Introduction: The Levellers, Their Followers, and the Historians
This study departs from previous scholarship by integrating analysis of the Levellers of the 1640s with that of like-minded political and religious radicals who succeeded them in the Interregnum and the Restoration. It also focuses on the sectarian followers of the Leveller leaders who signed mass petitions and who remained imbued with radical ideas after 1649. Historical approaches to the Levellers, which have changed considerably over time, are outlined, but this study reappraises much of the conventional narrative of Leveller history. It finds that the Levellers’ radical successors flourished through 1688 in times of unsettlement such as the climacteric of 1647–1649 in which the Levellers originated.