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Sir Robert Filmer (1588–1653) and the patriotic monarch

Sir Robert Filmer (1588–1653) and the patriotic monarch: Patriarchalism in seventeenth-century political thought

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    Sir Robert Filmer (1588–1653) and the patriotic monarch
    Book Description:

    This book, now available in paperback, studies the patriarchalist theories of Sir Robert Filmer (1588–1653) in the context of early modern English and European political cultures. Making use of unexplored primary material and adopting an innovative contextual approach, Cuttica provides a long-overdue account of an often referred-to but largely misunderstood thinker. By focusing on Filmer’s most important writing, Patriarcha (written in the 1620s–30s but published in 1680), this monograph rethinks some crucial issues in the reading of political history in the seventeenth century. Most importantly, it invites new reflections on the theory of patriarchalism and gives novel insights into the place of patriotism in the development of English political discourse and identity. Thanks to its originality in both approach and content, this volume will be of interest to historians of early modern England as well as scholars of political thought.

    eISBN: 978-1-78499-227-9
    Subjects: History
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of abbreviations and conventions (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Introduction (pp. 1-18)

    This book explores the patriarchalist theories of Sir Robert Filmer (1588–1653) in relation to early modern English and European political cultures. The nine chapters – divided into two parts and chronologically structured – focus on Filmer’s life and intellectual activity; on his main political treatise,Patriarcha; on the context in which it was produced and on its reception since the seventeenth century; on the theoretical importance of the two doctrines of ‘patriarchalism’ and ‘patriotism’; on the intellectual role as well as ideological place of Filmer’s major political ideas throughout the Stuart dynasty. They address central questions regardingPatriarcha(and...

  6. PART I
    • Chapter 1 Filmer: his life and cultural interests (pp. 21-50)

      Apart from Peter Laslett, no scholar has taken any significant heed of the background in which Filmer grew up, nor of what this environment wasreallylike. Sir Robert has simply been pinned down either as a traditionalist representative of a backward patriarchal society unworthy of exploration¹ or as ‘a byword for obscurity’.² For this reason, he has never received any attention as a seventeenth-century controversialist writing about widely debated philosophical topics and important social issues. In fact, his analysis of usury, housewifery and witchcraft has gone almost entirely unnoticed or deemed negligible.³ As a result, scholars have failed to...

    • Chapter 2 From Kent with anger: Patriarcha versus Thomas Scott’s country patriotism (pp. 51-90)

      In concluding the previous chapter, we briefly referred to the kind of political tensions that informed early seventeenth-century England. To unravel this last scenario we do not need to look further than Canterbury and Maidstone.² Thus, the leading characters of this chapter are the two Kentish cousins Thomas Scott of Canterbury and Robert Filmer. The interesting but little-studied Scott belonged to the ‘patriots’, the group of thinkers and countrymen who in the 1620s claimed to be the true defenders of the nation and its subjects’ liberties. Although they did not constitute a coherent party, Filmer took their stance as a...

    • Chapter 3 Filmer’s patriarchalism versus Jesuit political ideas (pp. 91-103)

      Inflaming political literature in early seventeenth-century England, the doctrine of the Pope’s (indirect) temporal power¹ had its major and most systematic exponent in Robert Bellarmine.² His ideas were hugely popular amongst Catholic theorists such as Jacob Gretser at Ingolstadt; Martin Becanus at Mainz; Francisco Suarez, Pedro de Ribadeneyra, Gabriel Vasquez in Spain; Emmanuel de Sâ in Portugal; Jean Guigard in France; the Gunpowder plotter Father Henry Garnet in England.³ Contributing to such a popularity was also the fact that Bellarmine’s political opinions came under heavy fire across Europe.⁴ On English soil one of the most vehement reactions to them was...

    • Chapter 4 Filmer’s patriarchalism in context: ‘popularity’, King James VI and I, Parliament and monarchists (pp. 104-142)

      As Peter Lake showed, by the end of the 1620s there existed ‘two structurally similar but mutually exclusive conspiracy theories … purported to explain the political difficulties of the period’.¹ The monarchist narrative of ‘popularity’ focused on recurrent ‘puritanical’ plots threatening the existence of monarchy. By contrast, the ‘anti-popery’ argument insisted on popish conspiracies set up to overcome religion and polity in England.² Despite defending opposite political stances, these two narratives operated according to the same rationale. They de-legitimised each other as un-English; branded their adversaries as innovators and saboteurs of the body politic; warranted their own position ‘as the...

    • Chapter 5 Writing in the early Caroline regime and the issue of Patriarcha’s non-publication (pp. 143-160)

      The previous three chapters have delineated the reasons that prompted Filmer to writePatriarcha, illustrated the text’s content and elucidated the ideas that informed his political context. This approach has cast new light on the document itself; it has provided novel insights into the cauldron of publications in which the treatise was conceived; it has also established what other kinds of preoccupations and/or motivations besides the textual narrative in itself drove Sir Robert to compose his writing. Complementing this trajectory of research, the present chapter explores the impactPatriarchahad on the Crown and the royalist entourage in the 1630s;...

    • Chapter 6 Filmer in the 1640s and 1650s: political troubles and intellectual activism (pp. 161-184)

      It was at Westminster that Filmer met one of his closest and most faithful friends: ‘the officially accredited voice of Personal Rule policies’ Peter Heylyn (1599–1662).¹ Notorious for his sharp tongue, Heylyn was not only a prolific author but was the heavyweight of the Laudian theological, ecclesiastical and ideological settlement. Once appointed to a stall at Westminster Abbey (1631), Heylyn proved to be a skilful preacher whose doctrinal views were in tune with Filmer’s. As Heylyn confirmed, their friendship formed at some stage in the 1630s in London: ‘my preferment in the Church ofWestminster, … gave me the...

  7. PART II
    • Chapter 7 Publishing in the Exclusion Crisis (1679–81): Patriarcha between fatherhood and fatherland (pp. 187-211)

      The chapters which form Part II deal, firstly, with the ideological context of the 1670s; with the publication and currency of Filmerian ideas in the 1680s; and, more generally, with the wide acceptance and traction of patriarchalist arguments, themes and images from the Exclusion Crisis onwards (chapter 7). Secondly, they consider the writings of the most systematic of Sir Robert’s supporters, Edmund Bohun; the immediate reactions of Tyrrell, Locke and Sidney to Filmerian ideas as well as the critical response toPatriarchapursued by Whigs; and, in turn, the response to their criticism of patriarchalism (chapter 8). Thirdly, they look...

    • Chapter 8 Much ado about nothing? Edmund Bohun’s rehabilitation of Patriarcha, the issue of allegiance and Adamite anti-republicanism (pp. 212-230)

      The fatherly care of the sovereign for his subjects was a cardinal theme in the work of Filmer’s strenuous defender¹ Edmund Bohun (1645–99).² In 1684 the deeply unpopular Williamite Tory writer – who was a strong opponent of dissenters too – issuedA defence of Sir Robert Filmeragainst Sidney’s scaffold speech, whilst the following year he published and prefaced an edition of Filmer’sPatriarcha.³ Bohun emphasised that kings ‘could feel for their people the same “natural affection of a father” for his children’ to the extent that princes loved not only their people in general, but each particular...

    • Chapter 9 Patriarchalism versus patriotism in practice: Patriarcha from the Rye House Plot (1683) to the Glorious Revolution (1688–89) (pp. 231-245)

      Considered rebellious and unfaithful subjects, patriots were under heavy fire in the wake of the Rye House Plot, which cost Algernon Sidney his life (he was executed in December 1683). Planned for April when Charles II and his brother were expected to pass through Newmarket – having been largely destroyed in a fire on 22 March, the races were cancelled prompting the King and the Duke to return to London – the attack never took place. Yet news of the plot leaked with the result that it was made public on 12 June 1683.¹

      A few weeks later inThe...

  8. Conclusion (pp. 246-250)

    This book has cast new light on many overlooked aspects of Sir Robert Filmer’s biography and intellectual activity. It has abandoned mainstream interpretations of his political ideas and rethought the definition of a patriarchalist canon. More specifically, overdue attention has been paid to his most important writing,Patriarcha(1620s–30s). The latter – a much vituperated text whose name has historically been associated with oppressive and backward political thinking – has been examined as a powerful and radical expression of the theory here labelledpolitical patriarchalism.

    Thanks to a contextual approach aimed at unveiling the treatise’s goals and language, this...

  9. Appendix 1: The treasury of the scholar: Filmer’s library (pp. 251-253)
  10. Select bibliography (pp. 254-274)
  11. Index (pp. 275-283)