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English Civil War History

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England: The birthplace of Capitalism (ooops! Sorry world) -

Land and Freedom
The Seventeenth Century Diggers and Land Rights

The Levellers
Seventeenth century democrats in the English Civil War

The Land Is Ours
Twenty first century ways forward - returning the land to God, its rightful owner

Through my research of seventeenth century source materials - many of which are reproduced here - a picture emerges of the Western world's first Civil War from the peoples' point of view. These sources show people and popular movements in crisis as they discovered the aim of all the anti-monarchical anguish, a Commonwealth, was not going to materialize after all. The people had been duped into usurping the king only to have him replaced by a corrupt 'rump' parliament of self-seeking capitalist merchants.

This civil war put the monied classes & land privatisers in a position of power which over subsequent years they used to great effect, legally tearing people from the land, evicting, right across the country and enabling the merchant classes, the winners of the bourgoise revolution, to find willing workers for the industrial revolution and build the biggest empire the world has ever seen.

Admittedly, Oliver Cromwell saw the error of his ways before he died . Here is one of his late speeches delivered to the House of Commons - it could erasily be delivered to the cabinet system of government, 'Tony's cronies', in the early 21st century.

20 April 1653 Oliver Cromwell to the Long Parliament.

It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter'd your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?

Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil'd this sacred place, and turn'd the Lord's temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress'd, are yourselves become the greatest grievance.

Your country therefore calls upon me to cleanse this Augean stable, by putting a final period to your iniquitous proceedings in this House; and which by God's help, and the strength he has given me, I am now come to do; I command ye therefore, upon the peril of your lives, to depart immediately out of this place; go, get you out!

Make haste! Ye venal slaves be gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors. In the name of God, go!

Tony Gosling - September 2000

I'm afraid these pages do have some typographical errors due to much of the material having been scanned in.

Get off my land!

Land and Freedom

The Diggers' Manifesto of 1649, The True Levellers' Standard Advanced - introduction to The Diggers along with a complete version of Leon Rosselson's song about 'The World Turned Upside Down'

Land tenure - How the British monarchy helped stop, and even reverse privatisation of land and evictions. Comprehensive glossary of land rights related terms which explains how land was controlled from mediaeval times up to the present day

Digger pamphlet, 1650 by Gerrard Winstanley: A New Yeers Gift to the Parliament and Armie, Shewing, What the Kingly Power is; And that the Cause of those They call Diggers Is the life and marrow of that Cause the Parliament hath Declared for, and the Army Fought for; The perfecting of which Work, will prove England to be the first of Nations, or the tenth part of the city Babylon, that fals off from the Beast first, and that sets the Crown upon Christs head, to govern the World in Righteousness:

A Declaration from the poor oppressed people of England, 1649. Gerrard Winstanley, The Digger, explains how the ordinary people of Britain have been enslaved ever since the Norman invasion. He explains that the basis of that enslavement is the control of land by the Lords of Manors and suggests in the most peaceful possible terms how the earth, our common Treasury, might be shared out again.

1649, A letter to the Lord Fairfax, Digger pamphlet - "we shall honor our Father, the Spirit that gave us our being. And we shall honor our Mother the earth, by labouring her in righteousnesse, and leaving her free from oppression and bondage"

The Law of Freedom in a Platform - Winstanley's considered 1652 utopia - The Digger ideas reach their synthesis here as Winstanley spells out clearly his vision for a commonwealth with all things held in common and his own peculiar systems of justice etc.


A True Relation of the Proceedings in the Business of Burford - republished here for the first time - so far as we know - since the Civil War, this account by Cromwell's personal emmissary to the independent Leveller troops throws new light on events at Burford that fateful night in May 1649

The Great Leveller Petition of 11th November 1648 - The Levellers demonstrate the extent of popular support for their constitutional reforms based around the Agreement of the People

England's New Chains Discovered 1648 - John Lilburne Ex Lt. Colonel in Cromwell's army and popular Leveller leader wrote this pamphlet as a challenge to the ruling classes who he saw as cynically abusing the power vacuum created by the successful campaign against Charles I.  He details his criticism here and, as is almost taken for granted in civil war pamphlets, managed to get his ideas printed on a liberated back-street printing press.

The Second Part of England's New Chains Discovered 1649 - A robust call for freedom of the press and a more detailed analysis of the forces that were propelling a class of, what Lilburne and his Leveller followers saw as, entirely unrepresentative and duplicitous people into power.  Parliament's reaction was swift, Lilburne, Walwyn, Overton and Thomas Prince (treasurer of the Leveller Party and a wholesale Cheese merchant by profession) were rounded up by Cromwell's soldiers by order of Parliament to be tried for treason.

The Solemn Engagement of the Army from the English Civil War. Cromwell introduces temporary democracy to the parliamentary army through the election of agitators from each regiment to sit on the main army council

1649, England's Standard Advanced, an urgent appeal from the Leveller soldiers while they were on the run

The Levellers Vindicated. 1649 pamphlet with the Leveller soldiers' testimony of events up to and including the Burford murders. Cromwell's cynical attempt to crush their peaceful and righteous claim by force is a curse on the English people to this day

The Levellers' Manifesto of 1649, The Agreement Of The People

See Also

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