Review of the Year 2014

As 2014 comes to a close, it’s time for our annual review of all that has happened at the History of Parliament in another busy year!

Our sections have been busy researching, revising and in some cases preparing for publication, but they’ve still had time to share some of their research with you. We explored what happened to MPs after the Battle of Bosworth; how you could cause an early 17th century diplomatic incident with a false beard; the life of ‘Thomson with the wooden leg’; late 17th century political scandals and John Wilkes’s duel. Of course, the Victorian Commons have kept you fully up to date over on their blog.

A number of present day events chimed with our researchers as well. We looked at the similarities between modern-day Islamic terrorists and Catholics fighting in early modern European wars; a medieval take on the tube strikes; the contrast between the campaign for women to become Anglican bishops and some of their more reluctant male predecessors. We put the ‘previous question’ motion in context after November’s controversy over the European Arrest Warrant, and compared Conservative MPs’ defections to UKIP with Dick Taverne’s defection from Labour in the 1970s. Over the summer we marked the Scottish Referendum campaign with a series of blogs on the historic relationship between England and Scotland.

We marked some important anniversaries – in January we live-tweeted the trial of Charles I, and in August marked the 300th anniversary of the death of Queen Anne with a series of live tweets and a blog on her relationship to her successor, George I. We’ve also posted a number of blogs on the outbreak of the First World War and its impact on the political process as well as more adventurous matters such as Shackleton’s Endurance expedition. Kathryn Rix also marked the first MP’s death fighting the war: Arthur O’Neil. She’ll continue this series over the next four years.

We’ve had another busy year of events. In May we co-hosted the ‘Parliaments and minorities’ conference at the British Academy. Professor Sir Diarmiad MacCulloch gave a fantastic lecture on Parliament and the Reformation of Edward VI. Our ‘Parliaments, Politics and People’ seminar had its normal range of diverse papers this year, you can read blogs on all the papers here.

In March, our schools competition winners were treated to a tour of Westminster meeting the Speaker, John Bercow. Keep your eyes peeled for this year’s competition winners, to be announced shortly – and a set of new KS3 schools resources to be launched in 2015!

Our two oral history projects continued strongly in 2014. Our national oral history project, has now interviewed over 100 former MPs. We added some more biographies to our website and explored some of the archive, looking at memories of the miners’ strike and the IRA. In Devon, From the Grassroots, our HLF-funded complementary project interviewing local activists, launched officially in January. We’ve had a very successful year and are well on our way to completing our target of 70 interviews. You can explore more on the FTG website (including new schools materials) and read about our witness seminar on 1990s Exeter elections. Next year we’ll launch FTG’s travelling exhibition – so stay tuned for news on that!

2015 will also be an exciting year celebrating the 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta and the 750th anniversary of Simon de Montfort’s parliament. We’ll be hosting the ICHRPI’s annual conference to mark the anniversary: ‘Making Parliaments, Building Constitutions’ with the help of KCL, Royal Holloway, UK Parliament and with the support of the Magna Carta Trust’s 800th Anniversary Commemoration. We’ve extended the Call for Papers deadline until 16 January 2015, so make sure you get us your proposals by then (full details here). We’ll announce more details in the New Year, so do watch this space.

A very Happy New Year to you all, and thank you for following and supporting us in 2014.


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