Red Streak: cider-making and drinking in Cromwellian Herefordshire

As we contemplate the further lifting of Covid restrictions on hospitality venues, Dr Patrick Little of our Commons 1640-1660 project looks at the pleasures and pitfalls of drinking a native beverage in the seventeenth century, and the science behind its production… Cider has been produced in England since Norman times, if not before, with different traditions emerging in the east (notably East Anglia and Kent) … Continue reading Red Streak: cider-making and drinking in Cromwellian Herefordshire

Edward, Lord Stafford and the 1621 parliamentary protections scandal

Four hundred years ago this month, in an unprecedented move forced on it by circumstances, Parliament adjourned for more than five months. As Dr Paul Hunneyball of our Lords 1558-1603 section explains, this seemingly innocuous procedural move had unfortunate and unintended consequences… The 1621 Parliament is now chiefly remembered for its sustained attacks on corruption in high places. The lord chancellor, Francis Bacon, Viscount St … Continue reading Edward, Lord Stafford and the 1621 parliamentary protections scandal

Three degrees of separation: alternatives to divorce in early modern England

As part of the History of Parliament’s blog series on marriage, Dr Paul Hunneyball, assistant editor of the Lords 1558-1603 project, considers the options available four centuries ago to those whose marriages had broken down… Contrary to popular belief, Henry VIII never got divorced. In sixteenth-century England, the option of divorce as we now understand it didn’t exist. The only way to end a marriage … Continue reading Three degrees of separation: alternatives to divorce in early modern England

Benjamin Valentine and the politics of protest

Prompted by the recent assault on the United States Congress, and the passions which fuelled that incident, Dr Paul Hunneyball, assistant editor of our Lords 1558-1603 section, considers an English MP of the early 17th century who similarly refused to accept defeat… Benjamin Valentine is remembered today almost entirely for his part in the 1629 ‘riot’ in the House of Commons which helped to precipitate … Continue reading Benjamin Valentine and the politics of protest

Q. When is a Shire not a Shire? A. When it’s a Stewartry! Kirkcudbright in the 1650s

Continuing our series on Scotland, Dr Patrick Little, senior research fellow for the House of Commons 1640-1660 project, explores the attempts to accommodate an anomalous administrative area within the scheme which briefly saw Scottish seats represented at Westminster during the Cromwellian Protectorate… The Stewartry of Kirkcudbright in the south west of Scotland was the last of the medieval stewartries of Scotland – so-called because they … Continue reading Q. When is a Shire not a Shire? A. When it’s a Stewartry! Kirkcudbright in the 1650s

Henry Percy, earl of Northumberland: the brains behind the Gunpowder Plot?

As we approach Bonfire Night on 5 November, Dr Paul Hunneyball of our Lords 1558-1603 project ponders whether we should be remembering a much more prestigious figure than Guy Fawkes… The Gunpowder Plot is one of the great ‘what ifs’ of British history. For more than four centuries we’ve commemorated the scheme’s failure – but if it had succeeded, and the House of Lords had … Continue reading Henry Percy, earl of Northumberland: the brains behind the Gunpowder Plot?

The perils of foreign travel in the early modern era

With holidays abroad still a major challenge due to the ongoing coronavirus epidemic, Dr Paul Hunneyball, assistant editor of our Lords 1558-1603 project, considers the risks associated with travel overseas four hundred years ago… One of the standard clichés of life a few centuries ago is that people tended not to travel very far. While this was broadly true for the bulk of the population, … Continue reading The perils of foreign travel in the early modern era

The ‘troubled nature’ of Francis Norris, earl of Berkshire: a Jacobean peer’s battle with depression

As public debate intensifies about the impact of the coronavirus lockdown on mental health, Dr Paul Hunneyball, assistant editor of the Lords 1558-1603 section, considers a poorly documented aspect of early modern medicine… If ever there was an era when despondency was in vogue, it was surely the early seventeenth century. Shakespeare’s plays exploited mental anguish to great dramatic effect, from the love-sick Romeo to … Continue reading The ‘troubled nature’ of Francis Norris, earl of Berkshire: a Jacobean peer’s battle with depression

An MP and an Epidemic in Civil War London

As we face challenges unfamiliar in modern times, our director, Dr Stephen Roberts, looks back at one parliamentary diarist’s response to disease in the community around him. Sir Simonds D’Ewes (1602-50) is now best known for his parliamentary journal. MP for the Suffolk borough of Sudbury, he entered the House of Commons in November 1640 and kept up a diary in English from day one. … Continue reading An MP and an Epidemic in Civil War London

Archbishop Laud’s secret ‘misfortunes’: decoding sexual identity in the seventeenth century

Continuing the theme of LGBTQ+ History Month, Dr Paul Hunneyball, assistant editor of the Lords 1558-1603 section, explores the problem of interpreting evidence from the early modern period… ‘I dreamed that K.B. sent to me in Westminster church, that he was now as desirous to see me, as I him, and that he was then entering into the church. I went with joy, but met … Continue reading Archbishop Laud’s secret ‘misfortunes’: decoding sexual identity in the seventeenth century