John Lilburne

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Lilburne, John


Bom circa 1614 in Greenwich; died Aug. 29, 1657, in Eltham, Kent. Prominent figure in the 17th-century English Civil War (in Russian, the Bourgeois Revolution). Leader and ideologist of the Levelers.

The younger son of a minor gentry landowner, Lilburne was apprenticed to a London cloth merchant in 1630. He joined a Puritan sect. Imprisoned in 1638, he was freed by the Long Parliament in 1641. Lilburne was active in the first civil war, of 1642–46, and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel. In 1645 he refused to recognize the Covenant. As a protest against the policies of the Presbyterians, he retired. In a series of pamphlets Lilburne supported bourgeois-democratic ideas concerning popular sovereignty and the natural rights of man. As a radical petit bourgeois democrat, Lilburne held that the issue of political reforms was foremost. Opposing the monarchial form of government and the existence of a house of lords, he supported a republic and attacked all feudal privileges. He advocated equality for all before the law and defended freedom of religious belief, the inviolability of individuals and property, and freedom of the press. Against the background of the bourgeois revolution, these demands were directed toward the complete destruction of the feudal estate system and an affirmation of the principles of the bourgeois democratic republic. Lilburne’s demands for elimination of monopolies and patents, abolition of tithes, and reduction of tax burdens were of considerable importance for extending the revolution. At the same time he opposed elimination of private ownership.

In 1646, by order of the House of Lords, Lilburne was again thrown into prison. The Agreement of the People, prepared by Lilburne and his followers in 1647, was a program document for the Levelers. Lilburne was freed in 1648. He sharply criticized the position of the Independents, who came to power in 1649; the Independents had rejected plans for democratic transformations. In March 1649, Lilburne was once more arrested and imprisoned in the Tower. But even here he did not cease his struggle. In the spring of 1649 he and his supporters published A Manifestation ... and An Agreement of the Free People of England, which contained summaries of their political and socio economic views. His trial (October 1649) turned into a personal triumph, ending with a verdict of not guilty. However, in 1652 he was exiled from England. Returning to his native land in 1653, he was again arrested. In spite of the court’s verdict of not guilty, he was a virtual prisoner almost until his death.

In spite of his petit bourgeois limitations, Lilburne played an enormous role in the English revolution and was one of the most prominent representatives of the democratic movement.


In Russian translation:
Lilburne, J. Pamflety. Moscow, 1937.


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References in periodicals archive ?
John Lilburne fought to establish personal liberty and political freedoms, including trial by jury and the rights of the ordinary citizen.
60) John Lilburne 1614-1657: Leveller who spoke out for greater equality in the English Civil War.
Not quite as great a leveller as Mark Chadwick, lead singer of The Levellers, or John Lilburne, a key figure in the 17th-century political movement of the same name, but a great leveller nonetheless.
Halliday demonstrates that the judges did not rationalize their decisions in terms of a transcendent theory of rights and freedoms, which is the claim made by more radical advocates such as John Lilburne during the Commonwealth and Granville Sharp, the anti-slavery campaigner in the late eighteenth century.
He was counsel for John Lilburne, a "Leveller", or radical protester, charged with smuggling seditious books.
Meanwhile the free-thinking John Lilburne is once again put on trial for his life, but this time by his fellow revolutionaries.
The bride-to-be witnesses the public flogging of John Lilburne (Tom Goodman-Hill), before encountering the gruff mercenary Edward Sexby (John Simm).
Luc Borot's chapter takes the reader into the mid-seventeenth century with a focus on the radicalism of Levellers Richard Overton and John Lilburne.
It was the great Puritan dissenter John Lilburne who pioneered the notion of inalienable rights through his lifelong campaign for ''free born rights'' -- privileges that belonged to every person by virtue of birth, not courtesy of any government or other human institution.
In it we read that no sooner was the King beheaded than the irrepressible (and publicly loved) John Lilburne was calling the new lot 'tyrants, weasels and polecats'.
Compare the "Leveller" position, as stated by John Lilburne, The Free-mans Freedome Vindicated (1646); John Lilburne, An Agreement of the People for a Firme and Present Peace (1647); John Lilburne, Foundations of Freedom or an Agreement of the People (1648).
Amid these tomes, Mason was exposed to the likes of John Locke (an exponent of the natural rights of man), Sir Edward Coke (radical, in his time, with ideas such as no taxation without representation, no imprisonment without cause, and man had rights which no monarch could defy), John Milton (who pleaded for freedom of the press in his Areopagitica), John Lilburne (no man can be forced to testify against himself), James Harrington (in praise of written constitutions), and Algernon Sidney (a supporter of republican government and a fierce opponent of oppression).