Wild Civility: Men at War in Royalist Elegy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


On July 5, 1643, the Royalist officer Bevil Grenville lost his horse while battling alongside his Cornish pikemen, and was struck in the head with a pole-ax; he died of his wounds the following day. Grenville was by no means the only soldier to succumb to the violence of the British Civil Wars-historians have estimated that upwards of 80,000 men were killed in action.1 However, he was one of only a handful to be elegized in a multi-authored, published collection. Few civil war soldiers were commemorated with such fanfare, but military heroes were increasingly the fodder for the printed elegies that filled the pages of single-author poetic works, newsbooks, polemical pamphlets, and volumes mourning grander deaths, such as that of Charles I. Contributing to both the widespread politicization of literary genre and the busy sphere of public debate scholars have identified with this period,2 these cheap, printed elegies for battle deaths also participated in a broader and suddenly pressing discussion of the individual and collective identity of soldiers and their relation to a newly divided Britain. As Barbara Donagan has shown, the dispersed nature of billeting, widespread garrisoning, and the mobility of the opposing armies during the British Civil Wars led to "a war without a front line."3 This war-saturated context produced a thriving print and manuscript culture invested in returning to (and theorizing) the long-lived and politically expedient relation between the bloody conflicts of war and male identity-to thinking anew about men as the agents and objects of political violence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationViolent Masculinities
Subtitle of host publicationMale Aggression in Early Modern Texts and Culture
EditorsJennifer Feather, Catherine E Thomas
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781137344755
ISBN (Print)9781137344748
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013


  • collective identity
  • prayer book
  • epic hero
  • emotional temperance
  • emotional excess

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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