Taken for a Soldier – Conscript or Volunteer?

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Napoleon Bonaparte famously said “Soldiers generally win battles, generals get credit for them”.  This is certainly true of many of the histories of the British Civil Wars.

Whilst much is written about famous military figures such as Oliver Cromwell and Prince Rupert of the Rhine, the hundreds of thousands of ordinary men they led – who fought in their battles as pikemen, or fired musket volleys, or rode in the Cavalry charges – are rarely more than silent  “extras”.

But who were these men?  How were they recruited?  What motivated them to fight for King or Parliament?  How were they fed, armed and paid?  For how long did they serve?

We invited eminent historians to answer these questions in this series  “The Men Who Fought the British Civil Wars”.  We begin with an introductory programme featuring Martyn Bennett, Professor of Early Modern History at Nottingham Trent University, whose books include an acclaimed biography of Oliver Cromwell and “The A-Z of the British and Irish Civil Wars”.  He spoke to publisher Mike Gibbs.