Today, the medical world recognises the shock and horror to which combatants are exposed on the battlefield. They can be recognised long after the guns have fallen silent. But is this somehow a modern phenomenon only associated with the wars of the 20th and 21st centuries? Or can historical research find similar cases and symptoms in veterans of earlier wars? The Civil War Petitions project, which has transcribed and analysed more than 4000 petitions from veterans, their wives and widows and even communities seeking relief as a result of the wars, offers intriguing evidence of consequences of combat on ordinary soldiers from both sides. According to project manager Dr Ismini Pells, the individual stories reveal examples of veterans whose symptoms and behaviour we would recognise today as battlefield trauma, suggesting a diagnosis such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Mental trauma – These distracted times
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Dr Ismini Pells is the project manager of the Civil War Petitions Project in the Department for Continuing Education at the University of Oxford. Her research interests…
Combat Stress in Pre-modern EuropeBasingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2022 Owen Rees, Kathryn Hurlock and Jason Crowley
Ismini Pells, ‘Understandings of adversity and resilience amongst women and children during the seventeenth-century British Civil Wars’ pp. 171-98.
Early Modern Trauma: Europe and the Atlantic WorldLincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2021 Erin Peters and Cynthia Richards
Ismini Pells, ‘Soliciting sympathy: the search for psychological trauma in seventeenth-century English Civil War maimed soldiers’ petitions’, pp. 129-150.
Journal for Early Modern Cultural StudiesErin Peters
‘Trauma Narratives of the English Civil War’, pp. 78–94
Battle-Scarred: Mortality, medical care and military welfare in the British Civil WarsManchester: Manchester University Press, 2018 David Appleby and Andrew Hopper
Erin Peters, ‘”The deep staines these Wars will leave behind”: psychological wounds and curative methods in the English Civil Wars’, pp. 156-173.