1. Radicalism and the English revolution
3. The Church of England in the eighteenth century
5. Rediscovering radicalism in the British Isles and Ireland in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth centuries
Cromohs Virtual Seminars
politics […] never be drawn into use”?
1. The German divine and reformer Johann Valentin Andreae, grandson of the 'Luther of Württemberg' Jakob Andreae, sought to found a utopian society, a 'Protestant brotherhood' or 'Civitas Solis' whose purpose was 'to renew the inner life of the Lutheran church and to reform society in some general way'. Although Andreae spoke of this utopian fellowship in spiritual terms, it is evident that he perceived it as a true and actual community, rather than an imagined one, and its reformist purpose was both spiritual and practical. Andreae's writings on the subject include his utopia, Reipublicae Christianopolitae Descriptio or Christianopolis (1619), and other contemporary texts which envisage an idealized Christian way of life: Christianae societatis imago (1619), Christiani amoris dextra porrecta (1620), and Verae unionis in Christo Jesu Specimen (1628). For Andreae and his brotherhood, then, utopia was on one level a spiritual concept, an entirely real but immaterial community.
At the same time, however, Andreae used the utopian mode of discourse to imagine and demand actual and physical social reform. Throughout his life he was engaged with plans for social improvement; he had been directly involved in the physical re-formation of a city, as the town in which he ministered in Vaihingen was twice affected by fire, and Andreae administered the projects for rebuilding. Andreae has also been linked to some of the major tracts of the hermetic brotherhood of Rosicrucians, whose reforming goals he praises in the opening letter to the reader that prefaces Christianopolis. The sense of an ideal community was to him a literal concept as well as a metaphorical one. In the opening letter, Andreae identifies the social problems which he feels are hindering the work of reformation, describing the 'rotten state of affairs' which dominates, with corruption in the church, the city square and the university. Aligning himself with the men who have begun the work of further reformation, such as Johann Gerard, Johann Arndt, and Martin Moller, Andreae goes on to offer in his utopia a comprehensive account of an ideal society. Whilst his utopian state is in one sense spiritual, it also insists upon the pressing need for social reform, particularly within the field of education. The effort and money spent by a society on education are rarely wasted, in Andreae's view:
There is never a more fortunate or profitable form of expenditure than this. [.] [I]t is the peak of good fortune to be able with one effort to ensure the security of the community and also the fitness of the young for future life.
By 'future life' Andreae means not only the roles which children will go on to play as adult citizens, but also their future spiritual life, 'so that the children whom we bring forth here shall have been born not so much for the earth as for heaven'.  At the same time, earthly reforms must not be forgotten; Andreae's ideal society includes numerous practical innovations, such as systems for lighting the streets at night, for tending the communal gardens, and for ensuring a good water supply. For Andreae, spiritual and social reform are closely linked.
Like many utopian authors of the early modern period, Andreae sometimes mocks the conventions of utopia and demonstrates his awareness of its comic potential. His narrator highlights the fictional nature of the utopian experience, describing how he 'decided once again to attempt the Academic Ocean' aboard 'the ship of Fantasy'. Nonetheless, the utopia is for Andreae an entirely serious and sincere means of expression. He has a genuine conviction in the importance of social and spiritual reform, and the utopia is a convenient and fitting vehicle with which to expand upon his vision of a better life. Utopian writings roughly contemporary with Andreae's, such as Tomasso Campanella's La Città del Sole (c. 1602, first published 1623) and Jan Amos Comenius's The Paradise of the World and the Labyrinth of the Heart (1623), demonstrate a similarly sincere approach to the creation of the utopia. For the early seventeenth-century European utopia, the utopian form provided a useful means of imagining practical social reformation. These utopias combine a deep-rooted belief in the need for reform, and a sincere optimism in the possibility of change.
By the early seventeenth century, then, the utopian form was being used seriously by those interested in achieving social reform, as a means of describing the ways in which change might take place, and of motivating their achievement. As this article will show, English utopian writings of the 1640s were influenced by this tradition in their efforts to imagine practical and achievable social improvements. The proliferation of utopian writings during this period can also be understood as a response to a particular political and social environment in which real change seemed possible in both spiritual and practical terms, and which also gave birth to the radical political and religious movements associated with the period. Given that the 1640s have been described as a period in which 'the phenomenon often referred to as radicalism' can be understood as 'the religious construction of politics', we can see how the utopia itself, traditionally concerned with both spiritual and social improvement, might be understood as being closely related to mid-seventeenth century radicalism.
However, in assessing the relationship between utopian and radical thought in the 1640s, we encounter difficulties with the terms radical and radicalism, already described in contributions to this seminar, which stem in part from the ambiguities inherent in the word radical. Following the efforts of revisionist historians in the 1980s and 90s to reassess the role of radical politics in the mid-seventeenth century, concepts of the radical and of radicalism also needed to be rethought. Historians such as Conal Condren and J. C. D. Clark have argued that the terms 'radical' and 'revolution' are anachronistic and should be removed from the vocabulary of seventeenth-century historiography. Nonetheless the terms have remained in use, and it is still common to speak of the 'radical reformation', the 'radical imagination', or 'radical literature'. Recently Glenn Burgess in his contribution to this seminar and the development of his argument in English Radicalism, 1550-1850 has highlighted the difficulty of using the word radical in any meaningful way: 'radical', as Condren and Clark also argued, tends to carry anachronistic meanings, and what is termed radical varies according to contexts of place and time. Consequently, any attempt at a history of radicalism over a period of time is likely to be a comparative history of radical moments rather than the continuous history of a tradition. Even within the confines of the mid-seventeenth century, radical literature has been shown to be complex and diverse, and its authors were not a single or easily identifiable group.
The concepts of radicalism and indeed the use of the term radical are thus problematic and continue to be the subject of debate. There will not be room in this essay for a reconceptualisation of the meaning of 'radical' or a reassessment of the presence or otherwise of a 'radical tradition' in 1640s England. My interest instead is the relationship between utopian writings and the movements for reform during this period, which have often been characterised as radical by historians. A useful context for this understanding of radicalism and its relationship to utopianism is provided by Jonathan Scott in England's Troubles, in his identification of the radical as 'the desire for fundamental change'. The suggestion of change is what both utopian and reformist thought had in common, and it is in the nature of their calls for change that reformers of the mid-seventeenth century have been understood as both radical and utopian. More recently Glenn Burgess has identified radicalism as 'the capacity to envisage and justify the structural transformation of social, economic, religious or political institutions', fundamentally describing an attitude to the status quo. For Scott at least, its attitude to change means that radicalism is necessarily linked to revolution, because the English revolution was 'radical belief' and radicalism 'was the English revolution'.
This article will begin by looking at the religious and political context of the 1640s, before briefly considering the 'utopian' nature of the period. It will assess the ways in which writers used the utopian mode of discourse to motivate change and reform, especially on an institutional level, showing that utopias were not always themselves utopian in the sense of being unrealistic or impractical. However, it will go on to argue that, despite similarities between reformist and utopian writings, the utopia itself was not found universally useful by reformers themselves. Partly this was because the utopia in the 1640s absorbed the negative connotations of impracticality which adhere to it today. This article thus warns against a conflation of utopianism and radicalism which fails to appreciate the complexities of utopian writing and of radical thought during this period, and argues that the utopia should be understood as a significant strain of reformist writing which proliferated during the mid-seventeenth century.
2. The 1640s were undeniably a time of great upheaval, during which there was a sense that the old order was changing, involving 'unsettling, dramatic processes of political, religious, and social revolution'. This atmosphere of religious and political turmoil contributed to the creation of an environment in which utopian thinking seemed appropriate, as 'English radicalism came to question customary religious, social, legal, economic and political arrangements'. In general terms, times of political change and social unrest provoke renewed interest in questions of how to structure society and how to live a good life. Not only do such questions seem generally more pertinent during periods when social restructuring is actually taking place, but the reformers of the 1640s had particular reason to look forward to imminent and wide-ranging reform. By 1640 it had been eleven years since Parliament had been in session. From 1640 the new Parliament, to which many reformers addressed their efforts, was seen as a potential agent of change, heralding 'a great wave of expectation.' In addition, the outbreak of civil wars from 1642 demonstrated the commitment of the warring factions to their respective views of the best form of management of the country. Towards the end of the period in question, with the death of Charles I and the establishment of the Protectorate, it must have seemed as though the total reorganisation of the political structure, indeed, of the whole of society, really was possible. Such reforms were long awaited, and part of a longer process of reformation:
What put the fire of resistance into the bellies of many of the people who opposed Charles in the 1640s was the chance they saw to bring about, through parliament, the godly reformation that they and their predecessors had been campaigning for since as least the 1580s.
The religious and political developments of the mid-seventeenth century thus saw the realisation of a new atmosphere in which longed-for change and reform could and did take place. The unique political circumstances of this period shaped conditions in which utopian thinking did not need to be restricted to fictional writing, but was a valid topic for political and religious debate; utopianism and the reform movements of the 1640s are closely linked, in a way that suggests a relationship between utopianism and radicalism. After all, as Jonathan Scott has described, 'revolution was the inverse of statebuilding. [.] English radicalism took as its starting point the absence of those institutions which it was the business of statebuilding to perfect'. As this article will show, utopian writings imagined the institutional reform and recreation necessary to rectify this situation.
The political climate of the 1640s was in part responsible for, and frequently indivisible from, the widespread rise of religious zeal that expressed itself in millenarianism, the belief that Christ's thousand-year reign on earth was shortly to begin. If we view the utopian location as the ideal environment in which to live the good life, then millenarians believed that it was soon to be achieved. As one of their number described it, the events leading to the end of the world had been set in train:
God is beginning the powring forth of the fifth Viall, namely, upon the Throne of the Beast, upon Babylon; this is the worke that is in hand: as soone as ever this is done, that Antichrist is downe, Babylon fallen, then comes in Jesus Christ reigning gloriously.
Apocalyptic prophecies foretold that the dawn of Christ's rule would bring justice and perfection to the world and establish a kind of heaven on earth; earthly monarchies would be destroyed and the Catholic Church would fall. Clearly such widespread beliefs anticipating a better society on earth would also have an influence on the development of utopian thinking; the religious and political conditions of the 1640s created an environment in which a utopian outlook was potentially viable. It is now widely recognised that apocalyptic thought in general served to motivate action on the social and political stage. Superficially, it might seem logical to presume that millenarian beliefs would obviate the need for social reform. If the ideal state in the form of Christ's rule were approaching, there would appear to be no desperate need to improve society as it stands, the millennium achieving all social reform at a stroke. But in fact the opposite was felt to be true. An influential text on the millenarianism of this period was Joseph Mede's Clavis Apocalyptica, first published in Latin in 1627 and reprinted in 1632. Translated into English by Richard Moore, it was printed at The Key of Revelation in 1643 and as Clavis Apocalyptica: Or, a Prophetical Key in 1651. This translation publicised the belief that Christ's rule was imminent, but insisted that the reader was not expected idly to await it. Rather, the coming of Christ's rule could be helped on its way through human actions, and not just the actions of kings and rulers, but of normal people:
Our dutie in subordination to the waie of God is cleerly this; that we should with all readiness of minde applie ourselvs to entertein all spiritual motions, tending to mutual and universal edification: not onely by praiers [.]; but by counsel and endevors, [.] one single act of correspondence at an adventure, will do more to make his designe effectual, than a whole years contrived and setled intelligence, and agencie of manie Statesmen for politick designments.
This background provides an important context for the development of both a radical and a utopian moment in the 1640s, and for why utopian thinking seemed valid and appropriate. Changes were believed to be timely, and reformers felt that they could achieve real results. The fact that the last days of the world were looming meant that politics no longer needed to be thought of as a repetitive cycle, but in terms of permanent historical change. But this did not mean that the projected reforms of those interested in motivating change and social development, such as the circle of reformers which gathered around the Polish émigré Samuel Hartlib, were exclusively imagined on a grand scale. On the contrary, the utopian writings of reformers like Hartlib demonstrate a close attention to particular institutions and specific changes, which is reflected in contemporary utopias such as Gabriel Plattes' Macaria (1641) and Samuel Gott's Nova Solyma (1648). In A Description of the Famous Kingdome of Macaria. Shewing its Excellent Government, directed at the new Parliament meeting in 1641, the utopian form thinly veils the author's suggested improvements to contemporary society. The text deals with specific areas pertinent to the new Parliament, notably the establishment of a College of Experience, clearly modelled on Hartlib's contemporary plans for an Office of Address, and also similar to existing educational establishments, such as Gresham College. The text's Traveller, who relates his experience of the idealised land of Macaria in conversation with the Schollar, makes his hoped-for audience and purpose clear: 'I hear that they [Parliament] are generally bent to make a good reformation [.] and if any experience which I have learned in my long travels, may stand them in stead, I would willingly impart it for the publick good.' Macaria accordingly centres its projection of an idealised society on a reformed version of an existing institution, Parliament. The society is a kind of welfare state, in which resources are divided between the entire nation rather than concentrated in London. It is founded on a centralised system of education and local services, funded by a five per cent inheritance tax. Instead of the Houses of Parliament, the Macarians are controlled by 'a Great Councell like to the Parliament in England', which conveniently sits once a year for a short space of time. To ensure the smooth running of this Council and all its functions, it is supported by 'five under Councels' which administer Husbandry, Fishing, Trade by Land and Sea, and new Plantations, and by the 'Colledge of experience', which conducts medical research and rewards those who benefit the common good. The Great Councell and the Colledge of experience are perfected versions of English systems of government and education; their emulation is desired in order to 'make England to bee like to Macaria'.
Samuel Gott's Nova Solyma, which describes the experiences of two Cambridge students who travel to the New Jerusalem fifty years after the Jews' supposed conversion to Christianity, shares with Macaria an attention to specific institutional developments. Gott, in common with many reformers and writers of utopias in the mid-seventeenth century, focused in particular on potential changes in the systems and practices of education, which, like Andreae, he saw as having both a spiritual and social function. The idealized college which is the focal point of both spiritual and social reformation in Nova Solyma is offered as an example to contemporary England. Like Plattes, Gott concentrates here on institutional reform. His picture of education in the New Jerusalem provides a practical emphasis on appropriate curricula, the need for military training, motivational techniques, and so on. Importantly, the Nova Solymans' system of education, though idealised, is seen as practicable and realistic in its aims and practices. Whilst all are given the opportunity of learning, there is a concern to provide for each person the education necessary for their role in life; consequently the working classes are not taught more than it is believed they need to know. Importantly, Gott does not imagine a perfect system in which everyone is educated to the highest degree; rather, his ideas are designed to be realisable and practically useful, for the creation of workable institutions. The picture Gott produces of education in this society is clearly intended to serve as a model for its English readers; a 'new Jerusalem' to promote the creation of the best possible society in advance of the coming millennium. The shared focus of utopias such as Macaria and Nova Solyma on gradual improvement through institutional change within the context of millennial transformation shows how much utopian literature had in common with wider movements for reform during the period.
Indeed, for some, the mid-seventeenth century has become one characterized by its utopianism; in the words of David Norbrook, 'the very act of situating this period historically [.] also entails bringing out its utopian dimension.' However, the study of radical thought during this period has thrown up interesting questions about our own attitudes to it; as J. C. Davis has remarked, the tendency to see 'radical' figures such as Samuel Hartlib, Gerrard Winstanley and James Harrington as failed revolutionaries whose thinking was 'too far ahead of the technical possibilities of their time' (in the words of Christopher Hill) betrays a desire to vindicate the ultimately unsuccessful schemes of those to whom twentieth-century historians felt sympathetic. The emphasis of historians such as Hill on the revolutionary, far-reaching, visionary schemes of radical thinkers can be understood in this light. I would suggest that the desire to see figures such as Hartlib and Winstanley as 'utopian' is often part of this misguided endeavour. In the historical study of the 'radical' history of the period, there has at times been a tendency to view radicalism as utopian, and vice versa. Charles Webster, for example, reads Gerrard Winstanley's writings as evidence of his 'utopian mentality', which 'was evident in new utopian works, projected utopian societies and the social programmes of authors such as Winstanley or Worsley'. Indeed, Webster sees both radical sects and the broader Puritan culture of this period as infused with an idealism which he views as utopian, considering it to be founded in widespread millenarianism and desire for the revival of learning:
However bleak the immediate prospects, the saints could look forward to a period of reconciliation and utopian conditions on earth. [. The revival of learning] was seen as thoroughly consistent with the envisaged utopian paradise and indeed capable of providing the means whereby the utopian conditions would be realised.
Hill was another who perceived radical politics as utopian in character; in The World Turned Upside Down, this often seems to be bound up with a desire to valorize radical politics and thinkers by associating them with the perceived optimism and idealism of utopian writings. However, to discuss the period in utopian and universal terms also has its risks. To be radical was not necessarily to be 'utopian' in aim or thought, and many of those who sought political reform, for example, prided themselves on their pragmatism. While the utopia is an essentially reformist discourse, then, we must be cautious of slippage between modern usage of the term 'utopian', and contemporary manifestations of the utopian mode of discourse. Much of the utopian writing of this period is not in fact 'utopian' in the sense of being idealistic or impractical. On the contrary, utopian writings sought to imagine and promote social reformation in ways which were visionary and optimistic, but firmly grounded in reality, through the use of real institutions and real societies. In the 1640s, although the word 'utopia' was used, then as now, to denote idealism or impracticality, there was space for realism and pragmatism within utopian thought.
3. Indeed, one feature that reformist political and utopian thought shared was the fact that neither was necessarily revolutionary. Just as utopias tend to focus on the changes merited in a particular institution or environment, so political reformers frequently limited their aims to the reformation of specific areas of life, rather than the total restructuring of society. Assessments of the political activity of the time remind us that many figures involved in 'radical' politics, such as Cromwell himself, combined millenarian zeal and the fervour for godly reformation with comparatively conservative social desires. The reformist writings of John Dury, a close associate of Samuel Hartlib, provide evidence of this focus on specific and institutional reform. Dury not only called for institutional improvements to be undertaken, but published a variety of texts detailing exactly how they might be implemented. Pamphlets such as The Reformed School (thought to date from 1650), A Supplement to the Reformed School and The Reformed Librarie-Keeper (both 1650), directly tackled the problems of institutional change. Hartlib's preface to The Reformed School expresses the widely held belief that the restructuring of education was fundamental to all hopes of improvement: 'For, all things being rightly weighed, we shall perceive that this endeavour alone, or nothing, will be able to work a reformation in this our age.' For Dury, the City of God is not only a spiritual ideal, but one that can be fostered here and now. It is in the reworking of these details, minor though they may seem, that the wider purposes of reformation may be begun. This highlights the way in which the political utopian writing of the period imagines improvements taking place within the structures of the present-day society. Schools, libraries, and so on, must be reorganised and their performance enhanced; but there is no need to tear down the very foundations of society and start again. This kind of utopian writing desires change and reform, rather than total revolution.
Texts like Dury's The Reformed School are not formal utopias, but they are clearly utopian in outlook and in the ways in which they conceive reform taking place. Like Macaria and Nova Solyma, and in common with much earlier utopian writing of the period, these texts imagine the creation of better worlds through institutional reform. During this period, the utopian mode of discourse was at times to separate itself from the traditional utopian form. Although for some thinkers the term 'utopia' was equivalent to 'Eutopia', used, as by Milton in Areopagitica, to suggest a place in which all was unfeasibly good, for others, utopian thinking was a means of imagining workable social changes resulting in societies that were demonstrably better, but not impossibly perfect. Thus the utopia developed into a mode of discourse that was appropriate to those with earnest motivations; the proliferation of utopia was the direct result of the unique religious and political conditions of the period.
So, utopian writings and ideas could be taken seriously by some of those interested in reform, and especially by figures such as Hartlib and Dury, who were influenced by the earlier utopian writings of Andreae and Bacon. It is evident that some of those sympathetic to social reform saw utopian texts themselves as potentially useful for their purposes; hence the 1639 reprinting of More's Utopia, and the binding together of Campanella's utopia alongside Bacon's New Atlantis and Joseph Hall's Mundus Alter et Idem in 1643. Utopianism was at this time part of a serious and practical response to the political and religious environment, and the publication of texts such as Macaria and Nova Solyma demonstrate that the conventional utopian form continued to be considered useful for the purposes of reform in the middle of the seventeenth century. But for many of those interested in reform in mid-seventeenth-century England, the utopia could no longer be considered a useful mode of discourse, and utopianism was a charge from which they sought to distance themselves.
In Areopagitica (1644), for example, John Milton insists that the new era cannot improve its condition through ideas that tend 'to sequester out of the world into Atlantic and Eutopian politics, which can never be drawn into use'. Atlantis and utopia are places for fanciful imaginings, not serious policies, and, most particularly, are not associated with practicality or usefulness. The use of the word 'utopia' in the literature of this period reflects these negative connotations. John Taylor, the 'Water Poet', uses 'Utopia' or 'Utopian' this way in several of his poems from the 1630s, for instance; the following example describes 'A Figure-flinger, or a couz'ning Cunning-man':
He'le tell you wonders when you are alone,
Of the Philosophers admired stone:
And that it from Utopia did come,
Brought to him by a Spirit, he sent to Rome.
The poet Richard Brathwait also uses 'utopia' as shorthand for inaccessible or irrational, for satirical purposes. In a poem probably written in 1638, Brathwait mocks a captain who claims to have travelled to 'Zealand' and 'Brabant' with the marginal note 'These Countreys might have been in Vtopia for ought he knew'. In his Survey of History of the same year, 'Vtopian' is taken to mean a nonsense language, the incomprehensible equivalent of 'some other grunting tongue'. For Milton, the danger of utopia is that its idealism could detract from the pressing need for social reform. It is important to distinguish here between Milton's response to the concept of utopianism, and his response to utopias themselves. It was not utopian texts which Milton sought to criticize; indeed, he praised 'that great and noble invention which the greatest and sublimest wits in sundry ages, Plato in Critias, and our two famous countreymen, the one in his Utopia, the other in his new Atlantis, chose'. Milton's difficulty with utopianism is with its practical failings, rather than with the texts themselves. From the opposing political position, Charles I also recognised the negative connotations of utopia. Writing in 1642, he criticised the growing parliamentary influence because it favoured 'that Utopia of religion and government into which they endeavour to transform this Kingdom'. These references to utopia, despite the vastly different perspectives of Charles and Milton, reflect a shared understanding of the potential dangers of utopian idealism, which may draw attention away from the right kinds of reforms, representing an unattainable ideal of social perfection. Indeed the tradition of English utopianism in the early modern period demonstrated that utopias rarely achieve the reforms they promote or appear to condone. Bacon's New Atlantis (1626), for example, which contains an idealized image of a scientific society in Salomon's House, was not followed by the founding of a state-supported institution for the practice of natural philosophy for some decades. If Utopia was to be read as a treatise against the social ills of Tudor England, then it had done little to remedy them. Utopianism, both Charles and Milton proclaim in the early 1640s, is not useful. Importantly, their reference to utopia also reflects an understanding that utopia is more than an individual utopian text; already, utopia is shorthand for a particular way of thinking or form of imagining social change.
Hence some reformers, like Milton, felt that utopianism was ineffective, and inadequate for the demands of their cause. Though Milton's support for the parliamentary leadership was by no means unwavering, and whilst his politics may not have been as 'radical' as they have sometimes been painted, much of his political writings of the 1640s, which reflect his growing disenchantment with parliamentary efforts, sought to inform and influence Parliament in its reforms. Milton's writings frequently evince a sense of frustration at those who are unable to carry through the action necessary for reform. In The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates (February 1649) he castigates the Presbyterians, who, having 'juggl'd and palter'd with the world [.] beyond what is possible or honest to retreat from', give up before their aims are 'half attain'd', whether through weakness, laziness or inconstancy. Such men welcome 'civill Wars and commotions as a noveltie', but will not see their reforms through to their intended conclusion. Milton explains why those who are to undertake such reforms fail; one reason is that their desire for change does not go far enough, and they 'begin to swerve', and are caught up in disputes, 'when the Common-wealth nigh perishes for want of deeds in substance'. Such sentiments reveal Milton's frustration with plans which fail to be carried out in full, and his anger with those who 'fall off from thir first principles'. In The Readie and Easie Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth (1660), he is scornful of the lofty promises that utopian reformers have failed to deliver:
Where is this goodly tower of a Common-wealth which the English boasted they would build, to overshaddow kings and be another Rome in the west? The foundation indeed they laid gallantly, but fell into a worse confusion, not of tongues, but of factions, then those at the tower of Babel.
Milton's sense of the danger in idealistic schemes that are never completed provides the context for the understanding of his caution regarding utopianism, of the 'Atlantic and Eutopian politics, which can never be drawn into use' referred to in Areopagitica. It is the theoretical, unrealistic nature of utopianism that Milton censures; in epitomizing the falling-off of the desire for reformation, its very idealism is potentially dangerous.
4. It is evident that, despite the fact that utopian literature continued to be written and read during this period, the utopian tradition and the concept of utopia were not universally helpful to those interested in social reform. Fundamentally, there was something about the nature of the utopian form itself that led to its partial rejection in the mid-seventeenth century. Those who desired to reform society and its institutions had to tread carefully to avoid its negative associations. In his Academiarum Examen, John Webster recognised that some might condemn his plans for the reformation of the universities by alleging that they were nothing better than utopian, and thus useless:
Some may object and say, that this Treatise is but like Plato's Republick, Sir Thomas Moor's Utopia, or the Lord Bacon's new Athlantis, fraught with nothing but Heterodoxal novelties, and imaginary whimseys, which are not to be imitated, but are meerly impracticable.
Webster here recognises contemporary distaste for the utopia; despite its idealistic schemes, it lacks the ability to affect change. Again, it is the practical failings of utopianism which are perceived to be at fault. Nonetheless, and in spite of the fact that the treatise he is writing is by no means utopian in form, he seeks to defend the utopia against its critics:
To this I answer, that phantastical heads may very well be filled with such roving thoughts, and conceited crotches, yet I would have them to know that in Plato's Commonwealth, and Sir Thomas Moor's Utopia, ar more excellent things contained than figments and impossibilities [.] and if these poor lines of mine contained but any treasure comparable to any of their rich mines, I should set an higher Character of esteem upon them, than now I ought, or they any way merit.
Like Milton, Webster praises utopias themselves whilst recognizing the inadequacies of 'imaginary whimseys' and 'roving thoughts' often associated with them. In doing so he argues that it is not true to claim that utopias have no practical worth. New Atlantis is a useful case in point: Bacon's ideas in his utopia 'might be brought to some reasonable perfection, if the waies and means that he hath prescribed, were diligently observed and persued'.
The fact that Webster felt the need to protect his own reformist writings from the taint of utopianism reflects that, whilst some saw the utopia as a useful and valid form of political expression, others remained critical of its utility and validity. The utopian writings that were being produced at this time were not pejoratively utopian, in the sense of impractical or unrealistic which began to develop in the seventeenth century and still adheres to the word today. In fact, they were closely focused on practical and achievable institutional change. This sincere utopianism grew from the same religious and political environment which made the achievement of widespread social reform seem possible, and there was much congruity between utopian writings and these reformist movements. But at the same time utopia was associated with a lack of achievement which made Milton criticize 'Eutopia' for its ineffectuality and obliged Webster to defend the potential utopianism of his work from critics. If we accept Jonathan Scott's understanding of the radical as 'the desire for fundamental change' and Glenn Burgess's definition of radicalism as involving 'the capacity of envisage and justify the structural transformation of social, economic, religious or political institutions', then utopianism and radicalism clearly have much in common: both are identified by their relationship to change. But at the same time, it is necessary to avoid a conflation of radicalism and utopianism which results in radical literature, for example, being classified as utopian, and utopian writings understood as radical by their very nature. A utopian moment and a radical one may have coincided in the 1640s, but they were by no means identical. Utopian literature was not only the preserve of 'radicals'; instead, utopian writings permeated and were permeated by wider movements for reform, constituting an important strain of reformist literature which proliferated during this period, even though utopias themselves were not found exclusively helpful by those committed to reform, radical or otherwise.
 This paper is developed from one first delivered at ‘Rediscovering Radicalism in the British Isles and Ireland, c. 1550–c. 1700: Movements of people, texts and ideas’, held at Goldsmiths College, University of London, 21–23 June 2006 and organized by Ariel Hessayon and Phil Baker. I am grateful to Rosanna Cox, Ariel Hessayon and the anonymous readers for comments on a draft of this paper; any remaining errors are my own.
 Donald R. Dickson, The Tessera of Antilia: Utopian Brotherhoods & Secret Societies in the Early Seventeenth Century (Leiden, 1998), p. 40.
 For example in Amicorum singularium clarissimorum Funera, condecorata (Lüneburg, 1642), pp. 7-9, quoted in Dickson, The Tessera of Antilia, p. 43.
 J. C. Davis, Utopia and the ideal society: A study of English utopian writing, 1516-1700 (Cambridge, 1981), p. 74.
 On Andreae’s involvement with Rosicrucianism and other Protestant fraternities, see Donald R. Dickson, ‘Johann Valentin Andreae’s Utopian Brotherhoods’, Renaissance Quarterly 49:4 (1996), 760-802. Frances Yates argued in The Rosicrucian Enlightenment (1972; repr. London, 1986) that Andreae originally welcomed the myth of Christian Rosencreutz as ‘the vehicle for aspirations towards general reformation and the advancement of learning’, an argument refuted by John Warwick Montgomery in Cross and Crucible: Johann Valentin Andreae (1586-1654) Phoenix of the Theologians, 2 vols (The Hague, 1973), vol. 1, pp. 178-230.
 Christianopolis, ed Edward H. Thompson (Dordrecht, 1999), pp. 148-50.
 Christianopolis, p. 218.
 Christianopolis, p. 185, p. 273, p. 274.
 Christianopolis, p. 155.
 Glenn Burgess, ‘Radicalism and the English Revolution’, in Glenn Burgess and Matthew Festenstein (eds), English Radicalism, 1550-1850 (Cambridge, 2007), pp. 62-86 (p. 75).
 Conal Condren, The Language of Politics in Seventeenth-Century England (London, 1994), Chapter 5; J. C. D. Clark, Our Shadowed Present: Modernism, Postmodernism and History (London, 2003), Chapter 4; Jonathan Scott, England’s Troubles: Seventeenth-Century English Political Instability in European Context (Cambridge, 2000), p. 233.
 See for example Nicholas McDowell, The Radical English Imagination: Culture, Religion, and Revolution, 1630-1660 (Oxford, 2003) and Scott, England’s Troubles.
 See Burgess, ‘A Matter of Context: “Radicalism” and the English Revolution’, CROMOHS Virtual Seminars (2006). For the ambiguities of ‘radical’ and ‘radicalism’, see also Conal Condren, ‘Radicals, Conservatives and Moderates in Early Modern Political Thought: A Case of Sandwich Island Syndrome?’, History of Political Thought 10 (1989), 525-42. A useful understanding of ‘radical’ and its difference from ‘reform’ was provided by J. C. Davis, ‘Radicalism in a Traditional Society: The Evaluation of Radical Thought in the English Commonwealth 1649-1660’, History of Political Thought, 3:2 (1982), 193-213.
 McDowell, The Radical English Imagination, p. 21.
 Scott, p. 231.
 Burgess, ‘Radicalism and the English Revolution’, p. 67.
 Scott, p. 32, p. 34.
 David Loewenstein, Representing Revolution in Milton and his Contemporaries: Religion, Politics, and Polemics in Radical Puritanism (Cambridge, 2001), p. 1. For a range of discussions of the period as one of social change, see Christopher Hill, The World Turned Upside Down: Radical Ideas During the English Revolution, 2nd edn (London, 1975), p. 14; David Underdown, Revel, Riot and Rebellion: Popular Politics and Culture in England 1603-1660 (Oxford, 1985); Abiezer Coppe: Selected Writings, ed. by Andrew Hopton (London, 1987), pp. 3-4; and Brian Manning, The English People and the English Revolution, 2nd edn (London, 1991), p. 46.
 Scott, p. 229.
 Paul Christianson, Reformers and Babylon: English Apocalyptic Visions from the Reformation to the Eve of the Civil War (Toronto, 1978), p. 204. See also B. S. Capp, The Fifth Monarchy Men: A Study in Seventeenth-Century English Millenarianism (Oxford, 1972), pp. 54-5.
 Barry Coward, The Stuart Age: England, 1605-1714, 2nd edn (London, 1994), pp. 188-9.
 Scott, p. 229.
 On this see Sarah Hutton, ‘The Appropriation of Joseph Mede: Millenarianism in the 1640s’, in James E. Force and Richard H. Popkin (eds) Millenarianism and Messianism in Early Modern European Culture Volume III: The Millenarian Turn: Millenarian Contexts of Science, Politics, and Everyday Anglo-American Life in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (Dordrecht, 2001), pp. 1-13.
 Thomas Goodwin, A Glimpse of Sions Glory (London, 1641), p. 2.
 See for example John Archer, The Personall Reigne of Christ Upon Earth (London, 1641 and 1642) and Robert Maton, Israels Redemption (London, 1642). For the background to mid-seventeenth century millenarianism, see Capp, pp. 23-49.
 Scholars interested in the Hartlib circle have explicitly related their ‘visions of social transformation and millenarian fulfilment’ and their ‘utopian dreams’, arguing that these must be understood as part of a wider intellectual tradition and the European context. See Hugh Trevor-Roper, ‘Three Foreigners: The Philosophers of the Puritan Revolution’, in Religion, the Reformation and Social Change, 3rd edn (London, 1984), pp. 237-92; Howard Hotson, ‘Philosophical pedagogy in reformed central Europe between Ramus and Comenius: a survey of the continental background of the “Three Foreigners”’, in Mark Greengrass, Michael Leslie and Timothy Raylor (eds) Samuel Hartlib and Universal Reformation: Studies in intellectual communication (Cambridge, 1994), pp. 29-50 (pp. 49-50).
 See Christianson, pp. 5-7.
 For the publication of Clavis Apocalyptica and its influence on the 1640s, see Hutton, ‘The Appropriation of Joseph Mede’.
 Clavis Apocalyptica, p. 8.
 David Wootton, ‘Leveller democracy and the Puritan Revolution’, in J. H. Burns with Mark Goldie (eds) The Cambridge History of Political Thought 1450-1700 (1991; repr. Cambridge, 2004), pp. 412-42 (p. 422).
 For Hartlib’s Office of Address, see his Considerations Tending to the Happy Accomplishment of Englands Reformation in Church and State (1647) and A Further Discoverie of the Office of Publike Addresse for Accommodations (1648).
 Gabriel Plattes, A Description of the Famous Kingdome of Macaria. Shewing its Excellent Government (London, 1641), p. 2.
 See Trevor-Roper, ‘Three Foreigners’, p. 269.
 Macaria, p. 3, p. 5.
 Macaria, p. 15.
 David Norbrook, Writing the English Republic: Poetry, Rhetoric and Politics, 1627-1660 (Cambridge, 1999), p. 19.
 Davis, ‘Radicalism in a Traditional Society: The Evaluation of Radical Thought in the English Commonwealth 1649-1660’, History of Political Thought, 3:2 (1982), 193-213 (194); Hill, New Zealand Listener, April 11 1981, p. 50, quoted in Davis, ‘Radicalism in a Traditional Society’, 193.
 Charles Webster, The Great Instauration: Science, Medicine and Reform, 1626-1660 (London, 1975), p. 30.
 Webster, The Great Instauration, p. 1.
 Loewenstein, p. 144.
 John Dury, The Reformed School, ed. H. M. Knox (Liverpool, 1958), p. 19.
 Milton, Areopagitica, in Complete Prose Works of John Milton [CPW], 8 vols (New Haven, 1953-1982), vol. 2, ed. by Ernest Sirluck (1959), p. 526.
 See Christine Rees, ‘“Atlantick and Eutopian Polities” in Andrew Marvell’s Poetry’, Forum for Modern Language Studies, 37:3 (2001), 241-251 (241).
 Milton, Areopagitica, 2:526.
 John Taylor, ‘A brood of Cormorants’, in All the workes of Iohn Taylor the Water-Poet (London, 1630), p. 13 (second series of pagination).
 Richard Brathwait, ‘To the Pious Memory of Sir Richard Hutton Knight’, in Astraea’s Teares. An Elegie Vpon the death of that Reverend, Learned and Honest Judge, Sir Richard Hutton Knight (London, 1641), B4r; A Survey of History: Or, A Nursery for Gentry (London, 1638), p. 240. Although Astraea’s Teares was not printed until 1641, the poem was written on the death of Sir Richard Hutton, which took place in February 1638.
 An Apology against a Pamphlet Call’d a Modest Confutation of the Animadversions upon the Remonstrant against Smectymnuus (1642), in CPW, vol. 1 (ed. Don M. Wolfe, 1953), p. 881.
 ‘His Majesties Answer to the nineteen Propositions of both Houses of Parliament’ (June 1642), in An Exact Collection of Remonstrances (London, 1643), pp. 314-5, quoted in Charles Webster, Samuel Hartlib and the Advancement of Learning (Cambridge, 1970), p. 35.
 Martin Dzelainis, ‘Milton’s politics’, in The Cambridge Companion to Milton, ed. Denis Danielson (Cambridge, 1999), pp. 70-83; for a view of Milton’s politics as radical in nature, see for example Christopher Hill, Milton and the English Revolution (London, 1977), passim.
 C PW, vol. 3 (ed. Merritt Y. Hughes, 1962), p. 191, p. 192.
 C PW, 3:194.
 CPW, 3:238.
 CPW, vol. 7 (ed. by Robert W. Ayers, 1980), p. 357.
 CPW, 2:526.
 John Webster, Academiarum Examen, or the Examination of Academies (London, 1653), sig. Bv.
 Webster, Academiarum Examen, sig. Bv-B2.
 Webster, Academiarum Examen, sig. B2.