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New Left Review I/3, May-June 1960


Christopher Hill

Republicanism after the Restoration

The deeds of the cursed and the conquered, that were wise before their time”. (William Morris, The Pilgrims of Hope).

I

300 years ago the first and so far the only English Republic came to an end, after 11 years of existence. In those years England, reduced to a state of impotence and contempt under Charles I, had suddenly become a great European power, and had initiated a policy of commercial and colonial expansion which was to last for over 250 years. Yet in May 1660, Charles II returned to England amid general acclamations, and the republican leaders were publicly hanged, disembowelled and quartered. The cynical and witty King observed that it must have been his own fault that he had been abroad so long, for he saw nobody that did not protest he had ever wished for his restoration.

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