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  1. The conflicts of the mid-seventeenth century left few English men and women untouched. Many poets fought on one side or the other in the Civil War. Some, like Crashaw and Hobbes, went into exile with the court; others, like Milton, served Cromwell's government. Choose one of the following, and discuss how the political, religious, and cultural tensions of the period are reflected in their poetry or prose:
    1. Robert Herrick (NAEL 8, 1.1653–66)
    2. Richard Crashaw (NAEL 8, 1.1639–53)
    3. Henry Vaughan (NAEL 8, 1.1625–39)
    4. Andrew Marvell (NAEL 8, 1.1695–1736), in poems other than An Horatian Ode
    5. Izaak Walton (NAEL 8, 1.1309–13)
    6. Richard Lovelace (NAEL 8, 1.1681–86)
  2. "Kings were the authors and makers of the laws, and not the laws of the kings." Both James I and Charles I defended this absolutist doctrine, the latter to the death.
    1. Does James I's theory of Divine Right have any place for contract? Are there any enforceable restraints on a "Free Monarch" as James I views him?
    2. On what grounds did Charles I refuse to recognize the authority of the court that tried him?
  3. The trial and execution of Charles I were traumatic events and also, in more than one sense, dramatic events.
    1. To what extent is the account of the trial of Charles I a dramatic text? Does it portray Charles I and President John Bradshaw as dramatic characters?
    2. Consider Marvell's description of the execution of Charles I in the Horatian Ode (NAEL 8, 1.1712–16) in relation to the contemporary account and to the image of Charles I on the execution platform. How does each attempt to represent the "truth" of this event?
  4. Hobbes's Leviathan and Milton's Tenure of Kings and Magistrates offer sharply opposed responses to the political debates of the seventeenth century. Compare and contrast Hobbes and Milton on the origins of society and government.
    1. What assumptions, if any, do the two authors share?
    2. How does each view the state of nature, and what is the place of contract in each theory? How would each define "the people" who make the contract to establish government?
    3. What seeds of John Locke's political ideas do you find in Hobbes and in Milton?
  5. Many of those who fought on Parliament's side in the Civil War had aims much more radical than Parliament's or Cromwell's. They include the Leveler John Lilburne and the Digger Gerrard Winstanley (NAEL 8, 1.1751–57).
    1. What views of government and the people's rights do Lilburne and Winstanley hold, respectively? How might Lilburne respond to the Diggers' claim to be "The True Levelers"?
    2. Like James I in the True Law of Free Monarchies, Winstanley bases part of his argument on the Norman Conquest. What role does William the Conqueror play in each man's theory of government?
  6. One flashpoint in the conflict over culture in the decades leading up to the Civil War was the practice of rural sports and festivals.
    1. Why, according to Lucy Hutchinson, were James and Charles so eager to promote rural sports? How does her account tally with the aims and views expressed in Charles I's Declaration to His Subjects Concerning Lawful Sports?
    2. What accounts for the extremity of Prynne's denunciation of rural sports and masques? What accounts for the extremity of his punishment?
  7. Eikon Basilike, with its frontispiece representing Charles as a Christ-like martyr, had a religious as much as a political message.
    1. On what grounds would Milton have considered the engraving prefixed to Eikon Basilike idolatrous?
    2. How do the poems of Richard Crashaw, particularly On the Wounds of Our Crucified Lord (NAEL 8, 1.1644–45) and The Flaming Heart (NAEL 8, 1.1651–53) help you to understand the power of this image?
  8. What assumptions about the grounds of religious toleration do Roger Williams and Milton in Areopagitica (NAEL 8, 1.1816–25) share, and wherein do they differ?
  9. In Milton's Samson Agonistes, what are the issues in the exchange between Samson and the officer about his performance at the feast of Dagon? How do they relate to the situation of Dissenters after the Restoration?
  10. In addition to opposing rural sports, Puritans were opposed to theatrical performances, which were banned in 1642 and revived only at the Restoration. Yet Samson Agonistes is a dramatic tragedy, albeit a closet drama never intended for performance on stage. Why do you think Milton chose this controversial form? How in his preface does Milton distance himself from the problems Puritans associated with the drama?
  11. The political and cultural upheavals of the seventeenth century continue to excite controversy three hundred years later. Factions which formed in this period continue to provide models for a range of modern political movements and cultural and artistic expressions. Explore the resources on the Web relating to the English Civil War, the Diggers, the Levelers, and the Jacobites (the name given to those who remained loyal to the House of Stuart after its second exile in 1688). To what extent are the battles of the seventeenth century still being fought today?

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