This one looks pretty cool—Reprobates, John Stubbs’s history of the English Civil War. A cursory flip through the book suggests that the subtitle is perhaps a little misleading—Reprobates seems to be more of a survey of the shifts in English culture in the 17th century than a dry study of the actual war between Roundheads and Royalists. In his insightful review at Literary Review, Adrian Tinniswood points out that,
. . . the real focus of Stubbs’s book is the cavalier poets, that motley collection of royalist writers who gathered around the aging and irascible Ben Jonson in the late 1620s and 1630s and went on to seek their fortunes at court, simultaneously memorialising and mythologising its decline. The self-styled ‘Tribe of Ben’ – William Davenant, Thomas Carew, Sir John Suckling and the rest – remain resolutely minor figures, both in literature and in history. Most are remembered for a single poem, like Sir John Denham and ‘Cooper’s Hill’, or even a single line, like Richard Lovelace’s ‘Stone walls do not a prison make’ or Robert Herrick’s ‘Gather ye rosebuds while ye may’. Some aren’t even remembered for that. Can you recall anything Suckling wrote? . . . Under Stubbs’s affectionate but forensic gaze these reprobates seem like figures of fun in a Restoration comedy rather than the heroes they so clearly believed themselves to be.
At The Guardian, Christopher Bray finds even more comedy in these reprobates, suggesting that,
If Ben Elton ever writes another series of Blackadder, Reprobates ought to be top of his research list. Not because John Stubbs offers a daringly revisionist take on the English civil war. The book’s subtitle notwithstanding, the war occupies rather fewer than a quarter of its nearly 500 pages. What we do get, though, is a colourful braiding of poetry criticism, literary biography and social and political history – the whole lot knotted together by characters of such effervescent high spirits the sitcom form might have been invented for them.
Looks like good stuff.
RIP Paddy Roy Bates, Prince Roy of the Principality of Sealand, who died this week at 91.
From Sealand’s official website:
Sealand was founded as a sovereign Principality in 1967 in international waters, six miles off the eastern shores of Britain. The history of Sealand is a story of a struggle for liberty. Sealand was founded on the principle that any group of people dissatisfied with the oppressive laws and restrictions of existing nation states may declare independence in any place not claimed to be under the jurisdiction of another sovereign entity. The location chosen was Roughs Tower, an island fortress created in World War II by Britain and subsequently abandoned to the jurisdiction of the High Seas.
The independence of Sealand was upheld in a 1968 British court decision where the judge held that Roughs Tower stood in international waters and did not fall under the legal jurisdiction of the United Kingdom. This gave birth to Sealand’s national motto of E Mare Libertas, or “From the Sea, Freedom”.
The official language of Sealand is English and the Sealand Dollar has a fixed exchange rate of one U.S. dollar. Passports and stamps have been in circulation since 1969 and the latter decade of the 20th century saw an impressive expansion in its activity both socially and industrially as it began to develop a growing economic base which underscored its long-standing membership of the international community of States.
Some video history:
More, via Bates’s son:
Treacherous Beauty by Mark Jacob and Stephen H. Case. Blurb—
Histories of the Revolutionary War have long honored heroines such as Betsy Ross, Abigail Adams, and Molly Pitcher. Now, more than two centuries later, comes the first biography of one of the war’s most remarkable women, a beautiful Philadelphia society girl named Peggy Shippen. While war was raging between Britain and its rebellious colonists, Peggy befriended a suave British officer and later married a crippled revolutionary general twice her age. At age 19, she brought these two men together in a treasonous plot that, had it succeeded, might have turned George Washington into a prisoner and changed the course of the war.
Peggy Shippen was Mrs. Benedict Arnold.