Robert Filmer's prime assumption is that the Bible contains the entire truth about the nature of the world and the nature of society. Along with details of recorded history from the beginning to the death of the Apostles, the Bible also includes the laws that would govern history from that time to the end of the world. This central assumption was shared by nearly every member of Tory Christendom in England in the seventeenth century. In the same way, Filmer holds that it is impossible for a people to escape political anarchy once it is assumed that all individuals are independent and equal. It is also impossible for people to escape from collectivism, if it is granted that everyone has a moral right to an equal share of the gifts of nature. In explaining why Filmer remains both important and influential, Laslett argues that his reputation owes a great deal to the fortuitous circumstances of the time at which his works were resuscitated. His work passed almost unnoticed when it was first issued. Only the position of the Tory party gave his views prominence. The value of Patriarcha as a historical document consists primarily in its revelation of the strength and persistence in European culture of the patriarchal attitude to political problems. The opening essay by Laslett offers a brilliant analysis of late seventeenth-century English politics and philosophy. Long unavailable, this is a masterpiece of religious conservatism that still registers in debates at present.