Thomas Harrison is today perhaps best remembered for the manner of his death. As a leading member of the republican regime and signatory to Charles I’s death warrant, he was hanged, drawn and quartered by the Restoration government in 1660; a spectacle witnessed by Samuel Pepys who recorded him ’looking as cheerful as any man could do in that condition’. Beginning with this grisly event, this book employs a thematic, rather than chronological approach, to illustrate the role of millenarianism and providence in the English Revolution, religion within the new model army, literature, image and reputation, and Harrison’s relationship with key individuals like Ireton and Cromwell as well as groups, most notably the Fifth Monarchists. Divided in three parts, the study starts with an analysis of Harrison’s last year of life, the nature of his response to the political collapse of the Interregnum regimes, and his apparent acceptance of the Restoration without overt resistance. Part two considers Harrison’s years of ’power’, analysing his political activities and influence in the New Model, especially with regard to the regicide. The final part ties Harrison’s political retreat to his initial emergence from obscurity; arguing that Harrison’s relative political quietism during the later 1650s was a reflection of the development of his millenarianism. Unlike the only two previous full length studies of Harrison the present work makes use of a full range of manuscript, primary and secondary sources, including the huge range of new material that has fundamentally changed how the early modern period is now understood. Fully footnoted and referenced, this study provides the first modern academic study of Harrison, and through him illuminates the key themes of this contested period.
Dr David Farr is Deputy Head Academic of Norwich School. He is author of full length studies of other Cromwellian military-religious radicals, Henry Ireton and John Lambert, as well as general studies of Britain 1625-1689 and numerous articles on various aspects of the English Revolution in a range of academic journals.
'Farr’s book is an extremely enjoyable read. More importantly it has shone a bright light on a person that deserves far more research. Also he has shown the Fifth Monarchists to be an important part of the English Revolution ... The book deserves a wide audience and would be a comfortable read for a general reader as well as the more academic one. Hopefully it will be placed on university reading lists in the future.' A Trumpet of Sedition '... the first full-length scholarly biography of Harrison ever to appear ... a very welcome contribution to our understanding of the dramatis personae of the English Revolution.' Renaissance Quarterly ’From beginning to end, David Farr has pursued his subject with immense energy and a clear-sighted historical consciousness ... Farr’s political biography is simply a triumph.’ History ’David Farr’s new biography of Thomas Harrison is a brave and sympathetic attempt to re-envisage the Major-General for a fresh generation of students and professional academics.’ Seventeenth Century