The parliamentary context of political
radicalism in the Englishrevolution
During at least certain moments of extreme political tension during
the Englishrevolution, the process of petitioning Parliament could
be a risky enterprise. This might seem to be an unexceptional
statement, given scholarly familiarity with the fact that the Long
Parliament became nervous about radical agitation during the late
1640s, and with the fact that the ideas of army activists and Levellers
centred in no small part upon the assertion of the right to petition
procedures or constitutional structures. This legislation tells us and
warned colonists of the radical, transforming potential of the EnglishRevolution. The acts provide evidence for new conceptions of government
and society which threatened the old order in both realm and empire.
These conceptions were first widely explored in the political debates
and pamphleteering which flowered during the civil war years. The
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.
Early modern England was marked by profound changes in economy, society, politics and religion. It is widely believed that the poverty and discontent which these changes often caused resulted in major rebellion and frequent 'riots'. This book argues for the inherently political nature of popular protest through a series of studies of acts of collective protest, up to and including the English Revolution. Authority was always the first historian of popular protest. Explaining the complex relationship between the poor and their governors, the book overviews popular attitudes to the law and the proper exercise of authority in early modern England. A detailed reconstruction of events centring on grain riots in the Essex port of Maldon in the crisis of 1629 is then presented. Urbanisation, regional specialisation and market integration were the larger changes against which disorder was directed between 1585 and 1649. The book discusses the 'four Ps', population growth, price rise, poverty and protest, explaining their connection with population explosion to poverty and protest. The major European revolts of the so-called 'Oxfordshire rising' are then analysed. Popular politics might deploy 'weapons of the weak' in a form of everyday politics that was less dramatic but more continuous than 'riot'. On the very eve of the Civil War, large crowds, with underemployed clothworkers, attacked and plundered the houses of local Catholics and proto-royalists among the nobility and gentry. In a culture that proscribed protest and prescribed obedience, public transcripts could be used to legitimise a popular political agency.
The enduring controversy about the nature of parliament informs nearly all debates about the momentous religious, political and governmental changes in early modern England – most significantly, the character of the Reformation and the causes of the Revolution. Meanwhile, scholars of ideas have emphasised the historicist turn that shaped the period’s political culture. Religious and intellectual imperatives from the sixteenth century onwards evoked a new interest in the evolution of parliament, shaping the ways that contemporaries interpreted, legitimised and contested Church, state and political hierarchies. For much of the last century, scholarship on parliament focused on its role in high politics, or adopted an administrative perspective. The major exception was J. G. A. Pocock’s brilliant The Ancient Constitution and the Feudal Law (1957), which argued that competing conceptions about the antiquity of England’s parliamentary constitution – particularly its common law – were a defining element of early Stuart political mentalities and set in motion a continuing debate about the role of historical thought in early seventeenth-century England. The purpose of this volume is to explore contemporary views of parliament’s history/histories over a broader canvas. Historical culture is defined widely to encompass the study of chronicles, more overtly ‘literary’ texts, antiquarian scholarship, religious polemic, political pamphlets, and of the intricate processes that forge memory and tradition. Over half of the essays explore Tudor historical thought, showing that Stuart debates about parliament cannot be divorced from their sixteenth-century prelude. The volume restates the crucial role of institutions for the study of political culture and thought.
The Leveller movement of the 1640s campaigned for religious toleration and a radical remaking of politics after the English civil war. This book challenges received ideas about the Levellers as social contract theorists and Leveller thought as a mere radicalization of parliamentarian thought, analysing the writings of the Leveller leaders John Lilburne, Richard Overton, and William Walywn to show that that the Levellers’ originality lay in their subtle and unexpected combination of different strands within parliamentarianism. The first part of the book offers a systematic analysis of different aspects of the Levellers’ developing political thought, considering their accounts of the origins of government, their developing views on the relationship between parliament and people, their use of the language of the law, and their understanding of the relationship between religious liberty and political life. Two concluding chapters examine the Levellers’ relationship with the New Model Army and the influence of the Levellers on the republican thought of the 1650s. The book takes full account of revisionist and post-revisionist scholarship, and contributes to historical debates on the development of radical and republican politics in the civil war period, the nature of tolerationist thought, the significance of the Leveller movement, and the extent of Leveller influence in the ranks of the New Model Army.
Although few would contend that London and its inhabitants were indispensable to parliament’s war effort against King Charles I, the matter remains to be delineated in detail. This book explores how London’s agitators, activists, and propagandists sought to mobilize the metropolis between 1641 and 1645. Rather than simply frame London’s wartime participation from the top down, this book explores mobilization as a series of disparate but structured processes – as efforts and events that created webs of engagement. These webs joined parliamentarian activists to civic authorities, just as they connected parishioners to vestries and preachers, and forced interaction between committees, Common Council, liverymen, and apprentices. The success of any given mobilizing effort – or counter-mobilization, for that matter – varied. Activists adapted their tactics accordingly, meeting their circumstances head-on. Londoners meanwhile heeded the entreaties of preachers and civic leaders alike, signing petitions, donating, and taking to the streets to protest both for and against war. Initially called upon to loan money and fortify the metropolis in 1642–3, Londoners had by 1644 become reluctant lenders and overburdened caretakers for sick and wounded soldiers. Revealed here by way of a wealth of archival and printed sources is the collective story of London’s evolving relationship to the challenges of wartime mobilization, of the evolution of efforts to move money and men, and the popular responses that defined not only parliament’s wartime success, but the arrival of novel financial expedients that gave rise to the New Model Army and eventually became apparatuses of the state.
This book is a collection of essays that study the diffusion of radical ideas in Britain from the period of the English Revolution in the mid-seventeenth century to the Romantic Revolution in the early nineteenth century. It explores the modes of articulation and dissemination of radical ideas in the period by focusing on actors (“radical voices”) and a variety of written texts and cultural practices (“radical ways”), ranging from fiction, correspondence, pamphlets and newspapers to petitions presented to Parliament and toasts raised in public. It analyses the way these media interact with their political, religious, social and literary context. It adopts an interdisciplinary perspective and uses case studies as insights into the global picture of radical ideas.
Twelve friends of the late Mark Kishlansky reconsider the meanings of England’s mid-seventeenth-century revolution. Their essays range widely: from shipboard to urban conflicts; from court sermons to local finances; from debates over hairstyles to debates over the meanings of regicide; from courtrooms to pamphlet wars; and from religious rights to human rights. Taken together, these essays indicate how we might improve our understanding of a turbulent epoch in political history by approaching it more modestly and quietly than historians of recent decades have often done.
how to be a historian
The emergence of the
English Marxist historian’s scholarly persona:
the EnglishRevolution debate of 1940–41
Otto Sibum and Lorraine Daston define a persona as ‘a cultural identity
that simultaneously shapes the individual in body and mind and creates a
collective with a shared and recognizable physiognomy... creatures of historical circumstance; they emerge and disappear within specific contexts’.1
The Marxist historian is one such persona or social species which emerged
within specific contexts