The Roundhead's Reply?
|Continuing with what has apparently become our "Roundhead Period," here's a great engraving (Thomason Tracts 669.f.6) from the same year, 1642, as the ballad "My Bird is a Roundhead." This satirical print, however, strikes back at those who seek to marginalize the godly as out-of-the-mainstream "puritans" and "roundheads." Instead, the print asserts, those who hurl these epithets are themselves "athiests" and "Arminians," or even crypto-Catholics. The print shows three men: a Sound-head (left), a Rattle-head (center), and a Round-head (right):|
click to enlarge
Beneath the Sound-head (who wears what seems to be a "puritan" hat but whose costume does not seem otherwise particularly "puritan") are these verses:
This Foolish World is full of foule mistakes,According to ESTC, the Rattle-Head--so-called because his two-faced head rattles from one side to the other--depicts a composite of Robert Philips, the Queen's confessor, and Archbishop Laud. He is in the process of turning from the English to the Roman Church, taking the Bible from the godly Sound-Head in one hand and transforming it into the crucifix he gives the Round-Head with his other hand. Laud, the story goes, was offered a cardinal's hat by the Pope: his defenders pointed out that he refused it; to his critics, the point was that he was offered it. The verses beneath him read:
See, heer, the Rattle-Heads most Rotten-Heart,Finally, the Round-Head image shows the godly appropriation of the pejorative epithet, turning it back on anti-puritans, who are revealed as Catholic sympathizers, if not Catholics themselves:
But heer's a Round-Head to the purpose shown,The engraving, combined with the ballad discussed earlier, nicely shows how the idea of orthodoxy itself became a battleground, with each side claiming to represent the mainstream of English Protestantism. And it shows how the battle was waged in the popular press, through images and through poetry.