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John Poyer, the Civil Wars in Pembrokeshire and the British Revolutions by Dr Lloyd Bowen


The civil wars (1642-49) unleashed violence and devastation across England and Wales. Communities and families were ripped apart as Parliamentarian fought Roundhead and the conflict spiralled out of control resulting, ultimately, in the trial and execution of King Charles I and the establishing of a republic. A neglected aspect of this wider story is the critical role of Pembrokeshire, an outpost of parliamentarian sympathy in royalist Wales, and of parliament's most prominent and controversial supporter in the region, John Poyer of Pembroke. This talk opens a new window on these tumultuous times by looking at Poyer's remarkable story. A humble glover of no great influence, Poyer's commitment to the parliamentarian party saw him emerge as a leading figure of resistance in the far west. However, his life reveals the complex twists and turns of politics in this period, as he was outflanked and outmanoeuvred by local ex-royalists who ingratiated themselves with parliament once the fighting had stopped, and who resolved to ruin their erstwhile opponent. Isolated, bitter and wilful, in 1648 Poyer rallied to the king's banner, becoming a 'turncoat' and sparking a national revolt which has become known as 'The Second Civil War'. Following the course of Poyer's startling and dramatic can helps reveal many neglected aspects of this period, and also of Pembrokeshire's neglected role in seventeenth century British history.

'This is a brilliant book, which not only transforms our view of the 'turncoat' John Poyer but also provides one of the most vivid, well-informed and sophisticated accounts ever written of the seventeenth-century civil wars in Wales."
--Mark Stoyle, University of Southampton


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11:30 am - 12:30 pm

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