Map sheds light on English Civil War

March 2, 2011

A geographical map depicting landowners’ loyalties to the restored King Charles II after the English Civil War has shown that contrary to popular opinion, peace was not assured in the 1660s, long after the war had ended in 1651.

The Historical Atlas of Staffordshire edited by Dr. Colin Phillips from The University of Manchester and Dr Anthony Phillips from Keele University , outlines 1000 years of the county’s history.

The Atlas is published by Manchester University Press this week.

One of the 300 maps in the book, constructed by the authors, shows how the presence of large numbers of parliamentarians ensured that division and tension persisted in 1662, with a potential for violence.

“Unlike the popular perception, the county - and indeed the country – remained divided after the English ended and this map powerfully illustrates that,” said Dr. Colin Phillips who is an Honorary Research Fellow at Manchester.

“What is also interesting is that this history of how societies rebuild themselves is relevant to modern civil wars as well.

“Historians are of course well aware of this - though it’s not so commonly understood by the public.

“In fact, these tensions lasted until 1688 when James VII of Scotland and II of England was overthrown and William of Orange became king.

“That was followed by a period of plots, rebellions, and battles until 1746 which aimed to put a Jacobite king on the throne. In one of them, in Nov. 1745, a Jacobite army under Prince Charles marched through the moorlands from Leek to Ashbourne and onto Derby, avoiding an army assembled at Stone by the Duke of Cumberland."

The historians created the map using a then confidential list - drawn up by Charles II’s agents - of Staffordshire gentry who had fought against the King.

They also calculated the number of the potentially disaffected who lived within 5 miles of towns.

Other subjects tackled by the 200-page atlas include the location of 19th century riots, 18th century crime and the identification of mills in the Domesday Book.

Dr. Phillips added: “The maps in this atlas demonstrate the various histories that contribute to this diverse county.

“What makes the book special is the unique combination of historical and geographical approaches to the past.”

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