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Annual Booklist 2016-2017 : Serena Jones

Author of No Armour But Courage - Colonel Sir George Lisle, 1615-1648 (Helion, 2016); editor/compiler of English Army Lists of the Early 1640s (Tyger's Head Books, 2015)


Laurence Spring, The First British Army, 1624-1628 – The Army of the Duke of Buckingham (Helion, 2016). I have a long-standing research interest in the ‘Buckingham era’, and was delighted at the recent publication of this much-needed analysis of his forces at Cadiz, Rhé and La Rochelle in the first few years of Charles I’s reign. The book mainly comprises a study of the practical aspects of 1620s warfare such as the initial levying of troops, contemporary weaponry, clothing, quartering, pay, and discipline. It also follows the progress of the campaigns themselves, and concludes with the disastrous military and political results – the most far-reaching being the assassination of Buckingham himself by a disgruntled lieutenant. Extensive and highly useful appendices list the regiments and officers involved, their pay, and the clothing issued to the men. An essential book for every military reference shelf.

Mark Charles Fissel, The Bishops’ Wars – Charles I’s campaigns against Scotland 1638-1640 (Cambridge University Press, 1994). Fissel’s work focuses exclusively on Charles I’s ill-conceived 1639 and 1640 military campaigns in the north-east of England and on the Scottish border. It examines the condition of existing military mechanisms; unpicks Charles’s political struggle to fund and raise new armies to reassert his authority north of the border; and explores the financial and practical circumstances which stunted the armies’ effectiveness and caused them to fail utterly in their aim of bringing Scotland and its religious objectors to heel. The book is highly detailed and requires close attention, but the reward is a much-improved understanding of the Charles-Westminster-Edinburgh triangle post-Personal Rule, and the march towards Civil War.

Jon Day, Gloucester & Newbury 1643 – The Turning Point of the Civil War (Pen & Sword, 2007). A detailed study of the latter half of the summer campaign in the south of England, and its consequences for Charles I. Full of freshly-researched historical detail and new perspectives on the action, yet highly readable and accessible to readers less familiar with the period or the theatre in question. The best ECW campaign analysis I’ve read for many years.

Andrew Hopper, Turncoats and Renegadoes – Changing Sides during the English Civil Wars (Oxford University Press, 2012). The motives and actions of individuals in history, the reasoning behind them, and the often devastating effects of their deployment – especially in war – have long fascinated me, and Hopper’s examination of Civil War turncoats has been a very welcome addition to my library. The traditional poster boy for ECW side-changing has been infamous serial turncoat Sir John Urry: Hopper’s research significantly broadens the cast of characters, highlighting the extensive scale of desertion and realignment and the myriad reasons behind it.

Anthony Clayton, The British Officer – Leading the Army from 1660 to the Present (Pearson, 2007). An unusual book for my reading list, as I rarely have time to stray out of the early/mid-Stuart period. However it made a pleasant change to study the development of the British army officer’s role since the Restoration and the changing experiences each new generation faced, and I came back to the seventeenth century with new perspectives on my Early Modern studies. Accessible, not too long and well worth the reading hours.

There are numerous unwritten books which I can only hope will materialise to grace my library in years to come. However, top of my list is a compendium of the British officers and soldiers who fought in Europe during the Thirty Years’ War, particularly those who were there in the 1630s and then took up commissions at home during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms and the English Civil Wars. An index of foreign officers who fought in the European theatres in the 1630s, but in the British conflicts in the 1640s, would make a useful companion volume.

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