The Significance Of Radical Thought And Attitudes In The Civil War Period

2092 words - 8 pages

The Significance of Radical Thought and Attitudes in the Civil War Period

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
aspects, which defined many of 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 ingrained the church and
the Monarchy was in every day life, both during and after the Civil
War. They defined most of the boundaries, and structures of 17th
century society, resulting in many radical groups expressing their
ideas through religion. Mich Lynch calles religion "the great issue
that defined settlement", or peace in this case.

One group challenging this were the "True Levellers" mockingly known
as "Diggers:" With beliefs in equality, community and "true religion
for all" they argued that land was "a common treasury".

. As. Michel Lynch states: "It was the great issue that defined
settlement", or peace in this case. One group challenging this were
the "True Levellers" mockingly known as "Diggers:" With beliefs in
equality, community and "true religion for all" they argued that land
was "a common treasury" and lived in communes detached from society.
The most famous commune was on St George's Hill, where common land was
taken over by a group numbering around 50 led by Winstanly. Their
ideas derived and supported from the Bible were radical in that they
directly threatened the gentry and the landowners. As Michel Lynch
states they ". were regarded as an intolerable affront to established
rights of property referring to a lifestyle of "sexual promiscuity,
heavy drinking and frequent blaspheming", usurping land laws and
ownership. Reactions and accusations followed that they were "Drunk on
the Bible", thus dramatising many aspects of Digger practice. Just how
seriously they challenged established order was evident in violent
clashes that culminated in their removal under...

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