Putney debates

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Putney debates. These occupied the general council of the army from 28 October to 1 November 1647, and were recorded almost verbatim by its secretary William Clarke. The council included two officers and two soldiers (‘agitators’) elected by each regiment, and the central question was whether to continue seeking a negotiated settlement with the king. Representatives of the Levellers put before it a revolutionary alternative, an Agreement of the People, and the ensuing arguments for and against manhood suffrage were memorably eloquent. The outcome was inconclusive, for with mutiny threatening in several regiments the general council agreed on 8 November to its own suspension.

Austin Woolrych