Fire under the AshesAn Atlantic History of the English Revolution

Fire under the AshesAn Atlantic History of the English Revolution

John Donoghue

Print publication date: 2014

ISBN: 9780226157658

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


Through a study of Coleman Street Ward, the citadel of London puritanism, this book explores the English Revolution as an Atlantic event shaped by the reciprocal development of the “old” and “new worlds.” Blending early modern social history with the history of political thought and action, the story follows militant Protestants into the puritan underground to trace the rise of English republicanism as a popular movement that embraced political revolution as a means to perfecting the Protestant Reformation. It shows how volatile Indian-settler relations conditioned conflicting programs of puritan reform in the colonies, programs that culminated in the first wave of republican constitution-making in the Atlantic, a process where antinomian radicals also challenged existing gender and emerging racial hierarchies. Back in England, radical republicans, led in part by returned colonists in the Leveller and Fifth Monarchist movements, condemned the conquest of Ireland and the invasion of the Spanish West Indies (or Western Design), events that marked the English state’s first concerted attempt to build an Atlantic empire. Promoting social justice over capitalist economics and defining themselves against an emergent political economy of empire, republican radicals tried to end established religion, prerogative government, forced indentured servitude, military conscription, and racial slavery. Here, at its zenith, the radicalism of the English Revolution rendered the Reformation into a common crusade for the liberty of the body and the soul (religious liberty). As the book reveals, at the intersection of these freedom stories lay the ideological origins of abolition, the most significant yet neglected legacy of the English Revolution.