The human cost of war

10 February 2017

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The human cost of civil wars is to be investigated in a new study involving Cardiff University.

‘Welfare, Conflict and Memory during and after the English Civil Wars, 1642-1700’is a four-year project funded by a major grant of over £800,000 from the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Led by the University of Leicester and with co-investigators from Cardiff University, the University of Nottingham and the University of Southampton, the research will analyse how ordinary men and women remembered the conflict, and how victims of the war negotiated with authorities for charitable relief.

Dr Lloyd Bowen, from Cardiff University’s School of History, Archaeology and Religion said: “The project will examine petitions for relief and assistance that were made by soldiers injured in the civil wars (1642-60) or by widows whose husbands died in military service. Petitions came from parliamentarians during the wars themselves, but the system was then employed to support royalist soldiers and widows after the restoration of monarchy in 1660. The aim is to produce a website which includes images and transcriptions of all these petitions for public and scholarly use.

“My particular focus in this research will be on the petitions emanating from Wales and the Welsh Marches (Cheshire, Shropshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire). The Cheshire material is particularly rich but there are neglected Welsh sources from Denbighshire and Caernarvonshire also. We are hoping that this resource will help researchers understand early modern systems of charity, the negotiations humble people made with the state in the seventeenth century, and the ways in which people remembered and interpreted their experiences of the tumultuous period of civil war and revolution.”

The main output will be a freely available website containing photographs and transcriptions of every petition for relief from maimed soldiers and war widows in England and Wales relating to losses suffered in the Civil Wars. Genealogists and family historians will also benefit from the website’s searchable list of claimants to military welfare in these years, which will include details of the sums awarded to them. This website, together with a separate education website for schools entitled ‘Death and Survival in the Civil Wars’ will be developed and hosted by the University of Nottingham’s Multimedia Online Archive Service.

The project team will be collaborating with the recently established National Civil War Centre at Newark Museum, Nottinghamshire. Building on the Museum’s successful ‘Battle-Scarred’ exhibition about civil-war military welfare, the project and Museum will collaborate in organising special events, exhibitions and teachers’ workshops. The project will also support the production of a research monograph and articles by the project team as well as an international conference and two collections of scholarly essays.