In the autumn of 1647, soldiers and officers of Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army held discussions near London on the constitution and future of England. Would there be a king and lords, or not? Would suffrage be limited to property holders? Would democratic changes lead to anarchy? Three generations of scholars examine the debates in their multiple contexts: the debates themselves, the nature and history of the text that has come down to us, the army's immediate concerns, the role of Leveller and other democratic ideas, the wider ramifications for politics and gender, and the place of the debates and the Levellers in later historical consciousness. The debates receive here their most sustained and varied scrutiny, resulting in a much richer appreciation of the very words reported to have been spoken by Oliver Cromwell, Henry Ireton, Thomas Rainborough, and the others, during those three tense and exhilarating days.
"Reassessing the Putney debates, like the trial of Charles I, is much needed, and Mendle has drawn together an impressive collection of scholars, whose articles are generally of the highest quality... The volume provides stimulating analyses of the text and history of the debates, and the historiography which surrounds both Putney and the protagonists of 1647, and extremely valuable contributions on the context(s) of Putney, and the ramifications of these famous events." Canadian Journal of History "The tantalizing insights that these [debates] offer historians and students of political theory certainly justify the present collection. ...there is a rich array of material for specialists from such diverse fields as political theory, military history, law, crowd behavior, and women's studies." The Journal of Interdisciplinary History "With his own fine sense of historical openness, Pocock put his finger on the point: Putney is not merely a fact. It is also a possibnlity." Albion