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Christopher Hill was born John Edward Christopher Hill in York, England on February 6, 1912. He attended Balliol College, Oxford University and later became the master of the college from 1965 until his retirement in 1978. In 1940, he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Oxford and Bucks Light vis mere Infantry, before becoming a major in the intelligence corps in the Foreign Office from 1943 until the end of World War II. He was a Marxist historian whose work examined the role of economic factors in the events of 17th-century England. His works included The English Revolution 1640, Intellectual Origins of the English Revolution, God's Englishman, Reformation to Industrial Revolution, AntiChrist in 17th-Century England, Milton and the English Revolution, The World of the Muggletonians, The Experience of Defeat, and Liberty Against the Law. He died on February 23, 2003 at the age of 91. (Bowker Author Biography) vis mindre

Værker af Christopher Hill

The Century of Revolution, 1603-1714 (1961) 634 eksemplarer
Lenin and the Russian revolution (1947) 170 eksemplarer
Milton and the English Revolution (1977) 140 eksemplarer
The world of the Muggletonians (1983) 13 eksemplarer
Oliver Cromwell, 1658-1958 (1967) 9 eksemplarer
History and the present (1989) 1 eksemplar
Lenin / Stalin 1 eksemplar

Associated Works

Paradise Lost [Norton Critical Edition] (1667) — Bidragyder, nogle udgaver2,198 eksemplarer
The Transition from Feudalism to Capitalism (1953) — Bidragyder — 161 eksemplarer
Crisis in Europe 1560-1660 (1965) — Introduktion, nogle udgaver; Introduktion — 98 eksemplarer
The Law of Freedom and Other Writings (1973) — Redaktør — 49 eksemplarer
Freedom in arms : a selection of Leveller writings (1975) — Forord — 36 eksemplarer
Three British Revolutions: 1641, 1688, 1776 (1980) — Bidragyder — 27 eksemplarer
The Origins Of Anglo-American Radicalism (1984) — Bidragyder — 17 eksemplarer
Welsh history review, vol. 2, no. 2, 1964 (1964) — Reviewer — 1 eksemplar
Welsh history review, vol. 3, no. 4, December 1967 (1967) — Bidragyder — 1 eksemplar

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"The age of the Puritan Revolution must be regarded as 'Hill's half-century,' and for years to come students will be testing, confirming, modifying, or rejecting his hypotheses. It is given to few historians to achieve such intellectual dominance over their chosen field, for it requires sustained capacity for taking pains in research, a fertile and facile pen, and tremendous imaginative powers. Together these are the marks of a great historian." Lawrence Stone, Princeton University
 
Markeret
PendleHillLibrary | 3 andre anmeldelser | Mar 31, 2024 |
"This is the classic life of Cromwell by one of the great radical historians of the English Civil War'A triumph of complex interpretation and delicious prose ... Hill introduced nuance into the character of Cromwell and the nature of his revolution ... the finest of guides to the man of the times" Tristram Hunt, The Guardian.
 
Markeret
PendleHillLibrary | Jan 16, 2024 |
"Recorded history is like a photograph of an iceberg: it deals only with what is visible above the surface. Yet below the surface is the vast mass of the population, surviving sometimes in records when they are born, married, accused of crime, or buried, but otherwise leaving no trace. Through all the far reaching changes of this century which affected the upper classes, the labour of peasants, craftsmen, mariners went on relatively unchanged."


Fascinating book, and his Marxist influence is pretty clear - he talks of things in terms of class and the influence of the mode of production (although not using that term explicitly). It's not a narrative history - he divides it up into 4 periods, each of which is given a few pages of narrative describing the events and then is analysed in terms of politics, economics and religion and ideas. If you're looking for a good history in terms of the events that happened then don't read this. If you're interested in analysis of underlying causes and the system at work then this is a great book.

One of the themes that comes up so far is what "liberty" meant even at this early stage - as per usual, it means freedom for the big property owners and the gentry and squires who felt they had a god-given right to rule their villages and parishes in whatever way they wanted in their role as Justices of the Peace. Although Hill is scathing about Charles' government, he points out that often the problem of the Commons was with things like Charles using his prerogatives to stop enclosures (although of course he supported them when they helped him or his favourite courtiers).

He also mentions stuff like the government (not the Commons) trying to fix wages for workers and also restricting apprenticeships to try and prevent people moving around. He mentions an overproduction crisis where after the failure of an attempt to promote British cloth production the government made it illegal for clothiers to sack weavers even in massive overproduction. It gives a very clear picture of the conflicting economic interests that partially drove the Civil War. The monarch's government was concerned mainly with keeping the hierarchy stable and although money was a constant problem, economic growth in itself contributed very little to their cashflow so they didn't care about it so much as taxes were easily evaded and income mainly came through things like monopoly and peerage sales. The Commons was concerned with what was basically the very beginnings of industrial capital in Britain - the ending of monopolies, the free movement of people, free trade, all to secure the unfettered growth of capital. Hill talks about how there was initially a lot of reluctance to contest the King's prerogatives and resistance from the Commons was mainly in terms of restating old or supposed old rights and privileges. But when the situation became past compromise for the new powerful classes of merchants, small industry and land owners mostly outside the peerage, they pushed things far enough to create a war and a very different political system.

His stuff about the government of the Civil War period is interesting, and would make a good comparison with the 18th Brumaire by Marx. The civil war started with a large majority for the parliamentarians in both the Lords and the Commons yet some swapped sides because they were terrified of the thought of the common people having more control over the gentry. Parliament never suffered any significant losses but the creation of the New Model Army with command to officers by merit was necessary to press the advantage, creating a space for radical discussion among people of lower social rank and allowing their social advance, scaring many of the more conservative members of parliament. This led to a split in parliament where the more conservative factions made overtures to Charles I, leading to his execution by the more radical side and the expulsion of many of the conservative members by the army. This is around the point of the Putney debates, where the Levellers put forward their more radical vision that scared the large propertied members of the radical faction, causing a clampdown on the radicals of the lower orders. Hill quotes someone from the anti-Leveller side complaining that the call for the extension of liberty inevitably would mean a call for the extension of property, meaning the expropriation of existing property. They said "Liberty cannot be provided for in a general sense if property be preserved", but meant it from the standpoint of defending property. It's an interesting premonition of later revolutions.

From then on the army which now basically ruled the country was caught in an impossible position - the majority of the propertied classes would never support the continued existence and rule of the army, which was massively expensive and an insult to the gentry's pre-eminence, and therefore a friendly parliament could never be summoned or given control. Yet the generals had destroyed the hope of any massive support from the lower classes and the radicals by clamping down on their leadership and through their own fear of their property being expropriated if they gave them enough leeway. The generals therefore had no base to call on in defence of the army, which was increasingly financially unsustainable and yet couldn't be disbanded without destroying their powerbase. Multiple parliaments under particular rules and franchises intended to give the generals sustainable rule were summoned and failed as they were either too radical or too conservative for their liking. The army rule introduced more centralisation and was efficient in many ways but its encroachment of the prerogatives of the gentry in the counties was a major source of opposition to it. After Cromwell's death, the army was totally unable to retain control and conservatives in union with former radicals and parts of the army took control and called for the return of Charles II, to restore the order of sacrosanct property and gentry rule under a more powerful parliament.

Another interesting thing is his mention of increased taxes during the republic requiring people to sell up their tied down assets - things like plate - in order to pay them, creating a greater flow of capital which accelerated development and the accumulation of wealth. The history of the entire period is one of capital becoming more and more dominant, a trend reflected in politics - Whigs and Tories swap places, with Whigs going from outsiders (although rich outsiders) to the only political party worth anything, with their proto-capitalist policies being accepted wisdom. The Tories disappear into irrelevance as they lose power, wealth and their absolute support for the monarchy means less and less. Significant patronage no longer flowed from the king, but instead from positions determined by parliament. The monarch lost the vast majority of his lands and from this point on was reliant on parliamentary income. It's interesting how after the Civil War there were multiple opportunities for a further revolution which would have benefited one or the other parties but the moderate wings of both were absolutely against it because of the fear of stirring up the common people, which might lead to further attacks on their property. Part of the convergence between the two was their interests converged so much, both in property and in the importance of a stable system of finance to their own investments. The economic change was truly revolutionary.

It's important to note some of the stuff he leaves out in the book. Part of it is understandable on a length basis, but still. I've said above that it's not a narrative history - he leaves out a lot of details of events in favour of details of broad trends. He also namedrops a lot of major figures in art and writing without describing them, although I was fine without knowing who they were. It's very much a history of England - Scotland and Ireland appear only a few times when they directly affect England. This means no discussion of what led to the Act of Union (past basic mention of "was good for trade and development) and no discussion about the repression of Ireland or the system of property that profited English upper class there (apart from simply saying "it existed and it happened"). Which is understandable length wise but kind of frustrating. It also only very rarely mentions the colonies and then only to what extent it profits English ruling class. The slave trade only comes up in terms of how the monopoly was seized from the Dutch and the profits it made for ports. It seems kind of inadequate sometimes. Finally, women are given short shrift here. It's understandable that when talking specifically about an entirely male government women are talked about less. But it's frustrating that women are mentioned only very rarely and in tiny sentences, like saying "women had more freedom in the Civil War period because men were away as soldiers" and not expanding, mentioning women having to work at home alone with men out at wage work but not expanding. It's a little disappointing there's not more. I'd also say that personally I found the sections where he talked about the arts a little weak, although that might be because I know very little about them.

Nevertheless, with the caveats above in mind, a fascinating and interesting book. I don't know how it compares to other histories but personally I found its choice of subjects and the style of analysis exactly what I wanted to read and perfect for comparing and contrasting with modern history and seeing similarities as well as better understanding how class societies change and develop.

The men of property won freedom - freedom from arbitary taxation and arbitrary arrest, freedom from religious persecution, freedom to control the destinies of their country through their elected representatives, freedom to buy and sell. They also won freedom to evict copyholders and cottagers, to tyrannise over their villages, to hire unprotected labour in the open market... The smaller men failed in all spheres to get their freedom recognised, failed to win either the vote or economic security.

Freedom is not something abstract. It is the right of certain people to do certain things... Only very slowly and very late have men come to understand that unless freedom is universal it is only extended privilege. "If the common people have no more freedom in England," Winstanley asked, "but only to live among their elder brothers and work for them for hire, what freedom have they in England more than we have in Turkey or France?"...

In commending the actions of the men of the seventeenth century, as we should, in noting the very real constitutional, economic and intellectual advances, let us also remember how much of the lives of how many men and women is utterly unknown to us.
… (mere)
 
Markeret
tombomp | 2 andre anmeldelser | Oct 31, 2023 |

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