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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not just an English Civil War
The mid 17th century is a well researched and well documented time in history. This of course is mainly due to several interesting things happening during this period.
If you're Irish (as I am) you are taught in school that during the English civil war Cromwell came over to Ireland and killed as many people as he could (just because they were Catholic and Irish) - we...
Published on 2 May 2004 by EFMOL

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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not So United Kingdom
Trevor Royle's book on the Civil War certainly does what it says on the cover - it details the events of the Civil War as they effect not just England but Scotland and Ireland too. It goes into great detail about the causes of the war and even goes on to cover the rule of Oliver Cromwell after the war. However, given the size of the book only a very small part seems to...
Published on 7 July 2012 by Neil Lennon


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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not just an English Civil War, 2 May 2004
The mid 17th century is a well researched and well documented time in history. This of course is mainly due to several interesting things happening during this period.
If you're Irish (as I am) you are taught in school that during the English civil war Cromwell came over to Ireland and killed as many people as he could (just because they were Catholic and Irish) - we were taught very little else about this period.
I haven't read anything by Trevor Royle before, but after this I will certainly look him up again. When I saw this book in my local bookshop I thought that it was a devious marketing ploy to get people in Ireland and Scotland to buy this book about the English Civil War. This war truely involved all three countries and Royle expertly combines the this theme with his narrative.
Cromwell is treated sympathetically, while the Charles I is treated as a stubborn monarch unable to come to terms with the fact that he did not have a divine right to rule all his subjects as he saw fit.
The writing style is very easy for the amateur historian/reader to read. Some of the quotations from writers of the time are obviously difficult, but Royle adds useful explanations where necessary.
Though the book is about three kingdoms, Ireland features less than the other two. From an Irish viewpoint, there could be more about the Confederation of Kilkenny, the Plantations, Owen Roe O'Neill, etc - but overall no complaints about balance.
Irish, Scots, and English will all enjoy this book (Welsh too!). My only criticisim is that while the book is about the period 1638-1660, it does not end in 1660. Rather it continues up until 1690 and even describes the opening shots of the American War of Independence.
For me, the book should have stopped with the restoration of Charles II. Royle is such a superb writer and researcher that another book covering the period 1661-1715 would have been better. The post 1660 material in the current book is dealt with rapidly and less satisfactorily than what went before. I have deducted a star for this.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A right Royale Read!, 18 Mar 2011
By 
Amazon Customer (PLYMOUTH, DEVON United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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An excellent book that covers the war in some detail. It is very easy to read and useful both for the historian and the general reader to understand the context and complexities of the war of the Three Kingdoms. If I have one small gripe it is that the book is divided into geographical locations within time frames, so it is not a continuous history in that respect. However, it is meticulously researched and contains many eyewitness comments. One of the best history books I have read in a long time.. Recommended.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A n excellent all round account, 6 May 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: Civil War: The War of the Three Kingdoms 1638-1660 (Paperback)
I cannot recommend this book highly enough, particularly to those who, like me, have found getting to grips with the military and religious complexities of the Civil War difficult. The author manages to pull together the various campaigns into a coherent whole whithout losing the detail of character and incident that makes the Civil War years such a fascinating period. He does so without the appearence of taking sides and brings across the human costs of a war which became increasingly brutal as frustration and hatred set in.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Truely a book written for those turbelent times!, 17 April 2007
This review is from: Civil War: The War of the Three Kingdoms 1638-1660 (Paperback)
This is indeed an epic work, which is both a strength and weakness. Royle has considerable command of the English venacular that he uses to devastating effect in his narrative. The result is a fast-paced, humorous, ironic yet sympathetic re-telling of this bloody period in British, not just English, history. In my opinion, this book is remarkably balanced but overly long - it took me an age to get through it. Thoroughly recommended regardless of whether you are Cavalier or Rounhead, Stuart or Cromwellian or anywhere in between.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tim McGrath, 21 Jan 2007
This review is from: Civil War: The War of the Three Kingdoms 1638-1660 (Paperback)
I was pleasantly surprised to discover this was not just another reworking of so many other books on this significant period of our history. Too often these books fall into the zone of insinuating it was an insular war and fail to acknowledge the scars left upon our neighbours which now make up the United Kingdom.

I particularly liked the opening into the early life of Charles as a boy through to his kingship, with emphasis on his belief, and of course his faith in that belief which brought matters with Parliament to a head leading to King Charles raising his banner and his subsequent execution, and thus the most significant turning point in British history.

I found it at times to be breathtaking and utterly compelling. I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone wanting to know the whys and wherefores without becoming bogged down in academic studies.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Goes a long way to demystify a complex bit of history, 16 April 2006
By 
L. P. Lewzey (north-east London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Civil War: The War of the Three Kingdoms 1638-1660 (Paperback)
Royle's book goes a long way to demystify what the wars were about. It is still hard to see what motivated people to fight and hate each other, when their outlook was originally, and then became again, so similar (particularly in the all-English conflicts). But that is hard to pin-point after all this time. And in any case, one gets the feeling that the majority of people, without capital or position, did largely what their "betters" did. (Royle could have looked at this in a bit more depth, even though suitable primary sources are rare.) It would have been helpful had Royle discussed the apparent brutality of the age and the displays of inhumanity of these people who thought they were civilized and Christian, including the way that they rationalized their actions to themselves (e.g. those who turned-coat at the restoration, digging up bodies of previously acclaimed leaders). And although the book is largely chronological, a summary of main-events would have been helpful. But overall, a very good book for anyone wondering what it was all about, and the impact on British assumptions and later copnstitutional arrangements. It's readable, despite the complexity that Royle has to tackle.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Admirable and blessedly clear., 12 Mar 2014
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This book by Trevor Royle tells in admirably clear prose the story of the religious and political origins of the Protestant revolution, the heated and absolutist religious mindset in the post-Reformation period and how this was in collision with an equally absolutist monarch obsessed with his divine right as king in all civil and religious matters.
The tortuous course of this story is made accessible through Royle's formidable narrative gifts. An easily grasped perspective is maintained throughout, as the campaigns in England, Scotland and Ireland, with their differing agendas and nuances, work themselves out. The human dimension is maintained also: the pain and tragedy inflicted is borne by real people, and it is real people also, inflamed by the passions of the times, who dish it out. Yes, civil war stinks, and, in Royle's hands you can smell it even while you admire, as well, the frequent gallantry even by those who turned their coats not once but several times.
Finally, you feel, in spite of yourself, for a King with an ossified mind, trapped on the top of tge watershed between medievalism and the beginnings of modernity. At the end, Royle leads you to feel it all had to happen anyway.
A wonderful read, and a deceptively profound work.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling and highly readable retelling of one of the most complex periods of British history, 11 July 2012
This review is from: Civil War: The War of the Three Kingdoms 1638-1660 (Paperback)
I have been reading around the edges of the wars of the three kingdoms for some time, inspired generally by a failure on my part to fully understand the complexities of the issues that led, not just England, but Scotland, Ireland and Wales to internecine conflict in the mid-17th century. Mr Royle's book is not just exemplary in finding and pinning down the myriad reasons and agenda behind the war(s), he also places the period in its often tragic human context. I have to say also that despite being 800 pages long, this is unflaggingly, a bloody good read. Royle's portraits of battlefield manoeuvre in particular, are compelling, as are his portraits of the key figures of the day. An excellent piece of work.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Civil War, 15 Oct 2011
This review is from: Civil War: The War of the Three Kingdoms 1638-1660 (Paperback)
I enjoyed this book. The narrative is long and highly detailed but easy reading. Trevor Royle brings to life all the characters and events of the mid 17th century. The book explores the reasons and events leading up to the outbreak of war and its aftermath with the execution of the king and the formation of the Commonwealth. I can thoroughly recommend this book to any amateur history student.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I'm not a historian, but..., 27 Dec 2010
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
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...I found it particularly interesting to see how the Civil War started with a mixture of Scot's Presbyterian self-protectionism and the new-found aplomb of Parliament - not forgetting the arrogance, self-righteousness and stubbornness of the King. Archbishop Laud did not help matters either (though he did establish an Oxford University Chair in Arabic). It is instructive to remember how perilous life for ordinary people was at this time: Plague cycles came and went, taxation established an "undertow of rancour" in Parliament and piracy was endemic on England's southern coast, with people sometimes sold as slaves to Mediterranean potentates.

It was Charles' attempt to force Anglicanism on the Scots that tipped the scales towards war, although Irish rebellion and Parliamentarian intriguing played their part. While the King was in Scotland attending to rebels and sequestering promises from his allies there, the Parliamentarians produced their Grand Remonstrance - a list of demands and grievances meant to assert the claims of independent power. They also wanted the power of the Bishops curbed and to form a synod of Protestant leaders. It was Charles's recalcitrance towards these demands that led to the formation of the "Trained Bands" - the core of what was to become the so-called Roundhead army (though in practice, both sides sported the long curly cavalier locks fashionable at the time). From this point onwards civil war seemed inevitable. Henrietta Maria, Charles' wife, went abroad to hock the Crown Jewels to provide the necessary money and weaponry with which to wage war.

A massive tome numbering 823pp (not counting the notes and the index), this is no light read. It's been my bedtime companion now for around eight weeks and it's been a stirring read in many respects - move and counter-move, reverses and successes with occasional treaties offered towards peace, without quite ever getting there. I learned a lot, for instance: on the Parliamentarian side there were the Levellers, a remarkable group of thinkers, who were way ahead of their time. They opposed the monarchy per se, resented all religious establishments of whatever order, and put forward natural human rights and the rights of freedom - as Royle suggests, it is hard not to see them as proto-socialists and they were a growing force in the New Model Army, stridently vocal and, as far as Cromwell was concerned, "Likely to cause trouble."

This is a brilliant book - written with both great faithfulness to its subject and with energy, insight and the ability to write compendiously and render every word vital and true to its cause. I don't believe you could find a better book about the English (and Scots and Irish) Civil Wars.
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Civil War: The War of the Three Kingdoms 1638-1660
Civil War: The War of the Three Kingdoms 1638-1660 by Trevor Royle (Paperback - 20 Jan 2005)
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