Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Pudel or Peper?

... Or to put it another way; Roundhead curr or Cavalier dog?

Via Counting Cats, I learn that the cavalier standard is being raised against the control-freak puritans who infest every organ of the state, intent on inflicting their godless post-millennial piety upon the rest of us. I find myself in a dilemma. Much as I oppose the puritans, identifying myself with the cavaliers sticks in the craw somewhat.

If my understanding of such matters were based on period dramas, I guess it wouldn't be too hard. The cavaliers get to wear the best clobber, and spend their time in drunken revelry, surrounded by bounteous serving wenches in those corset things beloved of all red-blooded men, whilst the roundheads get the small beer and the stern lectures. To what extent this is accurate, I cannot say, but it would go some way to explaining who won the war.

Just as politics today is more complicated than the simple left versus right which we are presented with, so it was then. The original Trooper William Thompson, in whose honour this blog is dedicated, served in Christopher Bethel's troop within Scroope's cavalry regiment of the New Model Army. He was kicked out in 1647, on trumped up charges relating to an incident involving drinking, gambling and fighting - so, for our latter-day civil guerrillas, a good cavalier! After various misadventures, he died fighting Cromwell's loyalists in the aftermath of the last big mutiny, against compulsory service in Ireland, 1649. So, like the greatest radical of this period, John Lilburne, he struggled both against the king and the military junta which replaced him.

Thus, if I were to join with the anti-puritan cavaliers de jour, I will have to look to someone like Edward Sexby as a role model. Sexby distinguished himself at the Putney Debates as one of the more eloquent of the army radicals, later turned against Nol when he dissolved Parliament and spent the last few years of Cromwell's time plotting his assassination and knocking around in exile with his enemy's enemies.
Monty Python's Oliver Cromwell song
Edward Sexby's inflamatory anti-Cromwell pamphlet 'Killing Noe Murder'

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