The ‘Bankrupt Brewer of Huntingdon’, and Solomon’s Temple: an untold story of the English Civil War
Tony Gosling, STROUD 22Jun22 – Certain facts about the origins of the 1642-49 English Civil war have been established by historians and University departments over the centuries. Central are the grievances over Charles’s arbitrary rule and ‘three monopolies’ of church, printing and trade, that so stifled enterprise and free thought.
But what if there were a ‘third factor’, carefully concealed by wealthy merchants who were on the cusp of exploiting the New World? ‘Dark forces’ with a hidden agenda sniffed at by establishment historians then and now, because to raise it might threaten their reputations, their careers? Just such a possibility has in fact been creeping out, ‘given legs’ since WWII, in the works of Christopher Hill, Henry Brailsford, Pauline Gregg, John Robinson, Stephen Knight and Martin Short.
These writers represent two new perspectives on the seventeenth century battle between the feudal and merchant classes in England that was to have enormous repercussions across the world, not least of which was laying the foundatons for the acquisition of the biggest empire the world has ever seen.
Hill and Brailsford writing and researching in the 1956s and 1970s represent the post-war socialist culture finding its feet and reinterpreting social history, much research from original writings being made public for the first time. Their books tease out the social struggles and aspirations of the vast majority of England’s illiterate poor who had no voice yet were seeing their rights to land and livelihood and freedom of worship being corralled as they were made destitute by eviction and rabid anti-Catholicism.
In the 1970s and 80s insiders were saying Freemasonry was becoming less Christian, more sinister. Darker leaders were allegedly creeping in and whistleblowers began to speak out. These disclosures fell on fertile soil because publishing and broadcasting was in the middle of taboo-breaking couple of decades. Stephen Knight and Martin Short were writing in the 1980s about Freemasonry, complex deceptions and links into all aspects of power, at the highest offices of state and the criminal justice system were exposed.
Before tackling Freemasonry head on, Knight’s 1976 book ‘Jack the Ripper the Final Solution’ suggested prostitutes deaths had been ordered by the royal family after they received blackmail threats. The eldest son of king Edward VII, heir to the throne Prince Albert Victor, had been experimenting with prostitutes as a teenager, given one a child and married her under a pseudonym.
Due to the Masonic nature of the cover-up, Knight became a focus for 1970/80s Masons, disgruntled over more recent injustices within the craft. In 1984 the product of that research ‘The Brotherhood’ was published but Stephen Knight died shortly afterwards in 1985 aged 34. Journalist Martin Short was handed several boxes of unread correspondence Knight had received from readers and published his own, bigger, sequel ‘Inside The Brotherhood, Further Secrets of the Freemasons’ in 1989.
Freemasonry being a re-branding of the banned medieval Knights Templar cult is probably best detailed in John Robinson’s book ‘Born In Blood’ (1989). During the same period of relative press freedom Christian converts from secret black and white witch covens reported identical wording in the oaths of Masonic initiation rituals: promises of secrecy on pain of death, even methods of execution of ‘offenders’.
The Vatican’s inability, or unwillingness, to try accusations of witchcraft had been one of the many reformation grievances. As Henry VIII finally wrenched English Christendom away from Rome in December 1633, over the marriage to Anne Boleyn, the English church began a popularisation and freeing-up of Christian doctrine and practice which included dealing much more directly with accusations of witchcraft.
This took place over the century or so between the reformation and English civil war as a spiritual battle raged to deal with evidence of divination and sorcery which the Vatican had swept under the carpet. This extension of the crown’s judicial powers also provided ‘cover’ for Thomas Cromwell’s hostile takeover of the monasteries, and execution of several abbots, to which the king owed vast sums of money.
A look beyond the turbulent John Dee’s empire plan, Witch trials and Enclosure does seem to confirm this interpretation of secret societies in a kind of spiritual battle behind the scenes for legislative influence which will benefit them, running up to the power to hire and fire the monarch.
Between the outing of the Templars, and Elizabeth I, came the too-little studied nor understood Wars of the Roses. Understood as a battle for succession between the houses of York and Lancaster it can also be seen as the ultimately fruitless attempt to crush the Lancastrian power of the secretive Garter Knights. It was only with the coming of the 1485 Battle of Bosworth that this argument was finally settled in the garter knights favour. Sporadic bands of possibly state-sponsored brigands that had been roaming a lawless country for over a century were apprehended, and the English countryside was allowed to return to a reasonably peaceful existence.
Similarly after the 1688 ‘Glorious Revolution’ there was a considerable reservoir of learned noble distrust of the new protestant kings, considered illegitimate usurpers by the ‘Jacobites’. The name referred to King James and the Bible-believing Stuart line which had been overthrown by these ‘dark forces’. This even extended in 1745 to a great march to attack London by the Highlanders and their allies which, probably wisely, was abandoned in Derby and returned home.
It should not come as a great surprise that Freemasonry might be lurking behind machinations of the English Civil War since the idea was prominent in some seventeenth and eighteenth century accounts and illustrations. But this aspect has become less prominent today because mainstream historians tell us Freemasonry only emerged in England in 1717.
‘Emerged’ is the word, because ‘philanthropist’ Elias Ashmole proudly records his own 1646 initiation into freemasonry at Warrington in his memoirs. So we know ‘the craft’ was active underground from at least the civil war period in England. Was the 1717 deception an attempt to conceal some role Freemasonry’s hidden networks of power had in the overthrow of Charles I, and the later usurping of James Stuart’s throne in 1688 by ‘puritan’ William of Orange?
- 1118 – The Vatican founds the Knights Templar after the First Crusade
- 1154 – The Great Schism as rival pontiffs from the Roman and Orthodox churches split
- 1204 – Sacking of Orthodox Constantinople by the Vatican’s Fourth Crusade
- 1307 – French King Philip the Fair orders arrest of the Templars for homosexuality, worshipping idols plus other blasphemies and heresies.
- 1312 – Templar Order is extinguished by the Vatican and banning decrees issued by European kings. Property is transferred to the Knights Hospitaller, today known as the Knights of Malta.
- 1348 – Order of the Garter is created by Edward III at Woodstock, Oxfordshire with 26 knights. Legend is the motto ‘Shame on anyone who thinks this is evil’, originated when the Countess of Salisbury, dancing with the king, dropped her garter and he gallantly picked it up. However in her 1921 anthropological study of witchcraft Margaret Murray says the garter is a hidden emblem of a witchcraft high priestess, indicating control of a coven of 13, and that the king may have been demonstrating his support for her.
- 1381 – Peasant’s Revolt believed to have been orchestrated by the underground Templars to threaten the boy-King Richard II and regain or destroy property lost seventy years previously when they were extinguished.
- 1446 – Rosslyn Chapel built in Midlothian, Southeast of ex-Templar Port Edinburgh by Sir William St Clair. Architecture hints at Templar influences and pillars depict plants only known in the Americas, which weren’t supposed to have been discovered until fifty years afterwards.
- 1455-1487 – Wars of the Roses dynastic battles over thirty years tied up with England losing control of French territories with sides symbolised by the white Lancastrian and red Yorkshire five-pointed roses, sometimes depicted as white within red as the Tudor Rose. Because the five-petalled rose is a form of hexagram some have suggested that it represents the merging of Lancastrian and Yorkist covens. Wars culminate both dynastically, in the 1486 marriage of Henry VII to Elisabeth of York, eldest daughter of Edward IV, and militarily in the 1487 Battle of Bosworth where Henry Tudor’s Yorkist rival Richard III is killed.
- 1489 – Depopulation Act ‘Against Pulling Down Of Towns’ under Henry VII
- 1492-97 – So-called discovery of South America and Caribbean by Christopher Columbus who sailed from Palos de la Frontera in Spain and North America by John Cabot sailing out of Bristol. There is much evidence that the ancient Phoenicians traded across the Atlantic, that some Europeans were aware of the ‘New World’ and that these voyages may have simply made public what they knew, to prepare for centuries of European colonisation.
- 1515 – Royal Proclamation ‘Against Engrossing Of Farms’ under Henry VIII
- 1516 – Depopulation Act
- 1516, 1518 and 1519 – Royal Anti-Enclosure Commissions
- 1534 – Sheep Farming Restraining Act
- 1536 – Two Depopulation Acts
- 1536 – 1541 – The English Reformation is beginning in earnest with a frontal attack on the commercial operations of the church. Dissolution of the Monasteries by Oliver Cromwell’s great-great grandfather and Henry VIII’s chief minister Thomas Cromwell – 900 religious business institutions are ‘nationalised’ and sold off. 12,000 in religious orders are sacked as the debt the crown owes to the great monastic institutions, tens of billions of pounds in 2020 money, is cancelled. With Luther and Calvin’s wider ‘Reformation’ comes a tacit encouragement of Freemason lodges, as secret ‘speakeasies’ until emerging officially into public view 180 years or so later.
- 1542 – Henry VIII passes England’s first capital Witchcraft Act removing jurisdiction from the church courts to the crown courts and assizes.
- 1549, Jul-Aug – Kett’s Rebellion in Norfolk over enclosure. East Anglia ruled for seven weeks from under an oak tree by Robert Kett and 16,000 peasants. Enclosers locked up in Norwich jail for ‘stealing the land’. King Edward VI’s army is twice turned back by the rebels, is then reinforced and defeats them.
- 1552 and 1555 Depopulation Acts
- 1563 – Depopulation Act repeals all four 1526, 1552 and 1555 Acts as ineffective. Acknowledged or not, this was probably because the administration of all previous acts and commissions since 1489 were in the hands of the landed classes who were profiting personally from enclosure.
- 1563 – Post-Reformation ‘Witchcraft Act’, passed in Scotland, makes witchcraft, or consulting with witches, a capital crime.
- 1563 – Elizabeth I’s Witchcraft Act reduces penalties for witchcraft except it remains a capital offence for those proven also to have caused harm.
- 1577 – John Dee privately publishes his clandestine vision for the ascendancy of a projected British Empire, advised by Christopher Hatton and Robert Dudley, for Elizabeth I in ‘General and Rare Memorials Pertayning to the Perfect Arte of Navigation’. Though part of Dee’s plan, Elizabeth claims privateers Francis Drake, Walter Raleigh and John Hawkins are not working for the crown. [FFI see articles by Alex Grover, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich]
- 1581-1795 – Calvinist ‘Dutch Republic’, where Catholics are persecuted. It is to play a major role in providing finance and military expertise to Cromwell during the English civil war. Following the 1660 restoration of Charles II the Dutch republic resumes harrying England’s Catholic kings with the 1665 Monmouth rebellion and much better funded 1688 ‘Glorious revolution’ which finally deposes the Stuart line and imposes a violently anti-Catholic regime.
- 1590-92 – North Berwick witch trials in which Agnes Sampson Geillis Duncan and schoolmaster Dr John Fian were accused of being members of a coven at St Andrews’ Auld Kirk. Around 100 people were accused including Francis Stewart, 5th Earl of Bothwell and other gentry. It’s unclear how many were found guilty or executed.
- 1593 – Two final Depopulation Acts passed
- 1597 – James VI of Scotland publishes his ‘Daemonologie’ purporting to enable the identification of witches
- 1603, 24 March – James I ascends to the throne of England whilst having been James VI of Scotland for 36 years, uniting the two monarchies
- 1604 – James I passes a stricter Witchcraft Act reversing Elizabeth I’s leniency. It is enforced by self-styled ‘Witchfinder General’ Matthew Hopkins.
- 1604-1607 active enclosure revolts in Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Huntingdonshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire and Warwickshire, culminating in 1607 in armed revolt under a leader with the pseudonym ‘Captain Pouch’. Forty or fifty rebels out of a rag-tag-army of about a thousand peasants are shot dead at Newton by a ‘body of mounted gentlemen with their servants’, while several others are hanged and quartered.
- 1605, 05 November – Gunpowder plot orchestrated by Lord Salisbury to test James I and justify persecution of Catholics
- 1607 – the term ‘Leveller’ is heard for the first time as organised anti-enclosure gangs emerge and ‘riots’ spread around the counties of Northamptonshire, Warwickshire and Leicestershire.
- 1607 – 1636 the governments of James I and Charles I set themselves against John Dee’s covert empire-building by pursuing an active anti-enclosure policy.
- 1611 – Publication of King James’ Authorised Version of The Bible, commissioned in 1604 and still recognised as one of the most accurate..
- 1612, 18-19 August – Pendle witch trials culminating in nine hangings for Maleficium (causing injury by divination) of some self-confessed coven-members on 20th August.
- 1625, 27 March – Charles I ascends the British throne on death of James I
- 1629-1640 – ‘Eleven years Tyranny’ as Charles I rules without Parliament
- 1630 – Justices of five midland counties are ordered to remove all enclosures made in the previous two years
- 1632, 1635 and 1636 – Three Royal Anti-Enclosure Commissions levy huge compositions, or fines, on those who have enclosed land in contravention of Depopulation Acts. Charles I levies total of £50,000 ‘compositions’, or fines, as a penalty for depopulation and evictions from 1633 to 1638, some of which are retrospective. Equivalent in 2020 of around £2.2 billion.
- 1635 – Supposedly converted to Christianity Portuguese-Jewish merchant Antonio Fernandez Carvajal moves to London’s Leadenhall Street as the first endenizened, or naturalised, English Jew for nearly 200 years. His ships trade to the East and West Indies, Brazil, and Levant in gunpowder, wine, hides, pictures, cochineal and corn. Plus he has lucrative government contracts to supply the army with corn and an additional £100,000 annual turnover of silver. Carvajal also brings with him a vast intelligence network of paid informers, of use to any army.
- 13 April – 5 May 1640 – Short Parliament summoned by Charles I which insisted on grievances against the king being addressed before voting him any money. Charles then promptly dissolved it.
- November 1640 – December 1648 – ‘Long Parliament’ elected. Strafford, Cottington, Finch and Archbishop Laud, who have been running the country for the king, are impeached and executed.
- November 1641 – Parliament states its demands that the king strictly purge the church of England of all ‘Roman Catholic tenancies’ in the ‘Grand Remonstrance’ drafted by Puritan John Pym.
- On 4th January 1642 king Charles attempted to arrest the ‘five members’ John Pym, John Hampden, Arthur Hesilrige, Denzil Holles and William Strode. We now know they were already safely hidden in the City of London, which may have been tipped off by a spy at court. Charles had first gone to the House of Lords demanding they arrest the MPs for him. After a short debate the Lords refused and so Charles and his accompanying guard of soldiers had to go into the Commons themselves to make the arrests. Charles utters the opening line of the English Civil War, “All the birds are flown” and humiliated, leaves London.
- 10 June 1642 – Charles I is forced to leave London for Oxford, establishing his rule in other parts of the country with a virtual line of his support running roughly from Southampton up to Hull.
- August 1642 – Charles raises his standard at Nottingham hoping loyal aristocracy will support him against Parliament.
- 2nd July 1644 – battle of Marston Moor, near York. Prince Rupert, for the King, took on Cromwell and Fairfax with Edward Manchester in command. Confusion reigned on both sides that day but Manchester grabbed the initiative, routing the royalist army inflicting crippling losses, with 4,000 of Charles’ fighting men killed and 1,500 captured. Manchester’s decisive performance as a general that day led to conflict with Cromwell later that year over the conduct of the war. Manchester was dismissed, eventually opposing the trial of Charles I from what was, by then, the sidelines.
- February 1645: Sums of money which prove to be decisive are spent over the winter refashioning the parliamentary army for what proved to be the decisive 1645 fighting season. Parliament’s New Model Army of 20,000 soldiers is better equipped, disciplined and trained.
- 14 June 1645 – Battle of Naseby, South of Market Harborough, is arguably the turning point of the war. Charles I joined Prince Rupert to command 7,500 cavaliers, who faced around 14,000 New Model Army roundheads led by Cromwell and Fairfax. 5,000 royalist soldiers were captured leaving Charles’ forces in the midlands decimated and the cities of Leicester, Chester and Winchester all saw the writing on the wall, surrendering to parliament.
- 10th July 1645 Langport in Somerset saw the Royalists’ final strategic military defeat. Soldiers of Charles’ supporters in the South West were defeated by Fairfax and his well-organised, City of London resourced, army. Bristol merchants had been independent royalists, and remained so until the following September when, under siege, they surrendered England’s second city to the roundheads. So furious was Cromwell with Bristol for holding an independent line against his merchant forces, he had his engineers level the city’s historic castle with explosives after the war.
- July 1645: Leveller pamphleteer Lt. Col. John Lilburne is arrested
- Elizabeth Lilburne women’s petition to parliament
- 1646 – in his memoirs Elias Ashmole records his initiation into freemasonry at Warrington sixty years before Freemasonry is supposed to exist in England
- 12 November 1646 – Charles I loses the battle of Newark and is taken into custody by the Scottish army
- January 1647 – Scots deliver Charles over to parliament for the sum of £100,000
- June 1647 – trouble at’ mill – Cromwell settles with army agitators
- June and July 1647 – letters pass between Oliver Cromwell and Amsterdam’s Mulheim Synagogue financier Ebenezer Pratt about Jews being readmitted to England in exchange for his financial support and advice.
- 11 November 1647 – Charles is deliberately allowed to escape from Hampton Court for pro-Cromwell dramatic effect and makes his way to the Isle Of Wight, from where he plans to escape to France. IoW governor Colonel Robert Hammond is not so sympathetic as Charles had hoped and he is re-imprisoned in Carisbrooke castle.
- August 1648 King Charles I is taken prisoner.
- September 1648 – In his pamphlet ‘Les Francs-Maçons Écrasés’ (1774) French Catholic priest Abbé Larudan alleges Cromwell, realising his own life will be forfeit if negotiations for peace with Charles proceed, forms a witchcraft cell to push through the execution Charles, under Masonic guise. The inauguration takes place at a location in King’s Street, St. James, London over two evening meetings four days apart. Named as present are Oliver Cromwell, his son-in-law Henry Ireton, Algernon Sidney, a Mr. Newell, Martin Wildeman, James Harrington (colonel of the London trained bands), George Monck Parliamentary commander-in-chief Thomas Fairfax along with many others. The ‘holy spirit’ is said to have visited Cromwell during the intervening days to affirm god’s support for him and his group. The ostensible aim is the rebuilding of ‘proper Christian order’ and once they have been inducted at their second meeting a painting of Solomon’s ruined Temple is presented to initiates in a neighbouring room, illustrating the ‘task in hand’. A master, two wardens, a secretary and speaker are all appointed as this newly formed cult’s officers which consists of all factions in Parliament, church and army. It proceeds to spy on MPs to assess their views on negotiation with or trial of Charles I in preparation for Pride’s purge three months later. So, did Cromwell ‘do a deal with the devil’? Exactly a decade later Cromwell is dead. Rumours survive about Cromwell ‘selling his soul to the devil’ at the 1651 battle of Worcester.
- 20 November 1648 – Ireton’s Remonstrance is presented to Parliament calling for the trial of Charles I for treason.
- 2 December 1648 Charles I is held in Hurst Castle
- On 1st December, the House of Commons resists Ireton’s calls to proceed to try the king, voting by 129 to 83, a majority of 46 votes, to accept the King’s terms for his restoration to power.
- The following day the New Model Army occupies London and arrests 41 MPs who had most actively supported the king, hoping that this will send a clear message to the others, if just a few of those remaining who support the king change their mind no further action by the army will be necessary.
- 6 December 1648 – Pride’s Purge – acting on orders from Cromwell’s son-in-law General Henry Ireton, and apparently unknown to army chief General Fairfax, Colonel Thomas Pride surrounds parliament with troops and ‘purges’ Parliament of a further hundred or so MPs who voted for the negotiated settlement with Charles. This leaves only 71 out of the originally elected 489 MPs still sitting, the so-called ‘Rump Parliament’. Around two hundred of the Long Parliament’s original MPs are now in prison and around the same number in fear of the army, afraid to speak out. Ninety MPs, the majority of those who voted the previous day to negotiate with the king, are purged from parliament along with 45 who resisted arrest detained for several days. Those considered most dangerous to Cromwell’s cause. Sir William Waller, Sir John Clotworthy and Lionel Copley are imprisoned in the tower without charge for many years. Denzil Holles, Colonel Massey and Major-General Browne escape to the continent.
- 4th January 1649 a motion is but before parliament proposing the king be tried for treason. Only 46 of the Rump’s 71 MPs turned up to vote and 26 voted in favour, a majority of six is enough. The following day the Lords vote overwhelmingly against the same motion, but the vote was set aside by the then government, Cromwell’s counsel of state. General Henry Ireton’s demand that Charles be put on trial is now voted through. In public Oliver Cromwell said he had his doubts about the purges and at the end of December he tells the House of Commons “the providence of God hath cast this upon us”. Once the decision had been made Cromwell “threw himself into it with the vigour he always showed when his mind was made up, when God had spoken”.
- 20 January 1649 – a court is convened in Westminster Hall and Charles I is charged with “waging war on Parliament.” It was claimed that he was responsible for “all the murders, burnings, damages and mischiefs to the nation” in the English Civil War. The jury included remaining members of Parliament, army officers and large landowners. Some of the 135 jurors did not turn up for the trial. For example. General Thomas Fairfax, the leader of the Parliamentary Army, did not appear. When his name was called, his masked wife, Lady Anne Fairfax, shouted out, “He has more wit than to be here,” and was whisked out of the public gallery before she could be arrested. After the court had been sworn in Charles demanded to know by what authority he had been brought to trial. President of the court John Bradshaw replied ‘In the name of Parliament assembled and all the good people of England’. Lady Fairfax who had quietly returned sprang up again ‘It is a lie! Not a half – nay, not a quarter of the people of England’ and she was once more spirited away.
- 30 January 1649 – Outside the old Palace of Whitehall Charles I is executed. Immediately afterwards, to the consternation of the regicides, his memoir ‘Eikon Basiliske’ (Portrait of the King, his sacred majesty’s solitude and sufferings) is published. Sold amongst the silent crowds, and after more than twenty editions, it went on to become one of England’s all time bestsellers. England is now a military dictatorship run by Cromwell and his Council Of State’ appointees.
- Wednesday 28th March 1649 – Early morning arrest of Leveller pamphleteers John Lilburn, William Walwyn, Overton and Thomas Prince – Cromwell launches ‘project fear’ on the Council Of State ‘…if you do not break them they will break you, yea, and bring all the guilt of the blood and treasure shed and spent in this kingdom upon your heads and shoulders…’ – proposes all four prisoners are committed to the tower and wins by one vote.
- 1 and 18 April – two separate 10,000 signature Petitions for Levellers’ release
- 23 April 1649 – Women’s 10,000 signature petition to Parliament served, demanding release of the four Leveller captives and an end to arbitrary rule which is bringing famine to the land
- 1 May 1649- The Agreement of the People published – Leveller manifesto
- May 1649 – Wages unpaid and refusing to fight in Ireland, hundreds of parliamentary Leveller soldiers sack their officers at Burford, Oxfordshire. Cromwell arrests them in a midnight raid and next day three soldiers are executed for mutiny. Commemorated in Burford at the annual ‘Levellers Day’ with music, speeches, and a march from the parish church where soldiers and their horses were imprisoned.
- 1650-1720 – the ‘golden age’ of piracy. The British secret state’s sponsorship of pirates is denied, just as Elizabeth denied she’d supported privateers Drake, Raleigh etc. The Royal Navy ‘state within a state’ works hard to fulfil John Dee’s vision for Britain’s dominance of the high seas as the empire is established
- 3 September 1651- Battle of Worcester – final battle of the English Civil war with Charles II leading a Scottish army. Parliamentarian soldiers outnumber Royalists roughly 2:1 – Royalist casualties of c. 3,000 are roughly five times that of the Parliamentary army and 10,000 royalist soldiers are captured – a resounding defeat for Charles II
- 3 September – Wednesday 15 October 1651 – Charles II goes ‘on the run’ for 43 days after losing the battle of Worcester and travelling as a fugitive, disguised as an ostler. After Captain Limbry’s abortive attempt to smuggle him to France from Charmouth in Dorset Charles eventually makes it across the channel from Shoreham, Sussex in Captain Tattersall’s coal freighter ‘The Surprise’.
- 20 April 1653 – Rump parliament is ejected by Cromwell’s soldiers to be replaced by the ‘barebones parliament’ of 140 Cromwell appointees which lasts until the remains of the long parliament is restored in 1659 after Cromwell’s death.
- March 1655 – Uprising in Wiltshire against Cromwell’s military rule led by Colonel John Penruddock who led his followers into Salisbury and declared Charles II king. The rebellion was crushed, its leaders executed and English military rule suppressing all gatherings and pastimes was formalised into 11 districts each run by a major-general for the next two years.
- December 14, 1655 – After much lobbying by founder of Holland’s first Hebrew printing press Menasseh Ben Israel, Jews are allowed back into England for the first time since they were expelled in 1290.
- 3 September 1658 – Cromwell dies aged 59.
- 1660 – Restoration of Charles II to the English throne after his exile in France and the death of Oliver Cromwell – known as a time of great literary and cultural freedom: comedies by Dryden, Wycherley, Ertheridge, Sedley, Buckhurst etc, after previous grim decade of puritan rule.
- June-July 1685 – Exiled after the 1683 Rye House Plot, James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth launched the Protestant Monmouth Rebellion on 11th June 1685 landing with at Lyme Regis in a failed attempt to depose James II. On 6th July Battle of Sedgemore near Bridgwater, Somerset, finishes off this rather insufficient attempt by Protestants to cut off the Catholic Stuart line.
- 5th November 1688 – William of Orange lands at Torbay with 14,000 soldiers and 5,000 horses. Coup d’état or ‘Glorious Revolution’ follows as James II is forced into exile in Ireland while Protestant, William III, ‘King Billy’ takes the English throne. This also begins the Catholic ‘Jacobite’ movement committed to restoring the Stuart line. Jacobite areas tend to be Scotland, Northern England and the South-West, the old royalist regions of the English Civil War.
- 1707 – Great Britain comes into being after the passage of the Treaty of Union with Scotland.
- 1737 – Andrew Ramsay reveals the 33 degrees of Scottish Rite Freemasonry, so named because no decree had ever been issued by Scottish Monarchs banning the Knights Templar.
- 1745 – Bonnie Prince Charlie leads abortive Jacobite rebel march on London
In his 1826 novel ‘Woodstock’ Sir Walter Scott recounts, ‘the bankrupt brewer of Huntingdon’, and other contemporary cavalier quips about Oliver Cromwell’s obscure pre-war life. The aggressive, failed manager mysteriously given a new role as an MP.
It should be clear by now that Charles was not simply dealing with an organised faction of merchants who wished to see the nation run more efficiently. No, behind these various plots was a conscious choice to sidestep Christianity, the moral code that had been keeping them in their place. As the joyless, pecuniary policies of the pseudo-Christian Puritans also implies. In taking on parliament and the City of London was Charles confronting John Dee’s well-organised criminal conspiracy? Dark forces at play with nothing less than the world as their prize?
Is it this stepping into the spiritual that makes so many historians baulk at addressing the wickedness of overthrowing the monarchy in the seventeenth century, to replace it with a system of glorious rule by Cromwell’s council of state? Where a secret cabal gets to hire and fire those on the panel and there is limited free speech. In 1649 Burford even parliamentary soldiers thought Cromwell might be worse than the king.
However wicked a king might be, and Henry VIII was one of the most despotic rulers since Herod, every once in a while the feudal system throws up a good sort. It did with Charles and there was nothing the oligarchy, organised crime, could do to unseat him except character assassination followed by kangaroo court and execution.
Reading list – in order of personal preference
Old Rowley, The Private Life Of Charles II by Dennis Wheatley (1933) – affectionate roller coaster ride through young Charles survival and resurgence after the war including easy to follow up detail on the cultural thrill of the restoration
The Levellers And The English Revolution by Henry H. Brailsford (1961) – takes us through the formation and attempted destruction of Cromwell’s key Leveller opponents, along with their offshoots. Though Brailsford is an internationalist he shows deep understanding for the spiritual and moral factions on both sides of the war
Edmund Ludlow And The English Civil War edited by Jane Shuter (1994) – fascinating account of a Parliamentary commander who finds himself slowly losing faith in the cause for which he has been fighting
Born In Blood, The Lost Secrets of Freemasonry by John J. Robinson (1989) – Extraordinary historical exploration of the previously hidden origins of eighteenth century Freemasonry in ancient and medieval secret societies.
The World Turned Upside Down by Christopher Hill (1972) – Detailed analysis of seventeenth century counter-culture centred around the protestant reformation and agricultural reforms being imposed on England and the cataclysmic Civil War which followed.
The Witch-Cult in Western Europe by Margaret Murray (1921) – A study of the underground persistence of secret Canaanite and Phoenician religious cults under the surface of gentile modern European society.
Who we are
The Land Is Ours was set up in 1995 by writer George Monbiot with the aim to echo in the UK land rights campaigns across the developing world, notably Brazil’s landless movement (MST). Also to take up the cause through non-violent direct action of forgotten Diggers, Chartists and Land Leaguers on our own islands. You can find us online at www.tlio.org.uk and join the Diggers list, set up in Easter 1999 when we occupied St George’s Hill, Surrey for two weeks on the Diggers’ 350th anniversary, by sending a blank email to email@example.com
Land is a free gift to mankind so should never be considered private property like other things. ‘True Leveller’ Gerrard Winstanley said ‘The Earth is a Common Treasury for All, Without Respect of Persons’. Winstanley died a Quaker and the Bible puts it thus: The land is not to be sold permanently, for the Earth is mine, sayeth The Lord God, and you are but my tenants. Leviticus 25:25.