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Friday 21 August 2020

Catching Up On My Reading .

 As you may have gathered it has been a bit hectic around here what with one thing and another. My painting has suffered  and indeed slowed to a crawl but not only that but so has my reading. Now I know that some wargamers out there don't do reading- unless it be rule books or "games"  but I do. After all without period knowledge how can  you tell if your currently chosen ruleset is twaddle or not?

 So at the moment I have three  new books in hand - though I have had two of them for some time. All are from Helion and all are a bit tasty.

The King's Irish : The Royalist Anglo-Irish Foot Of The English Civil War

First up "The Kings Irish" by the ever dependable John Barratt. This is a workmanlike account of the trials and tribulations of those "Irish" troops who landed in England to  fight for Charles I in the first civil war. This book does exactly what it says on the cover. giving an account of those units who , from the English Army in Irealnd sent to  put down the 1641 rising were enabled to return to England because of the "Cessation" signed by Charles I with his Irish Catholic subjects. These troops were certainly battle hardened and  used to harsher campaigning  but by no means all supported the Kings cause- more than a few changed sides after the Battle of Nantwich.

I bought this as a counterpoint to Abrams excellent study of  Breretons Cheshire Parliamentarian army since  many of the Kings Irish units landed in Cheshire and North Wales and came into contact with Brertons forces. "Irish" troops were also involved in other campaigns and the book gives decent coverage here as well. This volume  gives a concise and readable account of a group of regiments which  the King thought might win him the war but never quite lived up to their potential . Fascinating. Recommended.  

 Physically the book is the usual "Century of the Soldier" format and a softback but otherwise sturdy. Colour  plates by Sean O'Brogain are well up to that artists usual standard as are those of Flags by Dr. Les Prince. Any other comment of mine is superfluous other than Buy the thing !

 The Most Heavy Stroke : The Battle of Roundway Down 1643

Next another ECW title- regular readers will know of my interest in the period. This one is Chris Scott's The Most Heavy Stroke" . This is an examination of the campaign and battle of Roundway Down. That most astonishing of Royalist victories where a force wholly of cavalry met and defeated an army of all arms more than twice its size. I had wanted to get this for some time but it was Steve Ede-Borret's review of the book in Arquebusier that spurred me to actually get the wallet out.  Steve knows his stuff so I took the plunge and was not in the least disappointed. Splendid book. This has arguably the best blow-by-blow account of an ECW battle  in print and is worth the price for that alone.  Like others in the series this follows the usual pattern and the account of the fighting at Roundway is detailed and to the point. This is the main thrust of the book . Why and how did the Royalists win such a stunning and unlikly victory- Buy this to find out. 

It has to be said that the Helion Century of the Soldier series is well... rather splendid. Personally I own about a dozen or more  of them  Mostly ECW but with some Thirty Years War and I have never been disappointed in any of them Where I CAN check the sources I have found the scholarship excellent and while I might not always agree with the arguments the authors make you think - which surely is rather the point. 

The Commotion Time : Tudor Rebellion in the West, 1549

Finally in this fine triumvirate we come to Dr Ed. Fox's "The Commotion Time" which covers a little known campaign in England almost exactly 100 years before the Civil War.  This one is in Helion's "Retinue to Regiment " series and covers the Western Rebellion of 1549. This is sometimes called "The Prayer Book Rebellion" and saw a series of rising across southern and eastern England against the imposition of the new prayer book imposed by the Protestant government of young Edward VI and Lord Protector Somerset. There were other causes- such as the loss of the monasteries and the subsequent land grabs of the gentry at the expence of the commons (Plus ca Change?).  Other books on these rising have concentrated on Kett's Rebellion in Norfolk and Suffolk and the battle of Dussindale but this volume concentrates on the fighting in Devon  and the Battles of Fenny Bridge, Bishop's Clyst, Clyst Heath and Sampford Courtenay. Militarily this campaign has much more interest than he Norfolk fighting as the rebels were rather more than the usual peasant mob- for a start they had a considerable artillery train.  I have read this period of an on since I acquired Julian Cornwall's  rather good but now a bit outdated volume "Revolt of the Peasantry 1549"- which covers  the whole of the risings of that year. Therefore this new work by Fox was a must buy.  Again not disappointed. The volume covers the campaign well and gives us a lot of informaton on the level of m arms and armour held by the militia of the various parishes. Not only that but the battles are - in wargaming terms eminently refightable being quite small- average of around 3000-4000 men per side over the whole campaign . The Royal Army - aside from the usual English style bows and bills of the period also disposed of some numbers of foreign mercenaries including Stradiots and Italian arquebusiers. Thought the two thousand or so Landsknechts in England at the time do not seem to have been used in this campaign. 
 If I have a critcism of this book it is the lack of colour plates. There aren't any.  Don't let this put you off  as the text and the maps  cover the action in detail.
 Again reccommended. 


  1. Thank you for these reviews. I always appreciate hearing what a reader learned that may have been unexpected or new.

  2. Currently reading the Commotion time and it is a splendid read. I was a tad disappointed re the Landsknechts ( still have the Landsknechts in Devon Miniature Wargames article ) not being there but they might have been...
    I was a little disappointed re the lack of colour plates too. The Swabian book by Doug Miller is well worth reading too.

    1. Aha, thank you for sharing.

    2. Yes Julian Cornwall implies that they were there - some may have been in Norfolk . Cornwall's book give precise numbers for them . I too still have the WI article