• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Examine the significance of radical though and attitudes in the Civil War Period. C1640-1660

Extracts from this document...


Examine the significance of radical though and attitudes in the Civil War Period. C1640-1660 The Civil War caused turmoil and upheaval that affected every strand of life in England. It challenged and upturned the deeply ingrained feudal system with a Monarch as the head of all moral, spiritual and governmental life, and moved thought and order towards new democratic ideas and systems of rule. This period saw a new experimentation in ideas and attitudes among the population, which was not welcomed by many. As Christopher Hill writes "What was new in the 17 centaury was the idea that the world might be permanently turned upside down". In the wake of Charles's regicide there was a "popular mid-seventeenth-centaury belief that the establishment of a prefect society was imminent" (Coward). Many radical movements, from the Levellers to the 5th monarchists flourished, posing a threat to traditional conformist ideas on political, social and religious margins, which defined the boundaries on which the traditional feudal system was based on. This created much controversy among a nation seeking stability, and so this period can be thought of radical in the sense of change. It is important to be aware just how deeply intergrained the church and Monarch was in every day life. ...read more.


The intellectual and political movement called the Levellers emerged in 1645-46 towards the latter end of the first English Civil War. Led by John Lilburne they believed that everyone was bourn "equal in majesty"; and thus in a "levelled" society. In their rejection of inequality, they believed in "The basic principal that sovereignty lay not with parliament but the people". This challenged civic and social order furthermore, with support both among the population and roughly 800 in the army, they posed a serious threat to Cromwell's power. Radical thinking within the army was a fear for Cromwell due to his strong reliance upon it. This culminated in what D. Underdown calls "the Levellers final defeat at Burford", where Cromwell swiftly quells a number of small army revolts, however Austin Woolrych claims "The Levellers were in fact a precociously well organised pressure group, rather than a revolutionary movement". Many historians doubt the degree of threat the Levellers posed. This is backed through Underdown's belief that," only in London and the home counties... was there any effective civilian movement". Moreover by 1649 Army back payments were settled, harvests had improved resulting in the movement dieing out. Therefore it seems that many radical ideas and movements never took hold, however the possibility was enough to try and remove them. ...read more.


Radical thinking was a threat to the authorities, even if it was not implemented. Groups such as the Diggers threatened the higher levels of the feudal system, as they wanted to abolish laws of ownership, questioning Landowners and established feudal power. The Ranters threatened the concept of sin, ripping apart the populations fabric on which traditional morality and life was woven from, furthermore the state method of communication. All the radical movements threatened both religion and state, arguably more through their ideas then actions. Therefore significance can be defined by the, impact and consequences of radical thought and attitude. Groups such as the Levellers and Diggers died out relatively quickly, not having either the time or power to truly establish themselves. Others returned to the privacy of closed doors after the return of the monarchy. David Underdown describes the impact of the Interregnum period as " a intellectual eruption (which) touched only a small minority-most continued to accept the reiterated message of higherical order to hanker not for religious liberty, but for the comfortable certainties of the old regime". Therefore what can be said is that this period of experimentation was not met with open arms nor did it become established, however ideas such as those of the Diggers resurfaced in both the Russian and French civil wars. Furthermore it was the precursor to early democracy and constitutional Monarchy, on which today's boundaries are based on. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level British History: Monarchy & Politics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level British History: Monarchy & Politics essays

  1. Was Oliver Cromwell a hero or a villain?

    He closed theatres and banned Christmas and Easter. This shows us that, he wants his people to follow his view but in a very different and commanding way. Theatres were closed because Puritans said the devil used them. Dancing around May Poles was banned.

  2. What was the most significant cause of civil strife in England from 1455-61?

    Therefore instead of vassals providing military service when required by the lord, they paid a portion of their income into the lord's treasury. In turn the lord would supplement the owed military service with hired retainers, a sort of private army in full time service to the lord.


    Initially they had the support of the transport workers and railwaymen (the 'triple alliance') but this was quickly withdrawn on 'Black Friday'. British exports became more expensive with the return to the Gold Standard in 1925. Mine-owners stated that the only way to keep going was for there to be a reduction in wages and an increase in hours.

  2. How do the poets in 'Charlotte O'Neils song' and 'Nothing Changed' show their feelings ...

    So, first of all the reader can see how unfair it is. The poet also makes her feelings clear by the sheer joy she has in telling the employer that she is leaving and from now on she can do her dirty work herself.

  1. Constitutional Monarchies

    James with almost no resistance William and Mary become the new monarchs of England. William and Mary accepted the throne and all its provisions the Bill of Rights. When James II in England came to power he the English Parliament disqualifying Catholics from holding office, and he resigned as lord

  2. Millicent Fawcett's significance

    If women paid taxes on the same basis as men then surely women should have the right to choose the MP they wished to represent them in Parliament? Many people in "separate spheres" believed society worked most effectively when men and women respected their so-called God given space- men being public and women being private.

  1. arctic story

    50 miles from the caves and another 10 away from the helicopter to take us back to Valderwhere are meant to be, meaning that we will be there at the caves in about 5 day's and at the helicopter in 6, if the weather is good, which is unlikely," I

  2. Assess the significance of Owain Glyndwr's revolt

    in 1811.However, it was formally declared an independent church in 1823 so while some may argue that it holds little long-term cultural significance, Glyndwr set the wheels in motion for this action and therefore must hold a certain degree of importance.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work