London’s levée en masse
in Civil war London
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Summer 1643 marked a low point for parliament’s war effort. Chapter 4 contextualizes this important period through the dual lenses of propaganda and the “general rising,” an attempt by militants to conscript London’s able-bodied men for an army capable of overwhelming the king and his supporters. Although the “general rising” never came to fruition in its intended capacity, it did create a movement of tremendous political importance. Spurred forward by the renewed threat of peace, Mayor Pennington and likeminded militants redoubled their efforts to mobilize Londoners for parliament’s cause. They sought to achieve these ends by way of three main efforts that included the revelation of a spurious plot to create a loyalist uprising in London, the implementation of a radical “Vow and Covenant” oath that bound takers to mutual military support, and finally by way of calls for a “general rising” of able-bodied volunteers. In the aftermath of the “failed” rising, Pennington and his allies coordinated their political efforts, harnessing what support could be generated for the rising and agitating London’s crowds by way of demotic printed tickets. Their efforts succeeded when a crowd of Londoners descended on Westminster’s Palace Yard the following day, calling out in favor of war and threatening Members of Parliament who sought renewed peace proposals. A remarkable scene thus unfolded in early August 1643, a time when seemingly disparate groups (from the Lord Mayor to the so-called “rude multitude”) converged to see the continuation of war trump the possibility of peace.

Civil war London

Mobilizing for parliament, 1641– 5


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