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The English Revolution and the Brotherhood of Man

  • Christopher Hill

Abstract

The Revolution which began in 1640 was an event of European significance. The execution of Charles I in 1649 in the name of the people of England led all European countries to sever diplomatic relations with the English republic: the Tsar of Russia seized the occasion to deprive English merchants of their exclusive trading privileges. Foreign intervention on behalf of the old régime was prevented only by the absorption of all the great powers in the Thirty Years War, and by the war between France and Spain which continued until December 1659. The English Revolution, unlike the French Revolution of 1789 and the Russian Revolution of 1917, was able to work out its problems free from direct foreign interference. This helps to account for the ‘lack of bitterness’ in the Revolution, of which English historians are apt to boast and which too many attribute to the virtuous English character.1 But the possibility of foreign intervention was always present in the minds of the leaders of either side in the Civil War: and the speed with which Charles II was hurried back to England in 1660 sprang partly from fear that the Peace of the Pyrenees might make possible a conjunction of France and Spain to restore the King as an absolute ruler and not as a Parliamentary monarch.

Keywords

English Government Diplomatic Relation Foreign Intervention Dutch Republic Peasant Revolt 
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Notes

  1. 3.
    Bacon, Works (1826), III, p. 506. Cf. ibid., p. 499: A war with Spain would be ‘not for the Palatinate only, but for England, Scotland, Ireland, our king, our prince, our nation, all that we have’. This was written after Bacon fell from office.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    Ed. A. Collins, Letters and Memorials of State (1746), II, p. 617, cf. p. 621.Google Scholar

Notes

  1. 2.
    Rushworth, Historical Collections, I, Preface; Clarendon, History of the Rebellion (1888), I, pp. 3–4.Google Scholar

Notes

  1. 4.
    Ed. J. G. Fotheringham, The Diplomatic Correspondence of Jean de Montereul (Scottish History Society, 1888–9), II, p. 550.Google Scholar

Notes

  1. 6.
    Gardiner, History of England (1884), IX, pp. 348–9; X, p. 10.Google Scholar

Notes

  1. 1.
    L. Battifol, ‘Les idées de la révolution sous Louis XIV’, Revue de Paris, II (1928), pp. 103–5.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    Ed. J. J. Jusserand, Recueil des Instructions données aux Ambassadeurs et Ministres de France, XXIV, Angleterre, I (1648–55), pp. 16, 35–8, 63; cf. p. 79.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    E.g. Epilogue, ou dernier appareil du bon citoyen sur les misères publiques (1649); Advis à la reine d’Angleterre et à la France (1650); Esprit du feu roi Louis le Juste (1652). These and many other pamphlets are cited in Ascoli, op. cit., I, pp. 73–104; and in B. F. Porshnev, ‘Reactions of French public opinion to the English Bourgeois Revolution’ (in Russian), in Sredniye Veka, VIII (1956), pp. 319–47. My debt to this last throughout this section is great.Google Scholar

Notes

  1. 1.
    Battifol, loc. cit. Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Quoted in J. B. Bathery, ‘Relations de la France avec l’Angleterre’, Revue Contemporaine, XXII (1855), p. 163.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    E.g. Les intérêts et les motifs qui doivent obliger les princes chrétiens et autres états de l’Europe à retablir le roi de la Grande-Bretagne (1649), quoted by Porshnev, op. cit., pp. 335–6.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    De Retz, Oeuvres (1870–87), III, pp. 115–16; Firth, ‘Thomas Scot’s account of his actions as intelligencer during the Commonwealth’, E.H.R., XII, p. 120.Google Scholar

Notes

  1. 3.
    Nehemiah Wallington, Historical Notices (1869), I, pp. 117–18. Wallington no doubt exaggerated the danger to England, but not the fears of English Protestants.Google Scholar

Notes

  1. 3.
    G. Burnet, History of My Own Time (1897), I, pp. 130–1; Firth Journal of Joachim Hane, pp. xii–xxvii.Google Scholar

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© Christopher Hill 1997

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  • Christopher Hill

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