Parliamentarians continued to identify with the decisions to oppose and resist Crown and established church after the Restoration. By expressing these views between 1660 and 1688, these men and women were vulnerable to charges of sedition or treason. This book examines these ‘seditious memories’ and asks why people risked themselves by expressing them in public. It does so without dismissing such views as evidence of discontent or radicalism, showing instead how they countered experiences of defeat. As well as in speech and writing, these views are shown to have manifested themselves as misbehavior during official commemoration of the civil wars and Restoration. It also considers how such views were passed on from the generation of men and women who experienced civil war and revolution to their children and grandchildren.
This chapter situates the book within existing historical interest in how the wars and revolution in Britain between 1637 and 1660 were remembered during the remainder of the seventeenth century. It is argued that existing work has largely overlooked the diversity of opinions about the civil wars and, thus, the existence of a wellspring of alternative, pro-Parliamentarian and pro-republican ‘seditious’ memories. In order to uncover these seditious memories, the chapter suggests moving away from Restoration print culture to evidence of oral culture, such as can be found in legal records and government papers.
This chapter locates seditious memories in legal records and government papers. In doing so, the ways that sympathies for Parliament and the Republic were expressed in England and Wales are outlined. These include justification of, identification with, and nostalgia for opposition and resistance during the 1640s and 1650s. They are also shown to include ‘prospection’, or the imagination of the restoration of Parliamentarianism and republicanism in the future. The chapter finishes by demonstrating that seditious memories are likely to be representative of a wider body of opinion after the Restoration.
This chapter outlines how we can understand why men and women risked themselves by expressing seditious memories. It does so by establishing the Restoration’s ‘politics of memory’; that is, the efforts by certain parties, including former Parliamentarians and Royalists, to gain control of how the events of the 1640s and 1650s were remembered publicly (‘mnemonic hegemony’). It is put forward that, following an attempt to cast the divisions of the wars into oblivion, Royalists seized the authority to speak for the past, legitimising thereby the censure and censorship of Parliamentarians and republicans. The chapter finishes by measuring the impact of censorship and censure on their targets.
The chapter begins the process of understanding the expression of seditious memories by placing them in the context of the Restoration’s politics of memory. This involves viewing seditious memories as ‘counter-memories’ that subverted and resisted efforts by Royalists to secure mnemonic hegemony. The chapter examines the expression of seditious memories to audiences that were expected to disagree in order to show that men and women used such views to legitimise publicly their decisions to support Parliament and the establishment of a Republic. The chapter also shows that the public expression of seditious memories acted as forms of subversive ‘cultural resistance’ by appropriating the identities that Royalists imputed to Parliamentarians and Royalists, and threatening Royalists with a return of civil war and revolution.
This chapter shifts the focus onto seditious memories that were expressed to people who were expected to share sympathies for Parliament and the Republic. These men and women are described as having formed communities of memory, which were themselves venues of solidarity in which support for Parliament and the Republic was legitimised socially. Sharing seditious memories is also shown to have had the potential to foment rebellion, but also as a way of conjuring psychologically comforting senses of collective hope.
This chapter uses the methodology of previous chapters to illustrate and explain comparable sentiment in Scotland and Ireland. In Scotland, men and women are shown to have remained sympathetic to the Covenants and Work of Reformation. In Ireland, sympathies for the Cromwellian conquest of the 1650s remained. These sympathies are explained once more with reference to the extent to which the Restoration was ushered in by attempts by Royalists in both kingdoms to control how the civil wars and revolution were remembered.
Moving beyond oral culture, this chapter identifies a rich vein of what is referred to as mis-commemoration after the Restoration: the failure to live up to the government’s expectations of behaviour on the anniversaries of the regicide (30 January) and the Restoration (29 May). Various explanations are offered for mis-commemoration, such as dissenting quibbles with episcopacy and Anglican worship, the extent to which the days accentuated political and religious protest, concerns about the extent to which the anniversaries were used to lambast Dissenters, and, drawing on previous chapters, disagreement about the Royalist interpretations of the recent past to which the days lent themselves.
The final chapter begins with the issue that many of the men and women who expressed seditious memories did not experience the wars and revolutions to which they referred. The chapter offers explanations for this phenomenon. It does so by demonstrating that many of the younger generation who expressed seditious memories were from Covenanter, Parliamentarian, or republican families, or associated with Whigs and others who shared seditious memories. The chapter concludes by focusing on examples of seditious remembering in which we can glimpse the transmission of seditious memories from one generation to the next.