Commune, Country and Commonwealth: The People of Cirencester, 1117-1643

Commune, Country and Commonwealth: The People of Cirencester, 1117-1643

David Rollison


Boydell Press



Makes original contributions to late medieval and early modern historiography, including detailed, contextualized studies of the 'Lancastrian revolution', the Reformation and the English Revolution.
Commune, Country and Commonwealth suggests that towns like Cirencester are a missing link connecting local and national history, in the immensely formative centuries from Magna Carta to the English Revolution. Focused on a town that made highly significant interventions in national constitutional development, it describes recurring struggles to achieve communal solidarity and independence in a society continuously and prescriptively divided by gross inequalities of class and status. The result is a social and political history of a great trans-generational epic in which local and national influences constantly interacted.
From the generation of Magna Carta to the regicides of Edward II and Richard II, through the vernacular revolution of the 'long fifteenth century' and the chaos of state reformations to the great revival that ended in the constitutional wars of the 1640s, the epic was united by strategic location and by systemic, 'structural' inequalities that were sometimes mitigated but never resolved. Individual and group personalities emerge from every chapter, but the 'personality' that dominates them all, Rollison argues, is a commune with 'a mind of its own', continuously regenerated by enduring, strategic realities. An afterword describes the birth and development of a new, 'rural' myth and identity and suggests some archival pathways for the exploration of a legendary English town in the modern and postmodern, industrial and post-industrial epochs.

DAVID ROLLISON is Honorary Research Associate in History, University of Sydney. DAVE ROLLISON is Honorary Research Associate in History, University of Sydney.

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October 2011
2 black and white, 14 line illustrations
296 pages
23.4x15.3 cm
Studies in Early Modern Cultural, Political and Social History
ISBN: 9781843836711
Format: Hardback
Boydell Press
BISAC HIS015000, HIS054000
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Table of Contents

Introduction: Commune at the cross roads
A domination of abbots
The crisis of the early fourteenth century
Classes of the commune before the Black Death
The struggle continues, 1335-1399
A turning point: the generation of 1400
Highpoint of vernacular religion: building a church, 1400-1548
Classes of the commune in 1522
Surviving Reformation: the rule of Robert Strange, 1539-1570
'The tyranny of infected members called papists': the Strange regime under challenge, c.1551-1580
Phoenix arising: crises and growth, 1550-1650
Only the poor will be saved: the preacher and the artisans
Gentlemen and commons of the Seven Hundreds
The revival of the parish
'More than the freeholders ought to have voices': parliamentarianism in one 'countrey', 1571-1643
'Moments of decision', August 1642 to February 1643
Afterword: Rural sunrise


Provides insight into early modern culture and helps clarify our own societal problems. SIXTEENTH CENTURY JOURNAL

[S]hould be read by all historians of early modern England. JOURNAL OF BRITISH STUDIES

A short appreciation of this book does not do justice to the richness of detail [...]; the depth of scholarship exemplified by family reconstructions; the power of the argument, and the wealth of evidence closely studied. It should be required reading for all prospective historians of early modern English towns. THE LOCAL HISTORIAN

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