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Why Did The Leveller Movement Fail To Achieve Its Political And Religious Objectives In The Search For Settlement After The Civil War?

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Introduction

Why Did The Leveller Movement Fail To Achieve Its Political And Religious Objectives In The Search For Settlement After The Civil War? As the Civil War drew to an end, the emergence of many radical groups became noticeable. The collapse of authority meant that they could now come of hiding, debate in public and develop their ideas. One of the radical groups that emerged were, as named by their opponents, the 'Levellers', as they wished to level out society. They had many ideas on how they thought society should be won and these political and religious objectives were put forward to Parliament in 'The Agreement of the People' in 1647. This document was much more radical than those before it. In terms of political aims, the Levellers wanted to extend the franchise and achieve manhood suffrage, as they believed that everyone had equal rights to vote. They wanted to reform the legal system to give equality to everyone before the law and achieve recognition of people's fundamental rights and liberties. ...read more.

Middle

Also, they were neither numerous nor aggressive enough. A combination of these factors meant that they could easily be defeated and that their policies were not implemented. The Levellers also failed to capture the army, another key factor that contributed to the end of the Levellers. Although some of the rank and file support them, as they too would benefit from some of their objectives, a lot of the army were more interested in pay and conditions than in theoretical schemes of government. They also had no support from the officers, the so-called 'Grandees', like Cromwell and Ireton as their power could be curbed by the Levellers ideas. This meant they had little support in Parliament. Another reason that the Levellers had little support in Parliament was because the rich and wealthy landowners felt threatened by the Levellers. If the Levellers achieved their objectives they felt that they would lose power, money and land and there would be a major destruction of social order. ...read more.

Conclusion

The Levellers emerged at a time when there was severe economic hardship and this made their policies attractive to the working class people, who would benefit from their reforms, but as the economic situation improved support for the Levellers started to decline. This was a major factor in their failure, once again, due to lack of support. In the words of Brailsford 'it [the Leveller Movement] was neither defeated nor suppressed. It faded out because it had nothing to do'. This is still an idea argued by historians today. In any case, the Levellers failed to achieve their political and religious aims in search for a settlement after the war. This was due to a combination of factors, but mainly because of the lack of support, either due to opposition to their objectives or due to improvement in economic conditions. Either way, if there had been more support for the Levellers throughout the country they may have been able to achieve what they had set out to do. ...read more.

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