Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Cavaliers And Roundheads

My childhood:

cops and robbers;
cowboys and Indians;
Cavaliers and Roundheads.

I read a comic strip with a Cavalier as hero and Roundheads as Nazi-like villains. In my teens, I read a series of novels about a Roundhead spy, Nicholas Pym:

Pym's immediate superior, the equivalent of M, was John Thurloe;
Pym also met Cromwell and prevented his assassination;
Pym's enemies were Guido Fawkes, son of Guy, and the Sealed Knot, which answered to the exiled Stuart.

In Poul Anderson's A Midsummer Tempest (London, 1975), Chapter xii, Valeria Matuchek says:

"'...I always had sympathy for the Cavaliers. Maybe that was schoolgirl romantics; and anyhow, the issues may not be identical in Rupert's home.'" (p. 105)

Would you fight for a King against a Parliament? Leon Trotsky, analyzing seventeenth century England, identified three successive "dual powers," actual or potential civil wars:

King versus Parliament - Parliament won;
Parliament versus Army - Army won;
generals versus rank and file - generals won.

The significance of Cromwell was that he was on the winning side each time and thus became Lord Protector, dictator. My sympathies would have been with the Levelers, who wanted common ownership of land and an end to social hierarchies. However, I would have been pleased enough to see the merchants gaining political power as against the aristocrats, which is what came to pass.

Valeria concludes:

"'Nothing ever was forever, anyway. Peace never came natural. The point is, it can sometimes be won for some years, and they can be lived in.'"
-Epilogue, p. 229.

Dominic Flandry and Manse Everard say the same. We recognize Poul Anderson's authorship and philosophy in the Technic History universe, the Time Patrol universe and the old Phoenix multiverse.

"'Enough. I hope you've enjoyed my story.'" (ibid.)

So has Valeria narrated the entire novel?


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    MY view is that there was right and wrong on both sides of the quarrel between King and Parliament which led to the Civil War. Both sides, in my opinion, failed to try harder to come to a real meeting of minds, of working out ways to peacefully resolve their disputes. But, speaking personally, I have only distaste, even revulsion, for many of the Puritans and Roundheads. Canting, ranting fanatics whose very mode of speaking and thinking must have done a lot to prevent any compromises from being worked out.

    And I have to disagree with your comment about the Levelers and their impossible demands for socialism and abolition of social distinctions. Human beings are DIFFERENT, in talents, abilities, inclinations, virtues and vices alike. That alone will inevitably make for social distinctions and for some being wealthier and/or poorer than others. I think it is far more important to have a society where it is possible for those who wish to prosper and rise. Not nonsense about "common ownership" of property and reducing everyone to the same level.


    1. Sean,
      I agree the Levelers' demands were unworkable then although I would still have sympathized. It is good how Poul Anderson's works keep bringing us back to basic questions.

    2. Kaor, Paul!

      But I have no sympathy for people who make IMPOSSIBLE demands. What the Levelers agitated for reminded me all too much of the fanatics believing in similar things rising to power in the USSR with Lenin and mercilessly purging all who opposed them. And we saw the same madness with Mao in China and Pol Pot in Cambodia, with more millions dying as a result. Give me a hard headed, realistic, UN-ideological man any day!


    3. Sea,
      Much that was thought impossible has been achieved though. But there is a relationship between ends and means. Obviously, a minority enforcing "equality" is a contradiction.

    4. Kaor, Paul!

      And that ALONE should be enough to prove that "Leveling" demands are impossible. I've had ENOUGH with such fanatics as Lenin, Maos, and Pol Pot. Too many millions have died because of them!


    5. Kaor, Sean!

      I have no fondness for Lenin, Mao, or Pol Pot, but from the limited amount I know about them, at least some of the Levellers were rather different. Cromwell, who made himself dictator, was not a Leveller. John Lilburn, who warned Parliament that his former friend Cromwell was plotting a coup, and later smuggled his proposal for a "Representative," democratically elected legislature, religious tolerance, and taxation based on property, seems like a much more likable man, whether or not you agree with all of his ideas, or think that they would have been practicable given the circumstances of the time.

      Best Regards,
      Nicholas D. Rosen

    6. Kaor, Nicholas!

      Thanks for your comments! I'm delighted to see you commenting again!

      Oh, I knew the dictator Cromwell was no Leveler. Basically, a fairly ordinary, as far as his ideas beliefs went, Puritan. I tend to think of Cromwell, along with Napoleon, as the two "classic" Western models of military dictators. The single most repulsive thing about Cromwell was his anti-Catholic bigotry and brutal suppression of Ireland. With all the baleful consequences that made in Irish/British relations.

      I'll have to look up John Lilburn, but he too does not seemed to have been a Leveler, so I'm a bit puzzled why you mentioned him. I strongly suspect his so called religious tolerance did not extend to Catholics, however!

      I agree that some of Lilburn's ideas, on their faces, are not objectionable. But, as I've said, they don't seem like what the Levelers were agitating for.

      Regards! Sean

    7. Kaor, Nicholas!

      I looked up John Lilburne and I have to say I was not particularly impressed. He did have some very worthy ideas, esp. as regards the treatments of persons facing trial, but otherwise no. if I can trust what I read, Lilburne was quarrelsome, vindictive, and not always honest about matters of fact in all of his many disputes.


  2. Kaor, Paul!

    I clicked on the link to the bit about the Cavalier comic strip and noticed it was call "The GAY Cavalier"! This strip was was written in 1957 when the word "gay" was still being CORRECTLY used. That is, merry, cheerful, happy, etc.