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

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

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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...


... middle of paper ...


..."reformation of manners", which attacked feudal, Crown and
Church led structures of government, law and religious worship. With
this he also unleashed an avalanche of further and even more extreme,
therefore radical, ideas, many of which soon began to compromise and
endanger his vision and the four fundamentals. The attitudes,
expectations and change in thinking by Baptists, Presbyterians,
Ranters, Quakers etc., help plant the seeds for democratic thought and
constitutional Monarchy. This period of the Civil War was particularly
significant because it was a time when a great range of experimental
interpretations brought the people to question their relationship to
God and law, to question the rulers and the ruled. Although a
turbulent and an uncertain time, it certainly was a creative and
innovative change in thinking.

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