Levellers and the army
England’s freedom, soldiers’ rights
in The Levellers
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This chapter examines the evidence for Leveller influence on the politicization of the New Model Army in 1647 and follows the question of Leveller links with the army radicals through the Putney debates and on to the regicide and its aftermath. It argues that links between Leveller and army radicals are detectable but not evidence of very direct collaboration, but that both Leveller and army radicalism were part of a broader radical spectrum of opinion within which currents of radical thought circulated. The influence of Leveller ideas within the army should not be dismissed, and the evidence of the army-radical newsbook the Moderate shows that Leveller ideas were still appealing, even after Burford. Some coalescence of army and Leveller ideas was made possible by the army radicals’ insistence on soldiers claiming their rights not just as soldiers but as Englishmen, and by the Levellers’ sense of the possibilities of an army of conscientious Englishmen. The constitutional thought of the army leadership, army radicals, and Levellers again displays interaction and dialogue.

The Levellers

Radical political thought in the English Revolution


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