C Thompson’s Reply to Michael Sturza

First of all, let me make it clear that I am not now and never have been a “revisionist”. I am actually a critic of the work of Conrad Russell, work which I believe to be fundamentally wrong although not for the reasons Mr Sturza holds. Secondly, he will find in Valerie Pearl’s 1961 book on the City of London from 1625 to 1643 careful research that shows that the violence in the streets of London reported in Royalist news books was more carefully controlled and organised than figures like Brian Manning or Christopher Hill believed.

(The fall of the Bastille in Paris is irrelevant in this context.) I have indeed read Mr Sturza’s book which offers a commentary based on secondary works rather than original research into the sources for the early-1640s.   The protagonists on both sides in the events of the 1640s were drawn from all sections of English (and Welsh) society but this was not a “class-based” society in the Marxist sense at all. 

The English Civil Wars were ‘un grand soulevement’ – ‘a great uprising’ in English – more analogous to the revolt of the Low Countries post-1566/7, to the French Wars of Religion from 1562 to 1598 and the Frondes of 1648-1653 and the Revolt of the Catalans in 1640 rather than to any Marxist paradigm based on the Russian Revolution of 1917. Mr Sturza is perfectly entitled to elaborate his hypothesis but it has almost no credibility amongst contemporary academic historians. He may be surprised too to learn that I am not a reactionary in any sense.

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