Samuel Fullerton
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Contesting reformation, 1649–53
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This chapter analyses the sexual politics of the early interregnum period. The republican Commonwealth established early in 1649 faced down a host of radical and royalist critics who criticised its pretensions to moral reformation through a familiar lexicon of anti-puritan sexual slander. In the process, some contemporaries – most notably the antinomian Ranters, but also some innovating royalists – articulated new approaches to human sexuality entirely, only to be denounced as immoral libertines in return. This chapter also highlights the ways in which the Commonwealth continued to utilise patriarchal and familial metaphors for rule despite attempting to distance itself from the legacy of popish Stuart tyranny through an ambitious legislative reform program. The analysis concludes with Charles II’s defeated royalists, who responded to renewed republican efforts at censorship with a radical mode of lurid anti-puritan satire that prefigured the promiscuous politics of the Restoration court.

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