The Common Freedom of the People
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The Common Freedom of the People : John Lilburne and the English Revolution

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The second son of a modest gentry family, John Lilburne was accused of treason four times, and put on trial for his life under both Charles I and Oliver Cromwell. He fought bravely in the Civil War, seeing action at a number of key battles and rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, was shot through the arm, and nearly lost an eye in a pike accident. In the course of all this, he fought important legal battles for the rights to remain silent, to open trial, and to
trial by his peers. He was twice acquitted by juries in very public trials, but nonetheless spent the bulk of his adult life in prison or exile. He is best known, however, as the most prominent of the Levellers, who campaigned for a government based on popular sovereignty two centuries before the
advent of mass representative democracies in Europe.

Michael Braddick explores the extraordinary and dramatic life of 'Freeborn John': how his experience of political activism sharpened and clarified his ideas, leading him to articulate bracingly radical views; and the changes in English society that made such a career possible. Without land, established profession, or public office, successive governments found him sufficiently alarming to be worth imprisoning, sending into exile, and putting on trial for his life. Above all, through his story,
we can explore the life not just of John Lilburne, but of revolutionary England itself - and of ideas fundamental to the radical, democratic, libertarian, and constitutional traditions, both in Britain and the USA.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 416 pages
  • 161 x 242 x 36mm | 668g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 18 black & white illustrations; 2 maps
  • 0198803230
  • 9780198803232
  • 611,844

Table of contents

Preface1: Apprentice, 1632-16402: Soldier, 1640-16453: Partisan, 1645-16464: Leveller, 1647-16495: Traitor, 16496: Citizen, 1649-16527: Exile, 1653-16578: John Lilburne and the English RevolutionNotesIndex
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Review Text

Braddick presents Lilburne as an activist rather than a political thinker, as primarily concerned with tactics and political mobilization. Lilburne's ideas are interesting but, his real significance and legacy - Braddick suggests - are in the realm of political practice Rachel Hammersley, The Times Literary Supplement
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Review quote

John Lilburme was a polemicist and martyr unafraid to speak truth to power. Michael Braddick's masterly political biography offers an exciting new reading of the significance of his career as a political activist, and of his lasting legacy on both sides of the Atlantic. * John Walter, Emeritus Professor, University of Essex * Braddick tells the story of Lilburnes struggles expertly, fluently and well. Lilburnes life was truly action-packed but Braddick resists the temptation to sensationalise. * Russell Harris QC, Counsel * This political life [provides] a vivid portrait of both the man and his age. * Matthew Reisz, Times Higher Education * Braddick provides a richly analysed context for Lilburne's public battles against the misuse of power. Yet, while admiring Lilburne's personal conviction and courage, Braddick rightly warns against seeing him as a modern reformer ... he depicts Lilburne as a man of principle, willing to sacrifice family life to battle justice for the greater good of England. * Jackie Eales, History Today * Clear and accessible, wise and measured ... The Common Freedom of the People is an important book. * Kwasi Kwarteng, The Sunday Times * [An] excellent new biography ... Braddick is able to introduce the reader very succinctly and clearly to the wider context in which Lilburne's ideas were formed. This is no mean feat given the complexity and rapidity of the political changes of the period. * Edward Vallance, Literary Review * [The Common Freedom of the People] is a triumph of sympathetic biographical writing, without succumbing to the biographer's trap of sticking up for everything his subject did or stood for. * David Horspool, The Spectator * Braddick presents Lilburne as an activist rather than a political thinker, as primarily concerned with tactics and political mobilization. Lilburne's ideas are interesting but, his real significance and legacy - Braddick suggests - are in the realm of political practice * Rachel Hammersley, The Times Literary Supplement *
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About Michael Braddick

Michael Braddick is Professor of History at the University of Sheffield, and has held academic positions and visiting Fellowships in the USA, Australia, France, and Germany. He has published widely on the social, political, and economic history of British and American society in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. His most recent book is God's Fury, England's Fire (2008).
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