Changing Sides – Turn Coats

“Turncoat!” The word creates immediate images of traitors, renegades and defectors… here is a person who places self-interest above the well-being or safety of comrades-in-arms, and so switches sides irrespective of the resulting harm it does to the Cause. Betrayed comrades react with contempt and demand harsh sanctions, even a gruesome traitor’s death, while the turncoat’s new comrades doubt the durability of the side-changing – because as Cicero wrote: No wise man ever thought that a traitor should be trusted.

Yet the results of research conducted by Andrew Hopper, Professor in Local and Social History at the University of Oxford reveals that side-changing or “turncoating” during the British Civil Wars was more common than has previously been recognised. He found that it occurred on both sides and across all levels of society, and that some individuals became infamous for changing sides multiple times.

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The World Turned Upside Down
The World Turned Upside Down - The British Civil Wars 1638-1651
Changing Sides - Turn Coats
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Contributor

Andrew Hopper

Andrew Hopper

Professor of Local and Social History

Andrew Hopper is Professor of Local and Social History in the Department for Continuing Education at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Kellogg College. He…

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Sources

The Papers of the Hothams: Governors of Hull during the Civil War Andrew Hopper (ed.) (Camden Society, 5th series, 39, 2011).
The Memoirs and Memorials of Sir Hugh Cholmley of Whitby, 1600-1657 Jack Binns (ed.), (Yorkshire Archaeological Society, Record Series, 153, 2000).