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Response to Review no. 552

I am most grateful to Dr Bennett for his kind review of my book and I take his point that the extent to which Oliver Cromwell and other English Parliamentarians acted out of a desire to further ‘national’ interests rather than religious ones between 1643 and 1646 is very hard to judge. My argument, I suppose, is that both factors were important in motivating the king’s opponents during the 1640s, and that both should be taken into account when assessing the events of this period. I am also happy to concede that Thomas Fairfax’s decision to lay down his commission as general in 1650, rather than lead an invasion of Scotland, suggests that, whatever his view of the Scots may have been during the late 1630s and early 1640s, his attitude towards them had mellowed considerably by the end of the latter decade. Turning to Dr Bennet’s final point, I can only agree with him that, while a frankly aggressive strain of chauvinism was frequently visible in the Parliamentarian ranks during the Civil Wars, this was rarely, if ever, the case on the Royalist side. The Welsh and Cornish soldiers who fought in such large numbers for the king were not, in my view, motivated by any desire to dominate their English neighbours: rather, they were seeking, as Dr Bennett himself puts it, ‘to restore the status quo ante’ and to reestablish a polity in which their cultural and religious traditions would be respected, as they had been in the past. It was fortunate indeed for posterity that the Parliamentarian leaders eventually came to appreciate this fact, and to ensure that Wales and Cornwall were won back through a policy of military strength and conciliation combined, rather than through the adoption of the much more ruthless methods which were advocated by some Roundhead soldiers and commentators.