Radicalism Within The Leveller And Ormée

1984 words - 8 pages

In the mid-seventeenth century, two political factions erupted underneath the uneasiness and instability of a monarchy. One in England. The other in France. Both countries had long been embroiled in the Thirty Years’ War leaving both in financial turmoil and its subjects bitterly discontent. Seeking refuge from their ailing governments, these factions sought to implement edicts and other programs of government that would address their grievances and put them on the path of what they believed would be a more peaceful and financially successful existence.Both radical in their times, the Levellers of England and the Ormée of Bordeaux, France shared a number of core beliefs t ...view middle of the document...

Their cause was more national and their primary goal was to change the entire constitution of England and deliver it to a commonwealth (Ludolph, Lecture 6). They sought to a establish a popular sovereign where all classes of people, from servants to nobles, were socially equal. This, they believed, was determined by God.While the Ormée continually declared loyalty to their king, they believed that their bourgeois state provided them with a state of entitlement and the monarchy should be including them in policy making decisions rather than excluding them as a whole.Unlike the Levellers, their political cause was limited to a province in France rather than the entire country itself (Ludolph, Lecture 14). Whether or not they were interested in becoming a national force is unknown. Though they were able to erect their form of government in Bordeaux, they were unable to reach beyond its borders.Also, significantly different, were their platforms. Levellers, along with their political allies, demanded a number of individual rights. These included abolition of the monarch, House of Lords, and censorship. They sought free trade and speech and universal male suffrage and equality before the law (Seyssel, 58). They were able to gain popular support through publications that appealed to an individuals sense of right and wrong and urged Parliament to recognize the people whose backs the entire country rested upon.These pamphlets included A Remonstrance of Many Thousand Citizens (1646),An Arrow Against All Tyrants (1646), England’s New Chains Discovered (1649), and Juries Justified (1651). In A Remonstrance of Many Thousand Citizens, Levellers argued that Parliament must be held accountable to the people.We are your principals, and you our agents; it is a truth which you cannot but acknowledge. For if you or any other shall assume or exercise any power that is not derived from our trust and choice thereunto, that power is no less than usurpation and an oppression from which we expect to be freed, in whomsoever we find it — it being altogether inconsistent with the nature of just freedom, which yealso very well understand (Roland).It’s most significant publication however, was An Agreement of the People (1647). While the agreement was revised two times, its central premises included religious toleration, biennial Parliaments, and equality for all under the law.That in all laws made or to be made every person may be bound alike, and that no tenure, estate, charter, degree, birth, or place do confer any exemption from the ordinary course of legal proceedings whereunto others are subjected. That as the laws ought to be equal, so they must be good, and not evidently destructive to the safety and well-being of the people (Seyssel, 58).Although the Ormée were restricted to just a province in France, their ideas were grand. Ormeist were determined to abolish the entire Parlement and venality and replace them with elected persons...


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