Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Once more into the breeches dear friends

So I'm writing so much that my hands hurt. Writing and typing, and checking facts, as I try to bring a seventeenth century woman to life in my latest book. My 21st century sensibilities have to be knocked aside. 

It was a strange time to live for any woman who had a brain in her head.  A strange time for a woman to live in this country. The English Civil war left scars across the land that can still be seen today in the castles and houses 'slighted' by Fairfax and Cromwell.

'Slighted' in old English means totally destroyed, burnt to the ground, erased from the land. To us today it sounds like, well, it was kind of knocked out of the way.

Behind each of these buildings are peoples lives,where they began and ended. Sometimes brutally, the moral compass of the beligerants no longer existed.  It was a feral life in elegant clothes.

I own a few musket balls, they are some of the most common historical artifacts found by metal detectors. I look at them sometimes wondering who they have hit.

It was like any modern war, men women and children were obliterated for no other reason than they were in the way. Wrong religion, wrong language, wrong ideals.

A silly ineffectual man with a stutter who believed in the Divine Right of Kings to rule without Parliament and a blood thirsty bully of a dictator, who was the man who would become King.  Had himself painted in exactly the same positions as nearly every portrait of the King.
A farmer from Huntingdon wearing ermine and posing with a sceptre, scruffy collar, warty and balding.

Through my research I found out Cromwell had a prediliction for young girls, twelve to fourteen, bouncing them on his lap and getting them to sing to him. Even his favourite daughter Bettie. 

Kind of Trumpesque, bully, thug, entrepreneur, (he married for money) sexual predator.

The little King - vassilating and blown this way and that by his advisors and his wife. Trying to live up to his father's memory. A loving father dying bravely in front of his people wearing two shirts so as not to shiver on a cold day so that he was thought a coward.

Cromwell was punished after his natural death, his head put on a pike on Tower Bridge by 
Charles II. It was blown down in a gale and taken away and hidden in Cambridge, such is the venom still rampant in this country towards him - and I must say to still to the King.

Recently the head was taken from it's hiding place and inspected for the first time in many years. It turns out that at some time during his life probably towards the end, he had been trepanned. A hole cut by a surgical instrument was evident on the skull.

I am for King Charles, I am a Cavalier, a Royalist and proud of it. 

He didn't slaughter the Irish people of Drogda, he fought on battlefields and was dragged away because he wanted to go and help his men. At Naseby one of his officers took his horses reins to pull him away and said "Sire will you go to your death?"

Life under Cromwell's protectorate was hard. It must have been like living in Nazi Germany.
Everyone was watched, reported, criticised. Young men who raised a maypole in celebration of the season were hauled away to be executed. Only saved when one of them said that it wasn't for May Day but in celebration of Cromwells victory in a battle. They got off but the maypole was burnt.

Soon I will be re-enacting the Battle of Bristol, it's the one that Prince Rupert of the Rhine decided would be too high a cost in blood and men, so surrendered. 

I will be running a casualty dressing station for wounded soldiers, and some of my real musket balls will appear on the battlefield again. This time to be dropped in a bowl covered in fake blood as I use my implements to fake remove them.

We do this so it will never happen again. To show how horrible war is.

But we are again a divided country, the awful politicians we have are tearing us apart. Do they not understand that divided we fall? Perhaps that's the way we are to be controlled.

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