Agitators (Parliamentary Army)


By 1647 the first major phase of the English Civil War was over, and Parliament was well aware of the heavy cost - and threat to stability - of maintaining a large army in the field. Parliamentary leaders proposed to disband the army, without giving the soldiers back pay that they were owed, and without granting them indemnity for damage committed during the conflict.

The army protested bitterly against the proposals. To represent their views, the soldiers elected two agents from each regiment. These agents, also known as 'Agitators', effectively acted as a secondary commanding force, and sometimes wielded more power than the army's own officers. They tended to represent a more radical outlook than the army leadership, and there was strong support for the extreme social radicalism of the Levellers among the Agitators and the troops they represented.

The Agitators imprisoned Charles I at Newmarket, and took part in the so-called 'Putney debates' of October and November 1647, which was essentially a discussion with the less radical leadership over what next steps the reforms brought on by victory over the king should take. The influence wielded by the Agitators quickly waned, and by 1648 the army officers were back in charge of their troops.

Time period(s): Stuart

Tags: Agitators   Agents   Civil War   Charles I  

Prehistory - Roman Britain - Dark Ages - Medieval Britain - The Tudor Era - The Stuarts - Georgian Britain - The Victorian Age

History of England - History of Wales - London History

Attraction search

National Trust

National Trust membership

National Trust membership

Free entry to National Trust properties throughout England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, plus discounted admission to National Trust for Scotand properties.

Membership details

About the National Trust


Name the Historic attraction

Name the mystery historic attraction
See larger image

British History Quiz

What took place on 15 June 1215?


This Day in British History

26 October, 899

Death of Alfred the Great

King Alfred the Great dies, and is succeeded by his son Edward, known to history as Edward the Elder.

Monarch Mayhem

The eldest son of Queen Victoria, he ruled after her death in 1901


Passionate about British Heritage!