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You are here: Home Courses Middlebury-CMRS Course List HIST 0430 Liberty and Monarchy in the Seventeenth Century

HIST 0430 Liberty and Monarchy in the Seventeenth Century

Seventeenth-century England saw remarkable tensions between supporters of absolute monarchy at one extreme and advocates of the liberty of the subject (often ‘the freeborn Englishman’) at the other.  Failure to resolve these tensions arguably plunged the British Isles into Civil War, regicide and Revolution; it certainly produced some of the most imaginative, wide-ranging, varied and enduring contributions to political thinking.  Ideals ranging from universal suffrage democracy to the Divine Right of Kings, from theocracy to democracy were all advocated. Students explore seventeenth-century relationships between political ideas and political action in their own right, but also the formation of a political discourse which continues to be deeply influential on both sides of the Atlantic.

Sample Topics

  • The Royal Gift and the Divine Right of Kings
  • Coke and the Common Lawyers
  • Taxation, Property and Consent
  • Fighting for God and Country? The Road to War
  • ‘He nothing common did or mean’: Killing the King and After
  • Radical Solutions: Levellers, Ranters and Diggers
  • Nasty, Brutish and Short? Hobbes and the Commonwealth
  • Locke and the Revolution


Introductory Reading

  • Smith, D.L.,  A History of the Modern British Isles, 1603-1707: The Double Crown. Oxford : Blackwell, 1998
  • Scott-Warren, J., Early Modern English Literature. Cambridge: Polity, 2005
  • Bradshaw, B. and Morrill, J.S. (eds), The British Problem, c. 1534-1707: State Formation in the Atlantic Archipelago. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1996
  • Milton, J., Areopagitica. (Any edition)
  • Smith, N. (ed.), The Poems of Andrew Marvell. London: Pearson Longman, 2003
  • Hobbes, T., Leviathan (ideally R. Tuck ed., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991 and subsequent impressions)
  • Locke, J., Two Treatises of Government. R. Ashcraft ed., London: Allen & Unwin, 1988
  • Wootton, D. (ed.), Divine Right and Democracy: An Anthology of Political Writing in Stuart England. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1986
Thankful for every moment
I devoured the integral lectures, the seminars, the tea and biscuits, and the charming streets of Oxford. Aided by my tutors, my passion for the human...
Mike Rectenwald, Summer 2000, Geneva College