Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Book of the Month

I'm currently re-reading Keith Parker's Radnorshire Civil War book. It was originally published in 2000, by the excellent Logaston Press, but is still on sale in local bookshops.

This is a proper history book, lucidly written with a masterful command of primary sources. It essentially covers the period 1640 to 1660 - the dawn of the modern age as far as Radnorshire is concerned, with the bard Sion Cain's elegy for James Phillips of Llanddewi in 1633 perhaps marking the final death knell of the traditional society of the medieval period.

There is a great deal of interest here, the fact that 22% of Radnorians of military age were pressed into the King's service for example, although doubtless a good many had the sense to desert at the earliest opportunity. Mr Parker concedes the likelihood that Charles Price of Pilleth, the local MP and the major figure in Radnorshire military and political life of the day, was not killed in a duel on the streets of Presteigne. as previously believed. More likely he was killed in the ethnically inspired massacre following the surrender of Priors Hill Fort in Bristol in 1645. The troops slaughtered there were long thought to be Irish, although more recent research indicates they were Welsh, maybe some of the 400 Radnorshire men pressed into service at Bristol that summer.

No doubt most folk interested in Radnorshire history will have already have bought this book and be well acquainted with characters such as that local Boadicea, Lady Brilliana Harley and the roundhead colonel Howell Jones of Nantmel. Would that other periods of Radnorian history were as well served as this one.

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