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The Second Civil War and Its Origins, 1646-8

Robert Ashton

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While much has been written on the subject of the English Civil War, the Second Civil War has been largely neglected. Robert Ashton, author of the standard history, The English Civil War, now provides a detailed and erudite account of the origins of the Second Civil War, covering the years from the end of the First Civil War, in 1646, to late 1648, the eve of the trial and execution of Charles I.

After Parliament defeated the king's forces in the First Civil War, says Ashton, there followed an uneasy period of double dealing within Parliament, between Parliament and its Scots allies, between Parliament and the king, and between Parliament and the Army. After two years of mounting tension, war again broke out in 1648 in a series of regional risings, culminating in an invasion by the Scots and their defeat at Preston.

Ashton explains how the royalists found the support to take up arms again in 1648. Analyzing regional, county, and national developments in England, as well as events in Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, he isolates the social, political, institutional, and religious factors that helped to alienate conservative elements from the victorious parliamentary faction. He shows why so many Scotsmen who had fought alongside the English roundheads entered the second war on the king's side in 1648 and how this resulted in a disastrous split within the Scottish political nation. And he explores not only why former supporters of Parliament deserted their allies and embraced the royalist cause, but also why others did not. The book concludes by considering the main characteristics of insurgency in the Second Civil War and the reasons for and consequences of its failure.

Robert Ashton is emeritus professor of English history at the University of East Anglia.

"Counter Revolution is impeccably researched and offers a combination of themes and multi-linear narrative. It is rich in local and biographical details and telling incidents and quotations are deployed to good effect. . . . A much needed study of shifting political ground, changing expectations, incompatibilities, and ultimately failure."—R.C. Richardson, Times Higher Education Supplement

"Ashton has produced an impressively knowledgeable and impeccably researched account of the origins of the second Civil War of 1648."—Christopher Durston, History

"Ashton has given new life to the royalists who rallied from decisive defeat in 1646 to fight again in 1648. . . . Characterized by meticulous research and judicious weighing of evidence, and employing profuse examples to illustrate key points, this book is the definitive work on the causes of the long-ignored Second Civil War. Historiographical debate abounds in the footnotes, which will be an invaluable source for professional historians and Civil War specialists."—Elizabeth Lane Furdell, History: Reviews of New Books

"Perhaps no other historian of his generation so well bridges country and city. In the preface he expresses ambivalence about whether he can muster the time and resources to write a follow-up study. The quality of this book compels me to urge Ashton on, once more into the breach."—Mark C. Fissel, American Historical Review

"Robert Ashton has written the most detailed and comprehensive account we are ever likely to have of the political events in England between 1646 and 1648. Grounded in an exhaustive reading of the printed and manuscript sources, Counter-Revolution is a work of impressive erudition. The author has equally successfully assimilated the work of other scholars of this period. . . . [This book] is likely to remain for many years the standard account of the origins and aftermath of the second civil war."—Ian Gentles, Albion

"A piece of superior scholarship that is balanced, cautious, and immensely rich in detail."—James Friguglietti, The Historian

ISBN: 9780300184075
Publication Date: November 30, 2011
552 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
17 b/w illus.