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Jason Peacey

6  The parliamentary context of political radicalism in the English revolution Jason Peacey During at least certain moments of extreme political tension during the English revolution, 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

in Radical voices, radical ways
Robert M. Bliss

procedures or constitutional structures. This legislation tells us and warned colonists of the radical, transforming potential of the English Revolution. 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

in Revolution and empire
Kate Peters

radical religion in the English Revolution, which emphasised the collective failure of social and religious radicalism, as well as the shared eccentricity and unpopularity of radical sectaries in the 1650s. In this analysis, the mystical antinomianism and challenging social behaviour of Ranters, Quakers and other sectaries placed them beyond constitutional politics, provoking significant popular hostility and official repression, while sensationalising them in print vastly overstated their actual significance

in Stereotypes and stereotyping in early modern England
David Loewenstein

Montaigne was avidly read and quoted – and his ideas adapted – by at least one major radical puritan writer during the political and religious upheavals of the English Revolution. The Florio translation of his Essayes (1603), published in second and third editions respectively in 1613 and 1632, had a profound impact on William Walwyn (1600–81), the London merchant

in Insolent proceedings
Rethinking public politics in the English Revolution
Editors: and

These interdisciplinary essays explore new directions in the history of the English Revolution. They are designed to honour Ann Hughes, whose work has transformed scholarship on the mid-seventeenth century, and they are driven by the idea that historians have focused more upon the causes of the revolution than upon its course and consequences. In developing various strands of Hughes’ work, contributors address the transformative effects of political and religious upheaval during the 1640s and 1650s, and revise our understanding of ‘public politics’, in terms of the practices, debates, and communicative strategies associated with the ‘print revolution’, with polemic, and with the mobilisation of opinion. Crucially, these practices and debates are shown to have taken place in the public domain, in front of, but also with the involvement of, various overlapping and intersecting publics, right across the country. Examining these phenomena provides fresh perspectives on political and religious radicalism, from canonical authors to sectarian activists, as well as on relations between ‘centre’ and ‘locality’, and on connections between ideological endeavour and everyday politics. In bridging the divide between ‘elite’ and ‘popular’ politics, moreover, the essays also develop new approaches to participation, by soldiers and members of the parliamentarian army, by ordinary Londoners, and by provincial parishioners. Critically, they also analyse the involvement, agency, and treatment of women, from all walks of life, and in both activism and debate. Collectively, the essays rethink both the dynamic and the consequences of the revolutionary decades.

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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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Preaching, print and royalism during the English Revolution

The English Revolution was a catastrophic experience for the royalist clergy. Over the course of two tumultuous decades, they saw their king defeated and publicly executed, with his successor forced into exile. Meanwhile, the liturgy and government of their Church were systematically dismantled by parliament. Many found themselves silenced, ejected and even imprisoned at the hands of their enemies. This book examines one crucial way in which these conservative clergymen responded to the challenges posed by revolution: the preaching and printing of sermons. It argues that the upheavals of the 1640s and 1650s forced royalists to reassess earlier assumptions and practices in relation to sermon culture. Preaching was now recognised as an especially vital means of defending, shaping and propagating the king’s cause. As the nation descended into civil war, the clergy sought to influence both popular allegiance and elite decision making from the pulpit. But sermons were also particularly well suited to negotiating the conditions of censorship and persecution with which royalists were confronted as their opponents began to gain the ascendancy. The Lord’s Battle thus provides a valuable new perspective on Civil War preaching, which has traditionally been depicted as the sole preserve of parliamentarians and puritans. At the same time, it represents a significant contribution to understandings of royalist politics, religion and print culture during the seventeenth century.


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.

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Radical political thought in the English Revolution

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.