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The Civil Wars after 1660

The Civil Wars after 1660: Public Remembering in Late Stuart England

Matthew Neufeld
Volume: 17
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    The Civil Wars after 1660
    Book Description:

    This book examines the conflicting ways in which the civil wars and Interregnum were remembered, constructed and represented in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century England. It argues that during the late Stuart period, public remembering of the English civil wars and Interregnum was not concerned with re-fighting the old struggle but rather with commending and justifying, or contesting and attacking, the Restoration settlements. After the return of King Charles II the political nation had to address the question of remembering and forgetting the recent conflict. The answer was to construct a polity grounded on remembering and scapegoating puritan politics and piety. The proscription of the puritan impulse enacted by the Restoration settlements was supported by a public memory of the 1640s and 1650s which was used to show that Dissenters could not, and should not, be trusted with power. Drawing upon the interdisciplinary field of social memory studies, this book offers a new perspective on the historical and political cultures of early modern England, and will be of significant interest to social, cultural and political historians as well as scholars working in memory studies. Matthew Neufeld is Lecturer in early modern British history at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-125-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Illustrations
    (pp. vi-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xiii)
  7. Note
    (pp. xiv-xiv)
  8. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    Emerging from a period of civil violence and political upheaval, the English in 1660 faced a critical question: what from the troubled past should be retained in memory and what ought to be consigned to oblivion? It is a question that many nations today with painful and tragic histories still struggle to answer.¹ At the turn of the millennium, Canadian journalist Erna Paris travelled to seven of them – Germany, France, Japan, the USA, Chile, Argentina and South Africa – determined to understand how their citizens remembered or did not remember past conflicts, and the impact that remembering and forgetting had on...

  9. 1 The Restoration Regime and Historical Reconstructions of the Civil War and Interregnum
    (pp. 17-54)

    In the years immediately following the restoration of the monarchy, the English had a paradoxical relationship to their nation’s recent history. On the one hand, they were supposed to forget about it. The Convention Parliament had passed an Act of Oblivion within a few months of the king’s return. This legislation commanded people not to remember publicly the civil wars. On the other hand, personal memories of what were referred to as the ‘late broken times’ were lodged firmly within most people’s minds. This was recognised openly, as in the preface to a short book called History of the Commons...

  10. 2 Restoration War Stories
    (pp. 55-86)

    The first major pitched battle of the English civil war took place on 23 October 1642 at Edgehill, near Kineton in Warwickshire.¹ Long afterwards, two ordinary soldiers, Robert Perry of Wiltshire and John Wright of Cheshire, remembered having fought at that memorable clash of Roundheads and Cavaliers. Indeed, Wright claimed that a bullet fired at him by a parliamentarian that very day was lodged in one of his arms nearly two decades later. Both Perry and Wright’s terse recollections of Edgehill were preserved on petitions to their county’s Quarter Session court. By contrast, Sir Thomas Fairfax and Sir Hugh Cholmley,...

  11. 3 Representing the Civil Wars and Interregnum, 1680–5
    (pp. 87-134)

    One of the most important consequences of the public furore occasioned by revelations of a ‘popish plot’ to assassinate Charles II in 1678, the dissolution of the ‘long’ Cavalier Parliament in January 1679, the subsequent lapse of licensing the press, and a crisis over the succession that pitted some members of Parliament against the Court and its allies, was the explosive growth of popular printed literature.¹ A great many texts invoked the national past as part of their arguments for, among other things, the undesirability of a Roman Catholic successor, the importance of Parliament as a bulwark against Stuart pretensions...

  12. 4 Struggling over Settlements in Civil-War Historical Writing, 1696–1714
    (pp. 135-168)

    The Parliament that assembled to construct a settlement around the revolution of 1688 took a new approach to the question of remembering and forgetting the conflicted past. Several laws enacted by the Convention Parliament had profound implications for the cultural memory of the civil wars and Interregnum. Most significantly, under the Toleration Act of 1689, Trinitarian Protestant Dissenters could worship freely, subject to the granting of licences by local magistrates.¹ This meant that for the first time since the Reformation, the crown legally relinquished its role as promoter and enforcer of religious conformity. Moreover, religious toleration implied that the spiritual...

  13. 5 John Walker and the Memory of the Restoration in Augustan England
    (pp. 169-202)

    In 1705, Ann Harris was an old woman who possessed an increasingly rare and precious resource: a personal memory of the civil war years. Indeed, it is possible that by the turn of the seventeenth century she was the only person remaining in the parish of Coleorton, Leicestershire, who could recall that tumultuous period. During the 1640s, Harris had been a servant in the household of William Pestell, Coleorton’s rector. Six decades later, she claimed to remember very well the abuse her employer had received at the hands of parliamentarian soldiers. Forced by them to ride over sixteen miles to...

  14. 6 Thanking God those Times are Past
    (pp. 203-242)

    In the summer of 1660, the Convention Parliament unanimously enacted a statute making 29 May, the birthday of King Charles II, and the date on which he had arrived in London and Westminster, a national day of remembrance. According to the Act’s preamble, the peaceful restoration of monarchical government after years of the ‘most deplorable Confusions Divisions Warrs Devastations and Oppression’ was a miracle: a ‘signall Deliverance both of his Majestie and His People’. Henceforth the people of England were to use the day to offer up to Almighty God ‘their unfeigned hearty publique Thanks’ for all the ‘publique benefits...

  15. Conclusion
    (pp. 243-250)

    In the spring of 1715, the day after he celebrated his 55th birthday, King George I attended a service of thanksgiving at St James’s palace chapel. The king’s court had gathered to remember the providential restoration of the established state and Church, heralded by the popular rejoicing that had greeted King Charles II upon his entry into London in May of 1660. The sermon, subsequently published at royal command, was delivered by William Burscough, an Oxford don and one of the new king’s chaplains. Taking as his text Psalm 147.1, ‘For it is Good to sing Praises unto our God’,...

  16. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 251-270)
  17. Index
    (pp. 271-284)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 285-287)