Recollection in the Republics
: Memories of the British Civil Wars in England, 1649-1659

  • Imogen Peck

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


This thesis explores the ways the British Civil Wars were remembered in England between the execution of Charles I in January 1649 and the return of the Purged Parliament in December 1659. While over the last decade the mental afterlife of Britain’s major domestic conflicts has become an area of significant scholarly interest, existing studies have focused almost exclusively on the period after 1660. This thesis redresses this imbalance and provides the first detailed study of the memorial culture of England’s republican interval.

Uniquely, among studies of this kind, this thesis considers attempts to frame the public memory of the recent past, both by the governments and their opponents, alongside evidence of what diverse ordinary people actually were remembering. It broadens the field of study beyond the traditional focus on printed histories and memoirs, deploying a varied and innovative source base that includes court records, petitions, diaries, civic records, and material culture, as well as a wide range of printed texts. In so doing, it reveals the myriad ways that the events of 1642 to 1651 were remembered, the various purposes that these recollections served, and the diverse communities of memory that operated in 1650s England.

These findings contribute to broader theoretical debates about the nature of early modern memory. By emphasising the sheer multiplicity of ways that the bloody recent past was perpetuated in the present, and the complexity of the relationship between public and personal scripts, this thesis presents a more complete and nuanced picture of the memory of catastrophic events in early modernity than has hitherto been articulated. Further, by situating the experience of 1650s England in relation to other post-civil war states, this thesis has been able to identify several similarities between the memorial culture of early modern England and those of post-civil war states in modernity.
Date of Award25 Sept 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorMark Stoyle (Supervisor) & Ronald E Hutton (Supervisor)

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