Members hear tales of civil war

Paul Christensen at Morpeth Rotary
Paul Christensen at Morpeth Rotary

PAUL Christensen has a unique and valuable civil war medal collection and stories to match and was the recent guest at a meeting of Morpeth Rotary Club.

CIVIL war expert Paul Christensen told Morpeth Rotary Club members of exciting events and adventures, as well as showing them a few images of drawings and paintings from the period.

Charles I had been born in 1600, though it was his dashing and handsome brother Henry who was meant to be King.

Charles stammered, had rickets, had no self-confidence and found it difficult to get on with people.

Then Henry died young so he had no choice. The superpowers of the day were France and Spain.

Charles, as a young man, dashed off to Spain to woo the King’s daughter, but it went badly and he returned very angry.

His father, James I, was very informal and let anyone, even common people, wander into his Court.

Once he was King, Charles put a stop to that by introducing a copper alloy medal, which was a pass to let only approved people into the King’s presence.

In 1625, James I died and Charles I married the 16-year-old Henrietta Maria de Bourbon of France.

He did not go himself, but sent his special friend, the Duke of Buckingham, to marry her by proxy outside of Notre Dame in Paris. A thin metal medal was made to commemorate the event and thrown to the crowds.

The Duke was said to be handsome, but had no other ability or talents. He had been a General of the Army, but got so many of his own soldiers killed that he was stabbed by a Lieutenant who had survived.

A medal was issued to welcome the birth of the future Charles II.

In 1628, Charles I dismissed Parliament and ruled without it for 11 years.

He tried to impose a prayer book on the Scots, who rebelled and marched an army to the Border.

He took an English army to oppose it, but signed a peace treaty instead when he saw how much bigger and better the Scots army was.

He recalled Parliament to ask for money to build a better army, but it refused.

The Earl of Strafford brought a Royal army from Ireland to support the King, but the Earl was executed for treason at the insistence of Parliament.

The first civil war started in 1642, the second in 1647 and there was a third when Oliver Cromwell invaded Scotland.

During the wars, medals were used for propaganda and for military rewards.

Some were issued by generals after a battle to say how good they were.

Officers had gold medals and soldiers had silver.

The King’s army did well in 1643, but lost at Marston Moor in 1644.

Thomas Fairfax completely re-organised the soldiers of Parliament as the New Model Army, laying the foundations of the modern British Army.

They became an elite force and there was a medal to celebrate.

The King was executed in 1649.

Cromwell later invaded Scotland and won the Battle of Dunbar. He produced the first genuine campaign medal to mark the victory.