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Rare acts and ordinances from Cromwellian England go under the hammer at Sotheby's
Lot 6 English Civil War - England Parliament.
LONDON.- A remarkable group of 17th century acts and ordinances - rare survivors of the English Civil War - are to go under the hammer on July 10th at Sotheby’s London sale of English Literature, History, Children’s Books and Illustrations. Disseminated through England’s marketplaces, nailed to its venerable oaks, broadsheets such as these have been almost entirely lost to time. The survival of this group - a hotline to some of the most momentous events in British history – is extraordinary.

Bearing vivid witness to the turmoil of the times, these are richly penned texts which evoke a ‘distracted state of England…threatened with a Cloud of Blood’. They include an Act for the abolishment of kingship, in the wake of the beheading of Charles I; an order to cancel the festival of Christmas; the infamous Ordinance suspending all plays - and leading to the closure of the Globe Theatre; a colourful order offering £10 to ‘every one who shall bring in a High-way-man, and a reprieve for any ‘persons guilty’ persuaded to inform on their ‘Accomplices’. Fun, it would appear, was thin on the ground in Cromwellian England.

Gabriel Heaton, Deputy Director, Specialist, Books and Manuscripts department commented: “This rich cache of broadsheets, the like of which are rarely found outside institutional collections, is a once in a generation opportunity for the collector. Living fragments, they cut right to the most defining moments of Civil War and Commonwealth history. The collection of broadsheets will be offered in a series of six lots, with estimates ranging from £2,500-5,000.

“…it hath been found by experience, that the office of a King in this nation…is unnecessary, burdensome, and dangerous to the liberty, safety and public interest of the people…”

“…being spectacles of pleasure, too commonly expressing lascivious Mirth and levitie…Publike Stage-playes shall cease, and bee forborne.”

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