Eastern Association

by Nick

The Eastern Association is a new blog which tells the story of the early stages of the civil war through the fictional Holyfen family, and the real-life figures they encounter. It starts in the summer of 1642 as war is breaking out across England:

Into this maelstrom steps Edmund Holyfen: The eldest of three sons of a decaying armigerous family from the fen-country of East Anglia, he arrives from America, to which he stowed away in 1630 and where his wife and son were kidnapped, tortured and murdered by the Pequots. Edmund’s father, Sir George, lives with Thomas, his youngest brother, in a crumbling rectory in the village of Holyfen, on the Great Ouse between St Ives and Ely. His mother lives in Huntingdon, a house on the High Street purchased from her brother, the Member of Parliament for Cambridge, Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell, aware of Edmund’s experience in the wars against the Pequots, enlists him for service against the King: seizing the plate of Cambridge’s universities and the arms of Cambridge Castle.

Sydney, a merchant in London,  is the middle Holyfen brother. He’s close to John Hampden, his uncle and a long-time leader of the Parliament’s opposition to Charles who is raising a regiment to do battle with the King’s forces. Sydney, who is connected to the more radical elements of the Puritan movement, also edits a publishes a newsbook, Anglia Rediviva, and employs the firm’s apprentices in gathering news, to the considerable wrath of his nominal boss, Ralph Halpenny.

Both in style and content it’s a bit of a treat and to my mind, also does a great job of evoking the babel of printed voices that emerged during the early 1640s. Definitely recommended.