Andrew Abram, For a Parliament Freely Chosen – The Rebellion of Sir George Booth, 1659 (Helion, 2021)
Review by Dom Sore
Helion’s Century of the Soldier series has a new addition, this time covering one of the very last acts of the 17th Century English Civil Wars, according to the plaque for the main battle of this rebellion. In this book, Andrew Abram examines the events that led up to the Rebellion of Sir George Booth and Parliament’s response to it. This is one of the softback volumes in the series and comes in at 203 pages with eight chapters, three appendices, and ending with a substantial bibliography. You will find pictures and maps interspersed throughout the text as you go.
This is a very easy read, the prose flows nicely and you get a lot of detail without being overwhelmed or overly confused. The research that has been put into this is obvious beyond the bibliography, and the author really knows what he is writing about. The scene is set in an England in disarray with the Army and Parliament at each other’s throats, disaffected Presbyterians roaming the country, and Royalists champing at the bit to restore the Monarchy. We are treated to details of plots that were stalled before they started, and Sir George’s rebellion itself was meant to be part of a wider plot. However, that was not to be as we soon find out, and the rebellion was left on its own at the mercy of Parliament. The rebels were quickly defeated, and the aftermath would eventually see the restoration of the Monarchy as planned. Ironically the failed rebellion helped this along!
This is a small part at the end of the Republic era in British History and is fascinating in the amateur nature of it given the characters involved had all mainly been involved in actual wars. It shows that being able to command a regiment does not make you suitable to lead an army. It is a nice read, contains some interesting snippets, and shows you just how precarious a grip on the nation a government has even in the face of a farcical rebellion; they didn’t even fight very well.
These softback editions from Helion are an odd fish; the paper in them is very nicely glossed and feels luxurious to the touch, but the very soft cover means it has no stability and flops in the hand as you read meaning you end up holding it in an unusual way. The addition of a slightly stronger and less flexible cover would make these much more enjoyable. There are a few little proofreading errors that stand out given the otherwise excellent quality of the book – the one where a quote is paraphrased and then provided in full on the same page did make me smile. Nevertheless, this book is a welcome addition to my library.