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Conrad Russell's ideas

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I will endeavour to show that in its treatment of the subject of the significance of ideology, Russell's account is questionable; likewise questionable in my view is Russell's contention (which helps to sustain his view that political ideology did not divide Royalists and Parliamentarians) that the ‘ascending’ and ‘descending’ theories (which some have seen at work in the period) were not mutually exclusive, and therefore cannot be regarded as significant in distinguishing Parliamentarians and Royalists. This contention seems to me to be somewhat less period-specific than Russell's assertion about the absence of ideological confrontation circa 1642, and I have felt it legitimate to use material from the mid and late 1640s in commenting on it. In what follows, I will endeavour to clarify the confrontation between the ascending and descending theories, and an attempt will be made to explain the former more fully so as to establish that a genuine resistance theory was, pace Russell, in action at this time. Using (it seems) somewhat less stringent criteria than Russell, I count as a resistance theory an intellectual formulation whereby appearing armed and prepared to fight against a force led by, or sanctioned by, Charles Stuart, was legitimized, even where the resisters saw him as merely misled or purported to be rescuing him from an evil entourage. Royalist descending politics will be noted more briefly.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Strathclyde.

Publication date: 1993-01-01

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