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Chapter 1 focuses on the transnational networks of the three English republican exiles. It follows Ludlow, Sidney and Neville on their journeys to the Continent and shows the extent to which the refugees relied on pre-existing networks formed during earlier periods of their lives through their families, their education, their religion and their political activity, and on new connections forged during their travels. Ludlow made his way to Geneva with the help of French Huguenot acquaintances and subsequently benefited from their wider religious networks in Switzerland. Sidney in contrast had to leave a diplomatic assignment in Copenhagen without much preparation and initially moved to Rome on a whim, recovering old and forging new connections among the religious establishment soon after his arrival. Neville was the last of the three to leave for the Continent after being arrested for his suspected involvement in a plot to restore the Commonwealth in England. As a prisoner in the Tower, he made arrangements with the Earl of Clarendon to retreat to Italy, where he was to benefit from the hospitality of the Medici Grand Duke Ferdinando II as well as from the anonymity enjoyed by foreigners in Rome.
Chapter 7 engages with Henry Neville’s fictional travel narrative The Isle of Pines (1668) as a work of exile. Like Sidney’s Court Maxims, Neville’s story of shipwreck and survival is a contemporary political commentary as well as a reflection on the nature and failings of patriarchal monarchy. It comments on the Second Anglo-Dutch War as well as the growing naval and economic power of the United Provinces versus England’s perceived decline since the time of Queen Elizabeth. In addition, it weighs up the strengths and weaknesses of patriarchal monarchy versus republican rule through an engagement with recent English history, including the Commonwealth, the rise of Cromwell and godly, republican rule and the Stuart Restoration. It is also notable for its use of Scripture, showing close familiarity with Old Testament texts while at the same time rejecting any literal interpretations of the Bible. Neville’s Isle is quite different in character from the radical Puritan writings of Ludlow and Sidney, not least on account of his chosen genre, yet, like Ludlow’s ‘Voyce’, it is also a deeply personal reflection on exile that engages with the vagaries of travel and making a home away from home, while remaining closely involved in the affairs of England.
Chapter 6 focuses on the republican vision set out in Algernon Sidney’s posthumously published Court Maxims, which can be read as call to arms directed at the exile community on the Continent. This short work, written in the form of a philosophical dialogue, openly condemns the Restoration monarchy in England as tyrannical and calls for rebellion against the Stuarts. What marks out Court Maxims as a work of exile is Sidney’s increasing preoccupation with the balance of power in Europe, which he now came to see from another perspective as he was lobbying foreign governments to support his cause. Yet Court Maxims is also a deeply religious and heartfelt work, whose emotive attacks on the tyranny of the Stuarts and the persecution of Protestant dissenters ally Sidney at times more closely with Ludlow and a radical Puritan agenda than with the level-headed classical constitutionalism of Neville. Court Maxims also shares many key points with Sidney’s later Discourses, including its attack on divine-right patriarchalism, absolutism and the hereditary principle. Both works also address the issue of conquest and the people’s right to rise against unjust rulers, and advocate the rule of law and religious liberty.
Chapter 4 focuses on the ideas and activities of republican underground networks in England and Europe. It addresses the ways in which various groups of republicans conceptualised their cause and their visions for a restoration of the Commonwealth government in England. The Northern Rising in 1663, which saw Neville arrested and led to his banishment from the country, was among the more prominent attempts of the underground community in England to restore republican rule. Sidney meanwhile was driving an agenda for change from the Continent, gathering allies and money to invade England with the help of foreign troops. Ludlow, however, hesitated to join any conspiracies, both out of distrust for the republicans’ European allies and out of fear of jeopardising his position in Switzerland. The conspirators’ activities culminated in the aborted Sidney Plot of 1665, which on the one hand exposed the fractures in the exile community and, on the other, changed the exiles’ longer-term prospects by dashing their hopes for an imminent return to republican rule at home.
Chapter 3 engages with the republicans’ everyday lives in exile and the practicalities of survival in the face of persecution and multiple assassination attempts against them. The refugees had to manage language barriers and money supplies, while guarding their security and sometimes living under false identities. One of the main activities of the exiles meanwhile was gathering intelligence and information about the political situation in England and in Europe more broadly, which would help their political cause. They were aided by their personal networks and a steady supply of letters from home as well as newsletters, papers and pamphlets from a variety of sources.
Chapter 5 focuses on Edmund Ludlow as the author of his exile memoir ‘A Voyce from the Watch Tower’ and the facilitator and editor of a French translation of the infamous Speeches and Prayers of Some of the Late King’s Judges (1660) as a martyrology of his fellow regicides. The two projects are closely related, as the French pamphlet, which appeared in 1663 under the title Les juges jugez, se justifiants, and the process of its publication are documented in the ‘Voyce’. One may in fact have inspired the writing of the other. Les juges is the work of a religious and political activist attempting to make the fate of his executed brothers known across Protestant Europe. The ‘Voyce’ is the manuscript of an autobiography or memoir which was published after its author’s death in a carefully edited version that was to serve a political purpose of its own. Yet both works are document to Ludlow’s rejection of divine-right monarchy, his strong belief in the justice of the republican cause as the cause of God, his deeply held religious conviction and the providential role he assigned to his fellow republicans in preparing the way for the Lord.
The historiography of seventeenth-century English republicanism has focused largely on the Civil War and Interregnum period in the British Isles. Much less is known about the survival of republican ideas beyond the Restoration of the Stuart monarchy in 1660, even though historians widely acknowledge the legacy of Civil War political thought in the debates of the Exclusion Crisis during the late 1670s and 1680s. It is also acknowledged that seventeenth-century English republicanism had a significant impact on the ideas of the American Founding Fathers, while its legacy in Europe is much less well understood. The Introduction to this book argues that a study of the English republican exiles and their political and religious networks on the Continent provides a key to the understanding of this legacy, while also acknowledging contemporary European influences on England.
The Epilogue casts a glance at the lives of Neville and Sidney after their return from exile as well as at Ludlow’s failed attempt to regain a foothold in England after the Glorious Revolution. It also offers an outlook on the intellectual legacy of the three exiles’ works by addressing the Whig canon and its wider influence across Europe. It suggests that the historiography of early modern English republicanism might benefit both from a fuller exploration of religious and transnational networks and from a more comprehensive study of the translation and distribution of English republican works on the Continent.
Chapter 2 focuses on the local support the three exiles found in their newly adopted communities on the Continent and in particular on the complex religious dimension of their European networks. Ludlow was moving mainly in Reformed Protestant circles, as might be expected from an English Puritan refugee, and Sidney too would seek his associates mainly among Dutch protestants and French Huguenots and former Frondeurs. Yet both Sidney and Neville also spent significant time in Italy, especially in Rome as the centre of the Catholic world. Their networks show that political allegiance could not always be related one-to-one to a specific religious creed and that personal friendships often cut across supposed political and religious divides. However, both Sidney and Neville also pursued a political agenda while in Rome, moving in circles that would allow them to gain insights into the future relations between the Stuart monarchy and the Catholic Church, while also shaping their own journey towards religious toleration.