Born from Conflict: The Pamphlet Wars

Today we throw around the terms propaganda and fake news rather zealously. But did you know that the first use of propaganda in the English language concerned the English Civil Wars? Even prior to the outbreak of hostilities, people like John Milton, known most notably for the epic poem of Paradise Lost, wrote polemical pamphlets against the religious policies of Archbishop William Laud. These pamphlets continued on throughout the time of the Wars that were waged from 1642 to 1651. Earlier tracts were written during the time of the Bishops Wars leading up to the War of the Three Kingdoms (another term for the English Civil Wars because they involved Scotland and Ireland). Even during the Protectorate, Pamphlet Wars continued over policies of Oliver Cromwell. His religious toleration came under fire when the Jewish Community was invited back to London after their forced expulsion in 1290. These Pamphlets often used exaggeration and outright falsehoods in order to gain public support from one cause or the other. Both Parliament and the Royalist utilized the technique before, during, and even after the Wars.

On Saturday, April 6, at 1 PM, Public Historian Hunter Willis will present on this topic; “Born from Conflict: The Pamphlet Wars.” Mr. Willis is an historic bookbinder and has produced hundreds of reprinted and bound historic publications for museums, public historians, and collectors. Over the past decade, he focused on reproducing works from the 17th and 18th centuries including political and religious books and tracts. In addition to his reproduction bookbinding, he is a public historian and costumed historical interpreter at regional 17th through 19th century historic sites and museums.The presentation is free to the public but requires a registration. Sign up today here at:



Above: Copies of Pamphlets.

Above: Public Historian, Hunter Willis. 

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John Ericson

About the Author

John Ericson is the Education Coordinator and a Public Historian for St. Luke’s Historic Church & Museum. John holds a degree in History from Roanoke College and a Masters of Divinity from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg. In addition to John’s role at St. Luke’s, he is the Pastor of Reformation Lutheran Church in Newport News, Virginia. John is married to Oneita Jamerson Ericson, a native of Isle of Wight County, Virginia. They have three sons, Matthew, Thomas, and James, as well as two granddaughters, Carys and Lennon. The Ericsons currently reside in Hampton, Virginia. John has been teaching Reformation History and the Early American Religious Experience for more than thirty years.