Reviving the English Revolution: Reflections and Elaborations on the Work of Christopher Hill

Reviving the English Revolution: Reflections and Elaborations on the Work of Christopher Hill

Reviving the English Revolution: Reflections and Elaborations on the Work of Christopher Hill

Reviving the English Revolution: Reflections and Elaborations on the Work of Christopher Hill

Excerpt

To an outsider, the historiography of seventeenth-century Britain has presented a perplexing picture. The dramatic events of the middle of the century, combining civil war, regicide, religious radicalism and unprecedented political mobilization, make it a natural focus of interest and research. Moreover, in the 1950s and 1960s they also attracted a high level of general interpretative discussion. For a while it became usual to treat the 1640s and 1650s as a coherent period, whose contents were pivotal for the course of England's social and political development. Seen as the English Revolution, the events of these years delivered an agenda of questions which could only be tackled by breaching the conventional divisions between different kinds of history. Political and constitutional conflicts, the expression and organization of religious belief, changes in the social structure and the growth of the economy, shifts in the general intellectual climate and the structure of popular belief -- all were to be considered in their interrelations rather than in isolation. This basic realization unlocked some interesting potential for a totalizing history, or for a concept of historical change which stressed the interconnections among different areas of a society's structure and activity. More than any other individual, of course, Christopher Hill was responsible for instating this approach to seventeenth-century studies. Since that time the quantity of empirical research on the Civil War period has been prodigious. In that obvious sense, we 'know' far more than ever before about the circumstances of the English Revolution. But this has become the knowledge of highly particularized investigations, which are frequently indifferent, if not directly hostile, to the sort of general debates mentioned above. We now have very fine historians of seventeenth-century politics, religion, economics, demography, social structure, science and popular culture, but not very many who try to . . .

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.