Archive for November 18th, 2012

November 18, 2012

The Declaration and Standard of the Levellers of England

Delivered in a Speech to his Excellency the Lord Gen. Fairfax,on Friday last at White-Hall, by Mr Everard, a late Member of the Army, and his Prophesie in reference thereunto; shewing what will befall the Nobility and Gentry of this Nation, by their submitting to community.

A booklet printed in London 1649 basically reporting the representation of the Digger’s (or as they called themselves at the time, the True Levellers’) proposals to Thomas Fairfax. Their ideas amounted almost to modern communism; taking back common land for the people, digging and planting the land for the benefit of all. There is an interesting passage where Everard and Gerard Winstanley refuse to remove their hats in the presence of the Generall:

“It is observeable, That while Everard and Wistanley stood before the Lord Generall they stood with their Hats on, and being demanded the reason, said, Hee was but their fellow Creature: Being askt the meaning of that place, Give honour to whom honour is due. They seemed to be offended, and said, That their mouths should be stopped who gave them that offence.”

Anyway, the guys in the woodcut on the front page are dressed for cold weather, on the left in a dutch coat with large cuffs and on the right foreground in a collared, sleeveless cloak. Notice his falling band is pulled out so you can see it over the cloak. Both wear tall crowned hats and doublets. The woman in the rear looks to be wearing a petticoat and possibly an open gown over the top, though the quality of the woodcut makes it tricky to see any details clearly.

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