So what was the English Civil War?!

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It’s probably the most common question we get when we do an event – what was the English Civil War and why did it happen?

As re-enactors, we often come up against stereotypes of the past; for us it’s people who have been fed a life-long diet of dour Roundheads and dashing Cavaliers, spoilsport Oliver Cromwell against poor King Charles. The reality was very different, but turns out to be – or so we find – much more interesting.

We’re the first to admit that the period we re-enact can get a little … complicated (after all, even the Earl of Manchester went from being a favourite of the King to fighting against him but then becoming a trusted advisor to his son Charles II after the Restoration) and you can buy any number of books purporting to tell you all you need to know before drowning you in detail.

But there are few guides to this tumultuous period better than Simon Schama, who covered the English Civil War with effortless clarity in his A History of Britain series:

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