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The University of Southampton
Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Culture

Award for new research on England's Republic

Published: 15 April 2013

Dr Alice Hunt has been awarded a prestigious twelve-month Leverhulme Fellowship to work on her new book, England's Republic: The Lost Decade, 1649-1660, which will be published by Faber and Faber.

England's Republic is a new history of England's misrepresented republican years. Often referred to as the Interregnum, the republic has been treated as a pause between the acts of the Stuart kings, and as a failure. ‘There's still a dominant assumption that the institutions of monarchy, parliament and church were not lastingly altered by the experiments of the 1650s, and that the "real" revolution lay in the future, in 1688', Alice explains. ‘And of course, the popular cliché is that the 1650s were austere and joyless - the Puritans tried to ban Christmas, after all'.

Alice's research engages with the disciplines of political, economic and social history, literature and art to reveal a strikingly different and more nuanced image of the republic. This period of political turbulence and experimentation was also a time of productivity, flourishing trade, new art forms and fashions. But the book will focus in particular on how Cromwell began to rule, dress and live like a king. He refused the crown, but as Lord Protector he adapted many of the ancient ceremonies that former English kings had exploited. ‘England's republic is best understood as a kind of reign', Alice argues. ‘It's less a republican failure than an astonishing attempt to reinvent kingship, and its impact on the cultural life of the country, and on the development of the British monarchy, is not yet fully understood'.

England's Republic: The Lost Decade, 1649-1660 is scheduled for publication in 2016.

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Dr Alice Hunt

Oil on canvas, circa 1649, NPG 536. Copyright National Portrait Gallery, London
Oliver Cromwell, by Robert Walker
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