A Commonwealth of the People: Popular Politics and England's by David Rollison

By David Rollison

In 1500 fewer than 3 million humans spoke English; at the present time English audio system quantity at the least one thousand million around the world. This publication asks how and why a small island humans turned the nucleus of an empire 'on which the sunlight by no means set'. David Rollison argues that the 'English explosion' used to be the end result of an extended social revolution with roots deep within the medieval prior. A succession of crises from the Norman Conquest to the English Revolution have been causal hyperlinks and chains of collective reminiscence in a distinct, vernacular, populist flow. The key-phrase of this lengthy revolution, 'commonwealth', has been principally invisible in conventional constitutional historical past. This panoramic synthesis of political, highbrow, social, cultural, non secular, monetary, literary and linguistic routine bargains a 'new constitutional heritage' during which kingdom associations and gear elites have been subordinate and answerable to a better group that the early sleek English known as 'commonwealth' and we name 'society'.

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The process was a long social revolution in which the first Commons Rebellion in 1381 and the execution, 268 years later, of Charles I are historically – causally – related events. This book argues a case for understanding English history as an accumulating movement with certain continuing and observable themes that amount, in the long run, to a definable collective agency. By 4 Oppenheimer, Origins. What came before: antecedent structures 35 constitutional culture I mean a collective agency with consistent and frequently repeated goals and ideals.

Shakespeare gave his contemporaries a live representation of an eruption of polity (or of a res plebeia) in Coriolanus, as I show in ‘The revolution of politics’ (Chapter 8). The importance of weighing the relative force of each of the contending voices of early modern England, and noting changes over time in the constitutional force-field as a whole, 27 All quotations from OED ‘common’. 28 That not every eccentric opinion is visible in the archival record all the time, only when vocal resistance and violent rebellion generated documentation and comment, does not mean they were not always immanent.

All through the seventeenth century learned men continued to invoke the restoration of the idea of politics as the noble art of good government. ’ The core of the old republicanism was the virtu of the individual citizen. The new was ‘reason of state’. This school of virtue places the highest value on formal learning, wisdom and moral philosophy. The direction of civil society is determined by rational discussion between citizens inspired by classical notions of learning, virtu and the common good.

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