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date: 15 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article focuses on the Ranters, who have been described as ‘forming the extreme left wing of the sects’, both theologically and politically. Combining a ‘pantheistic mysticism and a crudely plebeian materialism’ with a ‘deep concern for the poor’ and a ‘primitive biblical communism’, the ‘Ranter Movement’ spectacularly manifested itself in late 1649, peaked the next year, and then splintered under the hammer of ‘savage repression’ Special attention is given to Abiezer Coppe (1619–72?), whom some contemporaries regarded as a fiery sectarian preacher turned diabolically possessed mad libertine. So blackened was Coppe's name that in the late eighteenth century he was still remembered as one of the wildest enthusiasts of a fanatical age. Nineteenth-century critics concurred with this verdict, calling Coppe a ‘strange enthusiast’ and the ‘great Ranter’.

Keywords: Ranters, literary critics, Abiezer Coppe, fanatics

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