ironside cavalier

Cavaliers and Round Heads - A History Nest Mythbust

It’s the archetype of the English Civil Wars - an armoured Ironside, one of Cromwell’s Puritan, Parliamentarian warriors, going up against a flamboyantly dressed, hat-and-feather wearing, dashing cavalier supporting King Charles I. Both images, unfortunately, are the product of propaganda, and didn’t reflect what warriors actually looked like during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. 

The truth is cavalrymen from both sides equipped themselves as well as they could afford. Everyone who could would have worn a metal helmet, a breastplate and a long, leather jerkin for protection. Those who did wear hats commonly wore metal skull caps beneath them to provide protection. They’d also deck themselves out in as many pistols and blades as was practical and, because there were few uniforms during the war, a coloured sash to show which side they were on (usually, but not always, orange for Parliament and red for the king) or, if they didn’t have a sash, bits or paper of sprigs of a certain plant. 

Also, the idea that Puritans all cropped their hair is, like the belief that they never drank, a myth. There would have been almost as many long haired ironsides as “cavaliers” (itself a disdainful name not used regularly by the king’s own supporters).