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The Putney Debates of 1647 – The Conception of British Democracy
From the 28th October to 9th November 1647, soldiers and officers of Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army, including civilian representation, held discussions on the constitution and future of England.
Should they continue to negotiate a settlement with the defeated King Charles I? Should there even be a King or Lords? Should suffrage (a civil right to vote, known as the franchise) be limited to property-holders? Would democratic changes lead to anarchy?
This historic event saw ordinary soldiers take on their generals to argue for greater democracy and provided a platform for 'common people' to make their voices heard. These debates, forced by the Levellers, paved the way for many of the civil liberties we value toda