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Abstract only
Samuel Fullerton

This chapter reviews the book’s central arguments before offering some closing thoughts on their historiographical implications. It argues for the importance of gender and sexuality to political histories of the English Revolution and calls for a reconsideration of Restoration sexual culture; it positions mid-century sexual politics in alternative chronologies, such as that of European civility and the broader history of sex-talk; and it briefly suggests how its narrative might alter prevailing narratives about the history of Western sexuality. The chapter concludes by urging for a closer relationship between the history of politics and the history of sex.

in Sexual politics in revolutionary England
Samuel Fullerton

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.

in Sexual politics in revolutionary England
Samuel Fullerton

This chapter charts two divergent trends in interregnum political culture: on the one hand, a royalist turn toward drink, promiscuity and worldliness; on the other, a renewed attention to moral reform on behalf of the Cromwellian Protectorate. Both programs, it argues, were rooted in sexual politics. In print, royalist publicists concocted a medley of eroticised newssheets, prose romances and verse miscellanies in which the celebration of bodily excess was weaponised to challenge puritan hyper-moralism; in manuscript, meanwhile, loyalists scribblers circulated a vicious canon of anti-puritan libels in quiet resistance to the Cromwellian regime. In turn, Cromwell and his allies doubled down on their moralising self-representation by refiguring themselves as the defenders of England’s virgin liberty in the face of Stuart sexual tyranny. The chapter concludes with a survey of the sexual politics that surrounded the Quaker movement, which confronted anti-sectarian sexual slander with a candour that illustrated how far English sexual politics had come since the early 1640s. In the process, the Quaker debates of the later 1650s also captured just how central the post-Reformation context remained to English political culture on the eve of the Restoration.

in Sexual politics in revolutionary England
Abstract only
Samuel Fullerton

This chapter lays out the book’s central arguments about the emergence of sex-talk into print during the English Revolution and provides important context for the narrative chapters that follow. It defines key terms, including the crucial analytical category of ‘sexual politics’; surveys the political, religious and cultural lenses through which early moderns approached gender, sexuality and the body; and explains how the study fits into the current historiographies of the English civil wars, the Restoration and the history of Western sexuality. The chapter concludes with a brief survey of English sexual politics as they developed during the Tudor and early Stuart periods.

in Sexual politics in revolutionary England
Samuel Fullerton

This chapter examines the expansion of explicit sexual politics into formal regime print polemic during the first civil war period of 1642–46. Building on the robust historiography of military mobilisation, it argues that partisan polemicists in London and Oxford alike increasingly turned to sexual satire in their appeals for public support from the kingdom as the civil war wore on. By examining the role of serial newsbooks and personal partisan disputes, moreover, the chapter demonstrates that competing processes of mobilisation only intensified the vitriol of partisan language. As a result, both parliamentarians (by focusing more closely than ever before on royal sexuality, especially in The Kings cabinet opened (1645)) and royalists (by reimagining the parliamentarian rebellion as the monstrous offspring of a diabolical conjunction) developed new porno-political arguments that would pay off enormously during the debates that erupted around the regicide of January 1649.

in Sexual politics in revolutionary England
Samuel Fullerton

This chapter explores the sexual politics that erupted around the trial and execution of Charles I in January 1649. Although sex did not intrude significantly on the judicial proceedings, both royalists and parliamentarians – or, after the regicide, ‘republicans’ – took to print to debate their significance in highly theoretical, porno-political accounts. Royalists constructed a metaphorical family conspiracy predicated on the monstrous figure of ‘Mistress Parliament’ and her chief adulterous lover, Oliver Cromwell, while republicans attacked both Charles’s ‘body politic’ (i.e. his crown) and his personal sexuality in print during the years that followed his death. In both cases, the chapter demonstrates, the personal sexual histories – real or imagined – of the kingdom’s most august leaders became fodder for public debate between 1648 and 1651 for the first time in English history, with significant consequences for both Cromwell himself and the Stuart heir, Charles II.

in Sexual politics in revolutionary England
Samuel Fullerton

This short chapter narrates the upheavals that led to Charles II’s return in May 1660 and then turns to the sexual culture of Restoration England. In nearly every instance, it argues – from the politics of promiscuity championed by the new regime to the anti-popish attacks on court debauchery that issued from its godly critics – the influence of mid-century sexual politics loomed large. Beginning with an analysis of the ‘Rump’ satires of 1659/60 and ending with the post-Reformation polemics of the Popish Plot, the chapter narrates the manifold connections linking the sexual polemics of revolutionary and Restoration England – and beyond.

in Sexual politics in revolutionary England

This book explores the sudden appearance of graphic sex-talk in English print culture during the English Revolution of 1640–60. While explicit sex-writing was primarily limited to manuscript and oral forms during the Tudor and early Stuart periods, the outbreak of war with Scotland in 1639 and the subsequent collapse of press licensing in England convinced partisan polemicists to propel it into print for the first time in English history. From there, sexual politics grew increasingly graphic and correspondingly more subversive, driven in part by the necessities of military mobilisation and partly by enterprising publishers striving to corner mid-century England’s lucrative print marketplace. When the Stuarts regained the throne at the 1660 Restoration, those novel lexicons of sexual politics – now widely available in print and primed for further appropriation – provided the discursive and ideological basis for King Charles II’s pleasure-centred self-representation and simultaneously inspired the caustic counter-polemics of its Whig opposition. Moreover, in publicising sex-talk like never before, mid-century authors, publishers, and readers also laid crucial groundwork for the eighteenth-century transformation that Faramerz Dabhoiwala has recently dubbed the West’s ‘first sexual revolution’ by rendering sex itself less susceptible to moral control. The sexual politics of revolutionary England therefore have much to offer historians and literary scholars of early modern Britain as well as those working on the history of Western sexuality more broadly.

Samuel Fullerton

This chapter explores the sexual polemics that invaded English public culture between 1637 and 1642 through the lens of partisan identity. It begins in Scotland, where resistance to Caroline ecclesiastical form frequently took the form of anti-popish sexual satire, and then moves into an analysis of the Bishops’ Wars, the ‘print explosion’ of 1640/41, and the initial skirmishes between Charles I and the Long Parliament. In each of these instances, graphic sex-talk took on new layers of political significance; and, after the collapse of Caroline press licensing, it did so in increasingly acrid debates that dragged personal sexuality into public view like never before. The chapter concludes with an account of the formation of the signature civil war partisan stereotypes of ‘roundheads’ and ‘cavaliers’, both of which were rooted in post-Reformation sexual polemic.

in Sexual politics in revolutionary England
Samuel Fullerton

This chapter pulls together a number of ostensibly disparate storylines from the interwar period of 1646–48 – Presbyterian repudiations of liberty of conscience; Henry Neville’s obscene attacks on parliamentary moderates; the royalist press resurgence of late 1647 – by centring post-Reformation sexual politics. Focusing on the intra-parliamentary debates over religious toleration that began almost immediately after the outbreak of civil war, it tabulates the ways in which contemporaries harnessed the classic patristical linkage between sexual and spiritual corruption for a series of distinct partisan ends. The chapter concludes with a review of the libelous royalist newsbooks of 1647–49, which lambasted the entire parliamentary coalition as lecherous puritan rebels in the lead-up to the second civil war and beyond.

in Sexual politics in revolutionary England