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Asdibbens  (Level: 159.4 - Posts: 423)
Wed, 2nd Apr '08 2:03 PM


In college, I wrote a screenplay for my screenwriting class set during the English Civil War - why then when I have never even been to England I do not remember anymore, since that was 20 years ago. I am now reworking the idea into a historical novel because it fits well into a complex series of books (I won't bore you with details, however). So, anyway, I am reading many books on the subject, but, of course, these are the opinions of historians and military history buffs.

I'm curious about what the English learn in schools about the subject. Is Charles cast in a sympathetic light? Or is he regarded more like, uh, some U.S. President we are currently serving under. And Cromwell? Villain? Hero? I'm sure there are a range of opinions, but it is a fascinating mix of religion and politics. One book I just finished was "This War Without an Enemy" a quote from William Waller's letter to Hopton, which I agree seems like a very good description of the conflict.

Asdibbens  (Level: 159.4 - Posts: 423)
Wed, 2nd Apr '08 2:06 PM

Oops, just realized my thread topic is slightly out of the period described by the forum. But there's no where else to put it yet.

Surreyman  (Level: 272.2 - Posts: 2771)
Thu, 3rd Apr '08 5:36 AM

Oh wow - why am I replying - I bet your Civil War knowledge is already way past mine!

So maybe some subjective thoughts.

I think it is probably taught in a very balanced way in Brit schools, since there are so many edges to the events.

The Brit character probably favours the Cavaliers over the Roundheads, and so they tend to be the 'heroes' popularly. Also, of course, we still have a generally much-loved monarchy - I was about to say "with all the warts" but that probably applies better to Cromwell's nose!
So beheading the monarch still doesn't feel quite right!

On the other hand, Charles' rigid belief in the Divine Right also doesn't gel, although his bravery in sticking to his beliefs is noted.

Cromwell is rightly lauded as the 'modern founder' of Parliament, but his methods are not always approved of, to say the least, nor his extreme Puritanism.

I think a 'British' summary might well be 'The end was justified but not the means'?

Asdibbens  (Level: 159.4 - Posts: 423)
Thu, 3rd Apr '08 1:49 PM

Thank you. That is actually very encouraging. I'm weaving a fictional character and plot around historical events and people and it makes easier if the whole thing is fuzzier in people's mind. Still, I want to be as historically accurate as possible.

In the first version, Charles did not appear in the story at all. But now I want to have him more present and am still trying to form a sense of his character. Cromwell is mostly outside of the story and I plan to leave him that way. Other lesser known figures I find more interesting anyway. On the Royalist side Prince Rupert is fascinating; a dashing adventurer, brilliant strategist, with atrocious people skills, and very quirky (took his poodle into battle). On Parliaments side, the 2nd Earl of Essex is almost the exact opposite of Rupert - too cautious, though personally brave, and morosely sure of his own death, bringing his own coffin with him as they marched out the first time. William Waller knows they are all trapped in a play. Thomas Fairfax is intriguing - easily their best commander and of a far more fair mind than Cromwell, but for some reason he couldn't bring himself to lead the country (there is a book of his letters which is my next read).

And the themes which play out are sadly still far too relevant today. Everyone, especially Charles, is convinced they are the agent of God and all their victories are proof of this, while their defeats are merely God telling them to redirect their plans. And though we may wonder why anyone would get so worked up over religious issues like whether there should be bishops or altars, it certainly parallels the conflicts of today that focus on the differences rather than the common ground between the religions.

Oh dear, a little people is forcing me to get off the computer so they can play on Nick, Jr. Not that I'm Shakespeare or anything, but I bet his kids weren't constantly snatching the quill from his hand...

Surreyman  (Level: 272.2 - Posts: 2771)
Fri, 4th Apr '08 5:26 AM

Can but agree with your religious parallels.
I've always fancied delving into writing fiction, but always suspected I'd spend some years, only to remain totally unpublished!
I've managed some non-fiction - "Where The Commonwealth Came From" - a 'histogeographical' survey of every British Empire holding. Even had a publishing offer, but I spent so much time adding, changing, that the publisher rightly ran out of patience!

Asdibbens  (Level: 159.4 - Posts: 423)
Fri, 4th Apr '08 12:55 PM

I remember you mentioning your book quite some time ago and I wondered how it was coming along.

I see this project sort of along the same lines, something for me to work on for a long time to come. I'm not particularly interested in the publishing and marketing and book tours that you have to do to make a book sell these days. If that happens later when I feel the books are the way that I want them, then that's fine. If not, that's okay, too.

There was this guy who worked at the same bookstore where I work part time. He rushed through writing, editing and self-publishing a book that we sold at the store. Now though, he really regrets not having taken more time in the editing and sort of thinks of the book as kind of an embarrassment. I think the main reason he quit the store was so he didn't have look at it anymore.

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