Soldier and Strangers

An Ethnic History of the English Civil War
Stoyle, Mark
Date published: 
August 2005

Abroad is unutterably bloody and foreigners are fiends’ – Matthew Radlett, 17th century.

The Civil War fought between Charles I and his Parliament is one of the most momentous conflicts in English history. This book provides a wholly new perspective by revealing the extent to which the struggle possessed an ‘ethnic’ dimension, and the impact of that on the forging of English national identity. .

Stoyle reveals the acute fear of foreign invasion which gripped England after 1640, following rebellions in Wales and Cornwall, incursions of powerful ‘Celtic’ armies in support of the king and the arrival of foreign professional officers to serve in the rival armies. The advent of armed strangers placed an insular English people on the brink of what they perceived as a national emergency. Stoyle sets the creation of the New Model Army within that context, arguing that its appearance represented the culmination of a campaign by Oliver Cromwell and others to forge a purely ‘English’ military instrument, one purged of the foreign soldiers who had been so prominent in earlier Parliamentarian armies. This self-consciously ‘English army’ eventually succeeded in wresting back control of the kingdom by defeating the king’s forces, re-conquering Cornwall and Wales and expelling all foreign agents..