher’s perspective, that did make sense.

Still, the embarrassment with which these events are viewed today does seem odd, especially when such arch Conservatives as Winston Churchill viewed Cromwell as a hero.

Maybe I should look for more issues of the magazine.  You can read the article “Reluctant Regicides and judge for yourself.

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