Roundheads and Cavaliers
The idea that the Civil War was fought between sombre Roundheads in helmets and gaily dressed Cavaliers in plumed hats is a misleading one. But it does have a long history. ‘Roundhead’ and ‘Cavalier’ were terms of abuse that dated from the Civil War. Some of those who rioted in support of parliament in 1641 had short hair, earning them the nickname ‘Roundheads’, while the gallants in Charles’s court were dubbed ‘Cavaliers’, implying that they were arrogant foreign horsemen.
Such people were just a small minority of those involved in the wars, but stereotypes were a godsend to propagandists and the names stuck. In reality, both sides dressed identically, and anyone given the opportunity to wear a helmet would probably have done so without hesitation.
A propaganda illustration from the time depicts Cavaliers ( left) and Roundheads ( right) with their ‘dogs of war’