Lilburne, John

Lilburne, John,

1614?–1657, English political leader and pamphleteer of the LevelersLevelers
or Levellers,
English Puritan sect active at the time of the English civil war. The name was apparently applied to them in 1647, in derision of their beliefs in equality. The leader of the movement and its most indefatigable propagandist was John Lilburne.
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. He was tried before the court of the Star Chamber as early as 1638 for printing and distributing antiepiscopal works. Imprisoned from 1638 to 1640, he was released with the aid of Oliver Cromwell and in the course of the first civil war rose (1642–45) to be a lieutenant colonel in the parliamentary army. He resigned from the army because he refused to sign the Presbyterian Covenant required for admission to the New Model Army. Lilburne then became a pamphleteer and leader of a large following of common soldiers and artisans who hoped for a fundamental, democratic revision of the constitution and the social system. After 1646 he spent much of his life in prison or exile but continued his propaganda work even there. His pamphlet England's Birthright (1645) contained the principles that became the basis for the Leveler program later stated in An Agreement of the People. Lilburne protested the arbitrary rule of the Rump Parliament and, though no royalist, protested the tribunal that condemned Charles I to death. In 1649, Lilburne, with several of his associates, was tried for treason and acquitted. Under the Commonwealth, Lilburne was banished (1652), returned to England, and was again tried and acquitted (1653). Deemed dangerous, he was held in prison. In his last years he became a Quaker.

Bibliography

See biography by P. Gregg (1961); see also bibliography under LevelersLevelers
or Levellers,
English Puritan sect active at the time of the English civil war. The name was apparently applied to them in 1647, in derision of their beliefs in equality. The leader of the movement and its most indefatigable propagandist was John Lilburne.
..... Click the link for more information.
.

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.

WORKS

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

G. R. LEVIN

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So Achinstein examines "many kinds of writing in the period from anonymous hacks, preachers, radicals, and Royalists, to such known figures as John Lilburne, John Cleveland, William Prynne, Thomas Hobbes, and John Milton.