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date: 11 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the role of the people in the English revolution. It argues that there was a discrepancy between pronouncements that denied the people a role in politics and a more complex reality in which the people held local office, participated in the policing of church and state, and were encouraged to believe that concern for the common good should inform the exercise of power by monarchs and magistrates. The civil war created a new space for popular politics. Mobilized by a strident anti-popery articulated in parliament, pulpit, and press, crowds engaged in episodes of iconoclasm and attacks on Catholics. Subscribing petitions and swearing state oaths encouraged a belief in the concept of the ‘free-born Englishman’. In conclusion, the chapter examines how far these developments and the emergence of radical political and religious groups created a political culture in which the people might think of themselves as citizens, not subjects.

Keywords: anti-popery, citizens, crowd, iconoclasm, Levellers, (the) people, petition, popular political culture, radical groups, state oaths

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