Sketches of regimental banners from the English Civil Wars


During the English Civil Wars, Magna Carta became a powerfully symbolic document, widely invoked by parliamentarians. For them the Great Charter, itself the outcome of a civil war, successfully forced the Crown to obey the rule of law, and so justified military resistance against another equally tyrannical king. As this design shows, parliamentary banners made frequent allusion to Magna Carta as protecting the rights of the subject against royal oppression. The ensign, which belonged to Captain Hooker, depicts an unfurled scroll emblazoned ‘Magna Charta’, above which is the Latin legend ‘Preserva Legem Domine’ (Preserve the Law O Lord). Hooker’s was not the only ensign to depict Magna Carta. Another belonging to Captain Francis Dowett displayed an armed knight, sword in hand, defending the Great Charter. Magna Carta was held by many to vindicate the actions of Parliament, as shown proudly in the design of such military banners.

Full title:
Sketches of regimental banners from the English Civil Wars
Artwork / Manuscript
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Public Domain in most countries other than the UK.

Held by
British Library
Add MS 5247

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