Humpty Dumpty Exploded: de-constructing a Civil War Myth
Yet none of this is true.
The steeple was not rebuilt until 1713.
The rhyme itself is not attested in English until c.1800 and the lines concerning 'All the King's horses' are even later, not documented until 1833 (Oxford English Dictionary). Moreover, the rhyme's origins are believed to be French. Nothing to do with the English Civil War at all, it would seem. In fact, the Colchester connection with Humpty Dumpty appears to have been made very recently, perhaps as little forty years ago. In 1994 the compilers of The Victoria County History of Essex were forced to conclude that “There appears to be no evidence to support the suggestion, popularized c.1980, that another nursery rhyme, Humpty Dumpty, derives from the destruction of a cannon at the siege of Colchester in 1648.” (Baggs, et al., p.1).
There appears to have been no link made between the nursery rhyme and the Civil War until as recently as 1956, when Oxford professor, David Daub, made the suggestion that Humpty Dumpty was the name given to a siege engine employed by the Royalists during their siege of Gloucester in 1643.
Humpty Dumpty Goes to Gloucester
The 'Real' Humpty Dumpty
The short time in which such an apparent fabrication can gain acceptance as a fact should serve as a caveat to any re-enactor who educates the public with anecdotes masquerading as truths. It is neither education nor 'edutainment', it is simply untrue. The Civil War's Humpty Dumpty is no more a historical fact that the story of an egg-man falling off a wall.
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