Cavalier or Roundhead?
Royalist or Parliamentarian? A question which has been on everybody’s lips throughout the Basing House project. This is a question which many of us will have thought about before while running around the school playground or sitting in a history lesson but how easy is it to choose?
For some the question comes down to looks. We are all familiar with the image of the laughing Cavalier and the po-faced Roundhead. One of them dressed in their floppy hatted finery and the other in precise modern military uniforms. But for some it comes down to more earnest political considerations, do you defend the king and all he stands for or do you fight the tyranny of an absolute monarch?
These images of the two sides are deep rooted in our national psyche and it is fun to put your-self in the position of choosing. The reality however was much more complicated. The country was divided on many different issues only some of which make sense to us. Matters of religion, politics, geography, gender, family and self-interest all played a part in people’s decision to take sides. This complexity was so great that was a long time before it became obvious that there would be only two opposing camps. Even after the two sides were established they never resembled anything as coherent or co-ordinated as a modern army.
It quickly becomes clear that without taking into account a huge range of factors it is very difficult to make a decision at all. Where would you have lived? Would you have been wealthy or poor? A Protestant or a Catholic? A man or a woman? The truth is that one or all of these factors would probably have made the decision for you.
In fact if you really think about it then it’s very likely that you would have been on whatever side a local gent told you to be on.
So in light of all of this historical confusion and anachronism how can we really make an informed choice?
Well… I for one would rather wear a big floppy hat than a grey helmet any day. And who bans Christmas?!