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? The debates receive here their first 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.
1. Introduction Michael Mendle; Part I. The Putney Debates: The Artefact: 2. The survival of the manuscript Lesley Le Claire; 3. Reading and writing the text of the Putney debates Frances Henderson; Part II. The Putney Debates and Their Contexts: 4. The debates from the perspective of the army Austin Woolrych; 5. The army, the state and the soldier in the English civil war Barbara Donagan; 6. The case of the armie truly re-stated John Morrill and Philip Baker; 7. Putney's pronouns: identity and indemnity in the great debate Michael Mendle; 8. The agreements of the people and their political context, 1647–1649 Ian Gentles; 9. From Reading to Whitehall: Henry Ireton's journey Barbara Taft; Part III. Levellers and 'Levellerism' in History and Historiography: 10. 'The poorest she': women and citizenship in early modern England Patricia Crawford; 11. The Leveller legacy: from the Restoration to the Exclusion crisis Tim Harris; 12. Puritanism, liberty and the Putney debates William Lamont; 13. The Levellers in history and memory, c. 1660–1960 Blair Worden; 14. The true Levellers' standard revisited: an afterword J. G. A. Pocock.
"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