David L. Smith
This chapter examines politics in England from the regicide of Charles I in 1649 to the restoration of Charles II in 1660. Its central theme is the persistent tension that existed between the army officers and the civilian politicians. This produced a troubled relationship between the army and successive parliaments, leading to a series of army interventions in politics—in 1648–9, 1653, 1654, and 1659—and a period of direct military rule by the Major-Generals in 1655–7. Over the Interregnum loomed the figure of Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector from 1653 until his death in 1658, whose political dominance owed much to his unique ability to straddle the worlds of the army officers and the civilian politicians. After his death, the disparate elements of the republic soon fell apart, and ironically it was a final army intervention in 1660 that paved the way for the return of the Stuart monarchy.
The Long-Term Consequences of the English Revolution: State Formation, Political Culture, and Ideology
This chapter argues that the second revolution of the seventeenth century, triggered by the invasion of William of Orange in 1688, should be seen as conceptually yoked to the first revolution of the 1640s and 1650s. The two revolutions should be seen as part of a linked process of revolution that lasted well into the early eighteenth century and which cumulatively had a major impact on politics, political thought, and the constitution. Seeing the two seventeenth-century revolutions as part of a revolutionary process, rather than as two separate ‘events’, enables analysis of themes, such as the development of the public sphere, partisan divisions, print culture, state formation, and religious toleration that spanned the two revolutions. The first revolution did not cause the second; but the second revolution addressed many of the issues left outstanding by the first.
Roundheads and Cavaliers—the categories may have started out as abuse, but they became so embedded in the history of seventeenth-century England that they seemed perfectly suited to organize mid-century politics, religion, and especially literary culture. But who were these royalists and Roundheads? How clearly do their books and their lives belong to one side or the other of civil conflict and revolution and Restoration? This chapter aims to replace a clear picture of mid-seventeenth-century century literature—and especially of its poetry—with a sense of the in-betweenness of its writings and writing lives. Sometimes, wrote Wittgenstein, a fuzzy image is exactly what we need—an image with more contingencies than certainties, an unsteady frame rather than schematic clarity, and notions of affiliation, patronage, and local interest rather than distinctive ideologies. This chapter is an attempt to provide that image.
In the century following the Henrician Reformation political practices developed which fundamentally shaped the way that the political crisis of the late 1630s unfolded. Courtiers, royal ministers, and churchmen took religious and political arguments to wider publics, feeding the circulation of arguments through gossip, manuscript circulation, public performance and petitions, and, increasingly, print. This created, cumulatively, a ‘post-Reformation public sphere’ in which debates about religious and political authority were closely bound together. Following from the way the Henrician Reformation had been brought about, explained, and enforced, controversies about religious practice intertwined with arguments about treason and political allegiance. Three standard narratives developed in this context: one anti-papistical, one anti-puritan, and one which could be spliced to either which centred the dangers of court corruption and evil counsel. These narratives and practices fundamentally shaped the political crisis after 1637, and the radicalization of English politics in the following decades.
This article considers the impact of Cromwell and his army on Ireland. Their reputations for savagery and dramatic initiatives were not underserved, but it is suggested that they were exaggerated. Once the island was returned to nominal English rule, government reverted to traditional priorities. The massive transfer of property and power from the Catholic Irish to Protestant newcomers had precedents and was completed only after 1691. Nevertheless, the animosities between victors and defeated were intensified during the period and would long shape both Irish politics and society and relations between Ireland and Britain.
Michael J. Braddick
This chapter explores royalists and parliamentarians military and political mobilization during the first civil war in England. Parties to the English civil war pursued an armed negotiation in which their military aims reflected their political strategy, but in doing so they made escalating political demands, which required continual legitimation. Moreover, as essentially defensive military manoeuvres gave way to active warfare, differences emerged over political aims and these were reflected in disagreements in turn about the military measures being taken. The need to build and sustain support in these conditions gave rise to new forms of argument, new grounds for disagreement, and new alliances. The conduct of the war was central to political innovation and hence to political argument. The analysis of political and military mobilization offers a way of understanding both the creativity of political thought in this period, and accelerated processes of state formation with considerable long-term significance.