Abstract

As a highway robber James Hind—the man with whom Charles II was thought to be hiding after his defeat in 1651 at the Battle of Worcester—was said to be unparalleled, "an absolute Artist in his profession," as well as a courteous, Robinhoodish sort of criminal with a nimble wit, an aversion to bloodshed, and a habit of sharing his spoils with the poor. Or so he was conceived in cheap print. For James Hind became the subject of a spate of pamphlets and chapbooks after the royalist defeat at Worcester. They form a heterogeneous group, diverse in character, content, and genre, ranging from chapbook collections of short merry tales and news pamphlets to what many have termed the first criminal biography in English. For me, the Hind texts' interest lies in what they may suggest about the nature of royalism in the wake of the establishment of the Commonwealth regime and the failure of the royalist forces at Worcester. This article argues that the forces of social control with which the royalist Hind chapbooks and pamphlets contended were not one, but two. The first and more obvious powerful force was the Commonwealth regime, but the texts are also sites of a less-apparent second tension, one between a backward-looking, essentially feudal royalism and an emergent royalism marked by the same progressive populism that fueled the revolution. I propose, then, that the Hind pamphlets were popular in part because the highwayman offered readers a royalism associated with the humbler sorts of English men and women.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1543-0383
Print ISSN
0039-3738
Pages
pp. 609-640
Launched on MUSE
2017-07-14
Open Access
No
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