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By the Sword Divided 

Story of the English Civil War as seen through the eyes of two families; the Laceys, loyal to King Charles I, and the Fletchers, loyal to Oliver Cromwell.


John Hawkesworth




2   1  
1985   1983  




Series cast summary:
Sharon Maughan ...  Anne Lacey Fletcher 19 episodes, 1983-1985
Andrew MacLachlan Andrew MacLachlan ...  Nathaniel Cropper 18 episodes, 1983-1985
Lucy Aston Lucy Aston ...  Lady Lucinda Ferrar / ... 17 episodes, 1983-1985
Tim Bentinck ...  Tom Lacey / ... 17 episodes, 1983-1985
Rob Edwards Rob Edwards ...  John Fletcher 17 episodes, 1983-1985
Eileen Way Eileen Way ...  Minty 16 episodes, 1983-1985
Rosalie Crutchley ...  Goodwife Margaret 15 episodes, 1983-1985
Janet Lees-Price Janet Lees-Price ...  Emma Bowen / ... 15 episodes, 1983-1985
Johanna Myers Johanna Myers ...  Hannah Jackman / ... 15 episodes, 1983-1985
Claire Davenport Claire Davenport ...  Mrs. Dumfry 15 episodes, 1983-1985
Edward Peel ...  Walter Jackman 14 episodes, 1983-1985
Simon Butteriss Simon Butteriss ...  Hugh Brandon 14 episodes, 1983-1985
Peter Guinness ...  Dick Skinner 14 episodes, 1983-1985
Debbie Goodman Debbie Goodman ...  Rachel 12 episodes, 1983-1985
Judy Buxton Judy Buxton ...  Susan Protheroe / ... 12 episodes, 1983-1985
Bert Parnaby Bert Parnaby ...  Sir Austin Fletcher 11 episodes, 1983-1985
Simon Dutton ...  Will Saltmarsh 10 episodes, 1983
Julian Glover ...  Sir Martin Lacey 9 episodes, 1983


Story of the English Civil War as seen through the eyes of two families; the Laceys, loyal to King Charles I, and the Fletchers, loyal to Oliver Cromwell. Written by Anonymous

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Drama | History | War


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Did You Know?


Doctor Who: Revelation of the Daleks: Part One (1985) reused scenery from this series to save money. See more »


Referenced in Revelation Exhumed (2005) See more »

User Reviews

Sunday Evening Religious Genocide
26 March 2015 | by Theo RobertsonSee all my reviews

This is a mainly forgotten show . It was released in a blaze of publicity by the BBC with the tag that it was the most expensive historical drama ever made by the BBC . In an era of GAME OF THRONES and other shows that have truly cinematic production values watching a 1983 series from the beeb means the acting is somewhat stagey and theatrical with production values that are rather dated , but if you like historical dramas there's a lot to recommend from this show

Series one revolves around the lead up and fighting during the English civil war . King Charles is raising an army from Catholic Ireland and the Protestant parliamentarians are out to stop him . Certainly there's some bias from the narrative where the audiences sympathy are asked to lie with the Lacey family especially the noble Sir Martin Lacey and his son the swashbuckling Tom Lacey . To its credit what the drama does very well is paint the English Civil War not as a conflict between the divine right of kings against democratic parliamentarians but as a religious war between Catholics and evangelical Protestants similar to the type of present day conflict between Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims . In fact for a drama broadcast pre watershed on a Sunday night just after SONGS OF PRAISE there is a very gritty element to the dialogue with constant references to "whores" and "papists" with Hannibal Marsh having a very unhealthy interest in wanting to rid the world of said whores and papists

Series two revolves around the aftermath of the civil war with Cromwell now in power. With Sir Martin Lacey written out of the series I did think I was going to miss Julian Glover's excellent performance as Sir Martin but this is quickly forgotten as Peter Jeffrey's performance as Oliver Cromwell takes centre stage . This is a historically warts and all portrait of Cromwell who isn't trying to replace monarchy with parliamentary democracy but a machevillian dictator who wants to replace tyranny with more tyranny . Actually one point the writers do get wrong is painting the Levellers as good guys and while they did want to introduce a small modicum of democracy to the people it was no more than a small modicum . In reality the democracy we know in this country owes far more to the chartist movement of the early 19th century rather than Cromwell or the Levellers . Another slight irritant to the production is the rather intrusive and manipulative incidental music played over every pivotal or emotional scene

As it stands BY THE SWORD DIVIDED is an impressive drama made when network TV stations made impressive dramas . You have to meet it on its own terms to a degree and the somewhat static camera work and production values might put some people off but if you like history as a subject then you'll like this show

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Release Date:

16 October 1983 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

By the Sword Divided See more »

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Technical Specs


(20 episodes)

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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