The Politics of Commonwealth: Citizens and Freemen in Early Modern England

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The Politics of Commonwealth offers a major reinterpretation of urban political culture in England during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Examining what it meant to be a freeman and citizen in early modern England, it also shows the increasingly pivotal place of cities and boroughs within the national polity. It considers the practices that constituted urban citizenship as well as its impact on the economic, patriarchal and religious life of towns and the larger commonwealth. The author has recovered the language and concepts used at the time, whether by eminent citizens like Andrew Marvell or more humble tradesmen and craftsmen. Unprecedented in terms of the range of its sources and freshness of its approach, the book reveals a dimension of early modern culture that has major implications for how we understand the English state, economy and 'public sphere'; the political upheavals of the mid-seventeenth-century and popular political participation more generally.