The Leveller Challenge to the Commonwealth Regime, 1649
The early months of the English Commonwealth saw a contest between the government and the Levellers, whose leaders were again imprisoned. Convinced that the new Council of State masked the establishment of military government, the Leveller spokesmen agitated against it in print. They saw themselves as rescuing the Commonwealth from the grandees, and they sought to secure popular support for a re-establishment of legitimate government through a new Agreement of the People. Despite impressive petitions and urban demonstrations, these efforts miscarried, largely because of army mutinies that some contemporaries and historians have too closely linked to the Levellers. After the defeat of the mutineers at Burford, the government escalated a successful propaganda campaign against the Levellers, portraying them as dangerous incendiaries.