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Book Title: A Revolução Inglesa de 1640|
The author of the book: Christopher Hill
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Reader ratings: 4.6
Edition: Editorial Presença
Date of issue: 1981
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The size of the: 582 KB
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Format files: PDF
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This book is an early work from a scholar who would become one of the 20th century’s greatest English historians. ‘The English Revolution, 1640’ (1940) was published when Hill was still only 28 years old and a member of the CPGB. He subsequently went on to modify, develop and refine his Marxian analysis of the English Revolution.
Here Hill writes what could be regarded as a counter-balance to two influential historical approaches: the Whig interpretation – that views the Revolution as a struggle for political liberty – and the ‘Gardiner thesis’ – that regards it in religious terms. In contrast, Hill insists on an emphasis on economic history and uncovering class antagonism / conflict. He characterises the Revolution as essentially a class war between the aristocracy (defending the feudal order) and a coalition led by the rising bourgeois (representing the emergent capitalism). Moreover, following Weber and Tawney, Hill appears to endorse the view that Protestant Puritanism contributed to the development of capitalism. He also comes across as quite dismissive of the left wing of the revolution, particularly Levellers (‘petty bourgeois’), implying that they were essentially premature revolutionaries who could not succeed in 17th century England.
Later in his career, Hill qualifies his earlier notion that pre-Revolutionary England was ‘essentially feudal’. Further, he clarifies that whilst the Revolution was bourgeois it was not self-consciously so. A slowly emerging class consciousness was frequently submerged within complex religious disputes. Hill also becomes increasingly and explicitly critical of any tendency to economic determinism in utilising the Marxist ‘base-superstructure’ model. The political, religious and economic aspects of the Revolution were all important. These had to be understood as interwoven. Hill now clarified that there was nothing inherent in Protestantism that gave rise to capitalism; only that, in a society already becoming capitalistic, Protestantism’s implicit individualism inadvertently “facilitated the triumph of the new values”. However, even here there is a caveat: the sharpest critics of the ‘Protestant ethic’ were themselves Protestants.
Within the English Revolution there were two distinctive drives, one – the bourgeois revolution – succeeded, the other – the radical revolution – failed but remained influential. Hill wrote of the radicals: “Levellers called for political democracy, Diggers for communism, Ranters for free love”. A variety of radical Protestant groups questioned other important aspects of the age’s ‘common sense’, often articulating their far-reaching ideas in religious language. Crucially, “without the pressure of the radicals the civil war might not have been transformed into a revolution”. Also, many of their ideas enriched a native radical tradition that continues ebbs and flows to the present day.
For anyone interested in 17th century England, reading this introductory text should only be the starting point for further study. Several of Hill’s later texts (from the 1960s onwards) are absolutely essential reading. Particular recommended are his books on Oliver Cromwell (1599 – 1658), Gerrard Winstanley (1609 - 1669), John Milton (1608 - 1674) and John Bunyan (1628 - 88).
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Read information about the authorJohn Edward Christopher Hill was the pre-eminent historian of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English history, and one of the most distinguished historians of recent times. Fellow historian E.P. Thompson once referred to him as the dean and paragon of English historians.
He was educated at Balliol College, Oxford. During World War II, he served in the Russian department of the British Foreign Office, returning to teach at Oxford after the war.
From 1958-1965 he was University Lecturer in 16th- and 17th-century history, and from 1965-1978 he was Master of Balliol College. He was a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and of the British Academy. He received numerous honorary degrees over the course of his career, including the Hon. Dr. Sorbonne Nouvelle in 1979.
Hill was an active Marxist and a member of the Communist Party from approximately 1934-1957, falling out with the Party after the Soviet suppression of the Hungarian uprisings of 1956.
In their obituary, The Guardian wrote of Hill:
"Christopher Hill…was the commanding interpreter of 17th-century England, and of much else besides.…it was as the defining Marxist historian of the century of revolution, the title of one of the most widely studied of his many books, that he became known to generations of students around the world. For all these, too, he will always be the master." [http://www.theguardian.com/news/2003/...]
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