The Wounds of War

  • Sarah Covington


In 1849 the historian Thomas Macaulay set out to describe the character of the English country gentleman of the later seventeenth century—a man withered by age, “unlettered,” “unpolished,” and genealogy-obsessed, rattling about in his Restoration estate with “old swords and holsters” and a long-overdue pension from the king. Although mindful of his continued patrician status, the ex-cavalier, Macaulay wrote, found himself quite literally marked by the battlefields of Naseby or Marston Moor, which he wore on his body in the form of an eye-patch, a gash on the cheek, or a single bullet still lodged in his head. His scars were not simply scars but royalist badges, just as those who once fought against him bore traces, parliamentary traces, on their own bodies. In this sense, more than any story he could tell, the ex-soldier’s body was itself a record of war-making, though one that was imbued with its own romantic mythology; equally important was the role that disfigurement played in shaping his identity, as he continued to define himself through the prism of the past—a past that was memorialized in his own mutilations.1


Seventeenth Century Mass Grave Paradise Lost Epic Hero Epic Form 
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© Sarah Covington 2009

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  • Sarah Covington

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