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Title: The influence of Dutch and Venetian political thought on seventeenth-century English republicanism
Author: Shields, Amy Heather
ISNI:       0000 0004 7227 5898
Awarding Body: Newcastle University
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis explores the engagement of seventeenth-century English republican thinkers, namely John Milton, James Harrington, Marchamont Nedham, Henry Neville and Algernon Sidney, with Dutch and Venetian models, theories, and experiences of republicanism. It challenges J.G.A. Pocock and Quentin Skinner's approach of tracing the origins of political ideas back to the ancient world and instead develops Franco Venturi’s emphasis on the significance of contemporary models to the development of early-modern republicanism. Chronologically the focus is c. 1640-1683 when republican ideas were at their height in England. In spatial terms, however, the approach is broader than traditional accounts of English republicanism, which tend to tell a purely national story. By adopting a transnational perspective this thesis promises to highlight the continuities and points of conflict between different republican thinkers, and in doing so challenges the idea of a coherent republican tradition. It suggests that narrowly defined and distinct definitions of republicanism do not capture the nuances in English republican thought, and that these thinkers engaged with various understandings of republicanism depending upon contextual political circumstances. The thesis looks at three significant themes. The first is the role of single person rule, an issue which has come to dominate discussions of English republicanism. By examining the ways in which English republicans understood the Dutch and Venetian models, both of which included an individual figurehead within a republican constitution, this thesis suggests that existing historiography places too much emphasis on 1649 as a turning point in English republican thought. Building on this discussion of non-monarchical government, the thesis then explores the constitutional proposals advocated by English republicans. It demonstrates that Venice was actually much less broadly admired and utilised for its constitutional model than has previously been assumed, and that in fact it was the Dutch Republic with which comparisons were more readily drawn. Finally, the thesis delineates a shift towards the end of this period. Post-Restoration, constitutional modelling was largely rejected in favour the practical experiences of the Dutch and Venetian Republics; the strengths, wealth and successes of which demonstrated, to these writers at least, the superiority of republican government over the existing form of monarchy in England.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available