Classic accounts of the great English wars of the 15th and 17th centuries
The author of the two books in this unique Leonaur edition was an undisputed expert in the literary craft of ‘historical faction.’ This genre concerns real incidents where the principal character—often the narrator—views, participates in and describes the events of his world. It is difficult to do entirely successfully, for more than just a dry knowledge of history is required. Language, social attitudes and the understanding of the minutia of everyday life must be accurate. At its best, as with Erckmann-Chatrian’s highly regarded descriptions of the Battle of Waterloo, this form of writing can provide unparalleled historical information and atmosphere. In this book, William Church successfully persuades the reader to accept the authenticity of his characters voice. He concentrates on two of the most significant wars to be fought on British soil, the War of the Roses,1455-85, and the English Civil War, 1642-51. Church’s narrative leans heavily on observation rather than conventional fictional plotting, something that is all but absent in these pages, and he provides us with excellent and evocative descriptions of life on military campaign and riveting portrayals of the battles of Bloreheath, Barnet, Flodden, Copredy Bridge and Naseby.
Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket.
For myself, I clean forgot my father’s command that I should give the point of my sword, and struck lustily, often missing my blow altogether, and doing but little at other times but blunting my sword. ’Twas all the better so for one of the enemy’s horse that was overthrown by our charge. He was a lad of seventeen or thereabouts, a brave youth, for he would stand his ground though his men left him. But now he and his horse went down before us, and that straight in my way. Thereupon, being on the ground and helpless, he cried “Quarter!” Now, whether or no I heard him is more than I can say, but I must confess with shame that I was so carried out of myself with the fury of battle that it was as if he had not spoken, for I struck at him, so lying, with all my might. But the fury which caused me so to forget myself did also make me altogether miss my aim. God be thanked therefore! for otherwise that day had been to me for all my life such a shame and sorrow as cannot be expressed.<br>
As I was in the act to lift my sword again—for I will conceal nothing—I felt a hand upon my arm that held it as with a grip of iron; and my father, for it was he, cried in such a voice as I had never before heard from his lips, “What savage is that that will slay a Christian man when he cries ‘Quarter’?” Thereat I dropped my sword, being, so to speak, come to myself, and mightily ashamed. My father leapt down from his horse, and said to the young man, “Yield yourself to me, and you shall suffer no harm.” Then the young man, who, now that I had leisure, I could see to be a cornet, yielded up his sword, and my father bade one of the troopers take him to the rear. This done, he turned him to me and said, “I had almost as lief you were a coward as a madman. Be you one or the other, this is not fit place for you, and you had better depart.”<br>
“Nay, my father,” I said, “disgrace me not. I will hold myself in better check hereafter.”<br>
By this time the enemy had fallen back on their supports, and my Lord Cleveland sounded the bugle, and we rode back slowly to our former place. There was, I remember, a great ash-tree there, under which the king stayed to take his dinner. Looking about him there, my Lord saw another body of the enemy within musket shot of him and advancing upon him (these were the Parliament men that had come over the bridge). I doubt not but that in any case he would have charged them, though they counted sixteen cornets of horse and as many colours of foot, but now he was the more encouraged, because he saw that the body of the king’s army was drawing to his help.<br>
When the enemy saw him move forwards, they halted, hiding behind the hedges, and delivered their volley of musket and carbine shot, which volley, though it emptied some of our saddles, stayed not our charge. Indeed, they did not abide our approach (and, indeed, I have noted that for the most part there is but little crossing of swords or pikes in battle, but they that give place yield to the persuasion of superior force that they conceive in their minds), but we drave them, with scarce a blow struck, beyond their cannon. These also we took, being eleven in number, and besides the cannon two barricadoes of wood drawn up on wheels; in each of these were seven small guns of brass and leather, loaded with case-shot, which, by God’s mercy, they had not tarried to discharge; else, I doubt not, we had suffered much damage.<br>
Certain of the cannoneers were killed, and the general of the ordnance taken prisoner. This was a certain Scotsman, by name Wemyss, who was in very ill favour with the king’s men, because, having been made master-gunner of England, with a very considerable pension, to the prejudice of many honest Englishmen, he took the first opportunity to do him hurt. Many other prisoners were taken, nearly two hundred in all. In this charge I bore myself more discreetly, riding as close as I could to my father, but I found no occasion to cross swords with any enemy, for here again they did not abide our charge, but turned when we were about a pistol-shot from them. As for them that were slain, who were in number more than the prisoners, they fell in the flight, for the most part without striking a blow, though some parties of them rallied and fought for their lives. Of our party there fell, chiefly in this way, somewhat less than a score, among whom were two colonels of regiments.