The impact of the English Civil War on society
A world turned upside-down?
in Crowds and popular politics in early modern England
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For many contemporaries, the social impact of the 1640s could be captured in the image of the world turned upside-down. This chapter looks at the threat to the social order posed by a concatenation of popular disorder and a simultaneous questioning of the structures and ideas by which social order had been maintained. It examines why the 1640s did not in fact see the world turned upside-down. With all sources of authority challenged in a society with long-term stresses exacerbated by the pressures of civil war and the challenge of radical ideas, it did seem that the world might be turned upside-down. English Civil war created new sources of disorder. The chapter discusses these sources in detail. New structures of state authority were created by the Civil War, but these, with their heavy demands, were seen as one of the sources of disorder.


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