Just in time for Christmas, Fiona sets a few myths about festivities during the British Civil Wars straight.
Writer and Presenter: Fiona Barnett @stitchthisfiona
Producer: Emily Benita @BenitaEmily
Technical Producer and Sound Engineer: Ali Alnajjar @Alithelampie
Historical Consultant: Mary Jacobs @msmaryjacobs
Music Composer and Performer: Harry Harris @CmonHarris
A huge, highly-caffeinated thank you to our Patreons, ScaryBiscuits, Tom Vickers and Tom Wein.
This year I am the bah-humbuggiest of seasonal pedants: Cromwell didn’t ban Christmas, or mince pies, even though he often gets the credit for both of those things. Christmas was banned in the mid-1640s, but at that point Cromwell was still a lieutenant-general in the army. His star started to rise properly in the second half of 1645, after which he could start throwing his political weight around. But when Christmas was banned, Oliver Cromwell had nothing to do with it. Yet.
Since I discovered this, I have become That Person You Don’t Want To Sit Next To at Christmas parties.
One more thing from this episode - the book I mention at the end is The English Civil War: A People’s History by Diane Purkiss. It’s extremely entertaining, wide-reaching, and also (crucially) pretty easy to get hold of in high street bookshops. You know, if you’re so inclined.
We’ll be back in the new year, but in the meantime, thank you so much for listening to Past Tense. Really. I can’t tell you how delighted I am to be a pedant like this week after week, around other people who are interested in it. Have a lovely holiday, and in the new year, let’s have more of this sort of thing.
Charles I - 1600-1649; King of England, Scotland and Ireland, 1625-1649. Leader of the Royalist (Cavalier) faction; ultimately beheaded for treason.
James VI/I - 1566-1625; King of Scotland 1567-1625; King of England 1603-1625. Father of Charles I.
Oliver Cromwell - 1599-1658. Member of Parliament and military leader for the English Parliament. Lord Protector of England from 1653 until his death in 1658.
- Davies, Godfrey. The Early Stuarts 1603-1660. 2nd ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959.
- Encyclopedia Britannica, “Lord of Misrule: English Medieval Official” <https://www.britannica.com/art/Lord-of-Misrule-English-medieval-official>, accessed 8th December 2017.
- Hutton, Ronald. The Rise and Fall of Merry England: The Ritual Year 1400-1700. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994.
- Hutton, Ronald. The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.
- Purkiss, Diane. The English Civil War: A People’s History. London: Harper Perennial, 2006.
- Stoyle, Mark. “No Christmas under Cromwell? The Puritan assault on Christmas during the 1640s and 1650s,” BBC History Magazine, Christmas 2011. http://www.historyextra.com/feature/no-christmas-under-cromwell-puritan-assault-christmas-during-1640s-and-1650s