Saka Light Cavalry

Saka Light Cavalry

Monday, 15 October 2012

Anglia Rediviva Book Review

This review I fear will be of little use to all but a few readers and as such I will be keeping it brief. Anglia Rediviva was originally written in 1647 by Joshua Sprigge who was Sir Thomas Fairfax's personal chaplain whilst he was the commander of the New Model Army. The book relates to the forming of the NMA through to the surrender of the last Royalist Garrison on the mainland. It has received a number of reprints but currently out of print but still possible to get hold of.
This book has been used by generations of historians as a corner stone of their own books and remains to this day a very important text for anyone wanting to understand the final two years of the First Civil War. Though it's value does not stop here as it gives a good idea of what it was like to campaign during the mid 17th Century. Sprigge goes into detail of some of the more mundane aspects which is a boon for those interested in the day to day stuff.
Also included is a list of Officers names and which regiments they served in, final rank achieved or fate for the unlucky. Another really useful appendix is a log of the armies main line of march including the dates and miles travelled. Again great stuff for wargamer and history fan alike. Often detachments of the army were sent off to either to blockade or lay siege to locations or to screen or block enemy forces. This Sprigge covers fairly well as he does events away from the army. Surprisingly Sprigge does a good job of linking this as a whole narrative and was way ahead of his time. One major item he has neglected to record (as has everyone else) was the make up of the colours of the New Model Army of which we know next to nothing about.
Reading this book is always fun in that it is written in early modern English or as Sprigge would have it Englifh. With far to many f's and v's and a real shortage of s and w just to name two letter changes. Once you get used to it all is fine, Latin sometimes gets thrown in as a quote but you still get the gist.
However you need to know the period fairly well or read a modern book on the same subject at the same time or run the risk of taking as fact some of the assumptions both of the day and of the political stance. The book being published less than a year after the final garrison had fallen and whilst the king was a prisoner but still treating with Parliament whilst trying to gain advantages with any party that would support him and the New Model was clamouring at it's loudest for money, rights and power. Sprigge is unashamedly pro Fairfax who to be fair everyone likes, possibly because he did what he was paid to do then dropped into the background having done his duty. But he also sees God's hand in all that goes Parliaments way and ignores when it does not. What Sprigge fails to acknowledge is that in the final months of the war when all was seen to be lost it was not providence that delivered such strong garrisons but a realisation that defeat had already overtake their cause when the King surrendered himself to the Scotts.
The best book on The New Model I have ever had the pleasure to read  is The New Model Army by Ian Gentles published by Blackwell. Amazon has this book for between £450.00  and £37.53 for hardback (yippee my copy is MINT) and £22.70 and £14 for paperback.
Anglia Rediviva is also available on Amazon for between £200 and £8 based on hard back, softback or limited numbered edition.

1 comment:

  1. Great review and information. I've added this to my list of books to read very soon. Thanks!