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Soundheads & Shagamuffins

Coming soon … a light-hearted ‘Who’s Who’ in the Seventeenth Century.

If you haven’t read The Black Madonna or missed the one-line explanation, the terms Soundheads and Shagamuffins [which fortunately never caught on] came about like this.

Queen Henrietta Maria coined the name Roundhead – thus suggesting, by no means accurately, that all Parliamentarians wore the same cropped hairstyle as London’s apprentice boys. Not to be outdone and presumably feeling pretty irritated, the Roundheads responded by calling the Royalists Cavaliers – which, being a derivative of the Spanish ‘caballero’ was the worst insult they could think of.

Unfortunately, this proved to be a mistake. In no time at all, the Cavaliers had become synonymous with dash, daring and glamour. And the Roundheads … hadn’t.

Around the mid-point of the war, the Parliamentarian newsheet Mercurius Britannicus tried to fix this by encouraging its readers to substitute Soundhead for Roundhead. Then, when it became clear that this wasn’t working, Britannicus attempted to drag the Cavaliers down with them under names like Rattlepate or Shagamuffin. Luckily, that didn’t work either.

So there we are. Soundheads and Shagamuffins … or as we know them, Roundheads and Cavaliers.

My first guest will be along some time next week.
These won’t be detailed biographies – more along the lines of revealing ‘snapshots’, along with a few thoughts of my own. Check it out and post your views.


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