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Roundheads

Portrait of a typical Roundhead.

Roundheads was the name given to the supporters of the Parliament of England during the English Civil War (1642-1651). Also known as Parliamentarians, they fought against Charles I of England and his supporters, the Cavaliers or Royalists, who claimed rule by absolute monarchy and the divine right of kings. The goal of the Roundhead party was to give the Parliament supreme control over executive administration.

The name derived from the group's rebellious custom of wearing their hair closely cropped (bowl-cut) round the head or flat. This fashion originated among the Puritans as an obvious contrast between them and the men of courtly fashion, who wore long ringlets.

The term "Roundheads" first appears in writing in 1641, but there are conflicting accounts of who invented it. During the war and for a time afterwards, Roundhead was a term of derision; in the New Model Army it was a punishable offence to call a fellow soldier a Roundhead. This contrasted with the term "Cavalier" which also started out as a pejorative term but was fondly embraced by the Royalists.

Ironically, most of the Parliamentarian leaders, including Oliver Cromwell, wore their hair long, but were known as Roundheads none the less.

Roundheads in The Two GeorgesEdit

In late-20th-century America, some of the more fanatical members of the Sons of Liberty criminal organisation adopted the look of the English political-military faction known as Roundheads, which had killed an English king in the 17th century.[1]

  1. The Two Georges, p. 89 (paperback), p. 66 (hardcover).

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