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November 21, 2011 8:15 AM   Subscribe

What are some examples of "proto-liberal" revolutions, or liberal revolutions attempted before those in the United States and France?

I'm looking for anything of that kind before about 1776. Protestant uprisings with an explicit political content would also be interesting to me, as I have the feeling the two have some overlap.

Any leads whatsoever will be appreciated!
posted by edguardo to Law & Government (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Germany. England. I believe.
posted by spicynuts at 8:18 AM on November 21, 2011


The Levellers and The Diggers come to mind.
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:19 AM on November 21, 2011


List of revolutions and rebellions.

Look for ones that mention 'peasants'.
posted by empath at 8:28 AM on November 21, 2011


Popular revolts in late medieval Europe.
posted by empath at 8:29 AM on November 21, 2011


The "War of the Regulation" in North Carolina was unsuccessful (a rout, really), but arguably presaged the Revolution. It's an interesting chapter in US history, as it was basically a campaign for honest government in the face of widespread unemployment, debt, and corruption.

It doesn't fit in very well to the established Revolution narrative, as a fair number of Regulators ended up on the side of the Loyalists, and some arguably-corrupt officials ended up on the side of Washington.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:46 AM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think the Dutch revolution against the Habsburgs, which ended successfully in 1648, is probably the closest example of what you're looking for.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:25 AM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ya'll are the best. These are exactly the kinds of precedents I was looking for. Thanks!
posted by edguardo at 9:38 AM on November 21, 2011


Of course, the Glorious Revolution.
posted by General Malaise at 11:38 AM on November 21, 2011


Indeed, there's a whole school of scholarship about the lines leading from the Glorious Revolution to the American.
posted by dhartung at 11:53 AM on November 21, 2011


No one's mentioned Magna Carta yet?

Then there's the French Wars of Religion, which lasted for most of the latter part of the sixteenth century. Not precisely "liberal," but certainly premised on freedom of religion.

You also definitely need to look at the Münster Rebellion, in which radical anabaptists threw up barricades in the German city of Münster, intending to set up, and I kid you not, a communal form of government in 1534-35. It sort of an aftershock of the Peasants' War, a broader popular movement in early sixteenth-century Germany. At the time it was viewed as intolerably close to anarchy--not entirely without reason--and was violently suppressed and condemned by both Catholic and Protestant authorities.
posted by valkyryn at 12:07 PM on November 21, 2011


I don't know if this fits into your definition of liberal, but you might be interested in the Pueblo Revolt, where a coalition of the indigenous peoples of New Mexico fought back against Spanish/Catholic economic, religious and cultural oppression, successfully expelling the Spanish from New Mexico for over a decade.
posted by heurtebise at 9:05 PM on November 21, 2011


"In November 1755, Pasquale Paoli proclaimed Corsica a sovereign nation, the Corsican Republic, independent from the Republic of Genoa. He created the Corsican Constitution, which was the first constitution written under Enlightenment principles, including the first implementation of female suffrage, later revoked by the French when they took over the island in 1769."

This BBC article calls Paoli "the Che Guevara of the 18th century."
posted by twirlip at 11:49 PM on November 21, 2011


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