Popular religion, culture and politics in the Midlands, c. 1638-1646
This thesis is a study of popular allegiance in five midland counties during the English Civil War, 1642- 1646. It considers the relationship between allegiance and popular religion and culture. It aims to provide a regional case study of popular reactions to the war, with particular reference to recent theories of allegiance, which have emphasised the role played by religion and culture. Although the approach is broadly chronological, religion and culture are discussed mainly in the first half of the thesis, and popular allegiance in the second. Chapter One surveys popular religion and culture in the region from c. 1603 to 1638. Chapter Two characterises popular politics on the eve of the Civil War. Chapter Three deals with popular religion and culture in the late 1630s and during the war. In particular, it considers whether or not distinct cultural regions had evolved by this time, and the nature and extent of popular puritanism and 'Anglicanism'. Chapter Four provides a narrative of military events in the region during the war, and discusses the impact of the conflict on civilian communities. Chapter Five describes the geographical pattern of allegiance, through an analysis of military recruitment and civilian reactions. Chapter Six considers what factors may have motivated popular responses to the war. It is argued that there was often a positive response to the war, and that we must seek a multicausal explanation of this phenomenon. In particular, religio-cultural factors were a major influence. But it is argued that religlo-cultural and societal factors only partly explain the complex pattern of allegiance that emerged. Emphasis is placed on the role of local, contingent factors such as the distribution and influence of propaganda, and the impact of plunder, extortion and other products of a war which intruded into most communities in the region.