All you need to know about the Civil Wars - online lecture series

It might be closed to visitors currently, but Huntingdon’s Cromwell Museum has confirmed its June lecture series looking at The Civil Wars, via Zoom.

Thursday, 25th March 2021, 8:14 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th March 2021, 8:24 pm
Stuart Orme - The Cromwell Museum Lecture series

First up, on June 9 (7.30pm), museum curator Stuart Orme poses and answers nthe question: “ How did Oliver Cromwell, at the age of 43 and with no military experience, become one of the most successful soldiers of his time?”

In 1642 the Civil Wars erupted, and Cambridgeshire MP Oliver Cromwell found himself a junior cavalry officer in Parliament’s army at the age of 43.

This talk looks at his first campaign across Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire, from Peterborough and Crowland, culminating in the battle at Gainsborough in July 1643, and how this experience turned Cromwell into a soldier who could be ruthless, extremely effective and with a talent for self-publicity.

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Stuart, who will be giving the lecture, was probably born in the wrong century, as much of his life revolves around the past.

He has a history degree and postgraduate qualifications in education and museum studies. For 14 years he worked for Peterborough Museum and two years at Peterborough Cathedral, before becoming curator of the Cromwell Museum in Huntingdon in February 2018, where he looks after the world’s best collection of objects relating to Oliver Cromwell.

He is also well known locally as a writer, lecturer and broadcaster on historical subjects.

His is the first of a four part lecture series. He is followed on June 16 at 7.30pm by David Flintham on “Rediscovering London’s Lost Civil War Defences”.

What were the substantial Civil War defences, built by Parliament to defend the capital, really like and where were they?

During the 1640s Parliament ordered the construction of massive fortifications in order to defend the capital against attack from Royalist forces. A project is now underway to trace many of these defences, rediscovering London’s lost Lines of Communication and these substantial, but now largely forgotten, circuit of fortifications built during the English Civil Wars.

Speaker David is a military historian specialising in seventeenth century fortress warfare. A Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, his research has taken him throughout the British Isles, across Western Europe, and as far afield as North America and South Africa.

He is also project manager of the King’s Lynn under Siege English Civil War archaeological project.

On June 23 at 7.30pm join Keith Dowen on “With Swords by their Sides: Arms and Armour of the Civil Wars”.

How were the weapons and armour of the Civil Wars produced, used and how effective were they in reality?

With the nation having enjoyed many years of peace and lacking a standing army from which to obtain equipment, the opening months of the Civil War in 1642 witnessed both King and Parliament vying for control of the nation’s arms stores. Although both sides also drew on native arms producers, the scale of the conflict also forced them to look abroad for supplies.

Drawing upon surviving pieces, documentary sources and artistic depictions, this talk will examine the production, use and effectiveness of arms and armour during this turbulent period.

Keith Dowen is assistant curator of armour at the Royal Armouries in Leeds.

Finally, on June 30 at 7.30pm, Prof Steve Murdoch’s subject will be: “History v. Heritage: the Mythology of Marston Moor”.

How has the role of Alexander Leslie, Earl of Leven, been downplayed at Marston Moor and two Thirty Years War battle sites?

Who was really responsible for the victory at the battle of Marston Moor in 1644? Has later history and heritage obscured what really happened? This lecture reviews the mythology surrounding the battle and compares it with two similarly misrepresented battles (Stralsund 1628 and Wittstock 1636). The link between them all is the senior commander at all three (on the winning side), Alexander Leslie, Earl of Leven.

Steve Murdoch is Professor of Early Modern History at the University of St Andrews.