Lord Derby, Lancashire’s highest-ranked nobleman and its principal royalist, offered the opinion that the English civil wars had been a ‘general plague of madness’. The earl defied anyone to tell the complete story of ‘so foolish, so wicked, so lasting a war’. Yet attempting to chronicle and to explain the events is both fascinating and hugely important.
Nationally and at the county level the impact and significance of the wars can hardly be over-stated: the conflict involved our ancestors fighting one another, on and off, for a period of nine years; almost every part of Lancashire witnessed warfare of some kind at one time or another, and several towns in particular saw bloody sieges and at least one episode characterised as a massacre. Nationally the wars resulted in the execution of the king; in 1651 the Earl of Derby was executed in Bolton because he had taken a leading part in the so-called massacre in that town in 1644.
In the early months of the civil wars many could barely distinguish what it was that divided people. ‘This war without an enemy’, as the royalist William Waller famously wrote. By the end of it parliament had abolished monarchy and created the only republic in over a millennium of England’s history. Over the centuries this period has been described variously as a series of civil wars, even as a revolution.
Lancashire’s role in these momentous events was quite distinctive, and relative to the size of its population particularly important. Lancashire lay right at the centre of the wars. The conflict did not just encompass England but Ireland and Scotland too. Lancashire’s position on the coast facing Catholic, Royalist Ireland was critical from the very first months. Situated on the route from Scotland meant that it witnessed many marauding armies.
- Author: Stephen Bull
- Binding: Hardback and paperback
- ISBN: 978-1-85936-105-4 (hb), 978-1-85936-191-7 (pb)
- Pages: 512
- Illustrations: Over 100 photos, illustrations and maps
- Date of Publication: 27 October 2009
- Dimensions: 234 × 156 mm