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A Commonwealth of the People: Popular Politics and England's by David Rollison

By David Rollison

In 1500 fewer than 3 million humans spoke English; at the present time English audio system quantity at the very least one billion all over the world. This booklet asks how and why a small island humans grew to become the nucleus of an empire 'on which the sunlight by no means set'. David Rollison argues that the 'English explosion' was once the end result of an extended social revolution with roots deep within the medieval prior. A succession of crises from the Norman Conquest to the English Revolution have been causal hyperlinks and chains of collective reminiscence in a special, vernacular, populist move. The key-phrase of this lengthy revolution, 'commonwealth', has been principally invisible in conventional constitutional background. This panoramic synthesis of political, highbrow, social, cultural, spiritual, monetary, literary and linguistic routine bargains a 'new constitutional background' within which nation associations and gear elites have been subordinate and answerable to a better neighborhood that the early smooth English referred to as 'commonwealth' and we name 'society'.

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It included institutions, but above all it was formed by the collective dialectics of ‘realist’ descriptions and criticisms of actually existing society (an enduring ‘condition of England debate’) and well known, deeply embedded and verbally articulate ethical and constitutional precepts. I also show that from 1381 to the 1640s these precepts were very often most strongly maintained by the poorest and least privileged members of society, and the ‘commonalty’ (in its ‘third estate’ sense). 33 3 Revolutions of politics: revolutions of commonalty To advance their interest, Kings and Princes have politiques, and Principles of their own, and certain state-maxims, whereby they soare aloft, and walk in a distinct way of opposition to the Rights and Freedomes of the People; all of which you may see in Machiavil’s Prince.

It pointed to the heart of a poisonous contest, fought for the highest stakes of wealth and power. In the early English case, the locus was a Monarch’s court at Westminster, the symbolic centre of English ‘politics’ since the fourteenth century. ‘Westminster’ denoted many things, but in the popular mind it often meant a suspect region of dirty deeds and unsavoury ethics. If ‘Westminster’ has always sought to represent itself as embodiment of the common good, Iago lurks in its courts and corridors, and the public relations views have been continuously subject to a spirit of Diogenes (and the good soldier Schweik) abroad among the people.

The date of their early courtship is uncertain. Latin and German are both Indo-European languages. The words ‘common’ and ‘gemaen’ were different ways of writing down the same sounds with the same essential range of meanings, adapted to variable contexts. Vernacular English politics adopted and assimilated ancient ideas that came to its nobles, clerics, learned men and commons along convoluted, now-invisible channels, many via Muslim Spain from classical Athens and Rome. 1300 ideas associated with Aristotle’s Politics were ubiquitous, in direct or implied forms; this raises questions of transmission, not only across space, but also social frontiers.

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