In a Free Republic by Alison Plowden

In a Free Republic by Alison Plowden, is the last book Plowden published. One of the things that made me want to read this book was the name: “In a Free Republic”. It was something that made me curious, considering that the people during commonwealth and Cromwell could be considered anything but free. I’ve enjoyed reading the book and I gave it 5 stars.

The book offers a fascinating insight into the everyday life in the interregnum, from 1649 to 1660. She uses primary sources like memoirs, diaries like the ones written by Samuel Pepys, letters, newspapers, and, of course, state papers. She talks about family life, religion, trade, domestic life, and health.

In a Free Republic by Alison Plowden

It is estimated that 62,000 people died in the Civil War, without taking into consideration war-related accidents and disease. Taxation rose so the large standing army could be paid, over 50,000 men, as the new establishment fearing the people would revolt. The fanatical religious were in power, so they banned amusements like bear-baiting, horse racing, or theaters. A new Blasphemy Act was introduced in 1650. This act would include activities such as fornication, going to alehouses, profane cursing, swearing, fighting, playing cards or dice, reading the Common Prayer Book, morris dancing, maypoles, plays, saying anything against the government, football, wrestling, pancake-tossing on Shrove Tuesday, All Hallows Eve (Halloween) was also under interdiction. In 1644, Christmas was a time to keep fast, not to celebrate and surely not for 12 days. That before it was abolished completely.

New offenses punishable by death included adultery, and three people were executed for this. For having a brothel the owner was branded on the forehead with the letter “B” and three years in prison, while for visiting one the punishment was a bit better, prison for three months.

Another aspect of this “free” republic was the press censorship. This was something new for me. Any news had to get approval from the Secretary of State before publishing.

Unsurprisingly, King Charles II was received with happiness at the Restoration. Meanwhile, effigies of Cromwell, made by the common people, were burned during the celebrations.

In a Free Republic by Alison Plowden

Details about the picture: –
My rating: 5/5 Stars.
Would I recommend it: Yes
Published by: Sutton Publishing
Year it was published: 2006
Format: Hardcover
Genre(s): History
Pages: 256

About the author: She said: “I’m in the fortunate position of having been able to turn my hobby in to a profession”. She started publishing history books in 1972 with The Young Elizabeth. This was a bestseller and she continued writing.

Books by Alison: Danger to Elizabeth (1973), Marriage With My Kingdom (1977), Elizabeth Regina (1980), The House of Tudor (1976), Tudor Women (1979), The Young Victoria (1983), Two Queens in One Isle (1984) about Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots, and Lady Jane Grey: Nine Days Queen (1985).
In the 1990s, Alison started looking into the period of the Civil War and she published The Stuart Princesses (1996), Women All on Fire (1998).

Alison, who was unmarried, was dedicated to animal welfare. She died on 17 August 2007.
Website & Social Media Links: –

1 thought on “In a Free Republic by Alison Plowden”

  • OK another one on my TBR list for sure! I didn’t realise about all the new punishments he introduced, especially for adultery! Cromwell was a right piece of work that’s for sure!

    Sarah 🙂

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