The Threat of Political Radicalism: In the 1640’s

How serious a threat to the established order were the political ideas that emerged in the 1640’s?

Argument: The political ideas that emerged in the 1640’s caused such a threat to the established order that the ruling classes and government had to respond, to quash the threat.

Levellers: Putney Debates: historic meeting of the rank and file vs the grandees. Such a threat that they were actually acknowledged and debated with. Even within this meeting, the threat was deemed too high: because of republican voices growing-which is why it was broken up. Grandees didn’t want to budge in terms of monarchy, nor representative parliament. BIG THREAT AS ARMY INVOLVED.

Leveller: Large Petition of March 1647: Get rid of HoL=Tyranny. Law courts should not attack religious non-conformists. Trade monopolies should be abolished. Very revolutionary ideas that threatened the established order by giving more power, wealth and legal status to lower and middle ranked Englishmen. But arguably such changes were not put into place until the 1650’s…and then not under Leveller influence as they had been crushed by November 1647’s resolution passed against leveller influence and ideas

Diggers: St Georges Hill. The Diggers were seen as too visionary and staged an affront to property…they wanted to abolish private property: so developed communal…extended Cobham Heath Surrey. BUT broken up within 6 months: gentry worried about their property…they were branded as Ranters…quite easily crushed

Fifth Monarchists wanted to create a parliament based on Jewish Sanhedrin…a threat because this meant reforming Parliament: and also abolishing the justice system as those within the Sanhedrin would make law/distribute justice: Mosaic Law.

Other more religious groups, e.g quakers posed a threat because they did not believe in earthly authority. Therefore they encouraged no deferential respect to the established order: encouraged disrespect and reprisal. Earthly authority corrupted the church and the faith. Less of a threat as less mainstream.




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