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'EPIC YEARS': THE ENGLISH REVOLUTION AND J.G.A. POCOCK'S APPROACH TO THE HISTORY OF POLITICAL THOUGHT

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Abstract:

J.G.A. Pocock has been a dominant force in the history of political thought since his first major work, The Ancient Constitution and the Feudal Law, was published in 1957. This article is focused on the contribution he has made to the study of the revolutions of seventeenth-century England and the extraordinary body of political discourse to which they gave rise. It begins with an examination of the ways in which ideas about continuity, innovation, institutions and historiography have shaped his approach to the history of political thought and their application to seventeenth-century conditions. Central to a fundamental continuity in his ideas over the last five decades have been notions about the interface of 'paradigms' with both language and socio-political circumstance in the construction and deconstruction of both historiographies and political theories. The article then offers a critical assessment of his contribution to our understanding of the English Revolution.

Keywords: English Civil War; English revolution; Feudalism in English political thought; Historiography of political thought; J.G.A. POCOCK; Paradigms and political thought; ancient consitutionalism; ancient constitutionalism; civic humanism; classical republicanism; innovation in political thought; linguistic contextualism; republicanism; the common law mind; the early modern state

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Emeritus Professor of History, University of East Anglia, Norwich, NR4 7TJ, Email: Colin.Davis@uea.ac.uk

Publication date: 2008-01-01

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