Publication Date: 03/03/2022 ISBN: 9780008282028 Category:

The Restless Republic

Anna Keay

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: 03/03/2022 ISBN: 9780008282028 Category:




‘A dazzling achievement’ SUNDAY TIMES

‘An exceptional book about an exceptional time’ JOHN ADAMSON

‘Never have the kingless years been made so vivid, and never has vividness contributed so much to the understanding of them’ BLAIR WORDEN, TLS

In 1649 Britain was engulfed by revolution.

On a raw January afternoon, the Stuart king, Charles I, was executed for treason. Within weeks the English monarchy had been abolished and the ‘useless and dangerous’ House of Lords discarded. The people, it was announced, were now the sovereign force in the land. What this meant, and where it would lead, no one knew.

The Restless Republic is the story of the extraordinary decade that followed. It takes as its guides the people who lived through those years. Among them is Anna Trapnel, the daughter of a Deptford shipwright whose visions transfixed the nation. John Bradshaw, the Cheshire lawyer who found himself trying the King. Marchamont Nedham, the irrepressible newspaper man and puppet master of propaganda. Gerrard Winstanley, who strove for a Utopia of common ownership where no one went hungry. William Petty, the precocious scientist whose mapping of Ireland prefaced the dispossession of tens of thousands. And the indomitable Countess of Derby who defended to the last the final Royalist stronghold on the Isle of Man.

The Restless Republic ranges from London to Leith, Cornwall to Connacht, from the corridors of power to the common fields and hillsides. Gathering her cast of trembling visionaries and banished royalists, dextrous mandarins and bewildered bystanders, Anna Keay brings to vivid life the most extraordinary and experimental decade in Britain’s history. It is the story of how these tempestuous years set the British Isles on a new course, and of what happened when a conservative people tried revolution.

Publisher Review

'This is an exceptional book about an exceptional time: that one decade in its history when Britain was a kingless state. In a series of meticulously researched and deftly drawn character studies - of idealistic proto-communists, pistol-wielding countesses, zany visionaries, journalistic rakes, through to Protector Cromwell himself - Anna Keay brilliantly conveys what it was like to live amid the contrasts and contradictions, the heady optimism and the bleak despair, of that tumultuous age. The Restless Republic is a triumph. It is hard to imagine a better introduction to the volatile world of the 1650s' John Adamson, author of The Noble Revolt 'Deft, confident, deeply learned and provocative, underpinned by an extraordinary sense of the landscape and the architecture within which events occurred - alert to the strange echoes and coincidences of history contained in those spaces - Anna Keay traces with fierce intelligence the remarkable and restless lives of a restless republic' Rory Stewart 'Anna Keay has rescued a period of history which for many will have been uncharted territory, when Britain became a republic. While the figure of Cromwell inevitably looms over the land, we also meet the women and men whose lives were changed by revolution. We meet royalist dissidents, religious visionaries, soldiers, landowners, merchants - a human panorama of our republic. Profoundly scholarly, this book is also an imaginative triumph' A.N. Wilson 'This remarkably well-researched and beautifully written book takes the reader to the very heart of that extraordinary period of British history ... Superbly evoked' Andrew Roberts, author of George III '[A] vivid panorama ... Keay excels ... She conjures up with nuance and panache the single most fascinating decade in the history of Britain and Ireland, revealing it to be at once weirdly ancient and strangely modern' The Times

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