English Democratic Ideas in the Seventeenth Century

English Democratic Ideas in the Seventeenth Century

English Democratic Ideas in the Seventeenth Century

English Democratic Ideas in the Seventeenth Century

Excerpt

The essay out of which the present work has grown obtained the Thirlwall Prize in 1897. My thanks are due to the Adjudicators for permission to recast and expand it.

The design of the following Essay is to serve both as an illustration of English History in the seventeenth century and as a contribution to the history of political ideas. English political thinking from the Reformation to the opening of the eighteenth century can be divided broadly into what may be called the Monarchical and the Democratic; for even among the more oligarchic systems of thought there is a democratic element. The former has been already adequately portrayed. An attempt is now for the first time made to relate the story of the latter.

Within the limits of an Essay covering so wide a field, it is impossible to do more than direct the attention to the salient points of the story. The justification for the treatment of the two middle decades of the century at what may at first sight appear disproportionate length is to be found both in the volume and the quality of the ideas which then made their appearance.

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