I did it, I finally became a movie mogul.
Last year I unleashed onto this blog the English Civil War Factions article, (click on English Rebels in the categories on the right of the screen) now I have made it into a mini documentary.
It’s my first attempt at turning an article into a film. I plan to do it with some longer ones, but need to address the problem of how to narrate it, hopefully I’m ok for writing and images. Any ideas on narration, drop me a line.
Religious dissent in England went back much further than Henry VIII’s reformation, the Lollards being a prime example around 1350 who dispite being catholics had many traits akin to protestants. They were very influential and powerful for a time having the ruler of England John Gaunt as their patron.
There were Lollardist trials in England as late as 1522 which puts the Lollards contemporary to the English Dissenters and such groups as the Known Men and Free Will Men of the 1540-1560′s were, if not Lollards as many suggest, as close as you can get. Much of the Free Will Movement developed into English Anabaptistism, so one could argue the Lollards still exist today in the form of Menonnites. It’s probably only natural that they developed into a protestant faction in the 16th century.
There is a continuity of Lollardism into puritanism, prebyterianism and anticlericism and if we look at the Bishop’s Wars as the outbreak of the ECW, perhaps they had a great influence on its outbreak
However the civil war not just spiritual it was political and political on several levels.
There was a catholic/protestant dispute between the ruling class however this was fairly recent starting in Henry’s time.
There was a middle class/ruling class dispute as the merchant class began to surpass the landed aristocracy in wealth, this again was fairly recent.
There was the poor vs wealthy dispute as exeplified by the levellers and diggers which at the very latest had its origins in the peasants revolt of 1381 where the leaders such as John Ball were preaching wealth redistribution.
Prior to that the Black death wiped out 1/2 the population of England and in the aftermath a labour shortage occured and the prices peasants sold their labour to lords for went up by up to five times. Peasants were able to break their serfdom and move where the best wages were. The English government quickly passed a law capping wages to a pre-Black Death level however this was impractical and ignored. During the period England had its first recorded strike and peasant labourer went on strike over pay against their lord, somewhat unthinkable prior to the death.
Finally it was a dispute over divine right of kings, system that had been legislated against by the Magna Carta in 1215 and arguambly by the Charter of Liberties in 1100.
So the answer is probably either 1100 or 1215.
The Industrial Revolution and urbanisation may have brought great benefits to the industrialists but for many sections of the poor living standards plummeted. Factory working conditions were appaling, 18 hour working day without breaks in cramped dirty conditions, dangerous machinery, pitiful wages, draconian fines forced upon workers for complaints and child labour, children usually doing the most dangerous jobs in the factory and suffering crippling injuries. For those that survived accidents long term effects on the lungs or terminal conditions caused by chemicals used lead to an early death. Amidst this was a drive by factory owners as competition grew to lower wages and worsen working conditions.
This sparked the world’s first Labour Movement.
In 1811 the first threatening letter from General Ned Ludd and the Army of Redressers appeared. Whether Ned Ludd himself existed or was a made up figurehead is still unknown. However the Army of Redressers who came to be known as Luddites quickly grew across the Midlands and began attacking factories. Workers broke in and smashed (Origin of the saying, throw a spanner in the works).
The government responded by making Ludditism a capital offence and sending 12,000 troops into Luddite strongholds to no avail. In late 1911 the movement widened its grip expanding across much of the industrial countryside. The pattern emerging at Rawfolds Mill where the Luddites attacked killing the owner. 100 Luddite were captured by the army and three executed.
From 1812-1817 pitched battles between the army and the Luddites became regular, often thousands of Luddites attacking mills or factory owners houses. Rioting occured in cities and Luddites hurled stones at factory owners and their families. Usually Luddites tried to smash the machines but if that failed would turn to burning the whole building down. The army defending the mills usually outnumbered would resort to musketry and the ringleaders of any captured Luddites were hung.
The Luddite Rebellion lasted six years but faded after 1817 leaving many martyrs however resurfaced in 1830 in the Swing Riots.
Nowadays Luddite is a term meaning someone who dislikes or can’t comprehend technology. A rather denigrating way to remember the granddaddies of all labour movements.
The War of Three Kingdoms was one of the most important periods in history. Not for the military conflict but the ideas it generated. The conflict was a maelstrom of radical thought as religious, political and social ideas dating back centuries took form in political movements. The Anarchists, Quakers, Communists, Socialists, Methodists and many other dissenters owe their spiritual home to this era.
In a previous blog I outlined some of the factions. Now I have generated a fun quiz testing people’s knowledge of the conflict.
To try your knowledge play the World Turned Upside Down Quiz.
Translation: Cromwell lead an anti-capitalist rebellion and his victory was the beginning of equality and democracy.
I’m trying to picture his face on a poster on every student’s wall. The 17th century rebel leader’s image is being used an icon for a new civil war half way around the world. As Thailand descends into classwar, the mostly peasant Thai Red Shirts are now comparing themselves to the Roundheads, maybe to counter the wealthy and middle class Yellow Shirt’s fanatical royalism.
This would be fine except the writing doesn’t mention Cromwell’s execution of the King, or even that Parliament’s war was in part about protecting the merchant class’s substantial capital from the declining royalist aristocrats not opposing it.
The English Civil War was the birth place of modern day radical views that had been building up since John Ball and John Wycliffe. Religious movements such Methodists, Quakers, Puritans found there origins there along with Communism, Anarchism and Socialism. Here’s just a few of the opposing factions, which one would you join?
King Charles I was put on the throne by God and he is not subject to earthly authority he is not subject to the will of his people and any attempt to question his absolute authority is to question God’s will thus heresy. Charles I must be maintained in power and the property and status of the lords he created kept in place too. If keeping control of the country means encouraging foriegn countries, Scotland, Ireland, Holland and France to invade England it is not treason and his right to do so. England has long had the Magna Carta and the idea of rule through parliament, however Scotland believes in the Divine Right of Kings, absolute royal power, the English system is wrong. Charles’s queen is Catholic, so is one of his sons and among his strongest supporters are the catholic lords. He believes in religious tolerance for his loyal subjects, but not for disloyal ones such as the confederates in Ireland.
You were the dominant force in the Houses of Parliament before the civil war and then again during the Rump Parliament, the Independents accuse you of corruption. You are suspicious of the New Model Army and wished to appease the king and come to an amicable peace, however if he refuses to convert to your religion he must go. You see your solace across the border in Presbyterian Scotland, you support all the Scottish incursions into England and would like to see them unify the whole country under Presbyterianism. You will even deal with Charles II to achieve this, as long as he converts to Presbyterianism first.
All people should be equal, the wealth of the rich should be taken from them and all people given an equal share. The right to own property should be abolished. The country should be ruled by a democratic parliament with universal suffrage and all people equal in the eyes of the law. Human rights must be respected and religious tolerance adopted. The best way to achieved this is by military coup by the leveller regiments in the New Model Army rising. If Cromwell becomes a tyrant you must assassinate him.
Like the Quakers you believe in the inner spirit and accept no authority, but you believe anyone who accepts this is bound by no earthly laws and are free to do anything. God is pantheistic and in everything, alcohol, free sex, drugs, people shouldn’t live life obsessed with the afterlife but live this life to the full now. You will ride up and down the countryside, running hell, fire and damnation preachers out of town and preaching universal love instead.
The tyrant Charles I must be overthrown by all means necessary, tried and executed as a traitor. You support the creation of the New Model Army this is the way to win the war, not a Presbyterian alliance with Scotland and will give England to power to resist Scotland after the war. You are morally outraged at the licentiousness and corruption of the world and want to pass laws to impose piety and a strong moral code, however tolerating all moderate religions. The Levellers, Diggers, Ranters, Quakers and Fifth Monarchists are beyond saving. Government should be honest and if that means making Cromwell king, so be it.
You believe it is the dawning of a new golden age, soon Christ’s kingdom on Earth will come, it will be brought in by a society of saints marching on Europe, however at the moment the country is too corrupt. Your job is to convert powerful people and win parliamentary elections if this fails military coup and gain control of the country to make the land fit for saints. Your main support comes from tradesmen and some of the army, you control several seats on the Parliament of Saints and you are strongly anti-Cromwellian.
The Levellers are mostly middle class agitators or soldiers in the New Model Army, talk a lot and do little. You are peasants at the bottom rung of society and have nothing, land ownership has robbed every Englishman of his birthright, all land is the common property and no-one has the right to own it. Enough with talking, the Diggers will simply move on to the land and begin farming on a collective basis all over the country. You believe the world is sinful and soon the final judgement will come, however those who live puritanical lives will be spared.
You believe in the inner light and reject priests and scripture. You don’t like the corruption of the world, you refuse to take public oaths or pay tax, you hate organised churches and disrupt their services. Sometimes you go into rapture and often wear no clothes. You accept no authority, whenever you meet lords or nobles you use insulting terms of address to them