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Radical Parliamentarians and the English Civil War

Oxford University Press
Sep 2018

Radical Parliamentarians and the English Civil War charts the way the English civil war of the 1640s mutated into a revolution, in turn paving the way for the later execution of King Charles I and the abolition of the monarchy. Focusing on parliament's most militant supporters, David Como reconstructs the origins and nature of the most radical forms of political and religious agitation that erupted during the war, tracing the process by which these forms gradually spread and gained broader acceptance. Drawing on a wide range of manuscript and print sources, the study situates these developments within a revised narrative of the period, revealing the emergence of new practices and structures for the conduct of politics. In the process, the book illuminates the eruption of many of the period's strikingly novel intellectual currents, including assumptions and practices we today associate with western representative democracy; notions of retained natural rights, religious toleration, freedom of the press, and freedom from arbitrary imprisonment.

The study also chronicles the way that civil war shattered English protestantism--leaving behind myriad competing groupings, including congregationalists, baptists, antinomians, and others--while examining the relationship between this religious fragmentation and political change. It traces the gradual appearance of openly anti-monarchical, republican sentiment among parliament's supporters. Radical Parliamentarians and the English Civil War provides a new history of the English civil war, enhancing our understanding of the dramatic events of the 1640s, and shedding light on the long-term political and religious consequences of the conflict.