Updated on 16 March 2021
The English Revolution of the mid 17th century was a freethinking people’s uprising where the world was turned upside down.
The World Turn’d Upside Down was an English ballad that reflected the turmoil of the time. It was first published on a pamphlet in 1647 (pictured above) as a people’s protest against the policies of Parliament relating to the celebration of Christmas during the English Civil War Period (1642 – 1651). Parliament, influenced by Puritanism, believed the holiday should be a solemn occasion, and outlawed traditional English Christmas celebrations.
A Moment In English History
Such protesting over Christmas was just one of the events that came together to form The English Revolution, a moment in English history that saw rebellion, radicals and revolutionaries fighting for the freedoms they believed in.
The English Revolution is the term often used to describe a 20-year period of events between 1640 and 1660. This span of English history includes the build up to the civil war, the fighting itself, the execution of King Charles I, and the final eleven years that England was governed as a commonwealth before the monarchy was restored in 1660.
This radical history is rarely on the curriculum of schools. This is where the common people rose up in a variety of freethinking groups demanding fairness for all, not just the privileged few. Here history was made by men and women, not of noble birth, but born in everyday life.
To achieve this they demanded no less then the world being turned upside down. Ultimately the revolution failed and was crushed by those it had sought to give power to.
As such, the common people’s story of struggle and suffering survives in fragments – a pamphlet here and a letter there. But collectively their voices speak in a chorus for change that echoes down the centuries and is as persuasive today as it was then.
The freethinking common people of the mid 17th century may have died in failure but their ideas live on to influence the generations that proceed them.