The changes which resulted from the British Civil Wars are often seen as the first modern revolution. The establishment of a radical protestant regime in 1645, and of the English republic in 1649, were accompanied by profound alterations to the religious, social, cultural, political, financial and legal landscape. New patterns of consumption and socialisation emerged, along with the first stirrings of a scientific culture. Some embraced change, in Milton’s words, ‘musing, searching, revolving new notions ... trying all things.’ Others were horrified, experiencing these as times of ‘distractions’, madness and trouble, a ‘World Turned Upside Down’.
Historians continue to debate the extent of the social disruption which resulted, and the success or failure of Godly religion. Yet in general, the consequences and personal experiences of the years which followed the first Civil war are significantly under-researched compared to its causes. The aim of this conference was to encourage contributions to redress this balance, particularly in relation to social, religious and cultural change (or lack of it) and the general impact on everyday life and on individual experience.
The conference was sponsored by funding from the British Academy and CEISR. Keynote speakers were Professor Bernard Capp (University of Warwick) and Dr Angela McShane (Victoria and Albert Museum) and Imogen Peck (Bristol)
Delegates came from across the UK, Australia, Switzerland, Israel and the United States. Papers were given on topics including religion and church records, female petitioning and religious agency, the theatre during the 1650s, espionage and informing, and puritan balladry.