An ‘introductory top five’ English Civil War reading list

With the publication of the Pike & Shotte supplement ‘To Kill a King’ a few weeks away now, Warlord asked me to make a short list of a top five books to recommend about the English Civil War. This was not the easy task I thought it would be as there is a huge selection to choose from. So I have tried to go for books that are introductions to the subject and can get a reader started on the period.
I hope you like the choice. Charles J Singleton

Pike and Shot tactics- Keith Roberts- Osprey 2010

The 17th century was a crucial stage in the development of military affairs and battlefield tactics. Armies are starting to move away from deep blocks of troops, and increasingly use units with broader fronts to maximise firepower. The new formations are deployed into mutually supporting lines and reinforced by lighter and more manoeuvrable artillery.

‘Pike and Shot tactics’ is a really useful introduction into the various tactics and organisational ideas knocking around at the time of the Civil Wars. This book explains how tactics evolved over the 17th century but also how units operated and worked alongside each other. The various ‘market leaders’ of military theories are examined and their ideas are explained.

Matchlock Musketeer and ironsides- John Tincey- Osprey 2002
This two-part companion set looks at how two important components of armies of the Civil Wars worked. In ‘Matchlock Musketeer’, the musketeers experience of army life, conditions in battle and siege are examined along with how he was trained and what tactics and drill he used. In ‘Ironside’, how the English cavalry man was recruited, and what horses he rode are looked at. In both books, the art work examines in great detail what equipment was issued and how it was used.

Cavaliers: Royalist Army at War- John Barrett- Sutton 2000
Pretty much a one stop shop for the Royalist army. This book covers many aspects of the Kings armies from the High Command down to the part played by the baggage train. The book also has sections on the armies of the Northern Royalists under Newcastle, the Scots under Montrose and the Western Armies under Hopton. If you want to get the Parliamentarian perspective, Hey for Old Robin! : The Campaigns and Armies of the Earl of Essex During the First Civil War, 1642-44 Helion 2017, By Chris Scott and Alan Turton is out in May. I am a bit biased about that one as I have just finished editing it!

Naseby 1645: the campaign and battle- Peter Young -Century 1985
Although written about only one battle, this book is priceless. Like Young’s other books, it is worth buying just for the appendix’s and research on the regiments from each army. Although Biased towards the Royalist cause, the book is an essential reference source book for the regiments in the King’s Oxford Army and the fledgling New Model and their officers. Look out for Young’s books on Edgehill, Marston Moor and Cropredy Bridge too.

The Arte Militaire: The Application of 17th Century Military Manuals to Conflict Archaeology- Warwick Louth Helion Century of the Soldier 2016
A bit of a shameless plug this one. The author is not only a friend and in the same re-enacting regiment, but I also edited the book too! Arte Militaire was a book that was crying out to be written. This is a book that mixes historical documents with field archology. By examining 17th Century manuals and discussing theories and methods the book then looks at a number of battlefields that have had archaeological surveys done work and examines how the that troops were moved tactically across them from the evidence presented. Whilst the battles (and sieges) are mainly from the English Civil War, Lutzen ,the epic Thirty Years War battle is also discussed.

And don’t forget the Osprey range, providing detailed background, art and inspiration for your battles:


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To Kill A King!

There’s no better time than now to start your English Civil Wars – With the new supplement to Pike & Shotte almost here and available to pre-order and the superb starter deal of the main Pike & Shotte rules with a FREE plastic box set, you’d be mad not to join this fight!


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Pike & Shotte Spring Game Banner MC

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