Civil War by Peter Ackroyd

Civil War History of Englad Volume 3

Rating: 3 Stars ★★★☆☆

Sir Robert Carey rode furiously from London to Edinburgh along the Great North Road, spending one night in Yorkshire and another in Northumberland; he arrived at Holyrood Palace, ‘be-bloodied with great falls and bruises’ after a journey of more than 330 miles.


Peter Ackroyd continues his History of England with the dynasty of the Stuarts. From the gunpowder plot to the revolution and battles of the Civil War just until the landing of William the Conqueror in England in what would later be called the Glorious Revolution.

It is a history of a fascinating time and a troubled monarchy, caught between their wish for absolute power and parliamentary restrictions.


The third book in Peter Ackroyd’s series on the history of England, Civil War spans the reign of the Stuart dynasty, from James I, through Oliver Cromwell up to Charles II and the Glorious Revolution.

It was interesting to read about the Stuarts. It’s not a period in English history that gets all that much attention, usually people focus more on the Tudors.

The Stuarts were a fascinating bunch. In their heart, they wanted to be like the kings of the continent – absolute monarchs, but that was impossible to achieve in England.

The best thing about this book were the little anecdotes and pieces. Some of them are fairly well known.

There is a famous story of the crowd threatening the coach of Nell Gwynn under the misapprehension that it contained the duchess; she called out, “Be silent, good people! I am the Protestant whore!”

Others, not so much.

It is true that he had a low opinion of his brother. When James cautioned him from walking in St James’s Park without a guard he replied, “I am sure no man in England will take away my life to make you king.”


The book could get a bit too longwinded when it came to religious issues. As with the other books, I was more interested in the people than in their varying beliefs at that time.


Continuing his great series on the history of England, Peter Ackroyd delivers a comprehensive history of the Stuarts.


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