New pubs

Looked through the new Oxford UP catalog, and found the following books of note:

Hopper, Andrew. Turncoats and Renegadoes: Changing Sides During the English Civil Wars. Oxford University Press, USA, 2013.
Turncoats and Renegadoes is the first dedicated study of the practice of changing sides during the English Civil Wars. It examines the extent and significance of side-changing in England and Wales but also includes comparative material from Scotland and Ireland.The first half identifies side-changers among peers, MPs, army officers, and common soldiers, before reconstructing the chronological and regional patterns to their defections. The second half delivers a cultural history of treachery, by adopting a thematic approach to explore the social and cultural implications of defections, and demonstrating how notions of what constituted a turncoat were culturally constructed. Side-changing came to dominate strategy on both sides at the highest levels. Both sides reviled, yet sought to take advantage of the practice, whilst allegations of treachery came to dominate the internal politics of royalists and parliamentarians alike. The language applied to ‘turncoats and renegadoes’ in contemporary print is discussed and contrasted with the self-justifications of the side-changers themselves as they sought to shape an honourable self-image for their families and posterity.

And in case we needed any more publications on the English Civil Wars (or whatever we’re calling them these days):
Reece, Henry. The Army in Cromwellian England, 1649-1660. Oxford University Press, USA, 2013.
From 1649-1660 England was ruled by a standing army for the only time in its history. In The Army in Cromwellian England Henry Reece describes, for the first time, the nature of that experience, both for members of the army and for civilian society. Split into three parts, the first section looks at the size of the army, its material needs, promotion structure, and political engagement to provide a sense of the day-to-day reality of being part of a standing army. The second part considers the impact of the military presence on society by establishing where soldiers were quartered, how they were paid, the material burden that they represented, the divisive effects of the army’s patronage of religious radicals, and the extensive involvement of army officers in the government of the localities. The final section re-evaluates the army’s role in the political events from Cromwell’s death to the restoration of the Stuart monarchy, and explains why the army crumbled so pitifully in the last months of the Commonwealth.

More broadly, along the lines of Salt and Sugar and Tobacco and Cod, there’s:
Cressy, David. Saltpeter: The Mother of Gunpowder. Oxford University Press, USA, 2012.
This is the story of saltpeter, the vital but mysterious substance craved by governments from the Tudors to the Victorians as an ‘inestimable treasure.’National security depended on control of this organic material – that had both mystical and mineral properties. Derived from soil enriched with dung and urine, it provided the heart or ‘mother’ of gunpowder, without which no musket or cannon could be fired. Its acquisition involved alchemical knowledge, exotic technology, intrusions into people’s lives, and eventual dominance of the world’s oceans.

The quest for saltpeter caused widespread ‘vexation’ in Tudor and Stuart England, as crown agents dug in homes and barns and even churches. Governments hungry for it purchased supplies from overseas merchants, transferred skills from foreign experts, and extended patronage to ingenious schemers, while the hated ‘saltpetermen’ intruded on private ground.

Eventually, huge saltpeter imports from India relieved this social pressure, and by the eighteenth century positioned Britain as a global imperial power; the governments of revolutionary America and ancien regime France, on the other hand, were forced to find alternative sources of this treasured substance. In the end, it was only with the development of chemical explosives in the late Victorian period that dependency on saltpeter finally declined.

Saltpeter, the Mother of Gunpowder tells this fascinating story for the first time. Lively and entertaining in its own right, it is also a tale with far-reaching implications. As David Cressy’s engaging narrative makes clear, the story of saltpeter is vital not only in explaining the inter-connected military, scientific, and political ‘revolutions’ of the seventeenth century; it also played a key role in the formation of the centralized British nation state – and that state’s subsequent dominance of the waves in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

And lest we forget about the beginning of the early modern era, Housley offers another book on the late Crusades:
Housley, Norman. Crusading and the Ottoman Threat, 1453-1505. Oxford University Press, USA, 2012.
The fifty years that followed Mehmed II’s capture of Constantinople in 1453 witnessed a substantial attempt to revive the crusade as the principal military mechanism for defending Christian Europe against the advance of the Ottoman Turks. Norman Housley’s study investigates the origins, character, and significance of this ambitious programme. He locates it against the broad background of crusading history, and assesses the extent to which protagonists and lobbyists for a crusade managed to refashion crusading to meet the Turkish threat, combining traditional practices with new outlooks and techniques. He pays particular attention to diplomatic exchanges and political decision-making, military organization, communication, and devotional behaviour.Housley demonstrates the impressive scale of the effort that was made to create a crusading response to the Turks. Crusaders were recruited in very large numbers between 1454 and 1464, and in 1501-3 substantial sums of money were raised through the vigorous preaching of indulgences in the Holy Roman Empire. But while the crusading cause was recognized as important and urgent, the mobilization of resources was prejudiced by the volatile nature of international politics, and by the weakness of the Renaissance papacy. Even when frontline states such as Hungary and Venice welcomed crusading contributions to their conflicts with the Ottomans, building robust structures of cooperation proved to be beyond the ability of contemporaries. As the Middle Ages drew to a close, the paradox of crusade was that its promotion and finance impacted on the lives of Catholics more than its instruments affected the struggle for domination of the Mediterranean Sea and south-eastern Europe.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: