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roundheads. Scornful nickname coined to describe first the soldiers, and then the whole party which supported Parliament during the Civil War. It arose, explained Lucy Hutchinson, ‘from the puritans' custom of wearing their hair cut close round their heads’, like apprentices, who shortened their hair to demonstrate their contempt for lovelocks. This was in contrast to the flowing tresses of the royalist cavaliers. The people against whom the nickname was directed did not hesitate to embrace it. A roundhead, averred one pamphleteer, was ‘a good, honest, zealous, and true protestant’, called by God to do his work. ‘A Roundhead's use is of many sorts and kinds’, another writer told the troops, ‘but all for good; and first to set forth the splendid glory of God.’ This sense of being God's chosen people was an important ingredient in the morale of the parliamentary armies. By the late 1640s, after the roundheads' military triumph against the king, the word seems to have fallen into disuse.

Ian Gentles

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Roundheads Name given to Puritans and other supporters of Parliament during the English Civil War. It was originally a derogatory nickname for Puritans who cut their hair short, in contrast to the ringlets of the Cavaliers (Royalists).

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Roundheads, derisive name for the supporters of Parliament during the English civil war. The name, which originated c.1641, referred to the short haircuts worn by some of the Puritans in contrast to the fashionable long-haired wigs worn by many of the supporters of King Charles I, who were called Cavaliers.