Stuff I Wish I Learned in School: The English Civil Wars

The English Civil Wars

Directed by Graham Holloway (1992)

Film Review

This documentary describes the three English civil wars that occurred during the 17th century. The first, between 1639-40, was the Bishops’ Wars; the second, between 1642-45, when Parliament’s forces seized London and King Charles I ruled from Oxford; and the third, between 1645-46, when Parliament held the King prisoner in London.

The film is very sketchy on the background of the Civil Wars, which Holloway blames on religious differences and the refusal of Charles I to recognize the power of Parliament. Under Charles I, the Church of England resumed many features of Catholic ritual that they had abandoned when Henry VIII split from Rome. This was especially unpopular in London where 50% of the population were Puritans.

When the King attempt to impose a new book of common prayer on Scotland, the Scottish army drove all the Church of England bishops out of Scotland, chasing the English army all the way to Newcastle.

Charles I was forced to recall Parliament (which he dissolved in 1628) to raise taxes to pay the debt he incurred for the Bishops’ Wars. Angered by his refusal to honor their sovereignty, Parliament refused. When the people of London rioted in support of Parliament, the King fled north to Hull to raise an army.

Most of the film focuses on the primitive weapons technology used in 17th century wars and the battlefield tactics employed as the King tried to recapture the south of England and Parliament’s army tried to wall the King’s troops up in the north. The musket, which was only recently introduced, took a minimum of 30 seconds to reload, with gunpowder and a musket ball, before being lighted with a match.

Oliver Cromwell, who would become Britain’s Lord Protector after the King was executed, first came to prominence in 1645 at the Battle of Glaston Moor. It was here his skilled leadership of Parliament’s cavalry won them their first decisive victories.

In the 1645-46 Civil Wars, Welsh and Irish troops supported the King and the Scottish military supported Parliament. During the two years he was a prisoner, Charles I secretly schemed with Scottish forces to invade England on his behalf. Following their defeat by Cromwell, this would lead to the King’s trial and execution for treason.

Although the film can’t be embedded for copyright reasons, it can be viewed free at the Christie Books site:

The English Civil Wars

*The Puritans were English Reformed Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries who sought to “purify” the Church of England from its “Catholic” practices, maintaining that the Church of England was only partially reformed.

Donald Trump: Making the World Safe for Golf

Dark Side of the Greens

Directed by Anthony Baxter (BBC 2015)

Film Review

Dark Side of the Greens is about lengthy citizen campaigns in Scotland and Croatia to halt Donald Trump’s efforts to replace pristine ecological heritage sites with golf courses.

The documentary is a sequel to the 2011 film You’ve Been Trumped. It relies heavily on commentary by environmental lawyer Robert F Kennedy Jr, president of the Waterkeeper Alliance. He reminds us that governmental protection of the commons dates back to the Magna Carta and can’t be usurped by wealthy elates. According to Kennedy, the commons is the main source of values, virtue and character of a people.

Aberdeen residents were unsuccessful in preventing Trump from destroying one of Europe’s rarest sand dune formations to build his golf course cum gated resort (the subject of You’ve Been Trumped). However a staunch local farmer led a successful multi-year campaign to prevent Trump from building a second golf course.

Local residents also successfully resisted Trump’s efforts to stop an offshore wind farm which presently supplies 40% of Aberdeen’s residential electricity needs.

Over in Dubrovnak, the citizens successfully organized Croatia’s first citizens referendum to prevent Trump from destroying a world heritage site for a golf course, resort and exclusive gated community.

After 85% of the population voted against the project, the mayor (who has since been indicted on corruption charges) ignored the referendum and signed contracts to proceed with the golf courses.

The film is full of classic Trumpisms, such as “What’s great for golf is good for Scotland.”