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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.

The medical treatment of Parliament’s infantry commander following the battle of Naseby

such great lengths to keep Skippon alive, and the reasons why parliamentarian writers took such an intense interest in his medical treatment. Both issues were closely connected to the need to overcome residual political opposition to the formation of the New Model Army from within the parliamentarian alliance, and the wider need to secure outright victory over the royalists. ‘ 78 ‘Stout Skippon hath a wound’ Those in the House of Commons who had supported the New Model experiment were obliged to capitalise upon the victory at Naseby in whatever way they could and

in Battle-scarred
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1640s, both at Westminster and in the New Model Army. Their demands for religious toleration based on the coexistence of autonomous congregations were certainly anathema to the proponents of a religious settlement, members of the Church of England and of the Presbyterian church alike, who defended the idea of a national church as a bulwark against sectarianism. In the autumn of 1648, the Independents’ radicalism expressed itself mainly in political terms. The Independents opposed the Treaty of Newport as a mere diversion on the part of the King to outmanoeuvre

in Radical voices, radical ways
England’s freedom, soldiers’ rights

Chapter 5 . Levellers and the army: England’s freedom, soldiers’ rights O ver the course of the 1640s the parliamentarian coalition fragmented. The Leveller leaders played their parts in that play of faction, and had links, and for a long time backers, among the Independent group. The activities of the Leveller movement were one manifestation of the extension of parliamentarian politics beyond Parliament itself; but from 1647 a much more powerful extra-parliamentary political force mobilized: the New Model Army. Associated from its foundation with the

in The Levellers
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Wandering soldiers and the negotiation of parliamentary authority, 1642–51

army in 1642 were privately described as ‘runaway cowards’, one official declaring that he had ‘never seen such indisposition in men to the service in my life’.12 It is telling that the first assignment given to dragoons raised in Essex in 1643 was to herd hundreds of their impressed fellow countrymen north to the Eastern Association army.13 Parliament’s shift in emphasis from a regionalised war effort to a national one over the winter of 1644–45 exacerbated the problem. As money was diverted from regional armies to finance the New Model Army, cash-strapped local

in Battle-scarred

, Cromwell’s New Model Army finally defeated the Royalists at Naseby in 1645. ‘God made them as stubble to our swords,’ wrote Cromwell of his enemies. Thus, with strict discipline and high morale (singing psalms as they went into battle), Cromwell’s Munitions_04_Chap11-18 119 4/11/03, 10:46 120 Propaganda in the Age of Gunpowder and Printing troops captured the king in 1646 and imprisoned him for two years. With the war over, the various political factions began to jostle for power. But the king refused to accommodate Puritan demands and, once the Presbyterian and

in Munitions of the Mind
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Trade Although the Adventurers had withheld funds for Ireland during 1645 as the row with Clotworthy ran its course, they had quickly intervened when asked in March 1645 to provide emergency finance for Sir Thomas Fairfax’s New Model Army in England. 1 Thomas Andrews, John Dethwick, John Warner and Sir John Wollaston were among those appointed treasurers at war by parliament and urgently tasked with borrowing £80,000 from their sources in London. The money was raised quickly from the pool of merchants dominated by the leadership of Adventurers in Irish land

in Empire and enterprise
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constituency, but the overthrow of one constitution and the establishment of another could not be justified simply by God’s providence. The fact that the Levellers wanted a popularly subscribed Agreement of the People to ground the new constitution was a signal of their positive valuation of the people, and of secular reason as well as religious conscience. Again, the men of the New Model Army, along with the Levellers, were instrumental in the campaign which led to the death of Charles I. For some of the army men, there was great appeal in the Levellers’ sweeping depiction

in The Levellers
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Levellers and historians

has also taken newer directions which have been fruitful for the study of the Levellers. We now have a much fuller sense of the ways in which the Leveller leaders played a part in broader political networks, and of the intricacies of radical politics within the New Model Army, for example. But the Levellers have been diminished, too. Their importance and their distinctiveness have been played down, and readings of their thought have placed them within the revisionists’ 1640s by emphasizing their religious over their political motivations, or by bringing out

in The Levellers
Shirley’s and Davenant’s protectorate entertainments

the West Indies, The Cruelty of the Spaniards in Peru celebrates the idea of Cromwell’s government as the liberator of the peoples oppressed by Spanish colonial rule. Beginning with the Spanish discovery and conquest of Peru in the sixteenth century, the episodic narrative skips a century to prophesy that Cromwell’s red-coated New Model Army will relieve the Incas from their Hispanic foes. Both temporal and historical realities are thus suspended as the play moves from sixteenth-­ century colonialism to enact a prophetic future where Spanish occupation is ended. The

in Staging the revolution