Fifth Monarchy Men

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Fifth Monarchy Men,

religious group active during the time of the Commonwealth and Protectorate in England. They were millenarians expecting the imminent coming of Jesus to rule the earth. His monarchy was to be the fifth kingdom described in Dan. 2.36–45; according to their intepretation, the first four were the Assyrian, Persian, Greek, and Roman empires. The Fifth Monarchy Men objected to the Established Church and believed it their duty to establish Christ's reign by force, if necessary. They attempted an uprising in 1657 and again, after the restoration of the monarchy, in 1661. Their leaders were seized and executed for treason, and the group dissolved.


See studies by L. F. Brown (1912, repr. 1964), P. G. Rogers (1966), and B. S. Capp (1972).

Fifth Monarchy Men


an English religious sect of chiliasts during the English bourgeois revolution of the 17th century.

The sect preached the approach of the “fifth monarchy” (hence the name)—the 1,000-year kingdom of Christ after the four “earthly” kingdoms of Assyria-Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome, which also included medieval Europe. The sect’s adherents were primarily members of the peasantry and the urban poor. The Fifth Monarchy Men demanded radical reforms (the elimination of the tithe, decreased taxes, etc.). In 1657 they rose up in rebellion against the regime of O. Cromwell’s protectorate, and in 1661 they rebelled against the Stuarts (after their restoration). The sect was almost completely exterminated in 1661.

References in periodicals archive ?
2) Fifth Monarchists were also a strong presence in the army and a powerful political force in the early years of the Commonwealth.
Exploring the non-elite Fifth Monarchists, it appears that their millennial ideas were appropriated and reshaped by individuals as such ideas transcended class barriers.
For example, Martin assumes that the reader understands the meaning of the following terms describing religious and philosophical groups (presented here in alphabetical order) , even though she never defines any of them: Anabaptists, Antinomianists, Arians, Arminians, Baptists, Cambridge Platonists, Comenians, Congregationalists, Erasminists, Erastians, Fifth Monarchists, Latitudinarians, Levellers, Seekers, Ranters.
Such groups found variable influence as well as voice: Fifth Monarchists formed part of the Barebones Parliament, but by December 1653 many felt let down by Cromwell.
The monarchies scheme from Daniel 2:39-40 and 44 was an eschatological commonplace, which, in light of the threatened failure of the puritan revolution at midcentury, Fifth Monarchists highlighted and radicalized.
The period produced a number of communities with explicitly utopian projects and writings, including the millenialist Fifth Monarchists and the socially levelling, anti-private property Levellers and Diggers.
Just as the Levellers, Diggers, and Fifth Monarchists struggled with the difficulties of the Protectorate, so too did Andrew Marvell in his The First Anniversary of the Government under His Highness the Lord Protector.
In "The Uses of Hebrew in the English Revolution", Smith argues that the fusion of Puritan religious beliefs and their political agenda during the 1640s and 1650s made the incorporation of Hebrew into speech and writing or "Hebraicized English" a political issue--a competition between Fifth Monarchists and the Protectorate government for the interpretation of prophecies and divine truth through ancient religious words.
Sometimes the book settles into an interesting narrative development, as with the case of radical communities emerging in Europe from Joachim of Fiore through the Fifth Monarchists in England (156-63).
Nevertheless, as David Loewenstein shows, radicals -- Republicans, Levellers, Diggers, and Fifth Monarchists -- justified the king's trial and execution on the grounds that he had tried to supplant Parliament, subvert the laws, deprive subjects of their rights and privileges, and extend his power to all aspects of church and state.
In an essay that is a model of clarity and breadth, Lewalski argues that although Milton was not a radical in his actions as were the Fifth Monarchists and Ranters, he was nevertheless an extreme radical in his inner disposition, ever defiant of authority.