Reprobates

Written by John Stubbs
Review by Mike Ashworth

There is a large body of writing about the English Civil War, the events leading up to it and the Cromwellian aftermath. However, John Stubbs’s new book, Reprobates, looks specifically at the lives of cavaliers. In 1641, as England totters on the brink of civil war, Parliamentarians denounce as cavaliers – “fashionable gallants, braggarts and dandies, distinguished by their long hair, silken suits and hatred of puritans.” Although relatively minor characters in the events leading up to the Civil War, Sir William Davenant, Poet Laureate, and Sir John Suckling, prodigals and playboys, epitomise the men who earned the title of cavalier.

Drawing upon extensive research, Reprobates follows the cavaliers as they made their way from early privilege to continental campaigns and the battlefields of Charles I’s kingdom via the Blackfriars Playhouse and royal masques. A refreshing change of perspective which concentrates on the men who were called ‘cavaliers’, rather than the well chronicled historical events of this turbulent period. Full of extensive quotations from a variety of sources, anyone with an interest in this period of English history will find this a welcome addition to their bookshelf.