In Some Intellectual Consequences of the English Revolution, Christopher Hill takes up themes that have emerged from a lifetime’s investigation into the causes of the English Revolution. However, Hill does more than analyze the origins of the Revolution. He examines the ways the seeds of change sown during the revolution, grew into transformative politics in the period following the restoration of the monarchy in 1660.
Hill argues that the intellectual heritage of the English Revolution was mixed. While he acknowledges its achievements, he also depicts some of its failings. Consequently, he challenges the view that radical notions faded with the Restoration, suggesting instead, that they continued in pervasive and subtle ways throughout the course of English and American history. The apparent similarity between the England of 1640 and that of 1660 is shown to be illusory. Each period’s institutions survived but the social context had changed. In this way, Hill demonstrates how intellectual consequences cannot be separated from the social and economic factors of the nation that produced them. He concludes that historians should turn their attention to the “unofficial” radical heritage that is less easy to comprehend, though no less important.
This is a highly readable and provocative account by one of the world’s foremost historians.