What really happened at the whitehall debates A new source

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A variant transcription of one of the Whitehall Debates has been identified among the Clarke papers. Located in volume 16 of the Worcester MSS, it records the latter part of the longest debate, on 14 December 1648, concerning the Second Agreement of the People. The fair copy of this debate by army secretary William Clarke (in volume 65 of the Worcester MSS) was previously believed to be the only surviving record. The new source provides additional text, clarifies obscure passages, and is generally easier to understand. Historians now have the advantage of another account of the meeting, which reveals its importance more fully. Although the Levellers' Agreement was never to be implemented, the Whitehall Debates took place between Pride's Purge and the trial and execution of Charles I. The variant therefore sheds new light on the thinking of the army command and its advisers both religious and lay at this time of unprecedented constitutional crisis. It also provides the first documentary evidence that the army debates at Putney (1647) and Whitehall (1648-9) were not recorded by Clarke alone, but by a team of at least three secretaries. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-51
JournalHistorical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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