Historian’s Talk Reflects on National Politics 400 Years Earlier

For those still craving more politics after the General Election results come in, a historian at the University of Worcester will be reflecting on the political landscape 400 years earlier.

Professor of Early Modern History, Darren Oldridge, will be giving a talk on ‘Political Ideas in the English Civil Wars’ at The Commandery in Worcester on Saturday, July 6, at 2pm.

“At a time of political debate, it is interesting to reflect on the somewhat more violent political controversies and upheavals of 17th-century England,” he said. “In the words of one contemporary, the period was ‘boiling hot with questions’ about the constitution, taxes, the rights and duties of subjects, and the power of religious institutions.  These led to the trial and execution of the King and the formation of a republic in the 1650s.”

The English Civil War, between 1642 and 1651, saw Parliamentarians and Royalists battle over the future of the kingdom and whether the balance of power should be with the king or parliament. It resulted in the execution of Charles I and the establishment of a republic led by Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector. The executed King’s son Charles II was later restored to the throne in 1660.

Professor Oldridge’s talk will introduce some of the great political questions of the period that formed the background to the war. Did the power of government come from God and an inherited hierarchy, or from the people? Could rulers act above the law? And should men and women have freedom to practice religion as they chose? “Many of the arguments fought out in this period – with both words and bullets – remain resonant today,” said Professor Oldridge.

“What happened in England in the middle of the 17th century was a classic case of politics spilling out of control,” added Professor Oldridge. “A revolt by some members of the social elite against illegal taxation and unpopular religious policies spiralled into a debate about the nature of government and ended with the execution of the king. Almost no one saw these things coming.

“In the civil war of the 1640s, ordinary people were involved in politics as never before. In particular, soldiers in the parliamentarian army demanded the extension of the franchise in elections and the abolition of the coercive powers of the church.”

Tickets for the talk cost £7. For more information or to get tickets visit  https://www.museumsworcestershire.org.uk/events/talk-political-ideas-in-the-english-civil-war-with-professor-darren-oldridge/.