Brave community

The Digger movement in the English Revolution

This is a full-length modern study of the Diggers or ‘True Levellers’, who were among the most remarkable of the radical groups to emerge during the English Revolution of 1640–60. Acting at a time of unparalleled political change and heightened millenarian expectation, the Diggers believed that the establishment of an egalitarian, property-less society was imminent. This book establishes the local origins of the Digger movement and sets out to examine pre-Civil War social relations and social tensions in the parish of Cobham—from where significant numbers of the Diggers came—and the impact of civil war in the local community. The book provides a detailed account of the Surrey Digger settlements and of local reactions to the Diggers, and it explores the spread of Digger activities beyond Surrey. In chapters on the writings and career of Gerrard Winstanley, the book seeks to offer a reinterpretation of one of the major thinkers of the English Revolution.

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‘This work attempts to place the Diggers in context on a number of different levels: locally, nationally, politically, and intellectually. The aim is to improve our comprehension of the Diggers in their time and place without having Winstanley dominate the account; this is a laudable change of focus, as a prolific radical theorist can skew the analysis.'
Tom Webster, University of Edinburgh
The Historian
September 2014

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