[7. The New Model Army: Britain is somewhat unique in modern European history in that its Army has been kept out of politics during the past three and a half centuries while military leaders took executive power in the American and French revolutions. This peculiarity has its origins in the seventeenth century experience of what a politicised and ideological Army could achieve - force the trial and execution of the King and violently alter the course of politics for a generation. It is all the more surprising that this should have happened in Britain as there was almost no recent military tradition as England was alone among the principal early modern European states in that it lacked a standing army. Even the armies that fought the most part of the Civil War lacked any of the prerequisites for such a political role for the military in England. The origins therefore are to be found in 1645 when Parliament purged its forces of all peers and MPs (with one crucial exception, Oliver Cromwell) and reorganised them into the New Model Army. The cavalry regiments of this new force were largely unchanged - they remained those Cromwell had raised as a commander of the Eastern Association army, and in his men Cromwell had 'raised such men as had the fear of God before them, and made some conscience of what they did.' At this point in time however, neither these men nor Cromwell himself were intent on any specific political intention except the vague ideology of the 'godly reformation'. Many of Cromwell's men were religious radicals, educated and literate, drawn from the middling sort of yeomen, craftsmen and small traders.]

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