UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The country-city "alliance" of cromwelliar England, 1658-1660 Farthing, Gilbert


This thesis originated in an attempt to explain the Restoration of Charles II. If the Puritan Revolution had been, as it was portrayed in school history lessons, a successful revolt of "the people" against a tyrant, why was the tyrant's libidinous son joyfully welcomed less than twenty years after the revolt? From reading the two major works of the past century which had specifically dealt with this period — Guizot and Davies — it emerged that "the people" had very little to do with the Revolution, and still less with the Restoration. Guizot's emphasis on the part played by General Monk obviously arose from the author's tendency to narrate events rather than probe for causes. Davies, completing the long series of works begun by Gardiner and continued by Firth, was also largely concerned with narration. From his work, however, it became reasonably clear that the strings which controlled Monk's actions were pulled by a comparatively small group of men. Interestingly, almost all these men (as Monk himself realised) had at one time or another been bitterly opposed to the regime of Charles I. Most had participated in the Civil War on Parliament's side, and one at least had signed the warrant for Charles’s execution. Further reading confirmed the idea that the engineers of the Restoration were a small elite. They appeared to include three interwoven but reasonably distinct groups: country landowners, City financiers and merchants, and a group of professional men (mostly lawyers) who functioned as a kind of link. Subsequent research was directed to the task of identifying these groups, examining their procedures, and seeking to explain their actions and aims, with particular reference to the years 1658-1660. The materials used were necessarily confined to printed books, and (on account of cost) largely to those sources available in the Library at the University of British Columbia. Within those limits the investigation has been as thorough as possible. The plan of the thesis is in part chronological, but the main emphasis is on more general factors. The Table of Contents (on page iv) gives a reasonably clear picture of the line followed. Since the investigation was concerned largely with the aims and procedures of the elite, there are few conclusions in the syllogistic or allegedly scientific sense. One general conclusion is that aims were primarily based on the supposition that the status of an elite depends on an ostentatious display of material wealth, and hence on great differences in material possessions. This, more than intrinsic unkindness or stupidity, made it necessary to ensure that the lower classes were kept ignorant and poor; and the procedures of the elite were therefore directed mainly to this end. Another general conclusion is that these procedures were eminently successful.

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