ISLINGTON HOUSING NEWS SUPPLEMENT

HISTORY OF CITY HOUSING NO.11

March, 1978

1. WAR, WAR

A ferocious war raged across Europe. It went on for 30 long years from 1618 to 1648.

Mercenary armies pillaged their way across Germany. Any towns in the path of these marauders needed the protection of their walls.

2. DEVASTATED CITIES

Woe betide any city whose defences failed. Berlin was sacked and lost half of its population of 12,000.

Worse was to come when the nearby city of Magdeburg fell to the Swedish army. Nearly all of its 40,000 people were slaughtered.

This was an exceptionally bitter war with massacres of men, women and children - rape, torture were all too common. There were even instances of cannibalism.

The 30 years War was fought on religious grounds between Protestants and Catholics.

3. CIVIL WAR IN ENGLAND

There was in England in the 1640s a civil war. But it was remarkably free from the atrocities that usually characterise such struggles (except when the fighting strayed to unhappy Ireland).

The conflict was between Parliament and the King, the Roundheads against the Cavaliers.

Parliament was able to draw on the class hostility of the times. For a while there was an uncomfortable alliance between the property interests and the people.

4. ENGLAND'S NEW ARMY

The splendid New Model Army of Parliament was the nearest approach to a citizen army before the 20th century.

Many of the soldiers of this army had dreams of a new political, religious and social order.

They organised themselves into groups known as the Levellers and the Diggers.


5. NEARLY DEMOCRACY BUT NOT QUITE

These Soldiers' Council (the Russians called them Soviets in their 1917 Revolution) came near to winning democracy for England centuries ahead of anyone else.

King Charles was executed. The rights of Parliament and property were established.

But not the rights of the people. Amilitary dictatorship cracked down on the soldier democrats. And by 1660 the crowds were cheering Charles II into London.

 

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