This cross-disciplinary collection of essays examines – for the first time and in detail – the variegated notions of democracy put forward in seventeenth-century England. It thus shows that democracy was widely explored and debated at the time; that anti-democratic currents and themes have a long history; that the seventeenth century is the first period in English history where we nonetheless find positive views of democracy; and that whether early-modern writers criticised or advocated it, these discussions were important for the subsequent development of the concept and practice ‘democracy’.
By offering a new historical account of such development, the book provides an innovative exploration of an important but overlooked topic whose relevance is all the more considerable in today’s political debates, civic conversation, academic arguments and media talk.
Contributors include Camilla Boisen, Alan Cromartie, Cesare Cuttica, Hannah Dawson, Martin Dzelzainis, Rachel Foxley, Matthew Growhoski, Rachel Hammersley, Peter Lake, Gaby Mahlberg, Markku Peltonen, Edward Vallance, and John West.
Cesare Cuttica is Lecturer in British History at the Université Paris 8-Vincennes, and author of Sir Robert Filmer (1588–1653) and the Patriotic Monarch: Patriarchalism in Seventeenth-Century Political Thought (Manchester, 2012). He also co-edited Monarchism and Absolutism in Early Modern Europe (London, 2012) and Patriarchal Moments (London, 2016).
Markku Peltonen is Academy Professor and Professor of History at the University of Helsinki. His publications include Classical Humanism and Republicanism in English Political Thought 1570–1640 (Cambridge, 1995) and The Duel in Early Modern England: Civility, Politeness and Honour (Cambridge, 2003) and Rhetoric, Politics and Popularity in Pre-revolutionary England (Cambridge, 2013).
“Enlisting 11 other accomplished scholars of early modern England, Cuttica and Peltonen explore the rhetoric of democracy and antidemocracy in English political pamphlet literature of the 17th century, a tumultuous time in early modern England [...]. Summing up: recommended”.
E. J. Eisenach, in: Choice 57 (5), January 2020.
“This is an important, scholarly, and well-written collection of essays. The authors base their arguments on a mass of primary sources, many of which have rarely been used before.[...] Overall, this is an excellent and wideranging collection of essays on important topics”.
Johann Sommerville, University of Wisconsin–Madison. In: Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 74, No. 1 (Spring 2021), pp. 307–309.
“thought-provoking and insightful.”
Jason Peacey, University College London. In: Journal of British Studies, Vol. 60, No. 3 (July 2021), pp. 699–701.
[...]“c’est peut-être ici que réside le principal enjeu du travail délicat d’histoire contextualisée des usages de la catégorie de démocratie (et d’anti-démocratie) que propose cet ouvrage : inviter le lecteur à s’interroger, à l’aide de l’histoire, sur ce que signifie, présuppose et implique de se réclamer d’un idéal politique affirmant, selon les mots de The Government of the People of England (1650) écrit par un certain John Parker dont on ne sait pas grand-chose, que:«all government is in the people, from the people, and for the people»”.
Christopher Hamel , in: Revue de la Société d’études anglo-américaines des XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles, 77 (2020).
"This collection is, in most respects, a model of scholarship, drawing on expertise from different disciplines". George Southcombe in English Historical Review, February 2022.
Abbreviations and Conventions
Notes on Contributors
Introduction: ‘Gone Missing’: Democracy and Anti-democracy in Seventeenth-Century England
Cesare Cuttica and Markku Peltonen
PART 1 Democracy and the People: Citizenship, Representation and the Commonwealth 1 Imagining Citizenship in the Levellers and Milton
Rachel Foxley 2 Democracy, Toleration, and the Interests of the People
Alan Cromartie 3 ‘All Government is in the people, from the people, and for the people’: Democracy in the English Revolution
Markku Peltonen 4 The Place of Democracy in Late Stuart England
PART 2 Democracy and the World-Turned-Upside-Down: Religion, Emotions and Polemical Fire 5 ‘A most dangerous rudeness’: Anti-populism and the Literary Justification of Absolutism in the Fiction of John Barclay (1582–1621)
Matthew Growhoski 6 The Spectre Haunting Early Seventeenth-Century England (ca. 1603–1649): Democracy at Its Worst
Cesare Cuttica 7 Anti-puritanism as Political Discourse; the Laudian Critique of Puritan ‘Popularity’
Peter Lake 8 Presbyterians, Republicans, and Democracy in Church and State, c.1570–1660
Rachel Hammersley 9 Poetry, the Passions, and Anti-democracy in Later Stuart England
PART 3 Democracy and the Other: Slaves, Natives and Women 10 Democracy and Anti-democracy: the Roger Williams and John Cotton Debate Revisited
Camilla Boisen 11 ‘The vulgar only scap’d who stood without’: Milton and the Politics of Exclusion
Martin Dzelzainis 12 A Democratic Culture? Women, Citizenship and Subscriptional Texts in Early Modern England
Edward Vallance 13 The Parliament of Women and the Restoration Crisis
Gaby Mahlberg Index
Scholars and academics (e.g. intellectual, political, cultural and literary historians, political scientists, philosophers) as well as teachers and students at both graduate and postgraduate level, and all those interested in popular power and the role of the masses, public opinion, broad political participation and religion in the collective arena we call society. Keywords are popularity, Stuart England, history of political thought, popular sovereignty, people, republicanism, Levellers, citizenship, toleration, women, democratisation, popular culture, rebellion, English Civil War, Restoration, exclusion crisis.