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The localities

In recent years much of the most interesting research has been based on a study of the localities. This in turn has generated a controversy over the relationship between the localities and the centre in political life. The pioneer in this field was Alan Everitt, whose work (together with that of other historians) has portrayed the county community as a semi-autonomous unit, which provided the provincial gentry with an all-important focus for their activities. Many of them were therefore ill-informed about developments in the nation at large, thus creating a clear division between local and central politics. This situation inevitably led to widespread neutralism in the Civil War with only small numbers deeply committed to king or parliament, thus compelling military commanders to extract supplies by force from an apathetic local community. For a fuller understanding of Everitt’s ideas, students should consult in particular Alan Everitt, The Community of Kent and the Great Rebellion, 1640-60 (Leicester, 1966); Alan Everitt, ‘The county community’, in E.W. Ives, ed., The English Revolution, 16001660 (1968); and Alan Everitt, The Local Community and the Great Rebellion (HAP 1969).