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Mobilizing the Metropolis: Politics, Plots and Propaganda in Civil War London, 1642-1644


This dissertation explores the dynamics of mobilization in London during the first three years of the English Civil War (1642-1644). Previous scholars have assumed that the City, which was the single most important source of manpower and resources at the outbreak war, was uniformly “Parliamentarian” in outlook. I contend that this viewpoint is problematic for a number of reasons. Foremost, it has misrepresented metropolitan inhabitants by focusing almost exclusively on elite as opposed to popular narratives. We now recognize that London’s mobilization depended upon a wide array of attitudes and opinions. These could be as clearly expressed as they were on 13 November 1642, when thousands of inhabitants marched to Turnham Green to stop royalists from marching on London and to protect their families, religions, and livelihoods. Alternatively, they could be as convoluted as the opinions expressed during public demonstrations, or as subtle and complex as the many printed reactions to material that dealt with propagandized plots and newsbooks accounts of military defeats and successes. Next is the matter of change over time. The persistent burdens of war transformed how Londoners perceived the conflict. Not only did many Londoners quickly lose their appetites for war, but many, in light of shifting attitudes, also worked harder than ever to mobilize the City’s inhabitants. This dissertation therefore pays particular attention to London’s leading belligerents – especially Lord Mayor Isaac Pennington and his allies. These radical citizens helped to ensure that the City’s Common Council operated as a politically innovative “third house of parliament,” secured desperately needed loans from London’s livery companies, and worked tirelessly to see that “delinquent” ministers were extirpated from City parishes. While never entirely successful in their aims, London’s belligerents nevertheless altered the course of the war. Their efforts to win over the hearts and minds of Londoners spurred rival campaigns to both militarize and pacify the metropolis. Rival efforts – and especially those of London’s leading belligerents – ultimately shaped the terms of the civil war in metropolis and the wider nation.

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