Question 1: What kinds of ideas were the “eutopians” promoting? Why is it perhaps not a coincidence that this desire to rethink the organization of society emerged in the sixteenth century in particular?
During the sixteenth century European societies were exploring lands foreign to them and the different peoples that came with those lands. They saw societies with politics, cultures and laws that were far different from England’s, and they noted that these societies were still able to prosper. Because of these discoveries many English thinkers of the day had a lot of new ideas to work with, and began critiquing and criticizing the cultural norms of England. The author Thomas More coined the term utopia, a word referring to a perfect society. He and other authors (such as Francis Bacon and Tommaso Campanella), explored in depth their takes on what a utopian society would be like. Many of the ideas centered around the upper and lower class, and how to abolish both and make everyone equal. One such idea was to make all privately owned land common wealth. Another was to evenly split up labor. Instead of there being those who worked, and those on top who sat around and prospered off that work, this plan would make it so everyone works daily and evenly. It was introduced that if everyone worked all at once the amount of labor to individuals would be drastically reduced. Some even stated it could be cut down to no more than four hours a day.
Question 2: What was the English Civil War all about?
The English Civil War occurred because King Charles was displaying more absolutist tendencies. He believed that he ruled with the Divine Right of Kings, a title passed down by God giving said king all of God’s rights. Charles also had a very shaky relationship with parliament. So shaky in fact that he actually dissolved parliament in January 1679. There was also suspicion among the people that Charles would bring Catholicism back to England. He had a Catholic wife, and his children with her were raised Catholic. This caused fear and distrust to breed among the people, and added to their dislike of their king.
Question 3: Who were the Levellers, and what did they believe?
The Levellers were a political movement during the time of the English Civil war. They emphasized religious equality, the rights to own private property, and extended suffrage. They expressed these belief’s and more in the manifesto “Agreement of the People”.