1. Radicalism and the English revolution

Mario Caricchio

Glenn Burgess

Ariel Hessayon

Nicholas McDowell

Nigel Smith

2. Britain 1660-1714: competing historiographies

Giovanni Tarantino

Mark Knights

Yaakov Mascetti

3. The Church of England in the eighteenth century

Guglielmo Sanna

William Gibson

Robert G. Ingram

Robert D. Cornwall

4. Non-British readings of the English revolution

Stefano Villani

Gabi Mahlberg

Pietro Messina

5. Rediscovering radicalism in the British Isles and Ireland in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth centuries

David Davis

Jared van Duinen

Chloë Houston

Manfred Brod

Levente Juhász

Cromohs Virtual Seminars

Fabricating radical traditions

Ariel Hessayon
Goldsmiths, University of London

A. Hessayon, "Fabricating radical traditions", in M. Caricchio, G. Tarantino, eds., Cromohs Virtual Seminars. Recent historiographical trends of the British Studies (17th-18th Centuries), 2006-2007: 1-6


1. Introduction

It is a commonplace that the past is at the mercy of the present and that in every generation there are those who deliberately distort aspects of it to reflect a vision of their own or another's making. Most historical writing about radicalism and the English Revolution can be considered fabrication - in the sense of both manufacture and invention. There have been several important studies documenting this process, including recent work by Mario Caricchio.[1] I do not wish to argue here that there was a single, continuous English radical tradition, but nor would I like to dismiss the notion entirely. Instead what I want to suggest is that though radicalism lacks a connected history the imagined relationship between radicals of the English Revolution and their predecessors and successors has served as a powerful substitute. So much so, that multifaceted traditions have emerged as part of the discourse. Moreover, vestiges of radicalism recovered in manuscripts and rediscovered in printed texts have sometimes intermingled with perceived radical heritages to produce vibrant radical eruptions. This can be seen by tracing the ways through which radicalism in the English Revolution has been successively appropriated and constructed - and how, subject to competing interpretations, these fabrications have disintegrated leaving only shards of radical traditions.

In the following discussion I have largely restricted myself to individuals sometimes called Levellers, Diggers or 'Ranters'. Most of us would probably regard these people to have espoused ideas that were radical at various moments during the English Revolution. Yet beyond this admittedly partial foundation we still need to fully map the boundaries of radicalism, to agree upon and refine a common definition. This can be achieved by providing accounts of how those with moderate or conservative views could say or write something considered radical and vice versa.[2]

Glen Burgess has correctly highlighted the strong dependency of radicalism on context and suggested that the radical label is most commonly used to describe a person's disposition at specific times and in particular places. He continues by helpfully identifying three general approaches to the study of radicalism: the nominalist, functional and substantive. Recognizing the value of a sceptical attitude my own approach tends towards the functional while combining aspects of the substantive - though in emasculated form. While I agree with Burgess's suggestion that 'the idea of a radical tradition is unhelpful . if what is meant is a tradition of causal connections and explanatory power',[3] what I have chosen to focus on is the corollary: how can there be a 'substantive radicalism' if what historians have termed radical is dependent on inclination and circumstance? The answer, as I will show, lies in our imagination.

2. The Eighteenth Century

In the eighteenth century the spectre of John Lilburne, 'chief ring-leader of the Levellers', haunted the pages of the Biographia Britannica (1747-66) as a bragging, quarrelsome demagogue. Twenty-five pages long, with extensive footnotes, this entry drew upon Edward Hyde's History of the Rebellion, John Rushworth's Historical Collections, Thomas Salmon's The Chronological Historian, Bulstrode Whitelocke's Memorials of the English Affairs, William Winstanley's England's Worthies and Anthony Wood's Athenae Oxonienses, as well as a number of contemporary pamphlets.[4] Lilburne's spirit was invoked again in David Hume's The History of England (1767), where the Levellers were portrayed as rabble-rousing sowers of anarchy, champions of the pernicious doctrine of republicanism.[5] After the French Revolution Edmund Burke, for whom democracy was the 'most shameless thing in the world', transformed Lilburne and company into contemporary Parisian artisans:

The levellers . only change and pervert the natural order of things; they load the edifice of society, by setting up in the air what the solidity of the structure requires to be on the ground.[6]

Burke's reaction was echoed by a British army officer stationed in Lisbon who feared that a 'Quarter of the Globe' was covered in 'French Republican Levelling principles'. In November 1792 John Reeve established a Society for Preserving Liberty and Property against Republicans and Levellers. There was even an 'anti-levelling' song sung to the tune of 'The Roast beef of Old England'.[7] Clearly Tory historians and polemicists had conjured an alarming depiction of Levellers as anti-monarchical Jacobin precursors. Yet despite these smears a rival and equally manufactured image peddled by Whigs and dissenting ministers persisted. Thus in Joseph Towers's British Biography ([Sherborne], 1766-72) Lilburne became a popular and courageous martyr for the cause of English liberty, 'a man of a most undaunted spirit'.[8] Similarly, in Catharine Macaulay's The History of England (1763-83) the Levellers were represented as honest advocates of the 'principles of equal and general Freedom'. Dismissed by Burke as 'our republican Virago', her subversive writings nonetheless provided a rich source for the arguments of opposition radicals.[9] So too did Towers's life of Lilburne, an extract from which concerning the powers and duties of juries in prosecutions for libel was reprinted in 1783 by the Society for Constitutional Information. Towers's influence is also apparent in Joseph Cornish's A brief history of nonconformity (1797), where Lilburne appeared as brave and noble 'Free-born John' suffering at the hands of Laudian tyranny.[10]

Unlike the Levellers' ghost which in the late eighteenth century was refashioned sans-culotte by Tories and appropriated by radicals as part of their republican heritage, traces of the Diggers almost vanished. Although it is difficult to find any opinions about Gerrard Winstanley there are examples of ownership of his writings. Titles by Winstanley bound together with The True Levellers standard advanced (1649) are recorded in the library of Benjamin Furly (1636-1714), Quaker merchant of Rotterdam, author, translator and friend of John Locke. These works passed into the hands of a visitor to Furly's library, Zacharias Conrad von Uffenbach (1683-1734), whose collection also included Winstanley's The Law of freedom in a platform (1652).[11] Moreover, a bound copy of five pamphlets by Winstanley is inscribed with the signature of one William Jones of Harbledown, Kent and dated 1727. Other annotations indicate that Jones circulated this volume among his friends.[12] David Hume also noticed the Diggers, drawing on an edition of Whitelocke's Memorials to lump their doctrine of community of goods with the 'numberless' 'extravagances' which 'broke out among the people' in 1649.[13]

As well as Levellers and Diggers there were other early modern English radicals whom contemporaries distinguished from each other by abusively labelling them according to their apparent activities like the Anabaptists (Dippers), Quakers, Ranters and Seekers. Others were named after their supposed founder such as the Behmenists, Brownists, Muggletonians and Socinians. Others still after their assumed beliefs; Adamites, Antinomians, Familists, Fifth Monarchists, Sabbatarians and Soul-sleepers (Mortalists). It should be emphasized, however, that these apparent groups sometimes lacked both a leadership capable of imposing organization and a unified set of principles, making them prone to fragmentation. Indeed, disentangling the many hostile accounts of their doctrines and actions from their own pronouncements and self-fashioned identities, it is apparent that they could exist - on the textual plane at least - as amalgams of imagined and real communities of believers. Arguably the most notorious of these were the 'Ranters', and it is significant that knowledge of them did not completely disappear.

Among the more than 4,400 items listed in Furly's library are a collection of 'Divers Treatises of Ranters and Muggletons', including tracts by John Brayne, John Jubbes, Andrew Wyke, John Reeve and Lodowick Muggleton. This bound volume was acquired by von Uffenbach, whose more detailed library catalogue identified Brayne, Jubbes, T.W. and Laurence Claxton as Ranters. The sixth title of this volume was an anonymous 'Ranter Treatise', A Justification of the Mad Crew in their waies and principles (1650). Significantly, Wyke was not named in von Uffenbach's library catalogue, suggesting that either Furly or a previous owner had considered Wyke to be the author of A Justification of the Mad Crew.[14] Furly also possessed an unknown book by Richard Coppin, as well as Joseph Salmon's Anti-Christ in man (1647), which was bound with pamphlets by John Lewin, Nicholas Cowling and Robert Wastfield - all soldiers in Parliament's army. This volume was later obtained by von Uffenbach.[15] Furthermore, Furly owned 'several treatises' by Abiezer Coppe; A Fiery Flying Roll (1649), A Second Fiery Flying Roll (1649) and Copp's return to the wayes of truth (1651). Bound with Thomas Bromley's The Way to the Sabbath of Rest (1655), a work regarded as a moderate piece of Behmenist doctrine, and a title by Isaac Penington, these too were eventually acquired by von Uffenbach.[16] In addition, von Uffenbach possessed another bound volume containing Jacob Bothumley's The Light and Dark Sides of God (1650), Coppe's Some Sweet Sips, of some spirituall Wine (1649) and four tracts by Salmon; Anti-Christ in man, Divinity Anatomized (1649), Heights in Depths (1651) and A rout, a rout (1649). Bothumley and Salmon were listed as Ranters as were the authors of three other works; The Mystery of the Deity in the Humanity (1649) by M[ary] P[ordage?], John the Divine's divinity (1649) by J[ohn] F[ile?], and A.B.C. of Christianity or some beginning of the new-birth (1656) by W.C. Several of these titles were rebound and are now held in the Bodleian Library.[17]

Besides the continental libraries of Furly and von Uffenbach there was the extensive collection of about 24,000 printed works amassed by the London bookseller George Thomason. This was purchased for £300 by Lord Bute on George III's behalf and presented to the British Museum in 1762. Another remarkable if little known library was that of John Denis (c.1735-1785), an oilman living near Dowgate Hill. Together with his son and namesake, Denis sold several volumes in English and French by the polymath and mystic Emanuel Swedenborg from their premises near Fleet Street. According to a former business partner, the elder Denis's private library of old and valuable 'mystical and alchymical' books was the best of its kind 'collected by one person'.[18] Denis's Catalogue of Ancient and Modern Books (1787) indicates the wide range of this collection, which listed nearly 8,000 titles including works by the Parliamentary army preachers William Dell, William Erbury, John Saltmarsh, William Sedgwick and Joshua Sprigge, and the Saturday-Sabbath advocate Thomas Tillam.[19] In addition, Denis possessed a pamphlet concerning Lilburne, Winstanley's Law of freedom, Lawrence Clarkson's The Quakers downfal (1659) bound with Clarkson's A paradisical dialogue betwixt Faith and Reason (1660), Richard Coppin's A Blow at the Serpent (1764), Coppin's The Advancement of All Things in Christ ([1763]), and 'Two Epistles of Theaura John'.[20]

These 'Epistles of Theaura John' probably refer to a volume containing four tracts by TheaurauJohn Tany (1608-1659), self-proclaimed High Priest and Recorder to the thirteen Tribes of the Jews. Each tract has been annotated by either the elder or younger Denis, whose monogram is inscribed at the beginning and end.[21] While in the elder or younger Denis's possession this volume was consulted more than once over a period of several years by Henry Peckitt (1734?-1808), who made extensive extracts in a notebook from each of the four tracts. A former physician and apothecary, Peckitt had studied Jacob Boehme and Madame Guyon, but this was superseded by his interest in Swedenborg. He took an active part in the early affairs of the separatist Swedenborgian New Jerusalem Church and was President of its first general conference held at London in April 1789. Peckitt's 'most valuable' library consisted of thousands of volumes including a rare collection of mystical books. His house, however, was consumed by fire in June 1785 and an estimated full wagon-load of books lost to the flames.[22] Among the surviving manuscripts are the excerpts from Tany's writings, which has Peckitt's concluding remark:

I H:P: cannot rely upon this Mans declarations, as I do upon the honerable Emanuel Swedenborg's writings.[23]

Another volume held by the elder or younger Denis was the second edition of Richard Coppin's Divine Teachings (1653), bound with Coppin's Truths Testimony (1655). A previous owner had added that Coppin 'is one of the chiefe rantors'.[24] In 1763 the Methodist preacher Cornelius Cayley reprinted Coppin's The Advancement of All Things in Christ with a preface urging readers not to judge it rashly. Instead they were 'to take notice that the spirit' which breathed in this treatise was 'nothing but glory to God on High'.[25] It was followed by republications of Coppin's A Blow at the Serpent (1764) and Truth's Testimony (1768). According to James Relly, who preached something akin to Universalism in London, many of his hearers subscribed to the reprinting of Coppin's works. Disassociating himself from Coppin's teachings, Relly issued The Sadducee Detected and Refuted (1764), denouncing him as an 'unnecessarily abstruse', 'opinionated' and 'conceited' author.[26]

At an unknown date the Alsatian artist Philippe Jacques de Loutherbourg (1740-1812) purchased a copy of the republished edition of Coppin's A Blow at the Serpent.[27] An elected member of the Royal Academy and associate of the notorious advocate of 'Egyptian' Freemasonry Count Alessandro Cagliostro, de Loutherbourg had attended Swedenborgian meetings and painted Swedenborg's portrait in oils - probably from engravings rather than life. He also conducted alchemical experiments and in July 1789 reportedly became an 'inspired physician' with 3,000 patients. Suggestively, his 'panacea' of barley water was mockingly likened to 'mesmerism' - coined after the Viennese doctor Franz Anton Mesmer. A pamphlet by Mary Pratt, 'a Lover of the Lamb of God', listed a few cures performed by de Loutherbourg and his wife Lucy at their home in Hammersmith Terrace, Chiswick.[28] In 1796 de Loutherbourg acquired a copy of The signs of the times (1699) by the mystic Jane Lead. Altogether he owned five or more works by Lead, one of which - A fountain of gardens (1696) - had been in the possession of John Denis the elder.[29] Like de Loutherbourg, Pratt also read Lead as well as Boehme, Guyon and 'many (almost all) Hermetic books'. She thought one of William Erbury's sermons was as 'clear as the sun, to a spiritual eye', while the Cambridge Platonist Peter Sterry was 'quite in the Love Principle'. Her 'persecuting' husband, however, was a 'strenuous' follower of the 'visionary' Swedenborg whose 'deluded society' was 'spreading contagion' in London.[30]

Swedenborg's early English readers included several prominent Anglicans, Quakers and Methodists, some Moravians, a handful of Particular and General Baptists and a Huguenot émigré. Their interests ranged from the 'Mystic authors' to Hermeticism, Freemasonry, alchemy, Kabbalah and Animal Magnetism. That a few of them also dipped into the radical religious literature of the English Revolution should therefore come as no surprise. Even so, there is no evidence that William Blake, who attended the first general conference of the New Jerusalem Church in April 1789 and annotated copies of Swedenborg's works, was familiar with these particular texts.

3. The Nineteenth Century

In the early nineteenth century the political writer William Cobbett together with the lawyer Thomas Bayly Howell began editing what was envisaged as A Complete Collection of State Trials (1809-28). Concluded by Howell's son, this revised edition of the State trials made Lilburne's appearances before various courts of law accessible to a new audience.[31] Similarly, the publication of an enlarged edition of the Harleian Miscellany (1808-11) included reprints of interregnum pamphlets such as The Leveller (1659) and Gerrard Winstanley's A letter to the Lord Fairfax (1649).[32] In addition, Francis Maseres issued two volumes of Select tracts relating to the Civil Wars in England (1815). These newly available original sources complemented William Godwin's thoroughly researched History of the Commonwealth of England (1824-28). Written in old age for financial gain, Godwin's History devoted an extraordinary amount of space to Lilburne's performances - much of it unfavourable. He was even more scathing of the Diggers:

Scarcely indeed worthy to be recorded, except so far as their proceedings may tend to illustrate the character and temper of the age.[33]

Afterwards the Unitarian John Rutt, full of admiration for the 'patriotic deeds' of men who had disputed the claims of the crown to 'an unlimited and irresponsible authority', published an edition of the Diary of Thomas Burton (1828), MP for Westmorland in the Parliaments of Oliver and Richard Cromwell. He noted the Levellers demand for electoral reform, suggesting that they had 'probably been misrepresented and unjustly censured' for their republican principles.[34] These sentiments were not shared by Thomas Carlyle, who regarded Lilburne as captain of 'a whole submarine world of Calvinistic Sansculottism, Five-point Charter and Rights of Man, threatening to emerge almost two centuries before its time!'. By contrast, the Diggers were to be pitied as a:

poor Brotherhood, seemingly Saxon, but properly of the race of the Jews, who were found dibbling beans on St. George's Hill, under the clear April skies in 1649, and hastily bringing in a new era in that manner.[35]

More remarkable - or perhaps not, depending upon your point of view - is that while Karl Marx praised the Quaker political economist John Bellers (1654-1725) as a 'veritable phenomenon', he was silent about Winstanley. Nonetheless, Marx declared:

socialism and communism did not originate in Germany, but in England, France, and North America. The first appearance of a really active communist party may be placed within the period of the middle-class revolution . The most consistent republicans in England, the Levellers . were the first to proclaim these 'social questions'.[36]

Just as Marx was affected by the revolutions of 1848 so too was the Liberal politician François Guizot, whose government fell with the Orleans monarchy. A former professor of history, it was Guizot who in a two volume publication of 1826-27 had first extensively developed the idea of 'la Révolution d'Angleterre', linking it with the French Revolution of 1789. Returning to the subject in On the causes of the success of the English Revolution of 1640-1688 (1850), he emphasized the 'struggle of the various classes for influence and power'.[37] Although it overlooks a comparable Welsh experience, Guizot's term is back in vogue. Unlike his contemporary Leopold von Ranke, however, he failed to establish a new school of history.

Within a year of the English translation of Guizot's work Edward Peacock had begun researching a biography of Lilburne. Peacock never finished it, but did eventually publish notes on the life of Thomas Rainborowe and a bibliography of Lilburne's writings.[38] In the 1850s Samuel Rawson Gardiner, at this time a member of the millenarian Irvingite Catholic Apostolic Church, also started reading at the British Museum and Public Record Office. Famed for his scrupulous scholarship and classifying events 'according to their chronological order' rather than their nature, it was nonetheless as the title of an 1876 textbook that Gardiner first popularized the notion of a Puritan Revolution. Between 1886 and 1891 he issued three volumes collectively entitled History of the Great Civil War, covering events to the execution of Charles I. Gardiner continued his narrative as History of the Commonwealth and Protectorate (1894, 1897, 1901), before poor health forced him to hand over the project to his friend Charles Firth.[39] Gardiner regarded Lilburne as the 'most extreme of revolutionists' who deserved a place in the ranks for 'those who dare to suffer rather than bend before injustice'. The Agreement of the People (October 1647) he judged the 'first example of that system which now universally prevails in the State Governments of the American Republic'. Even so, what transformed understanding of those that would be called Levellers after the debates at Putney was not Gardiner's version but Firth's edition of The Clarke Papers for the Camden Society (1891-1901).[40]

As for the Diggers, the Russian liberal historian M.M. Kovalevskii discussed Winstanley in his Precursors of English Radicalism (St. Petersburg, 1893). Gardiner also noted these 'new social reformers', but thought that their 'visionary' manifesto 'ultimately came to nothing' because 'Communism had no root' in seventeenth-century England.[41] However, it was a German journalist exiled in London, Eduard Bernstein, who in the year of Friedrich Engels's death published the first lengthy study of Winstanley and the 'True' Levellers, Kommunistische und demokratisch-sozialistiche Strömungen während der Englischen Revolution des 17. Jahrhunderts (Stuttgart, 1895). This 'first and greatest of the heresiarchs of Marxism' produced an account stretching from Kett's insurrection to John Bellers in which he traced the struggle for democracy and social reform, as well as outlining the atheistic and communistic tendencies of the Levellers and Diggers.[42] The importance of Bernstein's work was acknowledged by George Gooch, a young Cambridge-educated scholar of bourgeois stock and Gladstonian Liberal. Gooch's The History of English Democratic Ideas in the Seventeenth Century (Cambridge, 1898), which had begun as a Thirlwall prize-winning essay, included a chapter on 'The Birth of Republicanism. The new Radicalism'. For Gooch it was the final defeat of Charles I that 'opened the flood-gates of radicalism' 'stored up in the newly grown religious bodies'. Winstanley he considered the accepted 'leader of the English Communists', who alone of his English contemporaries 'recognised the well-being of the proletariat as constituting the criterion not only of political but of social and economic conditions'. His conclusion was equally significant:

the earliest socialist of the 19th century was directly descended from the thinkers of the Interregnum.[43]

Harold Laski, Professor of Political Science at the LSE and member of the Labour Party and Fabian Society, subsequently revised Gooch's book. It is also noteworthy that Gooch's chapter on Winstanley was translated into Russian after the Bolsheviks assumed power.

If Winstanley and the Diggers were beginning to gain respectability, the 'Ranters' remained pariahs. Abiezer Coppe, for example, had been described in the late eighteenth century as one of the 'wildest enthusiasts' of a 'fanatical age'. Nineteenth century critics essentially concurred with this judgement, terming Coppe a 'strange enthusiast' and 'the great Ranter', or referred to him as a mad, fanatical proponent of 'distorted antinomianism'.[44] Similarly, in his posthumously published The Inner Life of the Religious Societies of the Commonwealth (1876) the Quaker historian Robert Barclay was at pains to separate the opinions and actions of the 'Ranters' from those of the early Society of Friends. Commenting upon their 'pantheistic views' and the 'fervid religious excitement of the times', Barclay warned his readers that blending pantheism and Christianity would again lead to the destruction of the Church as a visible society.[45] In the same vein, the Scottish Milton biographer David Masson supposed the 'Ranters' were Antinomians 'run mad', with 'touches from Familism and Seekerism greatly vulgarized'. Yet he also conjectured that some base printers and booksellers may have profited from 'public curiosity about the Ranters, getting up pretended accounts of their meetings as a pretext for prurient publications'.[46] The greatest contribution to the study of religious dissent, however, was made by the Unitarian minister Alexander Gordon, author of an incredible 778 entries for the Dictionary of National Biography as well as numerous articles on all aspects of nonconformity that appeared in publications such as Christian Life. Gordon also played a significant role in the foundation of seven denominational history societies.[47]

By the end of the nineteenth century two distinct historiographical trends had emerged in the discussion of our phenomenon. One was bourgeois and liberal, essentially concerned with tracing the growth of democratic and republican ideas from a so-called English Revolution through to an American Revolution imbued with these influences. The product of social and economic tensions and a storehouse of radicalism, this English Revolution anticipated many of the causes of the French Revolution. The other was Socialist and Marxist, likewise emphasizing secular class struggle but this time under the shadow of capitalism. These trends would dominate the field for the first seventy or so years of the twentieth century, indeed until the baby-boom generation came of age. But what both still lacked was an ability to effectively integrate denominational history - traditions of religious dissent - within their conception of radicalism.

4. The Twentieth Century, 1900-1945

At the very end of the nineteenth century C.B. Roylance Kent fixed the date of the beginning of English radicalism at 1769; his critics suggested he should have looked further back. In North America others did just that. Thus J.E. Shea detected the emergence of radicalism in the Reformation, identifying it within English and New English puritanism.[48] Moreover, before the United States entered the Great War Theodore Calvin Pease completed a prize-winning doctoral dissertation subsequently published as The Leveller Movement (Washington, DC, 1916). Pease argued that there were similarities between the constitutional ideas and methods of the Leveller party and political theories expressed during the American Revolution. He also called attacks by John Lilburne and his associates against arbitrary power 'radical'.[49] Afterwards, it was mainly scholars interested in Milton's milieu who did much to bring the Levellers and their contemporaries to a wider audience. Hence William Haller of Columbia University edited Tracts on Liberty in the Puritan Revolution, 1638-1647 (3 vols., New York, 1934) and, with Firth's former student Godfrey Davies, The Leveller Tracts 1647-1653 (New York, 1944). Although Haller did not regard the Levellers as the originators of their own social and political ideas he believed that they helped bring England toward a pluralistic, secularized state. Furthermore, he perpetuated the notion that Lilburne was the 'first real democrat'.[50] Similarly, introducing Puritanism and Liberty, Being the Army Debates (1647-49) from the Clarke Manuscripts (1938), A.S.P. Woodhouse of Toronto paused to consider the 'process by which the forces of democracy, of liberty and equality, in Puritanism' were 'released to operate in the secular sphere'. He thought the Levellers, though 'at bottom individualists', were the 'one fully democratic group' in the Puritan revolution, whereas the Diggers were the 'one proletarian group' - even if their 'idealistic socialism' had more in common with William Morris than Karl Marx.[51] In the same vein, D.M. Wolfe introduced his Leveller Manifestoes of the Puritan Revolution (New York, 1944) by arguing that the Levellers 'presaged with amazing fullness political and constitutional patterns that were to stir England and America for twenty decades'. Indeed, they anticipated the 'chief principles of the American constitution'. The volume even included a preface by Charles Beard, a prominent historian who had supported the New Deal and advocated a post-capitalist 'workers' republic' in America. Beard maintained that it deserved 'a permanent place as a fundamental exhibit in the history of constitutional government and liberty in England, the United States' and 'the whole English-speaking world'.[52]

In the years around the turn of the twentieth century the Diggers' significance continued to be debated on this side of the Atlantic, notably in studies by the Scottish journalist John Davidson. An uncompromising republican, democrat and Unitarian, Davidson compared Winstanley with Henry George (1839-1897), an American political economist, campaigner for public ownership of land and author of the influential Progress and Poverty (New York, 1880).[53] So too did the Quaker Lewis Berens. Dedicated to the Society of Friends and consisting mainly of reprinted documents, Berens's The Digger Movement in the Days of the Commonwealth (1906) suggested that Winstanley's earlier theological writings provided the Quakers with 'many of their most characteristic tenets and doctrines'. In addition, it was as:

a sincere and unswerving advocate of peaceful, practical reforms, as a courageous and unflinching opponent of the use of force, even for righteous ends, that Winstanley appealed to his own generation, as Henry George, Ruskin and Tolstoy appeal to the present.[54]

Although R.H. Tawney never found time to write extensively on the economic ideas of the Levellers and Diggers, he cited Winstanley's advocacy of 'theoretical communism' in Religion and the Rise of Capitalism (1926). A committed Christian and Socialist, Labour Party candidate and member of the Fabian Society, Tawney's principal works focussed on poverty, agricultural innovations and the origins of capitalism.[55] Like his contemporary Harold Laski, Tawney taught at the LSE and it was Laski's Canadian-born Jewish doctoral student David Petegorsky who completed a study of Winstanley's social philosophy. Published by the Socialist Victor Gollancz and distributed through the Left Book Club - an anti-fascist organization established in 1936 with a membership at its peak of 57,000, Petegorsky's Left-Wing Democracy in the English Civil War (1940) included chapters on 'The development of radical political thought' and Winstanley as a 'forgotten radical'. Influenced by Tawney and Laski, Petegorsky began by outlining modifications to the 'feudal structure' of English society: emergent capitalism, the rise of the middle classes, and the effects of enclosure on masses of peasants which increased urban migration and vagrancy. According to Petegorsky, Winstanley's first two 'almost unreadable' pamphlets of 1648 were typical products of chiliastic mysticism, his religious doctrines characteristic of the 'environment of the age'. Thereafter Winstanley shed that mysticism, developing 'progressive rationalist' arguments and a concern with 'practical communism' to appear as the 'most advanced radical of the century'. Significantly, Petegorsky also drew parallels between Winstanley's analysis of the 'relationship of economic power to political organization' and social transition in the twentieth century, insisting that Winstanley's challenge had 'lost none of its pertinence for our time'.[56] The organizers of a 'Festival of Music for the People' at the Albert Hall agreed for the Diggers' song was performed on 1 April 1939 - fabled anniversary of the group's foundation.[57]

Early in the year that would end with the United States entering the Second World War, George Sabine of Cornell University issued an edition of The Works of Gerrard Winstanley (New York, 1941). Author of an enormous History of Political Theory (1937), Sabine reprinted all except the earliest three of Winstanley's pamphlets for which he provided abstracts. At the outset of his seventy page introduction he stated that it was 'hopelessly unhistorical to take the seventeenth-century radical out of the religious and theological context'. Hence Winstanley's communism was the product of a spiritual odyssey, 'the last step in his rejection of beliefs' commonly held by puritans. Yet Sabine's crucial omission of Winstanley's pre-1649 tracts distorted the trajectory of Winstanley's thought - an imagined journey from Calvinist convictions to social philosophy - by emphasizing the perceived rational elements at the expense of the supposedly mystical. Accordingly, Democrats, Socialists and Marxists welcomed it.[58] Afterwards Sabine enlisted in the ideological struggle of the Cold War by embracing the 'Truman Doctrine' and delivering a lecture series on Marxism (New York, 1958).[59] Forestalled by Sabine's edition, Leonard Hamilton and other members of the Oxford University History Society (the 'Diggers of 1939-40') published an inexpensive selection from Winstanley's works with an introduction by Christopher Hill in 1944. Again the so-called mystical writings were misleadingly excluded.[60] The North American response was swift. Questioning Winstanley's identity as 'a seventeenth-century Marxist', Winthrop Hudson criticized attempts to disregard Winstanley's difficult phraseology as mere '"theological camouflage"'. Indeed, appropriating Winstanley as a pioneer for his '"conception of history as the history of class struggles"' was clearly intended to demonstrate that the '"ideals of Socialism and Communism"' were not alien to the English people. Rather the reverse:

left-wing socialism is indigenous to the British Isles and has its roots in 'the native British tradition'.[61]

All this time the 'Ranters' received scant attention from Marxists and their fellow travellers. Regarded as the 'wildest and most eccentric' of all sects, their supposedly antinomian and pantheistic doctrines made incorporating them within orthodox interpretations of the Revolution awkward. Instead, scholars stressed their humble origins and powerful demands for social justice, providing an incipient contribution to the 'psychoanalysis of radicalism'.[62] In the same way students concentrating on the continental and native forerunners of Quakerism tended to treat the 'Ranters' as an aberration. Thus even allowing for 'sectarian misunderstanding and exaggeration', Rufus Jones pronounced their movement '"degenerate"', 'a serious outbreak of mental and moral disorder'. Similarly, William Braithwaite stressed the exaggerated charges of 'moral laxity' brought against the 'Ranters' as a way of sharply distinguishing them from Quakers, whose 'message became an antidote to Ranterism', reclaiming many wayward individuals to 'a truer type of spiritual religion'.[63]

5. The Twentieth and Twenty-first Century, 1946-2006

During the Second World War the Army Bureau For Current Affairs had promoted discussion of the Putney Debates of 1647 among army education units. Aneurin Bevan had also concluded his tract Why Not Trust the Tories (1944) by quoting the 'wisdom' of Thomas Rainborowe. Little wonder then that in an article for Communist Review (June, 1947) Christopher Hill claimed the English army of three hundred years ago had been 'so democratic that it would give our Whitehall brass-hats the creeps if anything like it existed today'.[64] Like E.P. Thompson, Hill had a Methodist upbringing.  Born in York, where his father was a solicitor, he was educated at Oxford University and after joining the Communist Party spent ten months studying at Moscow from 1935 to 1936.[65] Significantly, his first article was on 'Soviet Interpretations of the English Interregnum'. Foreshadowing much of his early work, Hill explained how Russian historians saw the 'English bourgeois revolution' as 'a conflict of classes'. The Levellers represented the 'independent artisan masters and peasants', 'continually battered in the hopeless economic struggle'. In common with Winstanley they 'thought of English history in class terms' by articulating their grievances against the 'Norman yoke'. Following intensive debate with a group of fellow Marxist historians, Hill issued a controversial essay on The English Revolution (1940), maintaining that the Civil War was a 'class war'. Written in 'great haste and anger' by a young man who believed he was going to be killed in war, it was published by Lawrence and Wishart of Red Lion Square, London - the press of the Communist Party of Great Britain, which had been founded in 1920.[66]

Formally established in 1946, the Historians' Group of the Communist Party flourished until 1956 when, in the aftermath of the Soviet Union's suppression of the Hungarian Revolution, a number of leading lights - including Thompson and Hill - left the Party. The group's objective was to create a tradition of Marxist history in Britain and to 'criticise non-Marxist history and its reactionary implications'. Noted for its 'moral exhortation', their passionately debated agenda had an urgent tone because, as Hill remarked, 'History plays an important part in the battle of ideas today'. According to Eric Hobsbawm's coy recollection, members generally 'did not feel any sense of constraint, of certain matters being off limits'. Nor did they feel that 'the Party tried to interfere with or distort' their work. Aspects of modern history, however, were politically sensitive and none of the group's 'period sections' were devoted to the twentieth century. Believing that only the Marxist approach could 'restore to the English people part of their heritage of which they have been robbed', Hill and Edmund Dell marked the 300th anniversary of 1649 by editing a collection of documents entitled The Good Old Cause: the English Revolution of 1640-1660 (1949). Hill's contribution was notably anti-Catholic and anti-imperialist. Indeed, his depiction of seventeenth-century England as poised between 'progressive and reactionary camps' mirrored his understanding of the post-war international situation since he had demanded ending 'capitalist exploitation' and 'subservience to American imperialism'.[67]

Before leaving the Communist Party in May 1957 Hill along with other members of the Historians' Group had launched a new journal of 'scientific history' in February 1952: Past and Present. Envisaged as a Marxist publication and soon to replace two Communist Party journals - The Modern Quarterly (1938-1953) and Communist Review (1921-1953), it promoted rationalism against the 'recrudescence of certain schools of thought'.[68] Readjusting his conception of Marxism, Hill subsequently wrote major works on the economic problems of the church and aspects of puritanism. During the late 1960s he also began to give greater attention to 'History from below'. Against the background of student protests in 1968 he completed an extremely influential and indisputable classic in this newly emerging field: The World Turned Upside Down. Radical Ideas During the English Revolution (1972).[69] Here Hill turned not to the revolution which 'succeeded' - the triumph of the protestant ethic, but to the revolution which 'never happened'; what he called 'the revolt within the Revolution'. Hill regarded physically mobile 'masterless men' as 'potential dissolvents' of English society. He distinguished five kinds. Firstly, rogues, vagabonds and beggars roaming the countryside in search of work. They attended no church, belonged to no organized social group. Secondly, the London 'mob', a large urban population living very near if not below the poverty line. Thirdly, Protestant sectaries, who by opting out of the state church had released themselves from the bonds of a hierarchical society. Determined and rejecting all mediators between man and God, they were strongest in the towns. Fourthly, destitute cottagers and squatters living in forests and on commons and waste ground. Finally there was the rank and file of the New Model Army; the most powerful and politically motivated group. When the secular court of Star Chamber and ecclesiastical court of High Commission were abolished, when strict censorship broke down and there was 'extensive liberty of the press', when the old world was - to quote Winstanley - '"running up like parchment in the fire"', class antagonism came to the surface. This was a popular revolt that threatened the propertied.[70]

In Hill's opinion Britain doubtless 'fared the worse in some respects for rejecting the truths' of seventeenth-century radicals. Indeed, the experience of defeat put a check to the 'intoxicating excitement' for 'what had looked in the Ranter heyday as though it might become a counter-culture became a corner of the bourgeois culture'.[71] Nowhere was Hill's despair more apparent then when he contemplated:

our landscape made hideous by neon signs, advertisements, pylons, wreckage of automobiles; our seas poisoned by atomic waste, their shores littered with plastic and oil; our atmosphere polluted with carbon dioxide and nuclear fall-out, our peace shattered by supersonic planes; as we think of nuclear bombs which can 'waste and destroy' ... we can recognize that man's greed, competition between men and between states, are really in danger of upsetting the balance of nature, of poisoning and destroying the globe.

These were the consequences of living in a 'brain-washed' society, of rejecting one of Winstanley's 'profoundest' insights concerning the state's role in a competitive society.[72]

Influenced by the Italian political theorist Antonio Gramsci's notion of hegemony, Hill also drew on Norman Brown's Life Against Death: The Psychoanalytical Meaning of History (1959) - acknowledging the latter in the title of his sixteenth chapter. In addition, he took into account new research on the early modern period. Among the works he used were H.N. Brailsford's posthumously published and unfinished The Levellers and the English Revolution (ed. C. Hill, 1961) and the Soviet historian M.A. Barg's Lower-class Popular Movements in the English Bourgeois Revolution of the 17th century (Moscow, 1967). For the Diggers he cited Petegorsky and Sabine as well as articles by Edmund Dell and Keith Thomas.[73] Moreover, having written little previously on the 'Ranters', he depended on two studies that demonstrated they 'must be taken seriously' - an unpublished B.Litt. thesis by his student J.F. McGregor entitled 'The Ranters, 1649-1660' and The World of the Ranters: Religious Radicalism in the English Revolution (1970) by A.L. Morton, former chair of the Historians' Group of the Communist Party. For contemporary descriptions of the 'Ranters' and their own texts he tended to rely on what was available in the Bodleian, supplemented with a selection reprinted in the appendix to Norman Cohn's The Pursuit of the Millennium (1957).[74] Having once 'arrogantly and snobbishly' dismissed 'self-appointed Messiahs' as a 'lunatic fringe' Hill became sympathetic to the 'Ranters', recognizing that 'they perhaps have something to say to our generation'. Consequently, they underwent a remarkable transformation. He likened their tobacco smoking and 'communal love-feast[s]' to drug-taking and free love, overstating -as he later admitted - their participation in a (puritan) 'sexual revolution'. Under the heading 'a counter-culture?' he claimed that the 'Ranter ethic' involved 'a real subversion of existing society and its values'. That this was a post-1960s manifesto thinly disguised as 'History from below' was precisely the point.[75]

In 1973 Hill's edition of Winstanley's selected writings was published by Penguin. His introduction portrayed Winstanley in modern dress as an advocate of 'human progress', 'reason' and 'international brotherhood'; an author whose insights 'may be of interest to those in the Third World today who face the transition from an agrarian to an industrial society'. Here again was a radical, largely secular Winstanley whose biblical language and 'high-flown metaphorical style' was worth penetrating in the same way that readers had to get through the 'Hegelian jargon' to understand the early Marx.[76] In a subsequent essay 'From Lollards to Levellers' (1978) Hill attempted to provide both a genealogy and ecology for 'lower-class' radicalism by exploring the continuity of radical ideas within an orally transmitted 'underground tradition'. His focus was on doctrinal and geographical continuities, particularly in pastoral, forest, moorland and fen areas where ecclesiastical control was less tight.[77] But if in retrospect the 1970s represented a pinnacle in Hill's writing on radicalism, it was also during this decade that his work was most severely attacked.[78] Indeed, Hill's preoccupation with twentieth-century ideological struggles and his moralizing tone made his work vulnerable to charges of being obsessively present-centred, of putting theory above facts. And it must be said that he used evidence inaccurately and selectively, depending almost entirely on printed sources. Ultimately Hill's vision of the past is largely unconvincing, revealing much about his own agenda while misleading readers unfamiliar with the evidence. To quote Montaigne:

People are prone to apply the meaning of other men's writings to suit opinions that they have previously determined in their minds.[79]

Nowhere is this more evident than in The World Turned Upside Down.

As both Burgess and Caricchio, among others, have outlined the varieties of so-called revisionism I will not discuss it here.[80] Instead I want to touch briefly on the wreckage left in revisionism's wake, on the afterlife of the radical tradition. Undeniably dramatic, Hill's shifting narratives of radicalism in the English Revolution lent themselves to historical fiction and were adapted for screen, stage and song. Based on David Caute's enjoyable novel Comrade Jacob (1961), which drew upon Hill's 'unrivalled knowledge' of the subject, the 35mm black and white film Winstanley (1975) was shown at festivals in Cork, Berlin and Moscow. Directed on a limited budget by Kevin Brownlow and Andrew Mollo, with a cast composed entirely of amateurs and an eye for historical detail - footwear, agricultural implements, livestock, terrain and climate - it was, according to one critic, 'science fiction of the past'. Envisaged as a 'desperate attempt' at 'absolute purity', the film depicted Parliament's victory in the Civil War as the triumph of the 'merchant-business class'. Moreover, as Brownlow noted, despite the importance of 'period recreation' the connections with the present - raging inflation, unemployment, troubles in Northern Ireland, a desperately divided left-wing, the commune movement - were 'obvious'.[81] In the same vein, a Digger pamphlet provided the title for Caryl Churchill's play Light Shining in Buckinghamshire (1976), which showed 'the amazed excitement of people taking hold of their own lives, and their gradual betrayal as those who led them realised that freedom could not be had without property being destroyed'. It featured a scene from the Putney Debates and included parts for Diggers, 'Ranters' and minor fictional characters.[82] Similarly, Keith Dewhurst's stage adaptation of Hill's The World Turned Upside Down was performed in 1978 by the actors' and producers' cooperative of the Cottesloe Theatre.[83] In addition, the singer and songwriter Leon Rosselson composed 'The World Turned Upside Down' (1976) and, with Roy Bailey, 'Abiezer Coppe' (1988). Rosselson's emotional lyrics, subsequently covered by Billy Bragg after hearing them sung at a benefit for striking miners in 1984, sympathized with the Diggers' lingering vision:

In 1649, to St George's Hill,
A ragged band they called the Diggers came to show the people's will,
They defied the landlords, they defied the laws,
They were the dispossessed reclaiming what was theirs.

We come in peace, they said, to dig and sow,
We come to work the lands in common and to make the waste ground grow.
This earth divided, we will make whole,
So it will be a common treasury for all.[84]

This left-wing 'sentimentalism' extended to the Workers Educational Association's annual 'pilgrimages' to Burford, where a Leveller-inspired army mutiny had been suppressed and three soldiers executed in May 1649.[85] Appropriately the 350th anniversary of the Putney Debates was celebrated in Putney Church with speeches by Christopher Hill and Tony Benn, while to the west conference papers generally at odds with leftist views were presented at the Folger Library, Washington - 'capital of the free world'.[86] By contrast the 350th anniversary of the Diggers' foundation was literally observed by 'The Land is Ours', who in April 1999 briefly reoccupied St. George's Hill before the North Surrey Water Board had them evicted. Elmbridge Borough Council has since named two new streets in Cobham after Winstanley.[87] Also noteworthy is an obelisk erected in the twentieth century known as the 'Column of Revolution'. Situated in Alexander Garden, Moscow near the western Kremlin wall it is inscribed with the names of nineteen European radicals. Winstanley appears eighth on the list, after Marx and Engels.[88]

6. Unresolved questions and new directions

As this is an on-going debate I have knowingly omitted or only briefly mentioned a number of significant contexts - the continental European dimension; the wider British archipelago; New England; puritanism, anti-legalism, adult baptism, millenarianism and Judaizing; London; the role of oral traditions and rumour, manuscript, print and propaganda; the public sphere. There are also a number of unresolved questions. If radicalism is contextual can we no longer speak of its origins and founders? Can the term radical be applied to any historical period? How does radicalism during the English Revolution differ from seventeenth-century European religious conflicts and popular rebellions? Were the ideas innovatory or did they have complex genealogies? How important were pacifism and violence in spreading them? Were they popular? Did organized movements with realistic and shared objectives emerge? What significance should we give to individual experiences? Was this really an age of freedom? Can we measure the successes and failures of the English Revolution?

The recent conference held at Goldsmiths entitled Rediscovering Radicalism in the British Isles and Ireland, c.1550-c.1700: movements of people, texts and ideas (21-23 June 2006) demonstrated a variety of new directions that interpretations of this subject will take. One rewarding approach, exemplified by the work of Nigel Smith and Nick McDowell, has been literary.[89]



* Versions of this paper were read at the ‘British History in the 17th Century’ seminar at the Institute of Historical Research, London (5 October 2006) and at ‘The First North American Conference On Radicalism’ held at East Lansing, Michigan (26 January 2007). I am most grateful to the British Academy for their generous award of an Overseas Conference Grant which made my participation at the latter event possible. I would also like to thank the participants for their helpful comments and suggestions. In addition, I have profited from the advice of Phil Baker, Mario Caricchio, Ian O’Neill and Jason Peacey. Place of publication, where known and unless otherwise stated, is London. I alone am responsible for any mistakes or shortcomings.

[1] R.C. Richardson, The debate on the English Revolution: revisited (1977; 3rd edn., Manchester, 1998); Alastair MacLachlan, The Rise and Fall of Revolutionary England. An Essay on the Fabrication of Seventeenth-Century History (Basingstoke, 1996); Mario Caricchio, Popolo e Rivoluzione? La storiografia e i movimenti radicali della Rivoluzione inglese (Milan, 2005).

[2] Cf. J.C. Davis, ‘Radicalism in a Traditional Society: The Evaluation of Radical Thought in the English Commonwealth 1649–1660’, History of Political Thought, 3 (1982), pp. 193–213; J.F. McGregor and Barry Reay (eds.), Radical Religion in the English Revolution (Oxford, 1984); Frances Dow, Radicalism in the English Revolution 1640–1660 (Oxford, 1985); G.E. Aylmer, ‘Collective Mentalities in mid Seventeenth-Century England. III. Varieties of Radicalism’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 5th series, 37 (1988), pp. 1–25; J. Scott, ‘Radicalism and Restoration: the shape of the Stuart experience’, Historical Journal, 31 (1988), pp. 453–67; D. Wootton, ‘From Rebellion to Revolution: The Crisis of the Winter of 1642/3 and the Origins of Civil War Radicalism’, English Historical Review, 105 (1990), pp. 654–69; Jonathan Scott, England’s Troubles: Seventeenth-century English Political Instability in European Context (Cambridge, 2000); P. Baker, ‘Rhetoric, reality, and the varieties of Civil War Radicalism’, in John Adamson (ed.), The Civil Wars: Rebellion and Revolution in the kingdoms of Charles I (forthcoming).

[3] G. Burgess, ‘A Matter of Context: “Radicalism” and the English Revolution’, Cromohs Virtual Seminars (2006), <http://www.fupress.net/public/journals/49/Seminar/burgess_radicalism.html>.

[4] Biographia Britannica (6 vols., 1747–66), vol. 5, pp. 2936–61; cf. John Oldmixon, The History of England, during the reigns of the Royal House of Stuart (1730), pp. 378, 379, 386; Thomas Carte, A General History of England (4 vols., 1747–55), vol. 4, pp. 615, 658; see also, F.K. Donnelly, ‘The Levellers and Early Nineteenth Century Radicalism’, Bulletin of the Society for the Study of Labour History, 49 (1984), pp. 24–28; B. Worden, ‘The Levellers in history and memory, c.1660–1960’, in Michael Mendle (ed.), The Putney Debates of 1647. The Army, the Levellers and the English State (Cambridge, 2001), pp. 256–82.

[5] David Hume, The History of England, from the invasion of Julius Caesar to the revolution in 1688 (8 vols., 1767), vol. 7, pp. 112, 161, 174.

[6] Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France (2nd edn., 1790), pp. 139, 225; Edmund Burke, The beauties of the late Right Hon. Edmund Burke (2 vols., 1798), vol. 2, p. 189.

[7] British Library, London, Add. MS 23, 668, fol. 40r; Joseph Towers, Remarks on the conduct, principles, and publications, of the Association at the Crown and Anchor, in the Strand (1793); Anon., The anti-levelling songster (1793).

[8] Joseph Towers, British Biography ([Sherborne], 10 vols., 1766–72), vol. 6, pp. 44–69.

[9] Catharine Macaulay, The History of England from the accession of James I to the elevation of the House of Hanover (5 vols., 1769–72), vol. 4, pp. 331–32; P. Hicks, ‘Catharine Macaulay’s Civil War: Gender, History and Republicanism in Georgian Britain’, Journal of British Studies, 41 (2002), pp. 170–98.

[10] A meeting of the Society for Constitutional Information (1783), p. 1; Joseph Cornish, A brief history of nonconformity (1797), pp. 67–70.

[11] Bibliotheca Furliana, sive catalogus Librorum (Rotterdam, 1714) [BL, 11901.a.11], p. 89, no. 988; Bibliotheca Uffenbachiana universalis (4 vols., Frankfurt-am-Main, 1729–31), vol. 1, p. 841, no. 30 (13); vol. 1, p. 861, no. 52 (1–4).

[12] W.P.D. Stebbing, ‘Gerrard Winstanley’s Socialistic and Religious Discourses. – A Kent Association volume’, Archaeologia Cantiana, 56 (1943), p. 70.

[13] Hume, History of England, vol. 7, p. 172.

[14] Bibliotheca Furliana, p. 92, no. 1042; Bibliotheca Uffenbachiana, vol. 1, p. 861, no. 51.

[15] Bibliotheca Furliana, p .87, no. 966; p. 154, no. 932; Bibliotheca Uffenbachiana, vol. 1, p. 881, no. 10 (1–4). It is noteworthy that Samuel Jeake once owned a copy of Salmon’s Anti-Christ in man bound with Lewin’s pamphlet, see; Michael Hunter, Giles Mandelbrote, Richard Ovenden and Nigel Smith (eds.), A Radical’s Books. The Library Catalogue of Samuel Jeake of Rye, 1623–90 (Woodbridge, 1999), p. 210.

[16] Bibliotheca Furliana, p. 94, no. 1071; Bibliotheca Uffenbachiana, vol. 1, p. 863, no. 55.

[17] Bibliotheca Uffenbachiana, vol. 1, p. 884, no. 34 (1–10); Bodleian Library, Oxford, Vet. A3f.306 (1–4).

[18] A. Hessayon, ‘Jacob Boehme, Emanuel Swedenborg and their readers’, in Stephen McNeilly (ed.), The Arms of Morpheus: essays on Swedenborg and Mysticism (2007).

[19] Denis’s Catalogue of Ancient and Modern Books (1787), p. 113, no. 3260; p. 38, no. 929; p. 41, no. 974; p. 122, no. 3506; p. 141, no. 4198; p. 122, no. 3501; p. 121, no. 3484; p. 130, no. 3801.

[20] Denis’s Catalogue, p. 42, no. 994; p. 36, nos. 885, 888; p. 96, nos. 2748, 2749; p. 114, no. 3276; p. 241 no. 7574; p. 31, no. 808.

[21] Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, shelfmark T 151.

[22] Hessayon, ‘Boehme, Swedenborg and their readers’.

[23] Swedenborg Society, London, MS A/25, Henry Peckitt MSS.

[24] Bodl. Lib., Antiq.e.E 34(2).

[25] Richard Coppin, The Advancement of All Things in Christ ([1763]), sig. A2v.

[26] James Relly, The Sadducee Detected and Refuted (1764), pp. 5–7; cf. Charles Gildon, The Post-Boy Robb’d of his Mail (2nd edn., 1706), pp. 428–29.

[27] Richard Coppin, A blow at the serpent (1764) [BL, 4139.bbb.52(1)].

[28] Hessayon, ‘Boehme, Swedenborg and their readers’.

[29] Jane Lead, The Enochian walks with God (1694) [BL, 4105.de.2(10)]; Jane Lead, A message to the Philadelphian Society (1696) [BL, 4378.a.32]; Jane Lead, A fountain of gardens (1696) [BL, 4412.i.25]; Jane Lead, The signs of the times (1699) [BL, 3185.i.22(1)]; Jane Lead, A living funeral testimony (1702) [BL, 4409.de.32].

[30] Christopher Walton, Notes and materials for an adequate Biography of the celebrated divine and theosopher, William Law (1854), pp. 587–91; Desirée Hirst, Hidden Riches. Traditional Symbolism from the Renaissance to Blake (1964), pp. 259–60, 276–81.

[31] William Cobbett and Thomas Howell (eds.), A Complete Collection of State Trials (34 vols., 1809–28), vol. 3, pp. 1315–68; vol. 4, pp. 1275, 1353–69; cf. A Complete Collection of State Trials (2nd edn., 6 vols., 1730), vol. 2, pp. 19–82; A Complete Collection of State Trials (2nd edn., 8 vols., 1766), vol. 7, pp. 286–309, 354–370.

[32] The Harleian Miscellany; or A collection of scarce, curious and entertaining pamphlets and tracts (12 vols., 1808–11), vol. 7, pp. 36–46; vol. 11, pp. 485–92.

[33] William Godwin, History of the Commonwealth of England (4 vols., 1824–28), vol. 3, pp. 45–58, 62–82; J. Morrow, ‘Republicanism and Public Virtue: William Godwin’s History of the Commonwealth of England’, Historical Journal, 34 (1991), pp. 645–64.

[34] John Rutt (ed.), Diary of Thomas Burton (4 vols., 1828), vol. 1, ‘preface’, p. 49 n.

[35] Thomas Carlyle (ed.), The Letters and Speeches of Oliver Cromwell (1845; revised S.C. Lomas, 3 vols., 1904), vol. 1, pp. 435–37.

[36] T. Hitchcock, ‘Bellers, John (1654–1725)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004); C.H. George, ‘Gerrard Winstanley: A Critical Retrospect’, in C.R. Cole and Michael Moody (eds.), The Dissenting Tradition (Athens, Ohio, 1975), pp. 205–06; cf. J. Holstun, ‘Communism, George Hill and the Mir: Was Marx a Nineteenth-Century Winstanleyan?’, in Andrew Bradstock (ed.), Winstanley and the Diggers, 1649–1999 (2000), pp. 121–48.

[37] Richardson, Debate on the English Revolution, pp. 77–80; MacLachlan, Rise and Fall of Revolutionary England, pp. 12–19; Caricchio, Popolo e Rivoluzione?, pp. 21–23, 27–28.

[38] Notes & Queries, 1st series, 4 (1851), pp. 134, 241; N & Q, 2nd ser., 1 (1856), pp. 355–56; E. Peacock, ‘Notes on the Life of Thomas Rainborowe’, Archaeologia, 46 (1880), pp. 9–64; E. Peacock, ‘John Lilburne: A Bibliography’, N & Q, 7th ser., 5 (1888), pp. 122–23, 162–63, 242–43, 342–43, 423–24, 502–03; cf. Joseph Smith, A Descriptive Catalogue of Friends’ Books (2 vols., 1867), vol. 2, pp. 110–23.

[39] I. Roots, ‘Gardiner, Samuel Rawson (1829–1902)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004); Richardson, Debate on the English Revolution, pp. 82–86; J.S.A. Adamson, ‘Eminent Victorians: S.R. Gardiner and the Liberal as Hero’, Historical Journal, 33 (1990), pp. 641–57; MacLachlan, Rise and Fall of Revolutionary England, pp. 26–27; Caricchio, Popolo e Rivoluzione?, pp. 32–35.

[40] Samuel Gardiner, History of the Great Civil War, 1642–1649 (4 vols., 1893; reprinted, 1987), vol. 2, pp. 110–12, vol. 3, pp. 387–88.

[41] Samuel Gardiner, History of the Commonwealth and Protectorate, 1649–1656 (4 vols., 1903; reprinted, Adlestrop, 1988–89), vol. 1, pp. 42–44, vol. 2, pp. 78–79; cf. Leopold von Ranke, A History of England principally in the Seventeenth Century (6 vols., Oxford, 1875), vol. 3, pp. 19–20.

[42] D.W. Morgan, ‘The Father of Revisionism Revisited: Eduard Bernstein’, Journal of Modern History, 51 (1979), pp. 525–32; Caricchio, Popolo e Rivoluzione?, pp. 61–62; Eduard Bernstein, Cromwell and Communism. Socialism and Democracy in the Great English Revolution (Stuttgart, 1895), trans. H.J. Stenning (1930; reprinted, Nottingham, 1980).

[43] F. Eyck, ‘Gooch, George Peabody (1873–1968)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004); F.E. Hirsch, ‘George Peabody Gooch’, Journal of Modern History, 26 (1954), pp. 260–71; George Gooch, The History of English Democratic Ideas in the Seventeenth Century (Cambridge, 1898), pp. 136, 220, 225, 360.

[44] Daniel Lysons, The Environs of London, being an Historical Account of the Towns, Villages, and Hamlets within Twelve Miles of that Capital (4 vols., 1796–1800), vol. 1, p. 23; Thomas Percy, Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (3 vols., Edinburgh, 1858), vol. 3, p. 284 n. 1; Robert Barclay, The Inner Life of the Religious Societies of the Commonwealth (1876), p. 423; Alexander Gordon, ‘Coppe, Abiezer’ (1887), in the old Dictionary of National Biography.

[45] A. Gordon, ‘Barclay, Robert (1833–1876)’, rev. K.D. Reynolds, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004); Barclay, Inner Life of the Religious Societies, pp. 416–24, Appendix.

[46] G.G. Smith, ‘Masson, David Mather (1822–1907)’, rev. S. Miley Cooney, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004); David Masson, The Life of John Milton (6 vols., 1873–94; reprinted, Gloucester, Mass., 1965), vol. 5, pp. 17–19; cf. Gardiner, History of the Commonwealth and Protectorate, vol. 2, p. 2.

[47] A. Ruston, ‘Gordon, Alexander (1841–1931)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004).

[48] C.B.R. Kent, The English Radicals, an Historical Sketch (1899); J.E. Shea, ‘Radicalism and Reform’, Proceedings of the American Political Science Association, 3 (1906), pp. 158–60.

[49] Theodore Pease, The Leveller Movement. A Study in the History and Political Theory of the English Great Civil War (Washington, DC, 1916; reprinted, Gloucester, Mass., 1965), pp. 1–6, 86–163.

[50] L.J. Trinterud, ‘William Haller, Historian of Puritanism’, Journal of British Studies, 5 (1966), pp. 33–55; Caricchio, Popolo e Rivoluzione?, pp. 42–44.

[51] A.S.P. Woodhouse (ed.), Puritanism and Liberty, Being the Army Debates (1647–49) from the Clarke Manuscripts (1938; 3rd edn., 1992), pp. [70, 82, 98–99]; MacLachlan, Rise and Fall of Revolutionary England, pp. 36–37; cf. A.S.P. Woodhouse, ‘Puritanism and Democracy’, Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science, 4 (1938), pp. 1–21.

[52] Don Wolfe (ed.), Leveller Manifestoes of the Puritan Revolution (New York, 1944), p. vii; C.W. Barrow, ‘Building a Workers’ Republic: Charles A. Beard’s Critique of Liberalism in the 1930s’, Polity, 30 (1997), pp. 29–56; Caricchio, Popolo e Rivoluzione?, pp. 52–53.

[53] H.C.G. Matthew, ‘Davidson, John Morrison (1843–1916)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004); R. Samuel, ‘British Marxist Historians, 1880–1980: Part One’, New Left Review, 120 (1980), p. 37; John Davidson, Concerning Four Precursors of Henry George and the Single Tax, as also the Land Gospel according to Winstanley ‘the Digger’ (1899); John Davidson, The Wisdom of Winstanley the ‘Digger’; being outlines of the kingdom of God on earth (1904).

[54] Lewis Berens, The Digger Movement in the Days of the Commonwealth as revealed in the Writings of Gerrard Winstanley (1906), pp. 40, 49, 52–67, 232.

[55] Richard Tawney, Religion and the Rise of Capitalism (1926; reprinted, 1987), p. 254; Richardson, Debate on the English Revolution, pp. 98–104; MacLachlan, Rise and Fall of Revolutionary England, pp. 34, 40–43; Caricchio, Popolo e Rivoluzione?, pp. 59–60, 64–67.

[56] David Petegorsky, Left-Wing Democracy in the English Civil War: A Study of the Social Philosophy of Gerrard Winstanley (1940; reprinted, Stroud, 1995), pp. 14–16, 21, 124–26, 131, 138, 177, 228; S. Samuels, ‘The Left Book Club’, Journal of Contemporary History, 1 (1966), pp. 65–86; Richardson, Debate on the English Revolution, pp. 114, 210 n. 56; Caricchio, Popolo e Rivoluzione?, pp. 67–68.

[57] E.A. White, ‘The Diggers’ Song’, English Folk Dance and Song Society Journal, 4 (1940), pp. 23–30.

[58] George Sabine (ed.), The Works of Gerrard Winstannley (New York, 1941), pp. 3, 40–41; cf. A.S.P. Woodhouse’s review in Philosophical Review, 51 (1942), pp. 324–27; Christopher Hill’s review in English Historical Review, 57 (1942), pp. 384–88; R.B. Schlatter, ‘The problem of historical causation in some recent studies of the English Revolution’, Journal of the History of Ideas, 4 (1943), pp. 357–60.

[59] Caricchio, Popolo e Rivoluzione?, p. 55 n. 79.

[60] Christopher Hill (ed.), Winstanley: The Law of Freedom and other writings (Harmondsworth, 1973), pp. 6, 7.

[61] W.S. Hudson, ‘Economic and Social thought of Gerrard Winstanley. Was he a seventeenth-century Marxist?’, Journal of Modern History, 18 (1946), pp. 2–3; cf. W.S. Hudson, ‘Gerrard Winstanley and the early Quakers’, Church History, 12 (1943), pp. 177–94; J.M. Patrick, ‘The Literature of the Diggers’, University of Toronto Quarterly, 12 (1942), pp. 95–110; J.M. Patrick, ‘William Covell and the troubles at Enfield in 1659. A sequel of the Digger movement’, University of Toronto Quarterly, 14 (1944–45), pp. 45–57.

[62] William Tindall, John Bunyan, Mechanick Preacher (New York, 1934), pp. 96–99; J.T. McNeill’s review in Journal of Religion, 15 (1935), pp. 240–42; Petegorsky, Left-Wing Democracy, pp. 236, 237.

[63] Rufus Jones, Studies in Mystical Religion (1909), pp. 467–81; William Braithwaite, The Beginnings of Quakerism (1912; 2nd edn., revised Henry Cadbury, 1955; reprinted, York, 1981), p. 22; cf. C.E. Whiting, Studies in English Puritanism from the Restoration to the Revolution 1660–1688 (1931), pp. 272–83; Theodor Sippell, Werdendes Quakertum (Stuttgart, 1937), pp. 182–214.

[64] Samuel, ‘British Marxist Historians’, pp. 27–28; MacLachlan, Rise and Fall of Revolutionary England, p. 37.

[65] Richardson, Debate on the English Revolution, pp. 112–13; Samuel, ‘British Marxist Historians’, pp. 43, 52; M. Kettle, ‘Obituary: Christopher Hill’, The Guardian, 26 February 2003, <http://www.guardian.co.uk/obituaries/story/0,3604,902955,00.html>; R. Briggs, ‘Hill, (John Edward), Christopher (1912–2003)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2007)

[66] C. Hill, ‘Soviet Interpretations of the English Interregnum’, Economic History Review, 8 (1938), pp. 159–67; Richardson, Debate on the English Revolution, pp. 114–15; MacLachlan, Rise and Fall of Revolutionary England, pp. 46–47, 55–63.

[67] E. Hobsbawm, ‘The Historians’ Group of the Communist Party’, in Maurice Cornforth (ed.), Rebels and their Causes. Essays in Honour of A.L. Morton (1978), pp. 21–47; Richardson, Debate on the English Revolution, pp. 116–17; Samuel, ‘British Marxist Historians’, pp. 52–55, 73–75; MacLachlan, Rise and Fall of Revolutionary England, pp79–87, 101–21.

[68] C. Hill, R.H. Hilton and E.J. Hobsbawm, ‘Past and Present. Origins and Early Years’, Past & Present, 100 (1983), pp. 3–14; Samuel, ‘British Marxist Historians’, pp. 84–85, MacLachlan, Rise and Fall of Revolutionary England, pp. 103, 130–31.

[69] Samuel, ‘British Marxist Historians’, pp. 94–95, MacLachlan, Rise and Fall of Revolutionary England, pp. 169–93.

[70] Christopher Hill, The World Turned Upside Down (1972; Harmondsworth, 1984 edn.), pp. 14, 15, 17, 39–57.

[71] Hill, World Turned Upside Down, pp. 363, 371, 379.

[72] Hill, World Turned Upside Down, pp. 294, 324.

[73] E. Dell, ‘Gerrard Winstanley and the Diggers’, Modern Quarterly, 4 (1949), pp 129–41; K.V. Thomas, ‘Another Digger Broadside’, Past & Present, 42 (1969), pp. 61–68.

[74] Hill, World Turned Upside Down, pp. 16, 138 n. 135, 172 n. 77, 208 n. 129, 211 n.142; cf. Christopher Hill, Society and Puritanism in Pre-Revolutionary England (1964; Harmondsworth, 1986 edn.), pp. 280–81, 464; Christopher Hill, Intellectual Origins of the English Revolution (Oxford, 1965), p. 224 n.3.

[75] Christopher Hill, The Century of Revolution, 1603–1714 (1961; 2nd edn., 1972), p. 149; Hill, World Turned Upside Down, pp. 15, 16, 199, 314–23, 339–41.

[76] Christopher Hill (ed.), Winstanley: The Law of Freedom and other writings (Harmondsworth, 1973), pp. 9–10, 54–56; cf. J.G.A. Pocock’s review of the reissue in Political Theory, 13 (1985), pp. 461–65.

[77] C. Hill, ‘From Lollards to Levellers’, in Christopher Hill, The Collected Essays of Christopher Hill (3 vols., Brighton, 1986), vol. 2, pp. 91, 99, 107.

[78] J.H. Hexter, On Historians (1979), pp. 227–51; cf. J.S. Morrill, ‘Christopher Hill’s Revolution’, History, 74 (1989), pp. 243–52.

[79] Michel de Montaigne, ‘An Apology for Raymond Sebond’, in The Complete Essays of Montaigne, trans. Donald Frame (Stanford, California, 1958), p. 327.

[80] Richardson, Debate on the English Revolution, pp. 150–72; G. Burgess, ‘On Revisionism: An Analysis of Early Stuart Historiography in the 1970s and 1980s’, Historical Journal, 33 (1990), pp. 609–27; MacLachlan, Rise and Fall of Revolutionary England, pp. 231–51; Caricchio, Popolo e Rivoluzione?, pp. 111–51.

[81] David Caute, Comrade Jacob (1961; reprinted, 1973), no pagination; C. Hill, ‘Notes and Comments’, Past & Present, 69 (1975), p. 132; V. Glaessner, ‘Winstanley: An Interview with Kevin Brownlow’, Film Quarterly, 30 (1976–77), pp. 18–23.

[82] Caryl Churchill, Light Shining in Buckinghamshire (1978; reprinted, 2000), no pagination.

[83] W. Lamont, ‘The Left and Its Past: Revisiting the 1650s’, History Workshop Journal, 23 (1987), p. 142; MacLachlan, Rise and Fall of Revolutionary England, pp. 181–82.

[84] A. Howkins, ‘From Diggers to Dongas: the Land in English Radicalism, 1649–2000’, History Workshop Journal, 54 (2002), p. 1. Lyrics available at <http://www.mixed-up.com/lyrics/folk/upsidedown/>.

[85] Lamont, ‘The Left and Its Past’, p. 151; ‘The History of Levellers Day’, <http://www.levellers.org.uk/levellersdayhistory.htm>.

[86] B. Worden, ‘The Levellers in history and memory, c.1660–1960’, in Michael Mendle (ed.), The Putney Debates of 1647. The Army, the Levellers and the English State (Cambridge, 2001), p. 280.

[87] A. Bradstock, ‘Introduction’, in Andrew Bradstock (ed.), Winstanley and the Diggers, 1649–1999 (2000), pp. 1–3, 6 n. 1; Howkins, ‘From Diggers to Dongas’, p. 21; ‘Diggers 350’, <http://www.tlio.org.uk/campaigns/diggers/index.html>.

[88] <http://www.erns-archive.com/galleries/russ01/russ01_moscow19_kreml.jpg>. I am grateful to Nevenka Martin for transliterating the Cyrillic inscription.

[89] Nigel Smith, Perfection Proclaimed. Language and Literature in English Radical Religion 1640–1660 (Oxford, 1989); Nicholas McDowell, The English Radical Imagination. Culture, Religion, and Revolution, 1630–1660 (Oxford, 2003).

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