‘English Republican Ideas and Translation Networks in Early Modern Germany, c1640-1848’
This project explores the significance of translations for the transmission of seventeenth-century English republican ideas in the German lands before the revolution of 1848-9. German political thinkers at the time looked at the constitutional models of their European neighbours for inspiration as the territories formerly ruled by the Holy Roman emperors struggled against outdated feudal structures and strove for national identity and unity. The project aims to gather a body of material that gives us an insight into the distribution, dissemination and reception of English republican works in Germany in a variety of languages, including English, Latin and French as well as German to understand the way in which ideas travelled between countries in the form of print. Combining the history of ideas and the material history of the book in innovative ways and taking inspiration from translation studies and social network theory, this project will focus on the way works were translated, edited and rewritten for new contexts and audiences – in this case German society from the later seventeenth century to the Vormärz.
Employing Peter Burke’s analytical concept of ‘cultural translation’ the figure of the translator will be assigned a key role as both the reader and first recipient of a work as well as an independent agent able to shape the text in a new language for a new purpose. Particular attention will also be paid to the relationship between translators, editors and political circles. Challenging a largely anglocentric and transatlantic historiography, this transnational and multi-lingual project thus aims to establish the intellectual reach and legacy of the first English Revolution of 1640-60 on the European Continent by focusing on the country that from 1701 had developed an ever closer relationship with England through the Succession Act which established the Hanoverian dynasty on the English throne.
Marie Sklodowska Curie Actions website: https://cordis.europa.eu/project/id/891056
My most recent book looks at the English republican exiles on the Continent after the Restoration of 1660:
The English Republican Exiles in Europe during the Restoration
This monograph aims to establish personal connections that contributed to the dissemination, transmission and survival of English republican ideas abroad. My focus will be on three key republican figures forced by circumstances to spend time abroad: Henry Neville in Italy, Edmund Ludlow in Switzerland, and Algernon Sidney, who lived in France but also travelled in other European countries.
All three established important, at times overlapping political and intellectual networks in their countries of exile, and published works that were translated into various European languages. Nevertheless, the historiography of British republicanism has centred on transatlantic traditions and neglected European networks despite obvious links to the Continental revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries. I am hoping to redress this imbalance building on work by Rachel Hammersley on 18th century France and Blair Worden on the reputation of English roundheads at home and abroad.
The book was published by Cambridge University Press earlier this year.
If you would like a taste of my research, you can listen to these podcasts:
The English Republican Exiles in Europe, New Books Network, 27 November 2020.
My first monograph focused on the English republican Henry Neville and his political thought:
Henry Neville and English Republican Culture in the Seventeenth Century
Henry Neville (1619-94) was the younger son of a Berkshire county gentry family. He sided with the parliamentarian opposition to Charles I in the English Civil Wars and after the regicide joined the Long Parliament as a recruiter for Abingdon. Angered and disappointed by Oliver Cromwell’s forcible dissolution of the Rump in 1653 he went into the political undeground plotting against the Protectorate regime and writing his anti-Cromwellian pamphlet Shuffling, Cutting and Dealing in a Game at Picquet (1659). He briefly returned to active parliamentary politics under Richard Cromwell in 1659 and as a member of the restored Rump shortly before the Restoration of the Stuarts in 1660.
Suspected of plotting against the monarchy he was imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1663 and in the following Spring left England for Italian exile. On his return to England in 1668 he published the utopian travel narrative The Isle of Pines, which can be read both as a satire on the Restoration monarchy and on the patriarchal political theory the Stuarts employed to back up their authority. The story’s satirical tone and blasphemous language harks back to his Civil War libels on a Parliament of Ladies (1647-50), in which he ridiculed the Royalist and Presbyterian factions in Parliament. During the so-called Exclusion Crisis of 1678-81, in which the majority Whig opposition attempted to exclude the Catholic James, Duke of York, from the succession to the throne, Neville published Plato Redivivus (1681).
This philosophical dialogue in the style of Plato argued for a fundamental restructuring of the English monarchy, demanding popular sovereignty and clear limitations to the powers of the monarch that would leave him in the role of an executive or ‘chief magistrate’ only. Neville also published a fictitious letter pretended to be written by the Italian renaissance philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli that was attached to the 1675 edition of Machiavelli’s Works, but has wrongly been credited with the Machiavelli translation.