The best books on the Wars of the Three Kingdoms c.1637-1653 (England, Scotland, and Ireland)

Kirsteen MacKenzie Author Of The Solemn League and Covenant of the Three Kingdoms and the Cromwellian Union, 1643-1663
By Kirsteen MacKenzie

The Books I Picked & Why

History of the Great Civil War: Volume I

By Samuel Rawson Gardiner

History of the Great Civil War: Volume I

Why this book?

Samuel Rawson Gardiner’s comprehensive and detailed account of the civil wars has laid the foundation for many of the subsequent histories of the conflict. It was the first account of the civil wars written by a professional historian who had spent a lifetime exploring the expansive and diverse first-hand accounts of the conflict.

All the books in this series are fantastic and highly recommended. 



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Britain in Revolution: 1625-1660

By Austin Woolrych

Britain in Revolution: 1625-1660

Why this book?

This is an integrated and detailed account of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms across Britain and Ireland, the English Republic and the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660. It is written in an engaging and lively style and concisely integrates the large body of scholarship that emerged with the new British histories in the 1990s and early 2000s.


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The Civil Wars in Britain and Ireland: 1638-1651

By Martyn Bennett

The Civil Wars in Britain and Ireland: 1638-1651

Why this book?

Still the best introductory text for students covering all major events in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms in a concise and accessible manner.  This book steps away from the more Anglo-centric analyses of the conflict, looking at events in Ireland, Scotland and Wales in some detail.  In contrast with the books above, Bennett also steps away from the experience of political elites and examines the experiences of ordinary soldiers and civilians during the conflict.  


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Civil War

By Taylor Downing, Maggie Millman

Civil War

Why this book?

A personal favorite as I bought this book as a teenager during the 350th-anniversary commemorations of the civil wars in the 1990s.  An underrated book and an excellent introduction to the conflict for anyone interested in the period. Covering major events in Scotland, England, and Ireland it has a multitude of beautiful colorful illustrations that bring the period to life.  The main narrative is interspersed with text boxes focusing on fascinating individuals, events, and cultural and social aspects conveying the richness and diversity of the conflict.   


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The King's Peace, 1637-41

By C.V. Wedgwood

The King's Peace, 1637-41

Why this book?

This is another classic within the historiography of the period which along with S.R. Gardiner’s work is still considered one of the solid early professional histories of the period.  Although some historians may consider it a little dated, it is a concise and detailed analysis of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms.  Wedgewood’s style of writing is accessible and lively. This 3 book series is still considered as some of the best books ever written on the period (be sure to check out The King's War and Trial of Charles as well).  


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