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Culture, Conflict, and Northern English Fortification in the British Civil Wars, Circa 1638–1652



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Griffin, Tristan 


The dissertation is a study of the fortress garrisons of Northern England during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. It combines cultural and administrative methodologies to explore the subject, linking it to as many different areas of Civil War historiography as possible to demonstrate the centrality of fortification to the conflict. It consists, broadly, as three separate components of unequal length divided into eight chapters. The first section introduces the subject, thoroughly exploring the historiography and outlining the method before moving on to the technical and physical aspects of fortification.

The main body of the thesis applies both administrative and cultural historical approaches to explore the legal framework that royalist, parliamentarian, and covenanter garrisons operated under, their relationship with civic authorities such as civic corporations, and the relationship between governorships and the concept of lordship. This section is particularly important since it addresses the question of royalist military government. The dissertation will suggest that an alternative methodology, examining the interactions of military governments with civic authorities, can be used to partially reconstruct royalist administration even in the absence of garrison records – which were mostly destroyed during the conflict.

The final part of the thesis explores fortification through the concept of trauma, arguing that garrisons acted as foci of violence and suffering, inflicted with varying degrees of discrimination on soldiers and civilians alike. The details of this suffering, inflicted through both physical violence and starvation, are explored before their wider ‘cultural’ significance is analysed. ‘Cultural’ impacts of traumatic fortification included the telling of ghost stories, the publication of articles of surrender and other details of prominent sieges, and the afterlife of fortresses long after the civil wars had ended.





Smith, David


British Civil War, Early Modern Britain, Royalists, Cultural History, Military History, Fortification, Wars of the Three Kingdoms


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge