During the British Civil Wars, Parliament - and later the restored monarchy - offered war pensions to wounded soldiers, as well as the widows and orphans of those who died in service. This was the first widespread instance of this in British history.
In order to claim a pension, veterans and bereaved family members had to submit a petition detailing their service. The Civil War Petitions project is currently collecting these documents and making them available to the public at www.civilwarpetitions.ac.uk.
Using these petitions, Dr Pells will reveal how ‘ordinary’ people looked back on their experiences during the Civil Wars and how they coped with its aftermath. She will examine what induced men to enlist and what we might learn from their accounts of the engagements they fought in. She will also highlight the medical care made available to injured soldiers and the ingenious ways the wounded and bereaved negotiated with the authorities for financial relief.
Finally, Dr Pells will consider how those who managed welfare systems responded to the enormous strains of supporting thousands of soldiers and civilians, as well as the relationship between the provision of relief, political considerations and the contested memories of conflict.
Ismini Pells is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Leicester. Her research interests are in 17th-century military and medical history. She is an academic advisor to the National Army Museum and the National Civil War Centre.