Radical Neutralism? Sir Francis Nethersole and the English Revolution

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Focusing principally on the career and writings of Sir Francis Nethersole (1587–1659), this chapter re-examines the ideas and identities of those who refused to take sides during the Civil Wars. It seeks, firstly, to explain Nethersole’s neutralism with reference to his lifelong concern with the fate of international Protestantism, his constitutional conservatism, and his engagement with the Just War tradition. However, the chapter also argues that opposition to conflict pushed Nethersole towards political practices and ideological positions that represented a significant departure from pre-war norms. He deployed a range of tactics to try and broker a settlement between king and parliament during the 1640s, including pamphleteering, petitioning, and letter-writing. In his desperation to end the war, moreover, Nethersole began to advocate a degree of popular political participation and constitutional experimentation that sat uneasily with the conservatism professed at other points in his career. Far from simply being localist or apathetic therefore, this chapter suggests that those most reluctant to take sides could actively contribute to the revolutionary changes in political culture and thought witnessed during the 1640s and 1650s.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChristopher Hill and the English Revolution
EditorsWaseem Ahmed, John Rees
Publication statusIn preparation - 2025


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