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Humpty Dumpty and The Great Fall

Humpty Dumpty and The Great Fall

I'm sure you've heard the nursery rhyme about Humpty Dumpty falling off the wall in which he is sometimes depicted as an egg but do you know the legend behind the nursery rhyme? Although they may sound cheerful many nursery rhymes are in fact quite sinister, ring a ring of roses for example is about the plague which killed over a third of the population of the UK in the Middle Ages! So sit back and discover the truth behind the Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme. 

During the English Civil War in the 17th Century the Royalists (fighting for the King) and the Parliamentarians (fighting for Parliament) fought several great battles for control of large towns across England and one such town was Colchester in Essex (near where I live!). During the Middle Ages there was less processed food and people had to work physically often for a living rather than sitting at computers and so there weren't many overweight people,therefore those who were carrying a little too much were often nicknamed Humpty Dumpty. During the battle of Colchester the Royalists had a great cannon larger than many others of the time which they named Humpty Dumpty as it was bigger than your average cannon. It was positioned atop a church tower and fired down on the parliamentarians attacking Colchester, causing great casualties and holding them back. Parliamentarian leader at the battle Lord Fairfax realised that his men would never take the town with enough men still alive to hold it against a counterattack if the cannon could be allowed to continue firing upon them. Therefore he ordered his cannons to all target Humpty Dumpty in the hope of disabling it. Although this meant his men did not have artillery support for some time it would be worth it if the great cannon could be disabled. 


Lord Fairfax's gamble paid off as a cannon ball bit the wall that Humpty Dumpty was on, causing it to collapse and the great cannon to fall to the ground. The Royalists deployed all their horses and men not fighting at that point to try and lift the cannon back on to another wall but it was simply too heavy to move with the number of horses they had remaining after several hours of fighting. Therefore all the King's horses and all the King's men couldn't put Humpty together again! The Parliamentarians took Colchester soon after and the soldiers sang of their victory later that night saying:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall,
All the king's horses, and all the king's men,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Couldn't put Humpty together again!


The fall of the great cannon became a legendary victory after the Royalist forces were defeated and the soldiers' song became a nursery rhyme that was sung to children to tell them of how their brave fathers and grandfathers had defeated the tyrannical King's great weapon. Today Humpty Dumpty is often depicted as an egg in visual depictions of the nursery rhyme but its origins lay in the collapse of a great cannon in the English Civil War, after all the nursery rhyme never said Humpty was an egg. 

IMAGE 1: - How Humpty Dumpty is portrayed in modern day
IMAGE 2: - A drawing of the real Humpty Dumpty on Colchester Wall. 

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