The History Woman's Blog

Research

My first monograph has 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 folliwing 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.

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My current book project looks at the English republican exiles on the Continent after the Restoration of 1660:

The English Republican Exiles in Europe, post 1660

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.

If you would like a taste of what I am working on, here is a podcast of a recent paper: ‘Les Juges Jugez, ses Justifians (1663) and Edmund Ludlow’s protestant network in seventeenth-century Switzerland’.

 

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