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Norah Carlin

Marxism and the English Civil War

(Autumn 1980)

From International Socialism 2 : 10, Autumn 1980, pp. 106–128.
Transcribed by Marven James Scott, with thanks to the Lipman-Miliband Trust.
Marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

It is hard for a teacher or student of the English Civil War in 1980 not to feel that Marxism is under siege with supplies running out. The big guns of the academic establishment thunder ceaselessly against it, and even articles in supposedly left-wing journals proclaim that Marxism is dead. [1]

Forty years ago, it was not so. The big guns were, of course, lined up against Marxism, but they were horse-drawn artillery compared with the nuclear rearmament which has since taken place. Right-wing historiography rested then on the two long-standing traditions of the ‘Whig interpretation’ – which saw the Civil War as an essentially progressive struggle for liberty against tyranny – and the ‘Puritan Revolution’ caused by the development of a system of ideas. Academic attitudes to Marxism were tolerant rather than vicious: a young American student who declared to his tutor that the Civil War was a class struggle was met with the bland response, ‘Of course, but what else?’ [2]

The ‘New History’ which has grown up especially in the last twenty years makes no bones about its hostility to Marxism. In the 1950s, the most vicious attacks on the Marxist interpretation of the Civil War (by Hugh Trevor-Roper, as right-wing politically and as nasty personally as you could hope or fear to find) nevertheless offered an alternative explanation in terms of social conflict, namely the struggle of the impoverished gentry against the overgrown Renaissance state. But from the mid-1960s it became right-wing orthodoxy to deny that the Civil War was a class conflict at all. By 1973, the introduction to a widely-used textbook by Conrad Russell could claim that ‘For the time being ... social change explanations of the English Civil War must be regarded as having broken down.’ Lest anyone should think that that places the burden of providing an alternative explanation on the shoulders of right-wing historians, the task of explanation is either postponed until we have enough new biographies of seventeenth-century politicians and studies of day-to-day debates in Parliament; or cynically denied altogether. One historian has even taken Marxists to task for ‘over-explaining the phenomena of the past’. ‘We must allow,’ he says, ‘for the role of sheer muddle and misunderstanding in history.’ [3]

Two views of the Civil War are, however, commonly regarded as explanations among anti-Marxists. One is that it resulted from the growth of factions, based on personalities and personal connections, among the ruling class; the other is that war was precipitated in 1642 by local interests and local rivalries in particular provincial areas. Both these provide plenty of scope for young academics to engage in ‘original research’. (Craftism has gone so far in academic circles that one Marxist article has been attacked for using ‘only printed sources’.) Both say a great deal about how, but nothing about why, such conflicts developed.

The Marxist response to this retooling of conservative ideology has been inadequate in several ways. First there is the actual shortage of Marxist contributions to the argument. Since Christopher Hill entered the field in 1940 with his essay, The English Revolution, 1640 (part of a Communist Party education pamphlet, reissued separately in 1955 and still widely read and enjoyed by socialists), he has dominated it completely.

Hill left the Communist Party in 1957 after playing a not very glorious role on the Commission for Inner-Party Democracy, and ended up as Master of Balliol College, Oxford. [4] Given the nasty and personalised tone of the right-wing attack, it is hardly surprising that defending Hill should come to be almost a significant activity in itself, yet the striking fact is that when a collection of essays by former pupils of his was got together to mark his retirement at the end of the 1970s, not one article made any explicit reference to Marxism, only one contributor (Brian Manning) could be regarded as in any sense a Marxist, and several (including the advocate of muddle quoted above) were openly anti-Marxist. There is something rather odd about ‘Britain’s greatest Marxist historian’ (as he is constantly described in journals such as New Left Review and History Workshop) raising no successors.

The other major influence on the Marxist orthodoxy of the last forty years has been R.H. Tawney’s work on the rise of the gentry. Though Tawney did not see himself as a Marxist, he identified the English Civil War as a bourgeois revolution; but in his version the bourgeois revolution was made by and for the landed gentry. Whatever the precedents for this view in passing remarks by Marx or Engels, Tawney’s treatment of the question has caused utter havoc for the class interpretation of the English Civil War. It has shaped the development of right-wing history, in the concern to deny it, as well as the stagnation of Marxist history in the concern to defend it.

It is only recently that Marxist history has begun to turn away from this obsession with the gentry and begun to focus again on the role of the masses and of radical movements such as the Diggers, Levellers and Ranters. A.L. Morton’s The World of the Ranters (1970) and Hill’s The World Turned Upside Down (1972) provide exciting new accounts of the opposition to the bourgeois revolution from within, while Brian Manning’s The English People and the English Revolution (1976) shows that the revolutionary situation of 1640–42 was created by peasants, artisans and workers in action more than by Parliamentary factions.

Yet there is, even in this area, an alarming absence of explicitly Marxist explanation. Manning, for example, states his position on the nature of the class struggle in the Civil War in nine lines of his preface, and in a form which makes it almost impossible to recognise it as Marxist. Left-wing historians seem more concerned to establish their impartial use of evidence than to engage in the development of a Marxist understanding of the class struggle.

The gentry

The gentry were, in origin, simply the mass of the feudal landowning class in England, where only the upper crust of this class had distinctive ‘noble’ titles. Both Marx and Engels suggested that the development of commodity production in agriculture in sixteenth-century England and the two-way social mobility between the gentry and the bourgeoisie made the gentry natural allies of the bourgeoisie in the revolution.

Tawney’s thesis went much further than this. According to Tawney, the gentry were a revolutionary social class in themselves: a distinct social class, fundamentally opposed to the old ‘aristocratic’ ruling class; the revolution was made by and for them. [5]

But it is in fact very hard to separate ‘gentry’ from ‘aristocracy’ as distinct social classes. Their sources of wealth were the same – land, with an admixture of trade and office-holding. ‘Traditional’ and ‘commercial’ attitudes to wealth (which Tawney proposes as an essential difference between the two) are found equally on both sides of the barrier of noble title. In terms of power, noble and gentle landowners shared the ruling positions in provincial society, both had access to positions at court, and they even (as Lords and Commons, both in opposition to Charles I in 1640) shared Parliament. Mobility between the two groups was very common, for a gentleman could easily be made a lord (under James I, he could even directly buy the title), while a lord’s younger sons were automatically mere gentlemen. The gentry were, it seems, born and bred members of the existing ruling class under the Stuart monarchy.

The ‘rise of the gentry’ thus becomes a gaping trap for Marxists into which perhaps only Perry Anderson of New Left Review has jumped with both feet. For Anderson, the English Civil War was ‘a “bourgeois revolution” only by proxy’, because it was made by a section of the ruling class. [6] But if a bourgeois revolution can be made by proxy from above, can a proletarian revolution? If a section of the ruling class could break the last bonds of feudalism on behalf of the bourgeoisie, could not a section of the bourgeoisie set up socialism on behalf of the working class?

The way out of this situation lies in a re-examination of the actual role of the gentry in the English Civil War – the very task at which the New Historians have been beavering away in the belief that they were destroying Marxism.

There is no doubt that the gentry did play the leading role in the preliminary crisis of 1640: they dominated the House of Commons, and the concessions they demanded of Charles I – the ‘constitutional revolution’ and the execution of his chief ministers – were major ones, resulting from the bitterness of the opposition to the King’s policies that had grown up during his eleven years’ rule without Parliament.

There is also no doubt that the previous hundred years had seen a major redistribution of landed property, which had benefitted the gentry at the expense both of the peasantry and of the Crown and peerage, and that this had put the gentry in a very strong position to challenge Charles I’s ham-fisted attempts at establishing an absolute monarchy.

What is not so clear is that the gentry’s position was a revolutionary one. Although their appeals to ‘liberty and property’ have a bourgeois ring about them, the terms in which the gentry defended their ‘liberties’ (the word also means privileges) were conservative: they claimed to be defending the old order against dangerous innovation. This has been described as a ‘smokescreen’ or a ‘block in the mind’ concealing really revolutionary aims; perhaps it should be taken more literally.

One of the main themes of gentry opposition to Charles I was resentment at his interference with their role as ‘natural leaders’ in the countryside. In administration, justice, military and financial matters, early Stuart attempts at a more rational enforcement of central policy elicited die-hard opposition from the Justices of the Peace and their network of county gentry support. Nor did they overcome this dislike of centralisation in the heat of revolution: gentry opposition to Parliamentary ‘tyranny’ during and after the Civil War took up some of the same themes as opposition to royal tyranny before it. Opposition to the centralised state is rather a strange role for a class credited with carrying out the historic tasks of the bourgeois revolution. [7]

Had the English gentry, in fact, broken with the old feudal order? Since Marx himself it has been argued that the nature of landowning in England had already, in the early seventeenth century, been transformed from feudal into bourgeois property. Agrarian relations in England had indeed set out on the long road leading to eighteenth-century agribusiness, but they were still at an early stage of the transformation. Indeed, the gentry still clung to their feudal rights in land – they would not hear of copyhold tenure (the last form of feudal tenure) being abolished when in 1646 their own feudal burdens were removed – because they could still use them to screw extra income out of their peasants, by grabbing common land and wastes, rack-renting hereditary tenants, and harassing cottagers. Marx’s later remarks on the evolution of ground-rent suggest that there is room for interpreting the state of affairs in the seventeenth century as transitional rather than the completion of the process. [8]

Tawney and others have argued that the gentry had broken free of the old power structure of feudalism, that they were no longer tied to the aristocracy by clientage and military power. Yet it is evident that when the Civil War broke out, long-established networks of patronage and clientage among the gentry and aristocracy operated in many countries to polarise the gentry into Royalists and Parliamentarians. The Tudors had indeed tried to eliminate the power of the ‘overmighty subject’ in the counties; it does not seem that they permanently succeeded, for in 1642 England was teeming with powerful aristocratic connections. The role of the House of Lords in precipitating the crisis (for example, by refusing to accept an Assembly of Peers as a substitute for Parliament) has certainly been underestimated.

The biggest problem about the gentry as a class, however, is that when the Civil War came in 1642, they played as a class an overwhelmingly counter-revolutionary role. Keen as they may have been to oppose the king in 1640, when it came to seizing the armed power of the state in 1642, the majority of the gentry either supported the Crown or attempted to prevent the outbreak of war. The ‘pure country gentlemen’, those not regularly involved in national politics through Parliament or the JPs’ bench, were the first to desert the opposition, but in some counties there was an almost complete turn-around of the MPs from opposition in 1640 to royalism in 1642. Forty per cent of the House of Commons itself opposed Parliament in the Civil War, despite the fact that MPs were the most involved, the most committed of the gentry. [9]

Nor was the gentry royalism confined to the ‘feudal’ north and west. Outside the East Anglian counties, which were effectively tied up by their Parliamentarian leaders despite initial hesitation, no county in England was without a substantial royalist party among the gentry, and across the country the war was widely recognised as a social struggle against the landowning class as a whole.

There were, of course, exceptions to the royalism of the gentry. Without the Parliamentarian gentry (and peers, who were a substantial minority of the House of Lords) the struggle would never have got off the ground. These gentry fall into two, probably overlapping, categories. First, there was a group of two or three great ‘connections’ excluded from power by Charles I, who saw themselves as an alternative leadership of the nation which had to be forced on the king (all other methods having failed) by a show of arms. These included the aristocratic generals who in 1644 were accused of not wanting an outright victory.

The other group who supported Parliament were from the lesser gentry (such as Oliver Cromwell himself), often with a commitment to the Independent, parochial-congregationalist form of Puritanism, and with a surprisingly deep hostility to aristocratic domination. They were to play an extremely important part in the revolution, but their prominence has blinded many historians to the conservatism of the gentry as a whole.

A serious re-examination of the role of the gentry by Marxists could disarm the ‘New History’ completely and refocus our attention where it rightly belongs: on the bourgeoisie and the exploited classes.

The bourgeoisie

The English bourgeoisie had not prepared or initiated the crisis of 1640 to the extent that the gentry had. They enjoyed little direct political influence, Parliament and the counties being dominated by the gentry.

Despite certain issues which could unite most of the bourgeoisie, such as customs duties, the main concern of most sectors of the merchant and manufacturing classes was corporate privilege. The largest and most powerful bourgeois institution, the Corporation of the City of London, regarded its own privileges as paramount, and was prepared to negotiate its own compromises with the monarchy. The privileges of competing interest groups disunited the bourgeoisie, for they were often readier to see other sections as the main enemy rather than the system as a whole. [10]

In the pre-revolutionary decade of the 1630s, the bourgeoisie showed distinct signs of being bought off by Charles I’s plausibly mercantilist policies: it should not be forgotten that absolutism was a system which offered the bourgeoisie a deal, and to many it may have seemed an acceptable one. [11] The availability of social promotion through wealth – the passage of merchant families into the gentry – probably had a depoliticising effect, the permeation of the existing system by individuals diverting attention from the class issues.

When the Civil War came in 1642, there were royalist bourgeois just as there were Parliamentarian gentry. Virtually the whole of the existing leadership of the City of London had to be ousted to bring the City on to Parliament’s side; the Newcastle coal cartel, the Corporation of Chester (still a major port), and some of the Bristol merchants supported the King; even the merchant clothiers of Leeds (who were big entrepreneurs compared with the master artisans of neighbouring Bradford) were initially royalists. [12]

All this has led not only the New Historians, but even some Marxists, to dismiss the pre-industrial bourgeoisie as a revolutionary class, redefining them as part of the ‘ruling elite in late feudal society. [13]

Of course the bourgeoisie was split in 1642 – Charles I was not so incompetent that he could not buy off anyone at all – but the majority were clearly on the side of Parliament. If the cream of London’s merchant community proved delinquent, there were plenty of merchants and manufacturers (the description of these as ‘second rank bourgeoisie’ is misleading, for they were all big businessmen) to take over the City. The merchants of provincial ports (with the exception only of a few concessionnaires) blamed a hundred years of London dominance on royal policy; most cloth manufacturers similarly resented the attention paid to London commercial interests over local manufacturing, especially in the West. In certain provincial towns such as Birmingham, centre of the arms manufacture, and Northampton, specialising in boots and horse-trading, there was not a moment’s hesitation. [14]

There was not a straight split between mercantile and manufacturing capital in the Civil War, though provincial manufacturers do seem to have been most enthusiastic for war in 1642. The most revolutionary section of the London bourgeoisie included several individuals with manufacturing as well as trading interests, but what distinguished them more clearly was interest in the newer colonial trades which brought them into a clash with the monopolies of some of the older trading companies. [15] Trading and manufacturing activities were not at this time very distinct: individual capitalists tended to spread their interests, and trading in manufactured products could be the prelude to acquiring an entrepreneurial interest in their production.

Some backtracking by the bourgeoisie took place during the course of the revolution. In 1646–7, the London bourgeoisie tried to mount a full-scale counter-revolution which could have resulted in the victory of the Presbyterian party and the return of the King. It has been claimed that this was because even the ‘new men’ in the London leadership of 1642 were more sympathetic to the King all along. But a close study of religious and social politics in London during the Civil War has shown that a substantial section of the London bourgeoisie were genuinely committed to the presbyterian form of church government (just about the only people in England who were), because they saw it as a bulwark against social anarchy. In 1647, they were prepared to compromise with the King (in the vain hope that he might compromise with them in turn) rather than give Independency in the City and army its head. Only a militant minority of the bourgeoisie, in London and elsewhere, supported the revolution of 1649, when the King was executed, but they rallied to support of the republic once it was established, and the Commonwealth of 1649–51 is recognised as the most bourgeois government in English history before 1906. [16]

The tactics of the bourgeoisie were shaped by the fact that they were fighting on two fronts: against reaction from above and radical revolution from below. Their economic and political aims were essentially moderate, appropriate to the pre-industrial economy rather than to the aggressive free-trading industrial capitalism of the future. They did not wish to do away with all privilege, corporate organisation and state direction. The merchant Lewes Roberts put it neatly in 1647: ‘A few privileges, a little protection, a fair aspect and a gentle encouragement’ was what the bourgeoisie expected of Parliament. [17] In 1642 they recognised revolution, which had come upon them rather unexpectedly, as the best way to achieve their aims, but they retained their fear of going too far and encouraging others to fight for a different kind of revolution, one which might put obstacles in the way of the development of capitalism.

The revolt of the exploited classes

The vanguard of the revolution in 1642 was neither the gentry nor the bourgeoisie, but those classes which in late feudal society were exploited, or threatened with exploitation, by both. Brian Manning has described how the political situation was transformed between 1640 and 1642 by a massive popular revolt: it was this that polarised the gentry and bourgeoisie into those who thought they could take over and control the upsurge and those who saw support of the king as much the lesser evil.

Peasant revolts, refusal of rent, the ransack of great country houses, and cries of ‘Bread’ mingled with those of ‘Justice’ – all these took place in the English Revolution as well as in the French. In so far as they have been noticed at all, these scenes of popular violence have traditionally been regarded as stage-managed by the Parliamentary leaders, but it is clear from Manning’s account that the leaders of the ‘popular party’ had taken the lid off a cauldron of class struggle which they had not brewed and could hardly keep from engulfing them altogether. [18]

Who were these people who forced the bourgeoisie and the gentry minority into revolution, and what were their struggles? The masses who revolted in 1640–42, and the radical political movements to which this revolt gave birth, have been variously described by Marxists as ‘the petty bourgeoisie’, ‘the middling sort of people’, ‘independent small producers’ and ‘plebeian elements.’ ‘Petty bourgeoisie’ is misleading, for it suggests a mere junior division of the bourgeoisie with essentially the same interests. ‘The middling sort’ was used at the time, and has been used ever since, to blur the distinction between the bourgeoisie and their allies from the lower classes. ‘Plebeian’ has the same effect, and it seems pointless to borrow a term from Ancient Rome which meant simply non-aristocratic.

Many of those who took part in the revolt of 1640–42, in the New Model Army during the war and in radical movements later, were indeed independent small producers. In feudal society, the small producer enjoyed ownership or possession of the means of production, and wage-labour was typically a temporary or supplementary source of livelihood – for the near-landless peasant family, for the journeyman on his way to being an independent master craftsman, and even for domestic servants, who saved their wages for marriage and a household of their own. Under capitalism, wage-labour has become the norm, and the independent small producer exists only in competition with large-scale capitalist production. England in the seventeenth century was in transition from feudalism to capitalism, and the separation of the labourer from the means of production was the crucial issue for the development of the capitalist mode of production. As Marx recognised, this proletarianisation of the labour force preceded the accumulation of capital on a large scale: it was the essence of ‘so-called primary accumulation’ or ‘the first revolutionising period of feudal production’. [19]

The independent small producers were therefore being divided into potential exploiters of labour on a larger scale, and exploited labour losing its former independence. In so far as such small producers saw themselves as potential capitalists, there was no problem about the bourgeois revolution: their main enemy was the system of privilege and monopoly which prevented them from competing freely to appropriate the surplus value of others’ labour. But in so far as small producers could see themselves becoming exploited labour, they were resisting the development of capitalism as well as the continuation of feudalism.

Both these tendencies existed in the revolt of the small producers in the 1640s; but it is only as a revolt against exploitation that it helps to explain what happened once the war was over. First of all, however, it is necessary to show the background to the revolt in the social conflicts of the previous forty years.

In the countryside, the long transition from feudal to capitalist exploitation was not proceeding smoothly, despite the absence of major peasant revolts for about a century. Anti-enclosure riots took on a new lease of life in the early seventeenth century, with major outbreaks in 1607, 1621 and 1631, while the draining of the Fenlands by capitalist contractors to the benefit of the feudal proprietors built up a huge head of peasant resistance which was released explosively in 1640. The polarisation of agrarian society into better-off commercial farmers and landless or near-landless labourers was breaking up the old peasant community into mutually hostile classes. Even in the ‘backward areas’, rural society was not so harmonious as is often imagined: once the Civil War started there were tenants even in the North and West who fought for Parliament against royalist landlords, and there was widespread refusal of rent. [20]

In the towns and in rural industry, the economic crisis of 1639–40 brought to the surface the growing dependence of the artisan on merchant and manufacturing capital. Already in many towns there was a history of organised resistance by craftsmen to the oligarchies of merchants and manufacturers who monopolised political and economic power, while in the Livery Companies of London, rank-and-file craftsmen demanded an end to the privileges of big employers. In East Anglia, where most clothworkers were dependent on merchant entrepreneurs, the latter petitioned the King in 1642 because ‘the cries for food of many thousands of poor, who depend on this trade, do continually press us, not without threats, and some beginnings of mutinies.’ [21]

It is often asserted that the working class as such took no part in the English Revolution, either because it was too small or because economic dependence and extreme poverty made wage-earners passive. The number of proletarians was in fact very large, and not confined to London. Already in the 1520s wage-earners amounted to over a third of the population of the largest provincial towns. In 1688, Gregory King put the proportion of labourers’ families in the population at 26.8%, and ‘cottagers’ and ‘paupers’ families’ (many of whom would be wage earners) at 29.4%; the figures for the 1640s would probably be a little lower, since proletarianisation went on increasing during and after the Civil War. The number of propertyless was even greater than the number of actual wage-earners, for unemployment, underemployment and the destitution of small producers were widespread. [22]

It is clear that despite the protestations of the ‘middling sort of people’ and Parliamentarian leaders that all their supporters were respectable householders, large numbers of wage-earners must have taken part in the riots and demonstrations of the period. Unfortunately, the bias of contemporary propaganda is compounded by that of recent historians, both Marxist and non-Marxist, who seem determined to belittle working-class participation. [23]

The main targets of popular violence in 1640–42 were the King, the bishops and the royalist aristocracy and gentry. Parliamentarian propagandists worked hard to keep these targets on line. There were anxious moments, however, especially in Essex when the Colchester mob acquired a taste for ransacking country houses and seemed disinclined to draw the line at royalist country houses. Clothworkers’ economic problems were blamed on the bishops (of all people): one petition after another demanded the exclusion of the bishops from Parliament as a cure for the decay of trade and falling wages. What would happen when the bishops, the lords and even the King fell but exploitation still grew, was the problem in store for the Parliamentarian leaders.

Puritanism: the limits of ideology

Religion has long been regarded as the binding force which held together the complex class alliance of the Parliamentarians in the Civil War. Paradoxically, it was also what divided the wartime allies as soon as victory was in sight: almost before the first Civil War was over, Puritanism began to disintegrate into competing tendencies.

What, then, was Puritanism? It has recently been stressed that as a movement, Puritanism came into existence only in the 1630s, in opposition to Laud’s attempt to force the Anglican church into an exclusively hierarchical, anti-Calvinist, sacramentalist and ceremonial mould. There was no direct connection between the Presbyterian movement of Elizabeth’s reign and the Puritanism of the 1630s; in the intervening period, there had been no organised opposition within the Anglican church because the official policy had been one of integration and comprehension. The Puritan movement of the 1630s also differed from the earlier opposition in that it was a substantially lay movement, and was broader and more heterogeneous. Opposition to Laud’s policies united under the banner of Puritanism a wide variety of aims and opinions, from those of conservative Calvinists with no objection to bishops in principle to sectarians who recognised no true church but their own splinter group. [24]

Yet many writers, including the Marxist mainstream, have identified Puritanism as a coherent body of opinion, relating to political opposition and social reform, as well as to religion, morality and church government, existing from some time in the sixteenth century until well after the Restoration in 1660. For Marxists, as for Weber, the core of this body of ideas is an ideology of the rising bourgeoisie. Though Weber’s treatment of English Puritanism is superficial in the extreme, being based mainly on the writings of one Puritan minister looking back after the Restoration, the major Marxist writers have agreed with his basic identification of Puritanism with the ‘spirit of capitalism’. In so far as there has been any shift, it is towards stressing the particular appeal of Puritanism to the ‘middling sort’ or ‘industrious sort of people’, the independent small producers. [25]

Clearly, there is plenty of material to be found in English Protestant writing of the century or so before the Civil War which fits the classic definition of Puritanism: the doctrine of the calling, which placed a spiritual value on economic activity; the hard-work ethic of ‘godly discipline’; the stress on the individual conscience; and the doctrine of an inner, spiritual elite which challenged the privileges of the existing aristocracy.

Yet within the Puritan tradition, as within the actual movement of the 1630s, there were widely differing views of society, let alone of church government, which would seem to suggest that there were all along several distinct class positions within Puritanism. Almost every doctrine identified with Puritanism meant different things to different classes.

There was, for example, a gentry and even aristocratic Puritanism which had little or nothing to do with the supposedly capitalist spirit of English landowners. English landed gentlemen, like the French feudal nobility of the previous century, identified themselves with the ‘godly magistrate’ of Calvinist tradition, and Puritanism therefore became for them an additional argument in favour of their traditional role as ‘natural rulers’ of the countryside. Among the traditions they were defending were their role as parish patrons with the power to appoint the clergy, and the role of Parliament in legislating religious settlements since Henry VIII. They saw Laud’s attempt to revive the authority of the bishops and clergy as a dangerous innovation for the Anglican church. After all, as one Puritan peer put it, many of these clergy, and even bishops, were ‘ex faece plebis ...’ of the lowest of the people (literally ‘from the shit of the people’). Many of the royalist gentry continued to press for ‘godly reformation’ even though they supported the King, and the same demand is found in some of the Clubmen’s revolts of 1645. [26]

The Puritanism of the bourgeoisie was more or less of the classic type. Anti-hierarchical and anti-aristocratic, bourgeois Puritans saw the responsibility for discipline in society properly belonging to themselves as elders of congregations, members of town corporations and organisers of a system of poor relief which encouraged hard work and discouraged idleness. The London bourgeoisie especially favoured the Presbyterian system of church discipline, with its tight moral and social control.

But some ‘bourgeois’ Puritan ideas were to prove double-edged, and go some way towards providing an ideology of resistance to capitalism. One was the celebrated ‘protestant ethic’ of hard work and devotion to the secular calling. The importance of this set of ideas to early modern capitalists, before the industrial revolution, has never been adequately expressed. It had little or nothing to do with the future discipline of the factory or the fact that machines and mines require unbroken work: ideas do not anticipate material reality, and large-scale investment in such means of production was a rarity in seventeenth-century England. [27] It had everything to do with the fact that mercantile capitalism in this period was moving towards the manufacturing stage – that is, it was beginning to appropriate surplus value directly from the small producer – without having discovered the technological means to seize control of the production process itself. It was impossible to impose work-discipline by force on dozens or hundreds of cottage workers at a time, all the less so if they were scattered over a rural area, unlike the Flemish ‘factory towns’ of the middle ages. The ideology of discipline and self-regulated hard work was basically a productivity drive in the interests of merchant capital. The ‘wasted’ labour time of pre-industrial society, with its slow and halting rhythms of work, must be put to good productive use so as to increase surplus value and the capitalist’s profits.

But to the small independent producer, the flood of tracts and sermons on the dignity of labour, the ungodliness of rich idle drones, and the importance of self-discipline, could carry another message. If the small producer was such a morally and socially valuable member of society, why should he be exploited? Should his independence not, rather, be protected and guaranteed against wage-slavery? The Leveller ideal was the small, independent producer, and the Diggers showed a horror of wage-slavery, which carried the ‘Protestant ethic’ to a different class conclusion from the one for which it originated. The Ranters, of course, went much further – to them the hireling was simply a fool – but their challenge grew out of that same Protestant individualism, that reliance on inner conviction, to which the Puritan writers had seemed to appeal. [28]

Puritans of different classes also differed in their views of democracy, in both church and state. It has been argued that Puritanism as such created modern radical politics – an argument which starts off by explicitly denying the importance of ‘tiny sects on the left wing’. [29] But there were many different Puritan views on church government and its relation to the state, hardly any of them – outside the ‘tiny sects’ – bearing any direct relationship to modern ideas of democracy. This was because – again outside the ‘tiny sects’ – all Puritans were Calvinists, who believed in an inner elite of those predestined to be saved. Each form of church government was defended sometimes as a model of ‘liberty’ and sometimes as ‘aristocratical’ (in the sense of allowing the true aristocracy of the spirit to rule). Most gentry and bourgeois Puritans, including Oliver Cromwell in his first speech to the Long Parliament, explicitly denied that parity in religion had any connection with parity (equality) in the state. [30]

The Presbyterians were the most clearly elitist of the Puritans. Their elders were to be chosen from among the most substantial members of the congregation, with control from above in a series of regional councils dominated by the clergy. The congregation had only a veto over the minister proposed by the local classes, and ultimately lay control was assured by control by Parliament, not by the laity at the grass roots. This was to be a national, established church, with no toleration of alternatives and with the power to excommunicate. This was the position of the big bourgeoisie in London, and of some of the gentry.

The Independents, on the other hand, stressed the autonomy of the congregation; they also had a system of lay eldership drawn from the more substantial members. But there were within Independency two class positions, not one. The first is the position of the Independent gentry, who saw the autonomous congregation as essentially the parish congregation within a national, established church under Parliamentary control; toleration they regarded as a necessary exercise of charity towards harmless minorities. Most of the Independent gentry found a modus vivendi within the weak Presbyterian system set up by Parliament in 1646. What they could not accept was any break-up of the parish by abolishing tithes, as the Barebones Parliament proposed to do. The parish was the centre of rural life, of local government and of gentry influence: its autonomy would suit the Independent gentry very well, but its disappearance not at all. [31]

The other wing of Independency was urban and bourgeois. It had its roots in the ‘gathered churches’ of London, whose membership was voluntary and which had an ambiguous attitude to co-existence with the parish system. The members of these churches were said to be well-heeled citizens and they were accused of ‘scumming the parish congregations of most of their wealthy and zealous members’, and they seem to have solved the problem of equality within the congregation by discouraging social inferiors from joining. Their ministers did their best to maintain the ambiguity of their position, allying even with the Presbyterians for a while. ‘Accommodation’ (toleration) within the established church was what they hoped for, and what the Independent gentry were prepared to allow them. They were not committed to democracy in the state, and did the Levellers a great deal of damage (as will be seen below) by denouncing them in the summer of 1647.

The openly sectarian congregations of London, on the other hand, called for complete voluntarism in religion. Leaders of wholly separatist congregations, such as the formidable Katherine Chidley, would have no truck with the established ministry or even with parish church buildings. They recruited women, servants, apprentices and minors without the permission of fathers, husbands and masters. Their preachers were ‘gifted’ members of the congregation, and their meetings were often free-for-all discussions. It was from this milieu that the leaders of the Levellers, Diggers, Ranters and Fifth Monarchists came, though their close relations with the semi-separatist churches gave them a much broader field to work in. [32]

’Puritanism’, therefore, was and is a cover-all term for views which in reality could be not only different but antithetical. As an ideology, Puritanism certainly aspired to ‘autonomy’: it was presented as a set of principles and aspirations in the interests of all classes, ‘above society’. In the political crisis of 1640, it did succeed in uniting diverse elements in a common platform of opposition to the King, but the effect did not last long. Puritan ideology was not the arbiter of class conflict but its slave: each class tried to appropriate its whole being and make it work entirely for it.

The final result was the abandonment of attempts to use religion as a political platform for a long time to come. By 1660, Puritanism was dead and religion was retiring to its place in private life. Though class affiliations to particular churches (Anglican and Nonconformist) remained, religious belief came to be seen as a concern of the individual, irrelevant to political and economic life.

Anti-capitalist struggle

The emergence of democratic ideas required in the end a break with Puritanism. Political reform had to become not just a means to enable the godly elite to rise to the surface, but an end in itself.

The negative demonstration of this is provided by the Fifth Monarchists, a millenarian group prominent in the Barebones Parliament of 1653. Their political perspective was simply elitist: the godly rulers might as well be selected by the godly general, Cromwell, as chosen in any other way, because any electoral process would give equal rights to sinners with saints. Yet the Fifth Monarchists had, it appears, substantial support among artisans, labourers, journeymen and servants. Spiritual elitism does have its radical side: the saint is as likely (and perhaps even more likely) to be a weaver as a lord. It also emerged in the course of the Barebones Parliament that many Fifth Monarchists saw the task of the chosen few as being to implement radical social reforms: the regime that was to await the Second Coming of Christ was to be an era of social justice, equality, and even a redistribution of property according to some. The Barebones Parliament rapidly collapsed, because the spiritual elitism which had endeared the Fifth Monarchists to Cromwell had concealed more than it revealed. [33]

The Levellers, however, broke with Puritan politics and even with Puritan language to develop a secular and democratic perspective. Their main social base was the independent small producer, and their most important achievement was their intervention in the army in 1647, which forced Cromwell and the army officers at least to listen to them for a few months. Their programme, designed to separate political power from wealth, foreshadowed the nineteenth century People’s Charter, and their organisation in the City of London on a ward-by-ward basis – with weekly subscriptions, a central committee, a regular newspaper and door-to-door canvassing – was the seed from which all grassroots organisations were to spring. [34]

Yet the reputation of the Levellers has fallen low in the ‘orthodox’ Marxist version in the last twenty years. The view that they were not such radical democrats after all, that they would have denied the vote to the whole of the working class, and that their political theory foreshadows bourgeois rather than socialist thought, originated with C.P. Macpherson in 1962. It is still propagated by Christopher Hill among others. Coupled with this is the idea that Leveller democracy was premature because the potential electorate was backward and even reactionary. [35]

On the question of the franchise, it has been shown several times over that the Levellers did not in general regard wage-earning or poverty as a disqualification from voting – whatever modifications and compromises may have been attempted by individuals on particular occasions. It has also been shown that the idea of a wider franchise did not come out of the back of the Levellers’ heads: their achievement was to generalise and provide a theoretical justification for a struggle which had been going on for at least forty years in particular disputes over particular elections to wring recognition of householders’ rights out of Parliaments anxious to prove they had popular support. [36]

The Levellers’ stress on economic independence and the rights of small property was not anti-working class. On the contrary, it shows an acute awareness of the problem of proletarianisation, which emerges in their writings on general social problems. The poor should be rescued from their propertyless state by returning to them the charitable endowments stolen by the rich and the clergy; the Fens should be drained to the benefit of the poor and not the rich; the poor should elect their own commissioners to provide for them. ‘It is very strange to my understanding,’ said a Leveller pamphleteer, ‘that one man should do the work, and another man receive the wages; I mean, that the honest clothier who has toiled much in the making of his cloth ... is cheated of the fruit of his labour.’ The Levellers wanted to restore independence to as many as possible of those who had lost it; to assume that the ‘the propertyless found the Leveller programme inadequate’, as most Marxists have done, is to forget the appeal of small property (especially in land, as in twentieth-century revolutions) to those who have not got it. [37]

The Levellers’ idea of a just society was one in which the rise of capitalism would be stopped dead in its tracks, without return to feudalism. It is a commonplace among Marxists that such a society could not survive: competition among small property owners would polarise society into the exploiters and the exploited, given a market for commodity production such as certainly existed at the time. Yet the Levellers seemed unaware of this. They did not explicitly approve of competition, and they clearly had a very broad notion of unfair competition (‘monopoly’) extending far beyond the conventional criticisms of courters’ monopolies. Their stress was on a decent livelihood for all rather than the untrammelled pursuit of profit. Yet none of them suggested an upper limit on private property (an idea current at the time) as a solution.

This was because the Levellers thought they had found the answer to exploitation in a redistribution of political power. They assumed that it was political power that gave the rich economic power, and not vice versa. Their various proposals for annual elections, bans on re-election, and special commissioners to hear complaints against elected representatives, were designed to prevent the concentration of political power.

The use the Levellers made of conventional political ideas such as the social compact and the sovereignty of the people was also a radical departure from their mainly symbolic use by the apologists of the republican regime such as Milton and Cromwell. The most radical of the republicans were prepared to say that Charles I had broken his ‘trust’; only the Levellers were advocating starting all over again with a new social contract which would be an actual document to be signed by all citizens. For bourgeois political theory, the state of nature, social contract or compact, and the sovereignty of the people were convenient social myths; for the Levellers they were real.

It is wrong to see the Levellers as simply the most revolutionary section of the bourgeoisie. Both their social criticism and their political principles were opposed to the continued growth of capitalism. That the reforms they proposed could not have stopped the development of capitalism in practice is another matter. The least that can be said of the Levellers is that they made a long-range social forecast of an era of exploitation, oppression and imperialism, and tried to stop it from happening. In doing so, they left a legacy of organisational and political principle which bore fruit in the development of Chartism and the nineteenth-century working-class movement. They deserve, at the very least, our recognition of their struggles.

The Diggers, or True Levellers, struck more fundamentally at the heart of all class society, with their assertion that private property is the greatest of evils. It is wrong to dismiss the Diggers as backward-looking ‘agrarian communists’. Their great achievement was to go beyond medieval ideas of the redistribution of wealth to propose the continuing creation of wealth by collective production. In Winstanley’s fullest account of the ideal society, there are towns and urban crafts as well as village communities; his vision of future possibilities – exchange without buying and selling, the equalisation of education, a do-it-yourself legal system and the freeing of technical knowledge from the constraints of patents of invention – invites comparison with recent Utopian science fiction. [38]

The Diggers’ tactics of cultivating the common land and inviting all to join their communities were neither idealistic nor completely pacifist. First of all, it is important to realise the significance of the common lands as potentially cultivable and productive: the seizure and improvement of commons and wastes by the landlords was the first stage of the eighteenth century agricultural revolution in England. Digger farming on the commons was modern: they cultivated intensively and included root vegetables, as the Dutch did. Secondly, squatting and unofficial encroachment on the commons had long been a traditional resort of impoverished peasants trying to ward off proletarianisation: the Diggers provided a theoretical justification and an open invitation which was certainly taken up by poor villagers in the areas where Digger settlements appeared. [39]

It is also necessary to see the consequences of cultivating the commons as the Diggers saw them. Their appeal was to wage-labourers to give up ‘slavery’ and discover the benefits of freedom. If the poor responded by ceasing to work for the rich, even the landlords would be forced to join in the end, for their vast estates would be no use to them without labourers to work for them. Even when Winstanley, after the smashing of the Digger communities in 1649–50, addressed an appeal to Cromwell to allow the communities to exist alongside conventional society, he must have been thinking of the eventual consequences in similar terms.

Recent attacks on Winstanley have included the assertion that he was merely an incompetent businessman with a chip on his shoulder, and an attempt to depict the society described in The Law of Freedom as totalitarian. [40] The first point is deliberately perverse: the significance of Winstanley’s failure in business is that it led him to question the ideal of the ‘successful man’, and to dismiss current business practice as ‘cheating and cozening’. The accusation of totalitarianism is based on Winstanley’s detailed prescriptions, in The Law of Freedom, for social and moral control to preserve the values of the new society and prevent any return to the old. What matters, in such a system, is who controls; and it is clear in The Law of Freedom that Winstanley is concerned with abolishing the state and ensuring that control is exercised by the whole society, and not by ‘separate bodies of armed men, prisons, etc.’ as in Lenin’s definition of the state. (Incidentally, both the Levellers and the Diggers were vehemently opposed to prison, that rising bourgeois form of punishment.) All officers would be elected annually, as Winstanley says, so that ‘whereas many have their portions to obey, so many may have their turn to rule’. [41]

Winstanley’s other great achievement is to have undermined the Puritan conception of God. Starting with a conviction of his own inspiration by God, he learned in the end to describe that inner guidance, common to all men and women, as Reason; and to denounce the idea of a personal God ‘up above’, and of a heaven and hell after death, as deceitful inventions of the self-seeking clergy.

Disbelief in conventional religious ideas was common among the poor in the seventeenth century. Intellectual historians may insist on a distinction between fully-fledged philosophical atheism and the ‘blasphemous scoffing’ which is supposed to be all the poor were capable of; but this sturdy, vulgar scepticism shows a certain amount of grassroots resistance to the Puritan code of sin and guilt, which both Winstanley and the Ranters tried to reconcile with ‘true religion’. [42]

The Ranters were a kaleidoscope of wandering and shifting groups rather than a sect or organisation. Drawing on the medieval tradition of the ‘free spirit’ or antinomian heresies – the idea that true grace and understanding raise the individual above the moral law – they transformed what in the past had been a theory of small groups of ‘amoral supermen’ into a revolutionary self-transformation available to anyone.

Ranters scorned the Puritan restrictions on sex, food and drink; they maintained the innocence of children and of nakedness; they challenged Puritan tyranny over the psyche by ostentatiously breaking the taboo on swearing; their formal recantations could not be trusted because they could justify lying; and their leaders’ rootless lifestyle flew in the face of the Protestant work ethic. They were probably not very many – it is as hard for us to tell as it was for contemporaries – but they travelled widely and they terrified the rulers of the early 1650s. [43]

Discussion of strategy and tactics was not the Ranters’ strong point. Many were sympathetic to the Digger movement, and some joined Digger communities. For Winstanley, their extreme individualism, rejection of work and of the family made it hard to accept them, and he specifically warned women against Ranter promiscuity, which left them literally holding the baby.

Winstanley’s view of the family may seem to us the most conservative thing about him. In the only conceivable model for Winstanley’s communities, the Hutterite settlements in Moravia, the family had been abolished along with buying and selling and private property, and it may seem strange that Winstanley did not go that far. [44] In part, his position may be explained by the fact that the family household was at the time the principal unit of production; but he shows no general inclination to be bound by current economic or social forms. The explanation probably lies more in the destruction of family life among the poor by pauperisation and the hiring out of poor children as servants from an early age. Women and children ‘on the parish’, men unable to earn a living wage without leaving home, and the parents of pauper apprentices, probably felt degraded enough to feel that family life would be an improvement. Winstanley’s offer that ‘every man’s wife and every woman’s husband (are) proper to themselves, and so are their children at their dispose till they come of age’ might therefore have some appeal. [45]

How are we to explain anti-capitalist struggles in the English Revolution? I have tried to show that these were real, material struggles, not the invention of a few ‘advanced’ political philosophers. The conditions for a successful socialist revolution did not exist, but the aspiration towards some kind of revolution that would free the labourer and the artisan from capitalist bondage was already born. Perhaps the defeat of the Levellers and Diggers was inevitable, but that does not mean we have to cheer on those who brought it about, such as Oliver Cromwell.

Oliver Cromwell

Many Marxists have shown a great deal of sympathy for Cromwell. ‘If Cromwell had not shot down the Levellers,’ writes Christopher Hill, ‘someone else would no doubt have done it. But in fact it was Oliver who did: it is part of his historical achievement.’ Cromwell’s actions are defended sometimes because it was, after all, a bourgeois revolution (though Cromwell was never a member of the bourgeoisie); or because a ‘revolutionary dictatorship’ was necessary to preserve the gains of the revolution from a backward and reactionary populace. [46]

This justification of the dictatorship of an individual or small group (which has been used also in relation to Robespierre in the French Revolution) can lead only to an abstract procession from Cromwell through Robespierre and Stalin to Babrak Karmal; it evades entirely the question of which class controls the state. Indeed, it seems to be used mainly as a justification for Stalin: it is no accident that Hill thinks perhaps Stalin understood Cromwell best. [47]

Oliver Cromwell was in so many ways an idiosyncratic person that it is easy to concentrate on his personality as the explanation for the part he played. He was, for example, a thoroughgoing pragmatist: forms, such as monarchy or the republic, were not matters of principle with him, and he could manage to combine apparently revolutionary forms with stolid conservative content and vice versa. He also had the personal peculiarity of continuing to believe in the unifying power of religion long after everyone else had recognised their class enemies masquerading as saints (and even after he had recognised quite a few himself). The breadth of his commitment to toleration was unusual; it could have caused him more trouble than it did.

It should be remembered that Cromwell was not personally in control of political developments until 1653. Although for long periods a high-ranking officer in the army and prominent member of Parliamentary committees, there were periods (for example, his eleven months out of the army in 1646–7) when he was not in the front rank of Parliamentarian leadership. His part in the confrontation with the Levellers in 1647 was outstanding; but when it came to Pride’s Purge in December, 1648, he kept at a distance until it was clear the venture was going to be successful. His first attempt to take supreme charge of affairs in 1653 was the disastrous Barebones Parliament affair; only with the army officers’ Instrument of Government in December 1653 did he become head of state.

What was Cromwell’s social base? Whom did he represent? The role of the individual in history should not be underestimated, but in the case of Cromwell it usually eclipses these questions completely.

Cromwell was a member of the lesser gentry who had a particularly close relationship to the army officer corps, which had originally been of that same class but had come to include many who had risen from the ranks. Cromwell’s political career was in one way a balancing act between these two social groups. In 1647, when Cromwell was sent by the Parliamentary Independent party to sort out the Leveller problem in the army, he put himself at the head of the officers (though he had not held a commission for nearly a year), detached them from the Levellers (with the help of the London Independent ministers), and marched into London to prevent a Presbyterian takeover. But in 1648, when the army officers still wanted a new constitution, Cromwell and what was left of the Parliamentary Independent party insisted on the Pride’s Purge solution, in which the fiction of an unbroken constitution was maintained, even though the Commons was purged, the Lords abolished and the King executed. Both in Parliament and in the counties, it was members of the lesser gentry who carried out this ‘constitutional revolution’. [48]

What the bourgeoisie needed in 1648–9 was an arbiter to save it from royalist restoration on the one hand and revolution from below on the other. The arbiter was not just Oliver Cromwell but his party and his class – the Parliamentary Independent party, based on the lesser gentry, who had stuck with the revolution from 1642 on, who had founded the Parliamentarian army and taken over the County Committees as the old upper crust dropped off; who were needed to run the country because the bourgeoisie did not yet have a reliable enough state machinery.

The problem because acute again in 1653: the Rump of the Long Parliament (to which many members had returned in the months after the purge) had made quite a success of running commercial and foreign policy to the satisfaction of certain sectors of the bourgeoisie; but it was becoming ever more isolated from the rest of the country. After the false start of the Assembly of Saints, Cromwell accepted his role as the restorer of gentry co-operation with the regime: ‘settlement’ became his favourite word, and by the time of his death he had almost succeeded in reuniting the gentry opposition of 1640 in the counties. It was the army officers, kept in check during Cromwell’s lifetime as Protector, who destroyed the regime after his death by seizing power without being able to agree on what to do with it. The army officers’ social roots were still too shallow for them to hold the balance of power. [49]

What was it that enabled a section of the lesser gentry, by no means typical of their class, to play this balancing role in the English Revolution? The traditional answer is that they were motivated by religious enthusiasm – but gentry Independency was more a matter of paternalistic parish leadership than high inspiration. It is now quite certain that they did not join the revolution because they were in economic decline; but it is hard to prove that it was because they were the most economically progressive sector, as some Marxists maintain. [50] Perhaps the answer lies in an anti-aristocratic tradition among lesser landlords that goes quite far back into feudal times, when both sides in the various struggles between kings and barons sought to use the ‘knights’, as they were then, in their own interests. Whatever the origins of this resistance to aristocratic politics, it enabled this section of the lesser gentry to co-operate with the bourgeoisie and relieve them of a great deal of the dirty work of revolution.

Cromwell’s position as a member of the Independent gentry explains how he could play a role which was at least as reactionary as it was revolutionary. The service to the bourgeois revolution which earned him his high place as an individual was his smashing of the Levellers between 1647 and 1649. The long-term gains for the bourgeoisie were preserved, but the classes who had taken the lead in fighting for a new order, the exploited classes, were the losers.


The embattled position of Marxism has hindered the development of Marxist understanding of the English bourgeois revolution for long enough. The reflexes of the siege mentality – uncritical defence of ideas or personalities because of their long-standing identification with the Marxist cause, and the refusal to even examine anything new revealed by a hostile source – have not helped our understanding of class struggle in the past or the present.

The restoration of Marxist theory to the history of the revolution is an essential requirement. This is a historical field in which theory has disappeared perhaps more completely than in any other. The mechanical orthodoxy of the Stalinist period was followed by a period of adaptation to bourgeois academic ‘standards’ in which theory was apparently regarded as too provocative to mention. This has now been overtaken by the ‘poverty of theory’ debate in which some Marxist historians are claiming lack of a theoretical perspective as a positive virtue. A full and free discussion in explicitly Marxist terms is the touchstone by which both old ideas and new ones must be measured.

Ironically, the absence of theoretical discussion has not brought Marxist history in this field any closer to the masses. Hill’s The English Revolution, 1640 and The Century of Revolution (1961) are still the most widely read Marxist accounts among ordinary socialists.

The Marxist tradition needs rearming – with good proletarian weapons of class struggle. The right-wing weaponry must be closely studied and immobilised; pieces of our own equipment which have rusted into the ground will have to be replaced. But above all, Marxism must get on to the offensive again, and rejoin the main army of the class struggle.


1. L. Stone, The Revival of Narrative, Past and Present (1979).

2. D. Pennington and K.Thomas (eds.), Puritans and Revolutionaries. Essays in Seventeenth-Century Historiography Presented to Christopher Hill (1978), p. 32.

3. C. Russell, (ed.) The Origins of the English Civil War (1973), p. 32.

4. M. MacEwen, The day the Party had to stop, Socialist Register, 1976.

5. R.H. Tawney, The Rise of the gentry, 1540-1640, Economic History Review, XI

6. P. Anderson, Origins of the present crisis, New Left Review 23 (1964), p. 28.

7. R. Ashton, The English Civil War. Conservatism and Revolution, 1603–1649 (1978), pp. 43–70, 254–287; J.S. Morrill, The Revolt of the Provinces. Conservatives and Radicals in the English Civil War, 1630–1650 (1976).

8. K. Marx, Surveys from Exile (ed. D. Fernbach, 1973), p. 254; Capital, III (Moscow 1966), pp. 782–813.

9. Morrill, op. cit.; D. Underdown, Pride’s Purge (1971); D. Brunton & H.H. Pennington, Members of the Long Parliament (1953).

10. B. Pearl, London and the Outbreak of the Puritan Revolution (1961), pp. 69–106; B. Supple, Class and social tension: the case of the merchant, in E.W. Ives (ed.), The English Revolution, 1600–1660 (1968).

11. H. Kearney, The Eleven Years’ Tyranny of Charles I (Historical Association, 1962).

12. Pearl, op. cit.; B. Manning, The English People and the English Revolution (1978), p.232.

13. Manning, ibid., p. 9; J. Merrington, Town and country in the transition from feudalism to captialism, New Left Review 93 (1975).

14. R. Brenner, The Civil War Politics of London’s merchant community, Past and Present 58 (1973), pp. 53–107; Pearl, op. cit., pp. 202–3; Ashton, op. cit., p. 85; Manning op. cit., pp. 219–221; A.H. Everitt, The County Community and the Great Rebellion (1969), pp. 13–14.

15. Brenner, op. cit., pp. 53–107.

16. Pearl, op. cit., p. 284; London’s counter-revolution, in G.E. Aylmer (ed.), The Interregnum: The quest for Settlement (1974) pp. 29–56.

17. Supple, op. cit., p. 142.

18. Manning, op. cit., passim.

19. Marx, Capital, (Moscow 1961–66), I, pp. 713–716; III, pp. 323–337.

20. Manning, op. cit., pp. 128–154, 202–215; A. Everitt, Farm Labourers, Agrarian History of England And Wales IV (ed. J. Thirsk, 1967), pp. 326–465.

21. M. James, Social Problems and Policy during the Puritan Revolution (1930), ch. 5; Manning op. cit., pp.120, 164–169.

22. P. Clark & P. Slack, English Towns in Transition, 1500–1700 (1976), pp. 111–113; S. Pollard & D.W. Crossley, The Wealth of Britain (1968), p. 154.

23. C. Hill, The English Revolution, 1640 (1940), p. 51; L. Stone, The Causes of the English Revolution (1972), p. 145; B. Manning, Religion, Politics and The English Civil War (1973), pp. 82–123.

24. C.H. George, Puritanism as history and historiography, Past and Present (1968), pp. 77–104; N. Tyacke, Puritanism, Arminianism and Counter-revolution, in C. Russell (ed.) Origins of the English Civil War (1973), pp. 119–142.

25. M. Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1967); R.H. Tawney, Religion and the Rise of Capitalism (1926); C. Hill, Society and Puritanism in Pre-Revolutionary England (1964)

26. M. Walzer, The Revolution of the Saints (1966), pp. 66–92, 232–268; C. Cross, Church and the People, 1450–1660 (1976); Ashton, op. cit., p. 118; Morrill, op. cit., pp. 48–50, 110–11.

27. Cf. Hill, Society and Puritanism, p. 142.

28. C. Hill, The World Turned Upside Down (1975 edn.) pp. 184–230.

29. Walzer, Revolution of the Saints, p. x

30. B. Manning, Puritanism and Democracy, in Pennington & Thomas, op. cit., pp. 139–160.

31. C. Cross, The Church in England, 1646–1660, in Aylmer, op. cit., pp. 99–120.

32. M. Tolmie, The Triumph of the Saints. The Separate Churches of London, 1616–1649 (1977).

33. B.S. Capp, The Fifth Monarchy Men (1972).

34. The best general account is still H.N. Brailsford, The Levellers and the English Revolution (ed. C.Hill, 1961 and 1976).

35. C.B. MacPherson, The Political theory of Possessive Individualism. Hobbes to Locke (1962), pp. 107–159.

36. A.L. Morton, Leveller Democracy, fact or myth?, The World of the Ranters (1979 edn.). pp. 197–219; J.C. Davis, The Levellers and democracy, Past and Present 40 (1968), pp. 174–180; R. Howell & D. Brewster, Reconsidering the Levellers: the evidence of the Moderate, Past and Present 46 (1970), pp. 68–86; K. Thomas, The Levellers and the franchise, in Aylmer op. cit., pp. 60–66; D. Hirst, The Representative of the People? Voters and Voting in Early Stuart England.

37. Manning, English People, pp. 303, 314–5, 319.

38. Hill, English Revolution 1640, p. 52; Hill, World Turned Upside Down; G. Winstanley, The Law of Freedom and other writings (ed. C. Hill, 1973), pp. 273–289; N. Cohn, The Pursuit of the Millennium (1970), p. 217.

39. Hill, World Turned Upside Down, p. 130; K. Thomas, Another Digger Broadside, Past and Present 42 (1969)

40. J.C. Davis, Gerrard Winstanley and the restoration of true magistracy, Past and Present 70 (1976), pp. 76–93; J. Alsop, Gerrard Winstanley’s later life, Past and Present 82 (1979), pp. 73–81.

41. Winstanley, Law of Freedom, pp. 320–321.

42. G.E. Aylmer, Unbelief in seventeenth century England, in Pennington and Thomas, op. cit., pp. 22–46.

43. Cohn, Pursuit of the Millennium, pp. 148–186, 287–330; Hill, World Turned Upside Down, pp. 184–230, 314–323.

44. C.P. Clasen, Anabaptism, A Social History, 1525–1618 (1972), pp. 260–274.

45. Winstanley, Law of Freedom, pp. 303–4; A. Clark, Working Lives of Women in the Seventeenth Century (1919).

46. C. Hill, God’s Englishman: Oliver Cromwell and the English revolution (1970), pp. 206–210, 262.

47. Ibid., p. 269; A. Soboul, Some Problems of the revolutionary state, Past and Present 65 (1974).

48. Underdown, Pride’s Purge, pp. 106–360; Underdown, “Honest” radicals on the counties, 1642–1649, in Pennington & Thomas, op. cit., pp. 186–205.

49. D. Underdown, Settlement in the counties, 1653–58, in Aylmer, op. cit., pp. 165–182; A. Woolrych, Last quests for a settlement, 1657–1660, ibid., pp. 183–204.

50. G. Batho, Noblemen, gentlemen and yeomen, and P. Bowden, Agricultural prices, farm profits and rents, in Agrarian History IV, pp. 276–305, 593–695.

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