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Cultivating power : transformations of the gardener-king trope in the interregnum and the restoration

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library
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  • Political Science


This dissertation examines the significance of Interregnum and Restoration tropes that depict political power in terms of gardening. I argue that these tropes, as responses to images of England as a garden and of the king as gardener, register the political, moral, and scientific upheavals that accompanied the Civil Wars, the regicide, and the abolition of the monarchy. The first chapter explores communist Gerrard Winstanley's application of the gardener-king trope solely to God and his presentation of Christ, as both plant and husbandman, as a model that better befits humans’ limited agency over the land and themselves. The second chapter investigates how Andrew Marvell tests out but ultimately rejects the gardener-general trope in favor of others that suggest England's lost garden status. The third chapter interprets Sir Thomas Browne's interest in quincunxes and gardener-princes as means of advocating religious and political mediocrity in the context of the Interregnum. The fourth chapter shows how John Evelyn uses the gardener-king trope to epitomize his vision of a social and political, as well as a natural, discordia concors. The epilogue, which focuses on Edmund Waller's and the Earl of Rochester's poems on St. James's Park after its renovation by Charles II, extends my consideration of the gardener-king trope's Restoration standing.

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